LiPo charging has never been easier!
By Mark Ronge
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s November 2015 issue.
It is easy to forget how much power our battery packs contain, so it’s great when we can recommend a tool that will help those new to high-powered RC cars and trucks to stay safe. In some cases, an easy slip of your finger on a button could cause a LiPo pack to be charged at an unsafe rate, causing damage to the pack and sometimes to the area where the pack is sitting. Traxxas is known for appealing to a wide variety of enthusiasts, so it makes sense that they wanted to design a system that would be easy for anyone to use. The new Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual is quite possibly the easiest LiPo/NiMH charger to use on the market today and paired with Traxxas iD equipped batteries, even safer.
It is clear that the Traxxas EZ-Peak was designed to provide a streamlined, easy-to- use (and safe) experience for those looking to either enter the hobby or upgrade to LiPo batteries. The EZ peak charger automatically recognizes when an iD pack is plugged in and can adjust the charge settings for the pack to eliminate any guesswork. As the charger’s name suggests, the EZ-Peak can handle two batteries at the same time, even if they are dif- ferent capacities or of different chemistries altogether. The Traxxas iD system can recognize two different battery packs and get those settings just right each time. The charger has100W of charging power, which generally equates to charging two 2-cell LiPo packs at around 4amps each. One cool feature is that if you are just charging one higher capacity pack, the EZ-Peak can double up and put the full 100W of power to one battery which allows 4000 mAh packs to be charged at 2C (or 8A ONLY if the pack allows).
Don’t worry if you do not run Traxxas iD equipped batteries, the EZ-Peak Dual still handles traditional NiMH and LiPo packs just as well (as long as they have Traxxas style plugs). The main difference is that the user must manually bring the charger into “advanced mode” to choose the desired charge rate and battery chemistry. The Traxxas charge plug is integrated directly into the case, unlike other chargers that utilize charge leads. There are traditional 2-3 cell JST-type balance plugs hid- den away next to the charge port for these packs. Just as with the iD Traxxas batteries, two “regular” packs can be charged simultaneously and do not have to be the same battery type. Even a newbie will have no problem manually programming the charger; the included instructions do a great job in visually teaching this process.
As for the construction of the EZ-Peak, the charger and power supply are encased in a rugged plastic housing. Given its size I was worried it was going to be a heavyweight, but I was pleasantly surprised by how lightthe charger actually is. It is still heavy enough not to slide around while on the bench, but when transporting the charger with extra battery packs, any extra weight savings is a plus. There is a cooling fan that appears to run whenever a battery is being charged and there are a few vents around to promote airflow. The A/C power supply chord is integrated to the charger so it can- not be removed, but this isn’t much of a problem since the removable ones are easy to misplace anyway. The Traxxas charger does not have a typical LCD display with tons of information because quite frankly, it doesn’t need it. Especially when using the iD Traxxas packs, all the user has to do is con- firm the settings and hit the start button. It is easy to tell what the charger is doing with upwards of almost 20 LED lights all indicat- ing charge rate or battery chemistry.
PRODUCT: EZ-PEAK DUAL
• Can charge 2 batteries of different chemistries at the same time
• Recognizes Traxxas iD battery technology, allowing the charger to automatically program settings
• Charger can handle 100W of output with built-in power supply
• Built-in fan keeps charger cool
• LED indicators display charging status of packs, along with battery chemistry and charging settings
• Has built-in LiPo balance ports • Can charge 5-8 cell NiMH and 2-3 cell LiPo packs
Since the EZ-Peak Dual charger is optimized for the Traxxas iD system, the first thing I did was try out a Traxxas 2-cell 5800 mAh LiPo pack. I plugged in the charger and next the pack into one of the charging ports and I was pleasantly surprised to see the charger automatically set the battery type to LiPo and set the max charge rate of four amps. All I had to do was press the start button and the charger began charging the pack from start to finish. I never got a charger up and running so fast, with the confidence that I didn’t screw anything up in the process. I also really like the newer style Traxxas High Current LiPo connectors that have the balance adapter integrated right into the plug.
About halfway through the charging process I wanted to throw in a monkey wrench and start charging a non-iD NiMH battery to see how hard it was to set up. As mentioned earlier, when using a non-iD equipped pack, the charger must be set to advanced mode. That sounds more daunting than it actually is; all I had to do was hold the Start button and Charge Rate but- ton together for a few seconds. I was then able to select NiMH as a battery type (LiPo is selected by default), and then a charge rate. After that I was ready to go and pressed the start button until I heard a confirmation beep that the pack has begun charging. I think it is really cool that you can charge various packs of different chemistries and charge states whenever you please without any ill effects. I did grow impatient charging my LiPo pack at 4 amps, and since it is a 5800mAh pack I wanted to try out the High Output mode. This only works on the right port, so I stopped charging all packs and hooked up the Traxxas LiPo properly and started the charging process by flipping the switch to High Output mode. In no time at all, the EZ-Peak charger indicated charging was complete and I was ready to go bashing with my fully charged pack. It is also worth noting that there is a storage mode along with a fast charge mode that does not balance the cells and cuts off charging once one cell reaches max voltage.
While I really like how easy it is to see what is going on, I found the bright LED’s were a blessing and a curse. The main start button shines so bright that in indoor lighting I found myself squinting or holding my hand over it just to shield my eyes for a bit. Outside, however, this means that in the bright sun you can always see the charging status of the battery pack (and it doesn’t seem too bright). There are plenty of sound effects to alert you to whether a pack has started charging or has finished, and none are obnoxiously loud.
I am very happy to see safe LiPo technology still being pioneered by major RC companies. The Traxxas EZ-Peak Dual charger and the iD battery system is a foolproof way for anyone to enjoy high-powered RC fun without the worry of making a mistake when charging your packs. Even better, once the user is comfortable with battery terminology, the EZ-Peak accommodate all other packs, allowing the system to mature with the user which makes it a great addition to the experienced hobbyist’s arsenal as well.