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john melia 114/12/2014 14:18:00
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I've been using this powerbox switch for quite a while now with life 2s packs x2, in the manual it says to please rely on the led's and what they are displaying , the instructions say to move both stick and watch the leds , if they stay green the packs are fully chargedand fine , if the leds change colour fro orange to red then stop flying as the packs need re-charging.

Now as I said I use LiFe 2s packs, and even when both are fully charged , both leds on thepowerbox switch flash between orange and red , when I stop moving the sticksthey go back to green.

So even though powerbox-systems state that this unit is LiFe compatible , it seems that I cant rely on what the led's are showing me .

so i feel as though i have no control over the packs , with the powerswitch giving out false information,

Is there any reliable means of monitoring these type of packs yet ? If not i'm going to replace them with Lipos I think

Peter Beeney14/12/2014 19:18:48
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John,

On the face of it, it would appear that your power box is perhaps trying to tell you that your batteries are beginning to show their age, is that a possibility? One way you might be able to check it out is with one of these. They are certainly cheap enough, and from our experiences really excellent pieces of kit. Simply remove the powerbox connection from the rx, plug one battery straight in with the Hextronik monitor, you can use a Y lead if you’ve no spare ports, wiggle the sticks and see if this still runs up and down the leds. If this is the case then the odds are that the batteries are suspect, or if it now remains in the solid green the powerbox might stand a coat of looking at; plus the wiring, switches and everything else in the circuit as well.

I’ve never considered PowerBox, I’ve never really seen any advantage in using one, but I would think that the led part of the indicator is just a voltmeter, with a scale over maybe just one volt; so by definition it will monitor and thus indicate very small changes. All circuits have resistance, and as current flows through this resistance the voltage is proportionally dropped across it. Batteries inherently have very a very low resistance, and therefore low voltage drop, Life’s are particularly good, which is why they are able to deliver high current rates without the voltage becoming too low. Also, of course, it allows you to recharge at relatively high current rates. A battery failure is caused by it’s internal resistance going higher, sometimes due to age, maybe this is beginning to happen to yours, so this is why it’s possible that it’s causing these voltage fluctuations. I personally wouldn’t have a problem with this particularly, I’ve seen it before, usually with nimh cells, and in the event it’s not been a problem. However, after reading your pasted instructions relating to this box of tricks……It looks to me like a bit less of the PowerBox and a bit more of the Pandora’s Box…

Some chargers now are able to read the internal resistance of cells but of course you would have to know what it should be in the first instance. And the degree to which it safely deteriorate, if there is one. This could be a little bit confusing.

We’ve been using Life receiver packs now for some time, and so far they’ve shown an exemplary performance, although there has been a report or two about some failures. Maybe the straight answer is to just buy a couple of reputable packs and try them. I personally would not be entirely convinced that LiPo packs, in this situation, would be any particular advantage.

Good luck!

PB

Lee Smalley14/12/2014 19:52:10
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John the powerboxes have been around for many years now and are super reliable top pilots use them in very expensive airframes and have ultra faith in them, so to be honest if they are showing something wrong it is probably something in your setup, or your batteries, firstly make sure the switch is set up for LiFe batteries and not Lipos their voltage is wildly different after that check your batteries, mine was doing the same and when i checked my Life packs one had split and leaked, so trust your powerbox

john melia 114/12/2014 20:26:05
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Thanks for the replies guys much appreciated , I have two brand new fully charged A123 batteries , these are fitted snuggly in my yak , but I'll sort a couple of extension leads out and link them to the powerbox switch , I have a feeling the leds on the powerbox switch will do the same song and dance though .

Lee i only have the powerbox switch , and not the actual powerbox , do you not get any fluctuation when waggling all the sticks ?

john melia 115/12/2014 18:47:26
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Just tried two brand new A123 LiFe batteries ( the good ones £55 !! ) , and the led's behave in exactly the same way , all wiring plugs and connections are fine , so I think whatever monitors the batteries in the powerbox switch , does not recognise the LiFe chemisty , or whatever it is

Bob Cotsford15/12/2014 19:59:39
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John, have you configured the switch for LiFe rather than LiPo? Para 2.3 in the DigiSwitch manual or page 9 in the Sensor manual explains how to do it.

Edited By Bob Cotsford on 15/12/2014 20:02:56

Peter Beeney15/12/2014 20:05:02
1593 forum posts
59 photos

John,

As I said, I’m not into powerboxes, but I don’t think it’s a case of the PowerBox not recognising battery chemistry. The led monitor is recognising very small voltage drops across the pack as the servos operate when you stir the sticks. You suggested you might use extension leads to couple up the new packs; unfortunately this doesn’t really help the situation, either. Somehow you need to find out exactly what the magnitude is of these drops, as in actual volts, using a voltmeter, and what part of the circuit is causing them, although I’d perhaps consider that it’s unlikely that it’s now actually the cells themselves; so it might be that the unit itself is suspect.

Just one other thing, the Hextronik display is dual function, LiPo and LiFe, the switch between the two is a tiny touch confusing, and if you get it wrong it can tend to seriously lead you up the garden path for a while… however, I’m sure you’ve already made sure this is correct on your device…

This probably doesn’t get you much further on, I’m sorry to say, it now needs a spot of tinkering with to crack it, I guess.

PB

Lee Smalley15/12/2014 20:35:20
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2125 forum posts
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you have to set the powerbox switch up for Life type battery, RLFI, the switch does not automatically detect your battery, you have to press some buttons to tell it what you have, when you wiggle the sticks you will still get amber flickering, but this is normal, when it is a solid red coming on is when you need to be worried, can i repeat Peter these units dont go faulty, that is why you pay good money for them and why people the world over trust them with very expensive models.

john melia 115/12/2014 23:05:34
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Thats the first thing I did lee , when I installed it

Bob Cotsford16/12/2014 11:11:55
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Even with Peter's suggested Hextronix monitors I used to get substantial voltage indication swings when using chunky digital servos with medium size LiFe packs. When I say substantial, I mean substantial in terms of the indicated range which in real terms is still over a 6v minimum. In my experience there's nothing to worry about as long as the voltage doesn't drop into the red and stay there.

I have to admit that the units I have are Hobbyking clones, but they are functionally identical to the Powerbox units. I do think that they are marginal with LiFe as they are trying to regulate 6.6v packs to an output of 5.9 - that doesn't leave much headroom to regulate!

Lee Smalley16/12/2014 11:30:29
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check you have done it, even do it again, you will get amber lights as you waggle the sticks but you will not get red lights, i fly mine with a life 2000 pack and i easily get 6 flights of 20mins a day out of it on my capiche fitted with 5 hi torque digital servos, yes towards the end of the day i start getting amber flashes when wagging the sticks but thats normal, if you are getting solid reds then something is wrong, either your setup, (servos, extension cables, binding surfaces etc) or your batts, trust powerbox ...millions do!

try connecting one servo at a time and see when the reds start to appear, what servos are you using ?

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