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Power panel fire

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fly boy324/06/2018 18:35:23
3419 forum posts
17 photos

Hi all, connected starter to 12v supply, Connected glow plug to 1.5 v supply. Cannot mix these up as they have different connections. Connected plug lead to glow plug, followed my smoke from power panel. Could a short on the plug lead cause this problem. . Thanks

Don Fry24/06/2018 19:11:20
3130 forum posts
38 photos

Yes, but it might be elsewhere. But in fairness, power panels are a right source of complication. Ditch it because the thing is dead. Then make, very, careful choices for its replacement.

To my mind you will need, a starter with a 4s lipo for power, a 2000 mah will do for anything to 30 cc. And a glo starter. I am a traditionalist, a 2 v lead acid, an ammeter, and resistance( variable). I accept , while being right, I am in a minority.

I charge everything, when I burn a gallon of fuel.

Percy Verance24/06/2018 20:33:18
7385 forum posts
143 photos

As Don says, power panels are imho a complete waste of space. Remember, if it can go wrong it will........

fly boy324/06/2018 22:06:37
3419 forum posts
17 photos

I,m with you both. Up until a few years ado I used aGates Cyclon 2v cell, lasted me 20 yes 20years. Problem is a new Cyclon cell is nearly twice the price of a panel these days, but you only get what you pay for too. Thanks

fly boy324/06/2018 22:16:18
3419 forum posts
17 photos

Found one for £10, at 2.5 Amps, Is that sufficient current ? Cheers

Bob Cotsford24/06/2018 22:22:07
7683 forum posts
427 photos

That will keep the average plug glowing for 40 minutes to an hour.

fly boy324/06/2018 22:49:45
3419 forum posts
17 photos

Cheers Bob, I will go for it. Is there really a need to drop the volts to 1.5v . My last Cyclon batt, lasted 20 years without a voltage drop circuit and never blew a plug ? Thanks

Percy Verance25/06/2018 06:25:40
7385 forum posts
143 photos

fly boy

A chap in my club had the same problem. He simply used leads about 5ft long, wound round and taped to the Cyclon cell. Worked just fine.

I used an RCATS lithium powered glow driver for years. Brilliant bit of kit. Intelligent too. You could place a plug into the glow-clip, then switch on and place the plug into a glass of water. You'd immediately see the plug glow nice and bright after the circuitry had increased the required current. It had enough ooomph to drive both plugs on my Laser twin too. The icing on the cake was that it only needed charging once a year. Not cheap, but worth every penny for it's hassle free usage.

Peter Christy25/06/2018 08:50:57
1192 forum posts

Power panels are a waste of money. Utter rubbish! The only thing they are good for is blowing plugs.

Best option is a small LiPo for the starter (conveniently attached to it, so no trailing leads). For the glow power, I use a single-cell high-capacity NiMh, no resistor, just an old battery charger ammeter (5 amp) in series.

A good NiMh will provide enough oomph to easily light either a 1.5 or 2V plug, without any risk of over driving it. It will even clear a flooded 2V easily. The ammeter will tell you if the plug is OK or wet or dry once you learn how to read it, and your plugs will last forever (well, nearly!) as you can't possible over drive them.

Forget power panels! Best place for them is the bin!




Edited By Peter Christy on 25/06/2018 08:52:12

RC Plane Flyer25/06/2018 08:53:11
556 forum posts
21 photos

Hi Flyboy. I had the cylon cell for years .then I replaced it with a single nimh cell D size I think and have no problem starting engines only on Saturday I noticed a plug pulling over 3 amps no problems

Bob Cotsford25/06/2018 10:07:45
7683 forum posts
427 photos

I wouldn't dismiss power panels as 'utter rubbish'. I can't remember how old my current one is, maybe 10 years? The previous one must have lasted at least that long having succeeded a home build job that saw me through the 80's and a good part of the 90's. I do like having just one alarm type battery that needs charging just once or twice a year, having an electric fuel pump with a reverse switch and an ammeter to show when I'm beating a dead horse spinning over a motor with a dead plug in it. The down side was needing a separate, bigger battery pack to spin petrols and 180 glow motors.

Incidentally, I think the biggest killers of power panels are probably cheap shoddily made glow clips that short out!  A much more likely source of short circuits than the plugs themselves.

Edited By Bob Cotsford on 25/06/2018 10:13:00

Don Fry25/06/2018 11:31:51
3130 forum posts
38 photos

Fly boy, re the Nimh battery route, I note HobbyKing do a 5000 mAh sub c jobbie for about three quid.

I understand what your saying Bob, but my stuff does that, will start a 180 with ease, and has a 3 inch ammeter I can read from a yard away, and because it's big, can see if the motor had fuel on the plug, or if its flooded, as well as not burnt out. And it's lighter. And cheaper.

Martin Harris25/06/2018 11:54:41
8179 forum posts
206 photos

The glow drivers in the panels I've had have (and many that fellow club members have owned) failed by giving the full 12V battery voltage on the plug - which costs much more than the cost of a Cyclon cell by the time you've blown a minimum of 2 glowplugs!

Many plugs are rated at 2V and combined with a reasonable (but not excessive) length of connecting cable, my Cyclon has never blown any of my plugs (usually OS F or Enya No.3) and engines definitely start more easily than with 1.2V glowsticks.

Nigel R25/06/2018 11:55:39
2325 forum posts
389 photos

Panels can be good, but not the cheap ones. For those happy with a soldering iron, there are a few schematics for the glow drivers out there on the net, but they are a small project in themselves. One or two circuits around will do what the RCATS driver does.

Personally, going from scratch, KISS:

Cheap 4S Lipo for the starter.

Hand crank pump. Or, maybe, an electric with a flyweight lipo attached.

Several nimh glow sticks. They are available with ammeters built in. I might get one with and one without to keep overall cost down a bit.

OTOH I'm happy with a DIY panel all running from a gel cell. Old school, but works for me.

Tim Flyer25/06/2018 12:09:00
884 forum posts
145 photos

I use a simple JP power panel with lead acid battery built into my flight box. It’s all very convenient as our club parking is not far from the pits so not much carrying, and it’s good to have all I need in one box . Must admit that I use glow sticks, but the panel is great to power my fuel pump and starter when needed. I have had this JP panel for a few years and no problem. When I bought it I made sure I had a panel with a separate external fuel pump. Some of the built in fuel pumps seem to cause trouble. My current pump has lasted two years. I use separate glow sticks as they are convenient and eliminate extra wires . There is also the problem that a starter motor can reduce the voltage on a power panel glow lead. I mostly start motors by hand but my trusty old Sullivan starter works very well when needed.

Edited By Timothy Harris 1 on 25/06/2018 12:10:08

will -025/06/2018 13:08:48
463 forum posts

Glow stick and a lead acid powered starter for me


My glow sticks are NiCAD powered and must be 18 years old now, never a problem unless you leave it in the workshoppe

I recently plumbed my battery into the flight box as they were getting a bit battered loose and there had been a few too many welding incidents for my liking........

I am not equipped for LiPOs though I see the attraction of an all in one starter as it removes the trailing leads


Edited By will -0 on 25/06/2018 13:35:24

Bob Cotsford25/06/2018 14:29:33
7683 forum posts
427 photos

My, am I glad to be leaving all this behind face 1. From now on I take the model(s), transmitter and a handfull of batteries.

I hear that ex-smokers are a real PITB too, though being an ex-smoker myself I wouldn't know cheeky

Don Fry25/06/2018 14:41:38
3130 forum posts
38 photos

Now you are getting complicated Bob.

extra slim25/06/2018 14:46:58
424 forum posts
47 photos

Lipo on starter for years and years, and one of these lipo glow drivers..**LINK**

Similar principle to the one Percy mentions, not as intelligent, but alot cheaper.. havent charged a 2200mah 3s so far since last season.. last ages.

Edited By extra slim on 25/06/2018 14:48:15

Peter Christy25/06/2018 15:36:32
1192 forum posts

What a lot of people are overlooking is the crude way that power panels regulate the current to the glow-plug. Whether it be a resistor in series, or some kind of transistor equivalent, it is far too easy to damage a plug - if not blow it outright - with a power panel.

As others have found, a single NiCad or NiMh of suitable capacity (sub-C, C or D) is the perfect power source for ANY glow plug - whatever its voltage rating. It is almost impossible to damage a plug with such a source.

With a power panel, the current meter may well show the current being drawn, but by the time it - and the pilot - have reacted to an over-supply, it is too late! The damage is done!

In days of yore, plugs used platinum wire. The catalytic action of the platinum is just as important for correct combustion as a red hot wire. Since car manufacturers soaked up the world's supply of platinum for catalytic converters, we are now reduced to using platinum *coated* wire. Over heat this, and the platinum will start to flake off. When this happens, the wire will take a dull grey appearance, and although it will still glow, it probably won't produce any meaningful combustion!

It takes only a very short over-heat to permanently damage a plug. Say the time it takes to see the current is too high, and your hand to get to the knob and crank it down!

If a plug is glowing bright orange, it is too hot! It should be cherry red - not much more.

A single Nicad or NiMh will achieve this in a self-regulating manner, without human intervention.

Of course, if you enjoy replacing plugs every five minutes, then use a power panel. Me? Some of my plugs have been in use for years, and are still giving good service, thanks to the single cell NiCad / NiMh I use to energise them....



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