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A Jabiru, parked in a hangar, master switch off, battery hooked up to a smart charger. Without warning the aircraft catches fire and is totally destroyed. All aircraft are checked at the end of the flying day to be sure they are stowed properly. This aircraft had not flown for a few days. A look at the wiring diagram shows that the battery is pretty much isolated from the aircraft when the master switch is off. No fuel leaks around the plane. So, I'm suspecting either the battery caught alight (standard Jabiru battery fitted) because it was faulty or perhaps the smart charger cooked the battery. I would think being 'smart' that would not happen. Your thoughts....

 

 

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Any sign that a rodent may have chewed through something?

Destruction was such that I doubt anybody will find out what happened. If a rat chewed the wires, it would have been in the last 24 hours and as far as I know the hangar, being used so much has no rodent problems.

 

 

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I have recently looked at 2 different seven stage, computer controlled, "smart chargers", one I bought new and the smart bit didn't work - it charged flat out no matter what. I returned it for a refund, grudgingly given. The second one was an up-market (expensive) brand 15 amp unit owned by a friend. Same story, no smarts, only full charge.

 

So I still use an old (probably 20+ years) Caddymate charger from a golf cart. All it does is charge at 2.8 amps until the battery is full charge and then reverts to constant voltage float charge suitable for long term maintenance. It isn't "smart", but just works well without the fancy add-ons -i.e. no computer! Just tried and proven analogue control.

 

 

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Two things:

 

1. For years now, the markets have been awash with cheap knockoffs of all manner of things. Lots of this stuff is sort of 'looks like': it looks like the object it mimics, but doesn't actually work like it. It is quite evident that the folk manufacturing some of this stuff either don't understand what they are building or don't care. In the west, this still trips us up: when we buy a can opener, we expect it will open cans; when we buy a smart charger we expect it to be smart, including having various built in safeties. This is naive of us.

 

2. The above is further aggravated by what I see as a growing expectation that stuff will be 'plug and play'. I work in automation, and we are seeing a lot of this: the expectation that we don't need to understand stuff any more, we just get various blocks of stuff, connect it, and it'll sort itself out.

 

It's easy to be a smartass after the event, but having read the above posts, I think I would be very wary about leaving a charger running to an aircraft unattended unless I had real confidence in the manufacturer, and had read the specs on the device.

 

PS the phrase 'smart charger', as I understand it, implies that the charger runs a varying charge rate to optimise battery performance/life/charge time or some combination of that. So far as I know it doesn't imply any other sort of smarts. But it's probably what you have to write on the box now to sell a charger?

 

 

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Yep...Bushcaddy beat me to it...I haven't personally tested any, but there you have it!

 

 

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I will agree with the above. My industry literally runs on batteries, and the dangers associated with them are real. Ok, ours are mainly Lithium based batteries, and they can be very nasty, but the problem more lies with the electronics in whatever charger you are asking to charge them. I have a growing list of clients that have lost houses, cars, boats, and more recently the life of a young drone operator to a battery fire.

 

Please don't get complacent peeps. Batteries can be nasty little things when it all goes wrong.

 

I know it's after the fact, but I would never charge a battery while still mounted in the plane, car, boat, bike or anything else for that matter. Charge in a clear well vented area.

 

PS - My motorcycle was supplied with a battery tender setup, and I won't even use that. If I need to charge the battery, I yank it from the bike.

 

 

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My question would be more of why not remove the battery from the plane to charge it?

The whole idea of a smart or maintenance charger is for convenience.

 

 

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The whole idea of a smart or maintenance charger is for convenience.

Yeah I guess. But look at the result. :( Sad for the owner. Not sure about the Jab, but it would take me less than 5 minutes to pull the battery from my Sporty. I guess it could be a bigger job in some birds.

 

 

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Yeah I guess. But look at the result. :( Sad for the owner. Not sure about the Jab, but it would take me less than 5 minutes to pull the battery from my Sporty. I guess it could be a bigger job in some birds.

No question on the result, I'd be devistated if my bird was burnt by a possible faulty battery and or connection. I was given a maintenance charger by the previous owner when I bought my machine but I would not use it for this very reason. I fly often so my battery is always topped up. Hope his insurance covers that. Fuel vapours are about under the hood most times. As we know we need three things to start a fire and for it to continue. A source of ignition, oxygen and a fuel source, the latter needs to be continious. Be interesting to know if the cause can be tracked down.
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KISS is the way with batteries. The good old charger type as stated above just works every time. 1 to 3 amps charge and when the battery reaches its charge voltage the charger drops back to float mode at 13.6 or 13.8v..cant beat it. All these funky "smart" chargers...been there and done that, really they are for all the different chemistry batteries but the std good old boy charger still works on them. Also make sure you have a fuse in the charger lead is another thing a lot of these chargers dont seem to have. This can save a lot of grief too

 

 

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But it's probably what you have to write on the box now to sell a charger?

I thought the magic prefix nowadays was ‘i’ ?

I bet an icharger outsells a ‘smart charger ‘ :D

 

 

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What kind of "smart" charger? I have just bought a smart charger and was going to use it on my plane while I'm overseas. Now I'm not so sure!

Scott I now of ctek type chagers burning. Primary reason includes heat of unit in operation being contained due to small area were unit is located. I tecommend very good ventilation to disapate hea and don't place in congested cupboards etc. Perhaps locate the charger on floor away for aircraft with the charge leads only into the plane. That way should eliminate a situation of charger burning and spreading to the aircraft or other combustable material in the hangar. Cheers
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I thought the magic prefix nowadays was ‘i’ ?I bet an icharger outsells a ‘smart charger ‘ :D

iCharger SS GT Turbo Quantum...with resilience!!!

 

 

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I will agree with the above. My industry literally runs on batteries, and the dangers associated with them are real. Ok, ours are mainly Lithium based batteries, and they can be very nasty, but the problem more lies with the electronics in whatever charger you are asking to charge them. I have a growing list of clients that have lost houses, cars, boats, and more recently the life of a young drone operator to a battery fire. Please don't get complacent peeps. Batteries can be nasty little things when it all goes wrong.

I know it's after the fact, but I would never charge a battery while still mounted in the plane, car, boat, bike or anything else for that matter. Charge in a clear well vented area.

 

PS - My motorcycle was supplied with a battery tender setup, and I won't even use that. If I need to charge the battery, I yank it from the bike.

The life of a young drone operator?

 

 

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Smart chargers no doubt have some sort of a computer controlling them. What is the least reliable piece of electronics? A computer in my opinion. I know a lot of people who use a solar charger full time on Odyssey batteries. i tried it and gave it away and got better life by only charging with an old type mains powered charger at home.

 

By solar charger I mean one that automaticly ups the voltage when the sun doesn't shine fully.

 

 

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I have 3 of the same type of floating chargers they just have a voltage regulator and cut out when voltage reaches around 12.5 volts fairly simple and I've used them for a long,long ,long time or maybe longer? Where I think there could be an issue would be if you were to have a battery with a dead cell the charger wont recognise this and keep charging trying to reach the 12.5v and there would be an overcharge of the remaining cells possibly causing a short!

 

 

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My question would be more of why not remove the battery from the plane to charge it?

The battery chargers are used to keep the battery topped up, although with all the flying the planes do, it does seem a bit pointless. As for the battery removal, it's a pain to get the battery in and out of a Jabiru.

 

 

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Been using the oz charge kit for about 18 months now, very happy with the device, it’s sometimes 4 or 5 months between flights for me, no battery problems so far, touch wood. 080_plane.gif.a1e5e0a413d43d363c1bc5b3a612d6df.gif

 

CC261286-B499-4ABB-BB4D-6BDD2F3CC8F3.png.adecf8d0e6d48ca55dee0c50adc66af4.png

 

 

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The life of a young drone operator?

Not really! We started commercially in drones in 2006. So been in the game 12 years - long before the word "drone" was a thing. We went on to start Australia's first multirotor drone training certified by CASA in 2014. The industry is booming, but only in the last 5 years or so. Before that, we were geeky dudes playing with strange tech! LOL!

 

 

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