In RC, it used to be a NiCd and NIMH world and all you needed was one charger for both cell types. These days, however, most people use NiMH and LiPo battery packs, and these cell chemistries require very different charging methods. This means that you need two chargers or need to spend a good amount on a charger that could safely do both. DuraTrax changes that with the release of the Onyx 230. Let’s take a look and see what the Onyx 230 gives us for a price tag under $80.
The Onyx 230 is AC and DC compatible, so you can plug it into a wall outlet in your house or run it off your car battery or 12V power supply. The Onyx 230 is backlit so you can use it during the day or at night, and it’s lightweight at only 23.5 oz and includes the popular banana plug output jacks for charging packs. The Onyx 230 is part of the Onyx family of chargers which includes four additional models. The line begins with a 200 series charger which is more basic, and ends with the 240, which can charge two NiCd/NIMH packs at once.
Here is what this charger can handle:
> 1 to 8 Cell NiCd/NiMh
> 1 to 3 Cell LiPo/Li-Ion/LiFe
> Battery Capacity 50 to 9900mAh
> Charge Rate .1 to 7 amps
The charger has many features. Some of the more useful ones are an adjustable safety timer, adjustable peak detection sensitivity for the packs, 10 battery memory, the ability to turn the key tones on and off, and reverse polarity/current overload protection. The Onyx 230 uses the proven CC/CV method of charging LiPo packs.
To test the charger, I started with a 7-cell 4700mAh pack from MaxAmps.com. The menu is easy to use. I charged the pack at 5 amps with a .05mv cell cutoff with no trickle charging. When the charge was complete the pack was warm to the touch, but not hot. This is the sign of a fully charged pack. I threw the pack in my Traxxas Bandit VXL and ran the battery. It was fully charged and lasted quite a while. I also tested the charger with a 6000mAh 2S pack from MaxAmps.com. I set the amp rate at 6 amps with a safer timer of 120min. The charge was complete well before then.
All in all this is a great charger, and for the money is hard to beat. It’s able to charge almost any pack on the market, and can do it at the workbench or at the track. DuraTrax also gives you a 5-year warranty on this charger. The one downside is that it can’t balance charge. I wouldn’t let that stop you from getting this charger however as most LiPo packs are factory matched for voltage. I usually don’t balance my packs anyways, and haven’t had any problems as of yet.