iCharger 208B Review

Monday, September 7, 2009

iCharger 208B Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse


Manufacturer: Shenzen Junsi Electronic Co, LTD
Distributor: Progressive RC
Price: $169.99 (as of Sept 2009)
Type: synchronous balance charger / discharger
Input Voltage: 4.5 - 32.0 VDC
Charge Current Range: 0.05 - 20.0 A
Maximum Charge Power: 350W @ input voltage > 18V
(see the user's guide for full specifications)


After getting my Compass Knight 600E, I realized I needed a charger capable of putting out more watts than my TME Xtrema (which is a great charger, but only 180 watts). The Xtrema does a great job, but when you're charging 8S 5000mah packs, it just takes a long time!

The iChargers had been catching my eye recently, especially after a friend of mine bought the 1010B to use on his 10S A123 packs. A chat with a fellow Knight owner and iCharger user at a fun fly convinced me to give the 208B a try, and he also pointed me to David at ProgressiveRC as a great vendor from which to purchase it.

I sent an inquiry to David, at which time I found out he's an old online acquaintance from back in the fixed pitch Honey Bee flying days! We had a fun conversation and soon there was an iCharger 208B in my mailbox.

A charger is something you need to use for a while to really get a feel for how it works, so I've been delaying this review until I got a bit of use on the charger. Well, here we are!

First Impressions

First things first: This charger is tiny! I was really surprised when I opened the box and saw how compact it is. It comes nicely boxed, and in fact I used part of the foam padding in my charger carrying case. You get a nice set of alligator clips for connecting to a 12V battery, a temperature sensor wire/probe, and also included is a USB cable and PC software. This is used not only to update the firmware, but also for the data logging capability. More on that later.

There are three different balancer boards available to suit the different connector types available. One comes with the charger, and David sells extras for a very reasonable $9.95 (with free shipping). Yes, I needed all three to be able to charge the variety of packs I own. Just as a sideline gripe: Why the heck can't the lipo manufacturers get together and standardize the connectors and wiring for balance taps? Come on people, it's really not rocket science. Pick a connector type and use it!

Anyway, moving along....

Using the iCharger 208B

Due to the timing of my purchase, my charger didn't come with the latest firmware installed. David was very apologetic about this, but I had no worries. Besides, it would be a good test to see how easy it is to update the firmware, right? As I suspected, it was very easy to do and the instructions at ProgressiveRC's website worked perfectly. Don't be afraid to update the firmware on this unit as new versions come along. It's easy!

As mentioned earlier, the iCharger can be connected to the PS via USB cable so that you can log your recharge data using LogView software. This is German-developed software, but is multi-lingual enough to understand how it works. I have used it to log the recharge data for several battery packs, and while I'm not a complete data-freak, it is definitely cool and could be useful to track battery performance over its lifespan.

In addition to Lipo / A123 batteries, the 208B can charge Nicad / Nickel Metal batteries, as well as lead acid batteries. It has a setting to measure internal resistance (IR). It can power brushed motors for break-in, and it even has a setting power a hot-wire bow for foam cutting! Truly, this is a versatile little box.

Actually charging a pack is very simple. Connect to the main lead, connect the balancer (if desired) and select the charge mode. Setting the rate and cell count is easy and the charger will double-check your selection for cell count (voltage checking) to be sure you're not trying to do something foolish. A long press of the start button does the voltage checking and gives you a chance to verify the settings. One more quick press of the button and you're charging.

Of course, there are tons more things you can do with charge / discharge modes as well as saving up to 10 configurations for easy use later. This review isn't going to tell you step-by-step how to do those things, that's what the manual is for. ;^) If you really get stuck, David is only an email or forum post away.

One thing to note: In order to utilize the full power output capability of this charger, you need a really good input power source! Ideally, you want something that is at least 18V, and ProgressiveRC can help you out there with some heavy-duty power supplies at reasonable prices. I ended up getting a 24V 20A unit from eBay for a reasonable price, but it'd be easier to just get everything from David!

There is one more thing I do want to talk about, and that's how to connect batteries to the balancer board when serial charging! I was under the (mistaken) impression that my 8S pack, which consists of two 4S packs in series, could just be connected any old way to the balancer board. Uhhh.... well let's just say I had a 50-50 chance of hooking them up the right way. And I chose poorly! A big spark and a melted pin on the balance board and battery balance connector immediately indicated I'd done it wrong! This picture in my album should clarify how the connectors need to be arranged. Note that I color-coded my board and battery connectors to help avoid the magic smoke! The important thing to note is the relationship between the main battery positive / negative and the balancer tap positive / negative in relation to the wires coming off the balancer board. Keep everything going in that order and you'll be fine.


If you are looking for an "all in wonder" charger that can top off just about any battery type you might possibly have, as well as log your data and even run your hot-wire cutter, then the iCharger 208B may be just what you need! Combine excellent features and performance with great support from David at ProgressiveRC and it's a very appealing package.

Threads, Photos, and other resources

There really isn't much to see when it comes to photos of a charger, but what I did take you can find in this online photo album. We discussed the iCharger in three episodes of InsideHeli Podcast. Here are direct links to all three shows (mp3 files):

Episode 64
Episode 65
Episode 69

This is an active discussion thread for the iCharger on RCGroups.com

This is a parallel charging thread on RCGroups.com

1 Comment:

Joseph M. said...

A 20amp charger is great, but now we have LiPo's and Lithium Iron Phosphate (see Max Amps Green Series can take 15c charge rate or 67amps) batteries that can take incredible amounts of Amps, and not even one charger to fill the demand. 20amps isn't even close to what many of todays lipo's can take. Even the CellPro FMA 1000watt 30amp charger doesn't fit the bill. And we need more powerfull Power Supplies as well. 24v 50amp and 100amp would be a good start. Much work being done, but not one charger ready now!