The High Pro Glow

Welcome! The topics introduced in this blog will vary wildly. Here, you will find a lot of odd topics that are here to help somebody in need. I post off-beat information, hard to find history, & stuff that is otherwise seldom regurgitated in our modern place. Sit back & find something interesting. Comment if you have a need or suggestion.

Thank you for crossing paths!

Christopher R. Smith (aka. Littlehorn)

I've got it on! Have you got it on?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Parrot Bebop 2 Battery Charging

The Parrot Bebop 2 (and Bebop 2 Power) battery pack provides the only means of power to maintain flight. How well and how long depends on a few easy to learn maintenance habits that will help Lithium-Polymer ('LiPo' or 'Li-Ion Polymer', and "LiHV") packs perform as expected and live longer lifespans. Weakened battery packs can cause legitimate 'fly-aways' usually from bad cell voltage fluctuations leading to the unexpected system reactions to unusual battery behaviors..this also can trigger shutdown mid-flight. The Parrot battery packs are good quality but expensive and need attention like most other flight Lithium packs or they will die and take your Bebop too.

Ready for the meat of the subject now? It will be easy to understand and worth the effort. After you read this you will have a much better understanding of Lithium Battery therapy. I will start with the Stock OEM Parrot Bebop 2 battery types.

The Parrot Bebop 2 stock OEM battery pack is an encased 3-cell 3S 2700mAh LiPo. Parrot recommends "Charge at 3.5A Max" which is higher than the usual "1C charge rate" of typical R/C LiPo batteries. "1C" means that a battery can handle being charged at 1x the specified mAh written on a LiPo battery. Higher performance packs can handle higher than 1C charge rates..but more on that and connection details later. The stock Parrot Bebop 2 and Power battery packs have an internal protection board that provides over-charge and over-discharge protection for the internal cells. It also has trigger points that the system uses to limit voltage flow, cell thermal temperatures, and voltage balancing among the 3 individual cells. These features are meant to protect the battery but often at the expense of the Bebop itself. Many times the protection boards are helpful but several battery conditions can lead to shutdowns midflight. Some problems can be limited so that the Bebop is not sacrificed to protect the battery instead.

The Parrot Bebop 2 Power stock OEM battery pack is an encased 3-cell 3S 3350mAh LiHV "Lithium-High Voltage" pack. It is also a Lithium Polymer cell type...it's difference is that it has a higher voltage when fully-charged and a higher voltage output initially. Also, it can only be charged with chargers able to service LiHV batteries. The charge rating for 3350mAh Power packs is a 1C rating of 3.35A. It is fully-charged at 4.35 volts per cells with a combined total of 13.05 volts for the 3-cell pack.

The Bebop 2 Power can use standard Bebop 2 stock 2700mAh packs. The Power packs can be charged with a charger only able to use LiPo 3S charge profiles..but the Power LiHV pack basically becomes a lower voltage LiPo. It is not a good practice to switch back&forth between charging the LiHV packs as LiHV and LiPo. Stick with LiHV charging profiles.

LiPo Do-Nots...(one "Do"now..always watch LiPo charge)

-Do Not discharge below 10% remaining power as reported in FreeFlight Pro. Land well before this number or risk discharging below a safe voltage level for LiPo to remain healthy and to minimize sudden unexpected Bebop shutdowns and drops from the sky. 20% remaining is a good number to be near the landing zone. Every dip below 3.2 volts per cell will add damage and shorten its life and harm expected performance. Failing cells will have voltage levels lower and weaker than the other cells. All of the cells should be about .2 volts within each other. A dying cell will not hold a charge as well as the others..or have the capacity. It could be target-charged to bring it up to match the other voltages and become balanced with the other cells...but it may be dying anyway. Discharging to zero equals LiPo death.
-Do Not store battery packs while discharged too low or with fully-charged voltage levels. Below 3.2 volts per cell is too low. Fully-Charged and it is like a grenade ready to blow. Flying a pack discharging it to about 45% to 60% as reported by FreeFlight Pro will pull the voltage level down to an approximate Storage Voltage Level or 3.75 - 3.85 volts per cell.
-Do Not let battery packs get too hot. At 140F damage occurs and where LiPo is at risk of rupture or 'venting'..like a volcano. If in your hot car or sitting on a charger too long in your home..the result can be disastrous. Normally, the battery only should be a little warm after a flight. LiPo likes to be about 95F at lift off summer and winter. Though, let the battery cool down between charge cycles and flight.
-Do Not charge an aftermarket Bebop 2 battery with the stock charging setup. The stock charging setup relies on the protection circuit to also help balance the individual cells as a group. The aftermarket batteries do not have this circuit and the stock charger does not know this...it only input power. So, the aftermarket batteries do not receive any sort of balancing. This "straight-charge" will stress the first cell filling and over-filling the first cell before the others also resulting in a pack with 3 cells at different voltage levels. Different charge levels result in the lower charged cells reaching the fully-discharge state sooner and dropping the total output below to expactations the system needs for flight. This will be evident with short flight times and an imbalanced battery that has a shorter overall lifespan..meaning the battery will need to be replaced much sooner than a battery should. AND, very prone to Bebop brownouts and shutdowns midflight. All multi-cell Lithium batteries require balance charging.

Note: FreeFlight Pro reports remaining battery charge measurements taken during flight. Voltages fluctuations can cause reporting errors. A failing battery may even dump or fail to supply voltage demands to the point the system shuts down..and the Bebop falls. Cold weather has the same affect on all LiPo chemistry cells.

Now, the "Do's" will be explained in the handling and charging processes described below. New LiPo packs need a few cycles after birth/storage to perform as expected and become trusted for expected flight performance. So, don't trust them for a few flights..keep the Bebop low and slow until you get a good feel for a battery's behavior and performance before you get too far down the road.

Charging the Bebop batteries with the included stock charger is not a great solution to continue for long. It charges at a charge rate that is higher than typically applied. Additionally, the batteries can be discharged below the level that triggers the stock charger to start charging. Some tricking could force the stock charger to charge..but it isnt recommended as the battery may be damaged and forcing it to charge may become a bigger problem with smoke a fire. Some Bebop 2 boxes have been on the shelf for a year or more at this point in time. Batteries from new sealed boxes can self-discharged to unhealthy level and may not be capable of supporting safe flight. The stock charger do not provide any information about the pack or its status. Without a way to monitor your batteries it is impossible to know enough to keep the Bebop flying as expected for as long as expected. The stock charger can balance the packs well enough for 6 months of fun. But, these packs can usually live a much longer and more productive lives.

To Charge a Parrot Bebop 2 Battery pack..first, stop using the stock charger. Then, find a better balance charger with a display that can do more and show you what is happening with the LiPo cells. I use the one pictured here. It is very capable and more modern and being actively supported..more than 4-button chargers these days. 4-button chargers are really good and some offer some really great functions. Most of the veteran users will use them. New chargers are being released often. The iSDT chargers are very easy to use, updatable, and have performed better than my 4-button chargers.

Here is my iSDT SC-620 charger connected to a Bebop 2 battery. The custom adapter cable shown in the pic is needed to complete the setup. That adapter is hand-made and different versions can be purchased from different sources. If you wish, you can contact me..I will be making several different versions for different applications for users. I can create Bebop 2 & Bebop 2 Power charge cables for anyone in need. Buy A Cable HERE.

The short main power portion has an XT-60 connector (yellow) soldered on the end leading to the charger's main output. The XT-60 is a very common connector used with many LiPo batteries, chargers, and other RC systems. Usually, this would connect to an adapter supplied with the charger to complete the connections.

NOTE:  Both the 4-wire balance lead and the 2-wire main power lead need to be connected to the charger to be able to balance charge the internal cells properly.

Due to the flexibility of the iSDT chargers, it is possible to charge a LiPo battery with a larger LiPo battery, or from a larger deep-cycle 12volt battery, or from an old PC's power supply, or with an old 12volt 5Amp laptop power supply from a wall plug. Since this is a fact..a power supply is also needed to power the iSDT chargers. There is an  included 12volt adapter with alligator clips and the XT-60 that matches the iSDT charger's power input port. Other options will need the XT-60 to match the charger. If soldering is not your preferred method of DIY..you need to find the appropriate adapters to complete the connections.

An optional charge setup requiring less work upfront are 4-button chargers. Here is a Tenergy TB6B 4-button charger connected to the Bebop 2 battery. Many 4-button chargers include a 'squid' connector lead with an assortment of common connectors to match most systems in use today. Some 4-button chargers will need a power supply. The Genuine SkyRC Imax B6ACv2 has an internal power supply making it a little easier on beginners. Most 4-button chargers use 4mm banana plugs to output the main charge current to the battery lead..I have one with the yellow XT-60 connectors as seen in the picture. Other good brands of 4-button chargers are available. Just be sure to buy "Genuine". Adjustments can be made to most of these units to better calibrate its measurements. But, usually most of them are close though the readings may not be in sync with every other voltage meter that isn't calibrated either.

Setting a charger to charge a Bebop 2 battery.

Generally..make sure that you are charging to the battery's specs as labelled on the battery and that the charger is always set to "Balance Charge"..Not "Fast Charge" or even just "Charge". Both the 4-wire balance connector and the 2-wire main lead connector have to be connected for the charger to balance charge the internal cells properly. When balance charging, the input charge is individually added to each cell and they are increased equally until fully-charged or when the set cut-off voltage is reached. Most chargers will automatically set some aspects like battery type, cell number, max charge voltage level cut-off, discharge voltage level cut-off, a set storage level voltage, and possibly a charge rate amperage value. Nothing to sweat about.

Balance charge Bebop 2 stock batteries at a 2.7Amp charge rate (or, the next lower Amperage setting). This setting is important..and selectable before starting a charge process. Some tests suggest that lower/slower charge rates help achieve a longer LiPo lifespan. I wouldn't recommend slow trickle-charging the batteries with a very low amperage throughout the charge cycle because it would take a long time to charge/balance high-capacity 3S packs and there is no real benefit by charging slower than half the C rating. In most cases slow charging can lower the performance of high-output cells. A 2700mAh pack (such as the B2 stock battery) has a C rating that suggests it can be charged at 2.7Amps. However, as mentioned before, Parrot recommends "Charging at 3.5A Max" which is higher than a usual 1C charge rate of LiPo batteries. I have charged one of my stock B2 packs at 3.5A for over a year with no signs of damage but it may not reach as many charge cycles as it possibly could at the lower charge rate of 2.7A. 2.7A is the safest rate for B2 stock batteries and should provide the best overall longevity as well.

Whatever charger you do employ..watch the charger or be near it while it is powered on and especially while charging anything.

Keep it Safe. Keep it Healthy. Enjoy the Skies!

I hope you had fun developing this skill..if you want to buy me a cup of coffee or a Beer to show your appreciation...here's how...click the link below and type in some amount. Its safe and easy as pie!

13 Comments:

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Warren said...

Hi,

Thanks a lot for this post, it's very helpful. I'm charging my Bebop 2 battery with a UAC-50. I flew the drone till the battery reached 2% and have balance charged it back up as one cell was quite a bit below the other two. It's been going for 75 mins and the batteries are at 12.60v (which the charge end voltage is set to) and is now charging at 0.7a, the individual cells are reporting 4.19-4.20v together. Is this right? The mAh it's put into the batteries is around 2350 so far. How does it know when to stop? The capacity cut-off setting on the charger is set at 5000mAh, should I have changed this to match the batteries capacity? It's an aftermarket 3100mAh battery I'm currently charging. Only got the cable and charger today and it's my first attempt with these so any advice on this is greatly appreciated!

Thanks a lot!

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger ewoid said...

Christopher:
Thank you for this very informative blog. Being a Bebop 2 flier can be frustrating, and it's great to have someone like you around to help.

Do you still make the adapter cable for charging the Bbp2 batteries with a balanced charger? I just discovered how necessary it is to do this, and I am lucky enough to have a buddy who had a Imax B6AC charger he would sell me.

Please let me know if you can make me one or two of the cables and connectors as soon as you can. I'm in SW Washington state, and our summers are wicked short and often rainy (though since the beginning of June, it's been great. But up here, you never know.).

Please contact me at ewoid64@gmail.com and let me know.

Thank you for any help you can offer.

Tim Tully

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

Hi Warren..Discharging to 2% can be below a healthy bottom level of 3.2 volts per cell. Try not to discharge any cell below 3.2volts. Beware of the flight system's battery level numbers being a different measurement and scale. Get very familiar with bolt age checks before&after charges&flights.

The catch with sevetal devices is if any are actual accurate to their displayed numbers. Calibration is always suspect until it can be verified. So, "4.2v" max may actually be higher and stressing the batteries. Setting the charger's max charge cutoff is Ok. Set it to 2700mAh if that is the largest pack you charge. But, this number is a total capacity...you only replace a portion and that is different each time. So, feeling-out how your batteries respond when being topped-off or verifying the accuracy of the charger will help to determine if you need to lower the voltage to 4.18v or 4.19v..or lower to keep this level from being exceeded and allow a safety zone before overcharge. Flighttimes are not greatly altered by lowering the top-off voltage.

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

I will contact you. I can make cables or hack the Bebop 2 stock charge cable.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger John Horton said...

Best information I have found yet! Tired of ruining these batteries and wondering if I will ever see my Bebop again. I would be interested in purchasing an adapter cable, if the offer still stands. I am in South Carolina and any help is very appreciated. my email is jhorton@georgetownlandingmarina.com. Thank you.

 
At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also would like to purchase a bebop 2 balance charger cable if it's still available. My email is dswolfiehotmail.com

 
At 12:00 AM, Blogger Tim Hebb said...

This was a huge help!!! I was so tired of fighting with the charger that comes with the Bebop 2.Went online and found a decent balance charger for less than 20 bucks.Followed the diagram and modded the charging cable.To those who are a bit on the fence about making one,it really isn't hard.Just take your time and follow the directions.......charging a battery now....Thanks again!!!

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

You are Welcome! Congratulations to your success! Feels good to have control of your batteries, huh?

Giving it a try does help develop a skill. There is a bit of startup cost buying soldering equipment..but, it really is worth the effort.

I have built over 30 Bebop 2 cables and nearly every one of them ended-up slightly different. I have a bunch of good pictures to add to these instructions.

Anyway.. I'm glad this stuff helped you! Enjoy the Skies!

 
At 6:26 AM, Blogger Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

Thank You! Please, enjoy your cable. Let me know if you have questions.

 
At 6:44 AM, Blogger Christopher R. Smith (Littlehorn) said...

I think I missed this comment. I sent you an email. Sorry to have kept you waiting.

 
At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also like to purchase a BB2 cable from you with the balance wires.
Please email me @ Idiotman1973@gmail.com
Let me know if you take paypal and how much for the cables.
I was wondering if you could make them 18 inches long?
Thanks in advance!!

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger PM de Vos said...

Hi Christoffer,

I'm in the Netherlands. Can you make a cable for me to use for charging/balancing mij Bebop2 batteries?

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Greg Patey said...

Christopher, you have given some helpful information and explained why a balance charger is necessary for the maximum battery life.

would you be willing to tell me exactly what all I would need (in list form) to balance charge my "bebop 2 power" batteries. (I must apologize, as I think you have already stated the preferred pieces, but due to it being all incorporated into a paragraph with other points you are making, it has left me a bit confused as to what are the preferred parts)

what is the best model of charger?
what type of cables I need?
is there any way to set it up so that 2 batts can be charged at the same time?
other parts or pieces needed?

AND, could you put together and set me up with an "all inclusive" kit that is "plug-n-play"?..... or do you know of any reputable "kits" being sold that are plug-n-play?

thank you

 

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