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Old 04-01-2006, 12:24 PM   #1
RCfan
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Default Alternative battery system for Futaba 14MZ (/12Z) radios

I recently purchased some 2400 mAh Peerless batteries from Fromeco (www.fromeco.org) for powering my 5014 G3's. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed that they are slightly smaller than Futaba's 14MZ stock battery ... see Futaba vs. Peerless.

Always looking for a new project, I decided to make a cable to allow using these batteries in my favorite radio. With some copper fuel tubing and a Futaba female J-pigtail, I quickly rigged up a suitable cable ... see Cable. Pigtails were a bit short for my taste, but they suited the project well.

Even with the Deans and extra wiring, the battery is a perfect fit inside the battery compartment of the 14MZ ... see Battery installed. The battery itself keeps all the connections in place and the latch on the battery door prevents the battery from sliding out (just like the stock battery).

I already had a few flights this morning with the new setup; works like a champ!!! So not only do I now have a higher capacity battery for my radios, I can easily charge them with any LiIon charger, great for on-the-field charging.

Additional pictures can be seen HERE

I sent Kurt (from Fromeco) an email regarding this to see if he would make a product specifically for this application. As I mentioned, the 2400 Peerless are slightly smaller than the Futaba battery; it should be possible to have a board that fits flat in the battery compartment and provides necessary connections to simply put the battery in and go. Here's a drawing I made of a possible board ... see BOARD. Such a board would lock itself in place (like Futaba's battery do) providing for a more sturdy connection. I'm anxiously awaiting Kurt's response!

As is usual, consult your warranty information.
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Old 04-05-2006, 05:28 AM   #2
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I would think I could cut the boards on my CNC router. It should be made of G-10 or PC board material.

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Old 04-27-2006, 06:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
I sent Kurt (from Fromeco) an email regarding this to see if he would make a product specifically for this application
Any word from Kurt? I'd be interested in several of these.
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Old 04-27-2006, 06:19 PM   #4
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If this is something that people REALLY want to do, why not order the regular Relion pack with a normal connector?/ Then you do not have to mess with the large gauge wire and Dean's connector. Still gets you a 2400 pack (whopping 9% increase in capacity = +/- 12 extra minutes of "ON" time) and it will make this rigged up installation cleaner and easier.

I also think Kurt can make the Peerless packs with normal wire as well or perhaps delete the large wire all together.

Or you could just get the Sony pack that drops right in for $44. The exact same price as the Peerless packs. The Relion packs are $27.
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Old 04-28-2006, 07:11 AM   #5
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Fromeco is still working-out the details on the battery solution for the 14MZ (and 12Z). Here's what Kurt said when asked for status on April 17th: "We are moving ahead on this but it is slow."
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Old 04-28-2006, 08:04 AM   #6
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I have talked to Duralite about a battery for the 14MZ and 12 Z. I don't see where it would be profitable for the companies to make a battery for radios. Unless they could make one that was about 4000 mah or larger.
The Sony battery can be purchased for $50 or less. As mentioned above that is about the same price as the batteries for DIY project and there is virtually no gain in capacity.
I know if I would not want to pay more for a battery that only has very little more capacity.

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Old 04-28-2006, 08:18 AM   #7
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The Fromeco Peerless cost is already around the Sony-brand one and you get a slightly longer-running pack. There's already 2500 LiIon and larger cells coming out that Fromeco can easily take advantage of (I doubt Sony will be producing anything else for that line of batteries and Futaba may provide a higher-capacity solution in the future, but I'm not holding my breath that they'll be cheap).

I don't know about you, but I'd jump at chance to purchase (one-time) an interface for the Peerless (or Relions as Phae mentioned above) that would provide freedom to charge-at-the-field and use any suitable LiIon charger for battery maintenance.

Fromeco already develops their battery packs, so they wouldn't need to retool and would profit simply from the additional sales. They do need to spend some R&D in the design and development of the interface boards, but if priced right, they could recoup that rather easily since the boards should be relatively simple to produce.
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Old 04-28-2006, 08:23 AM   #8
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I agree witih David, why would anyone want to try to compete with Sony if their packs are not at least double the capacity of hte Sony packs.

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I don't know about you, but I'd jump at chance to purchase (one-time) an interface for the Peerless (or Relions as Phae mentioned above) that would provide freedom to charge-at-the-field and use any suitable LiIon charger for battery maintenance.
This is the only advantage I can see is that you could charge at the field if you wanted without having to wait forever on the charger that comes witht he 14mz. Also as a long time user of digital cameras and camcorders, I know that the stock charger leaves a lot to be disired in teh peak charging capabilities and the ability to spot trouble with the packs like you can when you can see the MAH replaced and where it peaks. I guess it is user feedback and yes it iw probably worth a few $$. I will wait until I can get 4000+ mah packs before replacing the Sony cheap and reliable packs.
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Old 04-28-2006, 11:58 AM   #9
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And let's be clear, even a 2500 pack is only going to get you 18 minutes more "ON" time. And that is BEST case. I sincerely doubt that in a real world test you would really see any difference at all.

The major benefit of the proposed system is the ability to field charge. However, simply buying a second pack at essentially the same cost obviates the need for field charging. Two packs will run my 14MZ for as long as I have ever flown in a single day. Over 4.5 hours of on time. With my R50 that would be nearly 21 flights. Even if I flew 2 different helis in a day, that is still 10 or 11 flights per heli per day. That is a LOT of flying!!

Now if there was a solution that gave me 4400 or 4800 in a form factor that did not require modification of the TX, THAT would be interesting.

For now I simply do not see what real world benefit you get from trying to use the Fromeco or Duralite packs. A second Sony pack does the same thing for the same money and does not require the use of anything that is not a part of the radio as made by Futaba.

BTW - I DO have the ability to field charge. I have a CR-2500 charger and can charge in my TX at the field. Want to know how often I have used it to field charge? ZERO!! With 2 packs I have never had the need to field charge, even though I have the ability.

I just do not see what actual benefit you get from using the Fromeco packs in your TX. I do use Fromeco packs in my helis and giant scale planes and in those applications the benefit is clear and well documented.
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Old 04-28-2006, 12:20 PM   #10
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CR-2500 to charge 14MZ is a joke ... don't know many folks that like to put their radio away for an hour or two while the battery charges. Yes, you can have one or more spares that require the same retarded cradle charger and give no idea how healthy a pack is until it probably fails in the middle of a flight. Yes there are alternatives to the cradle if you're crafty, but as I've learned with many folks in this hobby, a lot prefer turnkey alternatives. Besides, there's nothing wrong with having alternatives ...
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Old 04-28-2006, 01:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RCfan
CR-2500 to charge 14MZ is a joke ... don't know many folks that like to put their radio away for an hour or two while the battery charges.
All of these batteries have a max charge rate of 1C, all of them will take an hour or more to charge.

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Yes, you can have one or more spares that require the same retarded cradle charger and give no idea how healthy a pack is until it probably fails in the middle of a flight.
I do not agree that the cradle charger is "retarded", it does what it is intended to do. BTW, the CR-2500 tells you what went back in. Not that this is really all that useful to know. Loss of flight time tells you as much or more. And the final issue is that lithium packs are notorious for being extremely hard to predict EOL on.

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Besides, there's nothing wrong with having alternatives ...
I agree completely as long as they are real and useful alternatives.

To me a second pack works very well, at the same cost, and does not require any modifications or others wiring to use.
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Old 04-28-2006, 01:53 PM   #12
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looking at the mz if Futaba were to come out with a higher capicity battery they would have to come out with a new door for it.
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Old 04-28-2006, 02:01 PM   #13
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Any alternative that works is real and useful, whether you see it or not! No one said you needed to like THIS solution, which btw, you haven't even seen yet but have quickly dismissed it as "non-real" and "non-useful". Perhaps you'd keep an open mind until you have a chance to see what Fromeco comes up with ... or perhaps not.
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Old 04-28-2006, 02:42 PM   #14
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I've seen the pictures you posted. And regardless, Fromeco does not have magic cells. Even a 2500 mAh pack offers less than 18 minutes additional working time. Sure it's an alternative, but of what value?? But if it works for you, then I guess that is all that matters.
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Old 04-28-2006, 06:38 PM   #15
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The pictures I posted are nowhere near what Fromeco may produce; they're simply my quick-n-dirty proof of concept. Even at 2400mAh, what Fromeco currently stocks, that's still higher capacity than both Futaba and Sony. And if you go with a bit less-technical battery, the Relions will fit just as well at a much lower price. Add $10-15 for the one-time interface board (my guess), and you've got a real, useful alternative with improved functionality over Sony. When you consider that this will work on the 14MZ and 12Z, plus can be easily reworked to go in the FX-40 (for those that own one), you have a winning product that a lot of folks would consider over Sony's camcorder battery.
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Old 04-28-2006, 07:01 PM   #16
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If someone comes out with a viable alternative to Futaba and Sony that is plug and play, I will look at it and give it concideration on its merit.

Then there is always the other end of the spectrum.
A car battery a regulator and an umbilical cord for when you really really must fly all day, nonstop. :glasses2:
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Old 05-06-2006, 09:03 PM   #17
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Hey Guys we have ordered the Prototype boards for the 14MZ the pin location on the 14 is really hard to hit. Sooo, we think we have something that will work but it is too early to tell, and too early to answer any questions about it. I will try and update you guys once we have something that works or doesn't work.

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Old 05-06-2006, 09:21 PM   #18
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Thanks for the update Kurt.

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Old 05-06-2006, 10:11 PM   #19
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No Problem

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Old 06-06-2006, 12:52 PM   #20
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Hey guys,

The Fromeco folks sent me some pre-production boards for use on the 14MZ and 12Z. I've been using a couple on my two 14MZ radios for a few weeks with excellent results. I've got two spares that I need to find some volunteer "testers", preferably on 12Z radios (definitely need at least one 12Z owner; will consider a 14MZ once I have a 12Z one enlisted). So if you're willing to try one of these, PM me ASAP (first-come, first-serve). Please note that you must be willing to try the board and report back with any feedback. Primarily looking for pilots that will give it a good try in a short amount of time (about 2 weeks). Each tester will receive a pre-production board and a 2400 mAh Relion pack which they'll be able to keep after completion of the test.

DISCLAIMER: only apply if you understand, and accept, any risk involved in testing a pre-production item. Remember Murphy's Law, and understand that neither I nor Fromeco will be made responsible should your radio cease to function while attempting to use this solution. This product MAY void your warranty.
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