One of the most practical gadgets I’ve tried is the IMAX B6 multi-function charger. A product that can serve you to feed many projects with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, since it allows you to charge different types of batteries that are used in projects of many makers.
All these DIY projects need power, and it’s not always possible to leave the Arduino board connected to the PC’s USB for power or you may need a special type of ‘string’ power supply. It is also sometimes not possible to have a specific type of charger for each battery. With the IMAX B6 charger you can get what you need from everything it has to offer.
The IMAX B6 is a universal charger that is able to work with multiple power outputs, and charge all types of batteries, such as lead or Pb batteries, Ni-Cd batteries (up to 15 cells, Ni-MH batteries up to 15 cells, Li-Po batteries up to 6 cells, Li-Fe batteries up to 6 cells, etc.
It has a maximum power of 80w/strong, more than enough to power one or several projects at once. That power can power up to 18 Ni-HM batteries at a time, so you get an idea.
It also allows fast charging, thanks to a high-performance microprocessor and integrated software that is specifically adapted to each operation. You can get all the safety information in the product’s manual, which you should read when purchasing the product to avoid using it in an unsafe way or beyond its capabilities.
It also has a LCD display with 2 lines and 16 characters to choose the type of battery, protection programs, charging time, fast mode (charging time, maximum capacity are automatically adapted), and all configuration options with its buttons. In addition, you’ll see the battery information so that it’s in perfect condition for use on full charge. All in safety thanks to its central chip…
You can also charge and discharge Li-Po batteries in a cyclic manner, each cell individually, which allows you to revive cells and activate 100% of the battery. Therefore, it serves as a repair device for bad batteries.
Between its outputs, it has 5 for micro connectors to connect the cells, plus an output of two banana plugs to connect load power if you need it. It includes a set of 5 different connection cables to suit almost all batteries on the market. An extra alligator clip connection cable allows you to connect an external battery to the power input.
Other technical features of the IMAX B6 include
- Maximum intensity: 5A
- Maximum power: 80W
- Display: Display 2 lines 16 characters.
- Input voltage: 11~18V.
- Output voltage: According to the battery type, it will be adapted.Where to buy
You can find the IMAX B6 in many online and specialized stores, such as . Its price is quite cheap, and for just over 30 euros you can have this complete charging device.
The package includes the IMAX B6 charger itself, the multi-function cable and several adapters, 1 universal alligator clip, and the adapter for connecting the charger to a conventional power outlet, as well as the instruction manual.
If you are interested in the IMAX B6, you may also be interested in the Arduino relay module to control also higher power devices. You may also be interested in the TP4056 module, a module for battery charging described here. And even the batteries CR2032.
Batteries and accumulators types
Batteries, cells or accumulators are devices that allow storing electrical energy in cells or producing it from chemical reactions. There are two main types of batteries, rechargeable and non-rechargeable. The first ones allow to charge again and again the energy for its reuse, while the second ones are of a single use and must be discarded.
As for its composition, you can find several main battery types that you can use with this IMAX B6 mostly. Some of the most important ones are:
- Batteries or alkaline batteries: these are usually disposable, and use potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte. A chemical reaction between zinc and magnesium dioxide generates the electrical current between its two terminals. They are usually very durable, but once they are finished they must be replaced and thrown away to a clean recycling point.
- Lead acid batteries: are widely used in the automotive industry, such as cars, motorcycles, boats, etc. They are constituted by two lead electrodes and thanks to the lead sulphate that loses electrons and is reduced in metallic lead, the energy is generated. They are of low cost, and they are produced easily. On the contrary it has the pollutants that are for the heavy metal that use as base and that are heavy.
- Nickel batteries: they have a low cost, but also a low performance. They have been used in several applications, especially in industrial machines. Within this type there are subtypes:
- Ni-Fe: the nickel-iron ones use nickel steel sheets and nickel hydroxide, as well as a mixture of caustic potash and distilled water as electrolyte. The yield is 65%, but they can last more than 80 years.
- Ni-Cd – The nickel cadmium ones use cadmium anode and nickel hydroxide cathode. The electrolyte is potassium hydroxide. They are rechargeable, and nothing happens to them when overcharged, but as a disadvantage they have a low energy density of 50Wh/kg.
- Ni-MH: those of nickel hydroxide anode and metal hydride cathode are very common. They do not have as much memory effect as the previous ones, and they have good endurance. But at low temperatures they do not have acceptable performance. Of course they are rechargeable, and have been used in consumer electric vehicles.
- Lithium batteries: these are batteries that are widely used nowadays due to their higher performance and have been replacing the previous ones. Their memory effect is less, they allow recharging. The energy density they have allows to make powerful and durable batteries with a discreet size. Inside there are variants:
- Li-Ion: lithium ion batteries use lithium salt as electrolyte and generate the chemical reaction to generate the electric current. However, the life of these batteries is average, as they usually last about 3 years. In addition, they tend to overheat, and the reactive element on which they are based can cause them to explode or ignite.
- LiPo: they are similar to the previous ones, but they use lithium polymer. The problem is that they become practically useless if they are discharged below a minimum of 3v.
- Graphite batteries: they are newer, and could solve some of the problems of the previous ones. They use graphite (carbon in a single atom layer) as their base. However, they are under investigation and graphene is difficult to produce.