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I stumbled across a DC powered, multi-chemistry charger that has become absolutely indispensable to me. I use it to charge many types of batteries and battery packs that I have around the house. The charger is the X1 Pro multi charger made by Hitec RC. Unfortunately, they no longer make this particular charge but, from what I've seen, they have some with the same capabilities to replace it. The Power Peak D7 looks like a great replacement should my X1 ever die.
The X1 power source is 11-18v DC and therefore perfectly suited for being powered directly from a typical 12v power source such as battery, car or solar. The Hitec chargers output uses banana jacks, which I am not a fan of. The charger kit included some common adapters for RC car type battery connections, but it was easy enough to adapt to Anderson Powerpole connections from the banana plugs and then use the APP plugs for my field batteries. For car batteries and such that I do not have an APP pigtail on, I have an adapter that goes from APP to gator clips for easy temporary connection.
This awesome little charger can charge 2v-20v lead-acid batteries at an adjustable current anywhere from 0.1A to 16A. It has no trouble charging flooded lead acid, both starting and deep cycle batteries as well as a wide range of sealed lead acid batteries. I have had no trouble charging each of the following batteries with this charger:
From my own research, I have seen where each of these companies offer a mobile charger (for cigarette lighter use), but the going price tends to be much higher than I am willing to spend to charge only one battery type. If you want to play it safe, but the charger the company makes and rest assured knowing that your battery packs are in good hands. If you want to save some money and have some fun, you can get creative and adapt each of these battery packs to the X1.
WARNING: Do not attempt these modifications if you do not have the proper tools and are willing to accept that you could shock yourself, ruin a battery pack, your charger or event start a fire if not performed properly. I will not be giving step by step directions, instead just a general description of what I did to charge these batteries. I do NOT take responsibility for any injury, death or property damage that comes from any attempt to copy what I did. Please be careful and think through things before you ever attempt any sort of electrical work
Warning: Do not attempt to charge Lithium or any other non-NiCd/NiMH chemistry battery pack with this charger. I am not saying that it isn't possible, but lithium can easily cause a fire if improperly charged and I have no personal experience with DC charging these type of packs.
Now.. On to the fun.
Someone had given me a “dumb” charger for each of these battery packs. The dumb kind that quickly leads to ruined cells due to poor charging abilities and only being run from a simple, unrelated wall wart. All I had to do was cut the wall wart off and put on my own pigtail that can easily connect to the X1. Doing this allows me to use the X1 to intelligently charge or refresh the battery pack with ease.
For the 18v Dewalt NiCd battery packs, I had to get a little more creative. I had no such “dumb” charger to sacrifice, but instead I had a Dewalt smart charger that had completely died on its own. I cut it open, cut some traces on the board, and connected to incoming power wire directly to the terminals that connect to the battery pack. I then cut the standard 120vac plug off and replaced it with a plug that I use for the X1. I Heber exclusively charged my Dewalt batteries for years with this using the X1 and it works amazingly.
This section is pretty boring. In short, you can charge NiCd, NiMH, and various lithium battery packs with the X1 charger because, wait for it.. That's what it was designed to do. I use it to charge 7.2v and 9.6v NiMH packs and it works great.
Charging 9v cells with the X1 should be possible, given the voltage and battery chemistry, but I have never tried. The lowest charge current the X1 puts out is 100ma and since these batteries are such a low capacity, I prefer to charge at a lower current.
Now, for the final option I have.. Using the X1 Pro to charge individual or multiple cells. I have not personally done this, because I do not have a battery sled to hold the cells. Assuming you have a sled, there is no reason this charger couldn't charge these cells as well.