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Thursday, July 9, 2015

More Testing: The 55C Lightning Packs

I've been flying Thunder Power 6s 3300 70C Pro Force packs in my 60" planes for over two years. These are nice packs that have plenty of power at a reasonable weight. I have been perfectly happy with them, but after two hard years in the Florida's blow torch-like summer environment they are getting a little bit worn down.  Heat is almost always the enemy in an electric airplane, and we have plenty of it here.

I had a couple of old packs that were overdue for replacement. You can tell by checking the battery's internal resistance, but my method is to fly them until they start coming down with less voltage in the pack. I usually like to leave a healthy margin in my packs because that helps them live longer, but once I start getting less voltage after my flights I know we are on the downward slope.

I checked the Thunder Power website and saw their new Lighting 6s 3300 55C packs were a full $72 less than the Pro Force packs I had been using. This was such a big difference I was sure it had to be a mistake, so I called my friends at Thunder Power. No mistake .... the Lightning series really is that affordable. With this kind of savings on offer, there was no way I could resist.

The Lightning series is very competitively priced with other packs. I never talk about other brands by name, but you can check battery prices for yourselves and make your own conclusions. Thunder Power batteries come with a two year warranty, which seems to make sense because that is usually how long I get out of one. Thunder Power also has a half price crash replacement policy, but for the Lightning packs that has been adjusted to 30% off. This is just part of what they had to do to slash the prices so dramatically.

I was surprised to find the Lightning series sports a full 12C charge rate, just like my old Pro Force packs. This means I don't need as many of them because I can recharge them quickly.

Also new is that now all Thunder Power packs sport JST balance connectors. I have always used Thunder Power chargers, so I was fine with what we had before. Now, though, most chargers on the market will work with Thunder Power chargers. In fact, my Thunder Power chargers also have a provision for JST connectors, so everyone should be happy with this change.

At least in the beginning I wanted to test these new packs over and over with the same plane, if for nothing else than to eliminate one more variable. My Laser was getting the least attention of the 60" fleet, simply because I like it so much I was happy enough to let it hang near my desk where I could look up and admire it! Of course, the Laser was built to be flown, and this seems like as good of a time as any to put her back into the air.

Laser EXP Flying Between Showers from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that these Lightning packs don't give up anything in performance to my 70C packs. If they give up anything at all, it might be at the end of the pack at lower voltage. I try to never run my packs low and I limit myself to 4.5 minutes just to safeguard the battery. At about 5 minutes I personally start to wear down a little ( I am old), and start making mistakes, so it is a good time to quit while I am ahead.

You can check any of my previous 60" Laser videos and compare to these. If there is a difference in performance, I can't see it. Top speed and punch out seem to be the same, so I can't imagine where the extra 15C of a 70C pack would ever show up.

So far it is a little early in the game to say anything too definitive about these packs other than I am really happy with them. The dollar savings alone was worth whatever risk I took in trying these, but since there is no performance drop off it seems there was no risk at all. All that is left is to hammer them in the heat and see how they hold up. Since these are Thunder Power packs, I am not too worried. We will be shooting more and more with these packs as the summer goes on, so stay tuned.

As far as charging, my Thunder Power TP820CD charger can charge two 6s 3300 55C Lighting packs in about 14-16 minutes at the charger's maximum of 20 amp per side. I prefer to take it a bit easier on them, so I hit them at 10 amps. I have two of the new packs and two older 60 Pro force packs, so I can fly all day just by charging at half the power available. This charges a pack in about 20-25 minutes, and that gives me time to squeeze in a flight or two with a 48 plane.


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