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Batteries and Chargers

A drone isn’t going anywhere without power, and that comes from the battery. Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries have been the standard for aerial drones and RCs for a while now. They are lightweight and can provide a lot of current for their size. Which battery to buy depends on what it will be used for. Smaller drones obviously need a smaller and lighter battery, but the choice is always a trade-off between weight and flight time.

image045 Aerial Drone Gift Guide

I’ve heard good things about the Gens Ace Eco Series, one of which is pictured below. This might be appropriate for a mid to large sized drone.

Note that there may be some advantages of going with the newer Lithium -Phosphate (LiFe) batteries. They are supposed to be safer to charge and have similar or better energy density. However, cell for cell, their voltage is lower than LiPo batteries, and not everyone has gotten ‘on the bandwagon’ with this technology.

image047 Aerial Drone Gift Guide

Batteries are no use without a good charger. LiPo batteries require a special charger, like the Gens Ace iMars 50W model  pictured below. This charger will work with multiple battery chemistries, including LiPo and LiFe.

Price

  • Gens Ace Eco Series LiPo Batteries: $3.50 to $15.25, depending on voltage and capacity.
  • Gens Ace iMars 50W Charger: $39.00

What they Do

Batteries are rated by the voltage they supply, their overall capacity and the charge/discharge rate. Voltage is determined by how many 3.7V cells are wired in series, and are specified by the ‘S’ rating (e.g., 3S is 3 x 3.7V or 11.1V). Overall capacity is specified in milliamp-hours (mAh); the higher the value, the longer they will last. Multiple sets of cells can be wired internally to the battery pack to provide higher capacity. The ‘C’ rating describes how quickly the battery can be charged and discharged.

Why they’re Cool

Spend more time in the air! Having two or more batteries is really handy, so you can change out one when it is depleted and have a charged one ready to go. Charge your batteries safely and effectively with a quality charger.

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let’s Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site.
Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


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