Keep Track Of Your Packs On The Trail

Keep_Track_Of_Your_Packs
It’s getting close! As of the time we’re writing this blog, Axialfest 2018 is only a few weeks away and that means attendees are kicking their builds and prep into overdrive to be ready for the epic weekend of off-road action. One comment we’ve seen frequently from drivers is “Can’t wait to pack up my battery packs, turn on my rig and head out on the trails.” Hikers will spend all day on the trails trying out the many courses laid out and some even venture off and find other challenging terrain. This goes on day and night and those long drives will eventually eat through battery packs. Battery changes can be frequent and we’ve seen a number of drivers on the trails with a pack in each hand wondering which one was charged and which is the discharged pack they took out of their rig a few hours ago. So we’ve decided to show you a few simple tips to keep track of your packs so it minimizes your downtime while hiking around Axialfest. These tips will of course work anytime, anywhere so read on to make your RC life much easier.

Tags!
The answer to keeping track of your packs is simply tags. Using a tagging method to keep track of your packs will make trail time so much more fun. Even for those entering the Altra Ultra 5K where saving time could make the difference in how you place in the event. Here are a number of ways to simply tag your packs so you know what is charged and what is not.

Bread Bag Tag
Axial Tags x 5
Start saving those little plastic tags that come on your plastic bread bags or english muffins. These little tags make great ID tags for your packs. Once you’ve collected a bunch, use a black permanent marker and simply make check marks on some and X marks on others. Now you can slip the check marked tags on your charged packs and put the X tags on discharged packs. We also suggest clipping or lightly sanding any sharp areas of the tag hole so it doesn’t harm your battery wire insulation.

Caps
Axial Tags x 3
Many hardware stores carry packs of rubber caps for multiple uses. These caps look like your rubber antenna cap, but larger. Find caps that will fit over your specific connector. Find two different colors to indicate charged and discharged packs. The caps will also protect your connector from the rare instance of a short while its bouncing around in your backpack.

Rubber Bands
Axial Tags x 2
Good old rubber bands to the rescue. With rubber bands, you can simply wrap them around your charged packs and when you go to install the pack in your car remove the rubber band. Now any pack that has been removed later and does not have a rubber band means the pack is discharged.

Tape
Axial Tags x 4
A simple piece of masking tape (obviously green is preferred here) with one end folded over before placing it on the battery can help indicate a charged pack. When you go to install the pack in your rig, peel the tape off and you now know in the future that battery has been used.

Be organized
Axial Tags x 1
Being organized and tagging your battery will make your trip much more fun. We urge you to follow all safety precautions outlined in the instructions that came with your battery packs. When traveling by car or out on the trails, make sure your extra packs are stored in safe transport carriers. Many will put their packs in LiPo sacks before putting them in their backpack for a days run. Sure your day should be filled with fun, but safety is always number one. See you at Axialfest.

Tips For Traveling With LiPo Batteries

Tips4Traveling_LiPo_Batteries

The Axial Blog has been loaded up as of recent with articles filled with tips and information you need to know to attend Axialfest and have the best experience possible. We know many of you are already prepping for the event and planning your trip. For many that trip will require lengthy travel and some will even pack up their gear and head out on planes to get to the event. This brings up one of the most frequently asked question in RC in regards to air travel. How do I get my LiPo batteries from home to the event? We’ve done the research for you and have a number of suggestions depending on your method of travel.

AF18 Traveling with LiPo Batteries 1

Battery Transportation Prep

First things first is prepping your batteries for travel, no matter how you plan on getting to an event. The following steps would also serve as a good storage method for your packs even while you’re at home.

1. Take the time to cycle your battery into storage mode, just as it arrived when you first bought the pack. Do not transport fully charged or discharged packs. Many mid-level to high-end chargers have a storage program that will cycle your battery to the proper storage voltage. Consider leaving any damaged packs behind and only bring packs you know for certain to be in good standing condition.

AF18 Traveling with LiPo Batteries 2
2. Cover the plug or battery input connectors. There is always the possibility of a short and covering the inputs can prevent that from happening. Some cover their plugs with rubber caps or plastic inserts. For batteries with bullet plug inserts, place tape over the holes. Placing electrical tape over the plugs works too if you don’t have caps, this will prevent metals form coming in contact with the leads. It’s also a good idea to check the connectors where the wires are soldered on, tape any exposed wire, solder or connector tabs.

AF18 Traveling with LiPo Batteries 3
3. Tape loose wires against the pack. Many battery packs have wire leads or balance plugs on them. These wires should be taped up against the pack just in case the wires move in transport and may become pinched and short out which can result in a fire. With the wires secured against the pack, it lessens the chance of a rare incident.

4. Place the pack in a plastic bag. Ok, during our research we found several suggestions of placing individual batteries in plastic bags for transport. Some other reports eluded to leaving packs out of sealed bags as they may emit gasses or the battery needs to breathe. We would suggest if you do place it in a bag, not to seal it and move on to tip 4.

AF18 Traveling with LiPo Batteries 4
5.Place batteries in a LiPo safe bag. Placing batteries in their own individual pouches would be the best option, but if you must, place multiple packs in a large LiPo sack when toting them around.

AF18 Traveling with LiPo Batteries 5
6. Battery bag. Once tips 1-4 are completed, place your wrapped up batteries in a transport bag of their own so they are together in case you need to show the packs to a screening agent. This will make their life and your life easier.

Traveling in a vehicle

When traveling to an event by car, keep your batteries within sight and easy reach. Don’t pack your batteries at the bottom of the trunk and stack all of your RC gear on top of them. Although there haven’t been any reports of any incidents where a tucked away battery caused a problem, it’s always just a good practice to have a product such as a LiPo battery accessible.

Traveling on a plane

Some drivers will take a plane to reach Axialfest and this is where many of the questions come into play. Can I carry my LiPo’s on the plane, or should they be checked? From our research, this is the best practice.

1. First check with your specific airlines battery guidelines and regulations to see how they require you to transport your batteries. It is a good idea to follow and print these guidelines out and store a copy in the same bag as your battery packs. If it comes into question at screening if you are allowed to transport your packs, you’re now prepared to show the agent you’re following the airlines protocol.

2. LiPo batteries should be carried on to the plane and not placed in checked baggage. It is legal to bring your properly prepared (as discussed above) batteries through the airport and on the plane.

3. During screening, it is best to remove your bag that your batteries are stored in an place it in a bin separate and at the end of the line of from your other articles. Most likely your LiPo battery bag will be pulled and checked by a screening agent, but at least you’ll be able to gather up your other property while your battery bag is checked.

4. Cooperate with all questions by the screening agent as the battery bag as it’s checked. The screening agent is just doing his/her job and cooperation will get you to that overpriced, half-cooked airport food that much quicker. Once on the plane, keep your gear close to you.

Plane

Ship your batteries

For those who are prepared well in advance, you may want to consider shipping your batteries via ground transportation to an end location. (Note: Make sure your shipping box is properly labeled with the hazardous battery label.) Perhaps you have a friend in California traveling to the event by car. Ask if you can ship your batteries to him/her while you travel by plane. If you are staying at a hotel nearby Cisco Grove, ship the batteries to the hotel address and make them aware there is a package arriving for your stay. As a last resort some have shipped their gear directly to the Cisco Grove management office to hold for their arrival. We ask that you leave this as an absolute last resort as the Cisco Grove crew is pretty swamped with tasks for the event.

Be Safe

It all comes down to using common sense to be safe with your LiPo batteries. We’ve all seen videos or heard stories of fires or released gases from a LiPo battery. There is a danger element to them so they should be handled with care at all times. Following the tips listed above should help you transport your packs safely from point A to B and even properly store them when not in use. Travel safe and we’ll see you at Axialfest!

DISCLAIMER: Axial Racing and the author are not responsible for any incidents in relation to the information given above. The information given is only a tool for assistance. Proper use and transport of any type of battery is the sole responsibility of the property owner.

How To – Program Your ESC For NiMH Batteries

 

Program_NiMH_Batteries

Axial’s Ready-to-Run (RTR) vehicles are true hobby-grade products and, as such, they use sophisticated electronic components. One of the primary advantages to such high-tech gear is adjustability and an area of adjustability includes battery type. Axial’s electronic speed controls (ESCs) are designed to be used with a variety of battery chemistry types and can, and should, be adjusted for the type of battery you’re using.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As a safety measure, Axial uses the LiPo setting as the default setting on the ESC, but NiMH batteries, are often recommended for use with RTRs. NiMH batteries will provide best performance when the ESC is used in NiMH mode.

nimh_and_lipo

LiPo batteries must be run with the ESC set in LiPo for safe use. This isn’t optional. When properly set in LiPo mode, Axial ESCs are designed to eliminate the chance of over discharging the battery and permanently damaging it, which is a potential safety issue. As such, LiPo batteries should never be used in any other mode other than LiPo mode on the ESC.

NiMH batteries will work in LiPo mode, but there will be a noticeable reduction in performance that will suddenly become apparent as the pack starts to lose voltage (discharge). This is because LiPo mode has what is called LiPo cutoff or low voltage cutoff. As the voltage drops in the NiMH pack, it is still delivering usable power, but the LiPo cutoff engages and impairs performance. The LiPo cutoff is designed to reduce power to the motor in order to keep the battery at a safe minimum voltage. Let’s go over setting up NiMh mode on the various Axial ESC offerings so you can get maximum performance when using this type of battery.


 

axial ae-2 esc

AE-2. The AE-2 is a brushed motor speed control. While Castle Creation’s Castle Link system can be used to link the ESC up to a computer (availabe as an aftermarket item,) for ease of use, the AE-2 can be programmed manually by using the throttle trigger on your transmitter to indicate yes or or no to selections as you scroll through each option. To get the best performance when using a NiMH, the ESC should be programmed to operate in NiMH mode.

When programming, as a safety measure, remove the pinion from the motor. This will prevent the gears and/or vehicle from moving and causing damage to the vehicle or you. Turn the transmitter on and then connect a freshly charged battery to the ESC. Hold full throttle and turn on the ESC. You will hear four tones from the ESC and then another four tones. After the second series of four tones, release the throttle. The ESC will beep twice indicating you’re in programming mode.

There are three settings that can be adjusted on the AE-3. Each setting, in turn, has a varying number of options. You will use your transmitter’s throttle to select yes (full throttle) or no (full brake) for each option. When you select yes, the next setting will come up. Every time you select no, you will toggle to the next option within that setting. When you select yes or no, wait for a continuous tone and let the throttle go to neutral. If you selected yes, the ESC will go to the next setting.

To change to NiMH mode, you will need to go to the first setting. Remember, LiPo batteries must be used LiPo mode.

Setting 1 LiPo Cutoff
Option 1: None (NiMH mode)
Option 2: Auto-LiPo*

Setting 2 Drag Brake
Option 1: Disabled
Option 2: 15%
Option 3: 25%
Option 4: 40%
Option 5: 50%
Option 6: 100%*

3: Brake/Reverse Type
Option 1: Reverse enabled (2-second lockout)
Option 2: Reverse disabled
Option 3: Forward/Brake/Reverse*
* = Default factory setting

For additional reference, view the manual: HERE


 

axial ae-3 esc

Vanguard AE-3. The Vanguard AE-3 is a brushless motor speed control. It comes preprogrammed in the “Auto-LiPo” mode. Like the AE-2, you can use the Castle-Link to program the ESC with your PC, but you can also manually program the ESC with your transmitter.

When programming, as a safety measure, remove the pinion from the motor. This will prevent the gears and/or vehicle from moving and causing damage to the vehicle or you. Turn the transmitter on and then connect a freshly charged battery to the ESC. Hold full throttle and then turn on the ESC. You will hear four tones from the ESC and then another four tones. After the second series of four tones, release the throttle. The ESC will beep twice indicating you’re in programming mode.

There are nine settings that can be adjusted. Each setting, in turn, has a varying number of options. You will use your transmitter’s throttle to select yes (full throttle) or no (full brake) for each option. When you select yes, the next setting will come up. Every time you select no, you will toggle to the next option within that setting. When you select yes or no, wait for a continuous tone and let the throttle go to neutral. If you selected yes, the ESC will go to the next setting.

To change to NiMH mode, you will need to go through settings one through six to get to setting seven, which changes the battery mode. Remember, LiPo batteries must be used LiPo mode.

Setting 1 Brake/Reverse Type
Option 1: With Reverse*
Option 2: Without Reverse
Option 3: Crawler Reverse. No delay from throttle to brake to reverse.

Setting 2 Brake Amount
Option 1: 25% Power
Option 2: 50% Power*
Option 3: 75% Power
Option 4: 100% Power

Setting 3 Reverse Amount
Option 1: 25% Power
Option 2: 50% Power*
Option 3: 75% Power
Option 4: 100% Power

Setting 4 Punch/Traction Control
Option 1: High
Option 2: Medium
Option 3: Low
Option 4: Lowest
Option 5: Disabled*

Setting 5 Drag Brake
Option 1: Drag Brake off*
Option 2: Drag Brake 10%
Option 3: Drag Brake 20%
Option 4: Drag Brake 30%
Option 5: Drag Brake 40%

Setting 6 Dead Band
Option 1: Large – 0.1500 ms
Option 2: Normal – 0.1000 ms*
Option 3: Small – 0.0750 ms
Option 4: Very Small – 0.0500 ms
Option 5: Smallest – 0.0250 ms

Setting 7 Cutoff Voltage
Option 1: No low-voltage cutoff
Option 2: Auto-Lipo*
Option 3: 5v
Option 4: 6v
Option 5: 9v
Option 6: 12v

Setting 8 Motor Timing
Option 1: Lowest
Option 2: Normal*
Option 3: Highest

Setting 9 Motor Type
Option 1: Brushless*
Option 2: Brushed Reversing
Option 3: Brushed High Power
* = Default factory setting

For additional reference, view the manual: HERE


 

axial ae-5 esc

AE-5. The AE-5 is a brushed speed control and is by far the easiest ESC to program. To switch from the factory LiPo mode, remove the “jumper” and move it over one position. Not only is this ESC easy to program, it’s also waterproof.

For additional reference, view the manual: HERE

Axial AE-5


 

ae-1

AE-1. Axial’s AE-1 ESC does not have a LiPo cutoff. If you use LiPo batteries in a vehicle equipped with an AE-1 ESC you must use a separate LiPo low-voltage cut-off device. Axial does not sell a separate LiPo cut-off device, so the best choice would be to upgrade to an ESC such as the Axial AE-5 (see above), which is extremely easy to program and waterproof.