Hobbymate D6 Duo Pro Hobbyist RC Charger Review
The Hobbymate D6 Duo Pro Charger is a fancy lipo charger with a great many features, including external discharging! Read on!
Official Specs and Features
Currently, this charger is going for $159.95 on amazon. That is an Amazon referral link.
Such a capable and versatile charger. I can’t come close to testing everything about this charger, but for what I’ve done, it’s been absolutely fantastic. In particular, I like that it can be used to charge from a lipo to a lipo. So in the field, it can be used to charge smaller cells, to keep your drones or cars up and operational. The wireless device charging is a nice bonus, too.
Here are some stock images describing the charger more fully than I probably will here:
Manual and Packaging
The D6 Duo Pro ships in a very small cardboard box.
The above isn’t a manual and will not be sufficient to tell you how to use this device, if you really want to dig in. (You won’t really need a manual to just throw a battery on and start charging, though.)
Here’s a copy of the manual, hosted by me:
It’s nearly 4Mb, 22 pages, and very polished. And to be sure, you’ll probably need the manual. Yes, the charger is very plug and play, and user friendly, but for some of the more advanced features, you will likely want manual support.
- Hobbymate D6 Duo Pro Charger
- Spec sheet and other paperwork (but not a manual)
- AC wall cord (NEMA 1-15P to IEC-320-C7), a non-polarized plug.
Build Quality and Durability
Externally this is a very tight charger. There are no parts that even seem a little bit suspect for connection. Nothing squeaks or fits inappropriately.
The plugs are well matched to their spaces in the outer shell. The polarity is even molded into the plastic so there’s no fear a sticker or other markings might wear off or get removed; the needed info will always be there!
One side (the left, when facing the device) is blank.
The back has a fairly large fan, and also two inputs. On the left is the AC input (again, non-polar). On the right is a polarized DC input. The plug itself is a male XT60 connector. More on that later.
The right side (when facing the device) has two ports. One is a full-sized USB out, claiming 2.1A capabilities. The micro-USB port is for firmware updates only. It’s too bad this can’t be leveraged for some other use as well. I’d love to see a PD capable USB-C port on here too.
The top of the charger even has interesting features. Of course the screen is there, but also there’s a wireless charge area. I don’t have any wireless charging devices, so I haven’t tested this. But from the manual, it’s possible to turn this on and off, and the max charge rate is 5W. This classifies the D6 Duo Pro as a Low Power Base Station Placement anywhere charger (best I can tell). I hope to snag some Qi charging devices (or even a case for some current devices) to at least see it in action).
The bottom (like the back) has some large fins for cooling. As this is a 200W charger, these vents are needed. Also note that there are molded feet areas, and rubber feet too.
I did a bit of disassembly. There are two screws on the bottom easily accessible. There are two more screws under the screen on the front. So remove that screen as below, and drop out those two screws.
The top lifts off as seen below. Be aware there is a single cable which should be disconnected before complete removal of the front/top.
Some other units have seen two connectors – with the screen being powered by a port running directly off AC power. Mine is not this way; I have no explanation for that.
The guts are covered with this thin sheet of plastic – likely a heat shield. Two screws hold this plastic down, and one other of the 4 screw holes seen here have a screw. All three must be removed to lift the power supply out of the case.
(The third screw is hiding there under the black and red wires.)
Here’s a close up of the XT60 connectors.
Another user showed the internals here and there was an authentic Meanwell power supply inside. Mine is not labeled “Meanwell” but it does feel like a high quality power supply.
In the back you can see the fan. It’s a standard-sized fan but I failed to measure it while I was inside there. It’s 1cm thick, and probably 6mm wide. It’s a bit loud and I’d recommend replacing it if you want a quieter experience – you’ll need to take the charger apart almost entirely to get to this fan though. Noctua makes some fans that should fit.
As stated above, with regard to the micro-USB port: The firmware on these devices is easily upgraded. Mine shipped months ago (I’ve been working on this review longer than I’d like to admit). The current firmware had been out for around a month at the time, and my device shipped with that firmware. That’s pretty solid, and somewhat unusual. However in the meantime, there’s been another minor release. One that I find useful, in fact. It’s available here:
You’ll have to looks around a little for it, but it’s there (manual is too!).
The process is easy but very specific. Do things in exactly this order.
- Open the software shown above (Loader.exe)
- Plug micro-USB cable which is connected to the PC (only PC, Mac isn’t supported).
- Hold the CH button.
- Power the device. I opted to use AC power, but I think AC or DC will work fine. Just be sure you have a battery charged enough to last through the whole process.
- Await three long beeps (distinctly different from startup sound).
- During these three beeps click the “Update” button on the software.
- Update will take place (progress bar will show). The device will restart at least once, then boot into the normal UI. The PC software will show as below:
Here’s the charge cord. As I said, the device end is non-polar. Even the wall-end doesn’t have the usual fat plug and skinny plug – it’ll go into the wall either way.
That plug connects on the back of the device.
Surprisingly the AC input is the lower power option. It’ll only go up to 200W. To be honest I don’t exactly why this is but I can say that AC must be rectified, and rectifiers take space. The rectifier in this device is probably small, keeping the charger small. DC current doesn’t need rectified. That’s my guess; I welcome input!
In any chase, D6 Duo Pro may also be powered by DC input. In fact, it’ll go 3x more powerful; up to 650W of power from DC input! Max of 325W per channel, that is.
For lack of a better place to mention it, I’ll say that for me to use the D6 Duo Pro, I had to separately purchase these adapter. What’s actually on the device are XT60 plugs – all male. What my batteries have is Deans ultra-type (female). So I bought these adapters below.
Exactly these parts:
I recommend them. They’re inexpensive and work perfectly. I’d also recommend getting a bunch of them (not just 2 each like I got). Multiple will serve you better. If you RC much, you probably have loads of adapters around your house anyway.
Below are menu pages from the manual.
The graphics below are particularly useful.
User Interface and Operation
There are two buttons, both on the front of the charger. On the left is a “CH” button, which selects between channels, and confirms choices. On the right is a roller wheel – officially called a “Speed Shuttle Key” or just “Shuttle” switch. It both spins left and right, and also is clickable.
The CH button is very clicky. It’s easy to click and doesn’t travel below the face of the device, so it’s a good experience to click. The shuttle key is less perfect for me. Since it operates two ways (dial and click) there were times when I was trying to click and accidentally dialed. Annoying but not a deal-breaker. There are other similar products by this brand also with a wheel but on the opposite axis; I think that’s a better option.
There are probably a hundred thousand processes I could show regarding the UI. But here’s a fairly simple, and probably very common setup. I installed two battery packs. A 2S pack in Channel 1, and a 3S pack in Channel 2. The channels correspond to the screens – the left plugs occupy the left side of the screen, and the right plugs occupy the right side of the screen (and of course, they’re all properly labeled too). Click the CH button to select a channel – the channel must be in the full screen, not split-screen. If the screen is split, changes can not be made.
The choices below can be made, provided the selection is in red.
The selection being between gray bars means this option can’t be selected for this setup. That’s what “Ext. discharge” is here – it can’t be selected. More on that later!
There are a number of sub-menus too. For example, you can manually select what cell voltage to discharge to:
That’s the lowest you can go, too: 3.10V. Maybe a little high, but it’ll do. Past 3.10V there’s not much energy left in a cell anyway. If you scroll up to “3.20V” you’ll see a little “thumbs up” – apparently 3.2V is the optimal voltage, according to Hobbymate.
The screen has different colors based on what’s going on. Yellow background means a channel is charging. Below, both channels are charging:
Below, channel 1 has finished charging, and channel 2 is still charging.
Here, both channels have completed their charge cycle.
And yes, even when complete, the charger does indicate that there is some current flowing into the cells. I’m not sure what to make of that.
More information can be gained after a cycle is done, and a single channel is selected. The main screen (the blue part) shows the current current (in this case 0.0A). It shows how much energy has been put into the pack (in this case 42mAh). It shows the voltage of the pack (in this case 8.21V). And it shows finally how long the pack was charging (in this case 6 minutes).
The voltage of every cell in the pack (in this case 2 cells) is shown on the first screen (“first screen” denoted by the little yellow bar at the bottom left). The middle info screen shows each cell’s resistance in micro Ohms – in this case the 2S pack was almost charged already, and the charger didn’t get enough info to log resistance. And finally the last screen shows some system information.
Channel 2 showed more info, because it charged longer and was a 3s pack.
Same info as above, but this time resistance is shown on screen 2.
Here are a few other cycle shots. A discharge cycle, and a completed cycle. The manual doesn’t say what circumstances turn the background green; green seems to be the color of “discharge done.”
As I said in the intro, I was particularly interested in the Ext. Discharge (external discharge) function of this device. I wanted something that would go up to 30-40A, but this one only goes to 15A. And I wanted that for a single lithium-ion cell, but this is really not set up for that (though I think it would actually work).
Here is officially the way to set up for using the external discharge function. At the top of the photo below, note the 7.4V 1500mAh lipo cell, connected to the D6 Duo Pro. This is the input port. So connect the battery you wish to discharge to the input port of the D6 Duo Pro.
At the bottom of the photo above, you see my resistors. Now in order to access the Ext. Discharge function, you have to have something plugged into the front – I’m using channel 1, and that’s probably the required channel. To be honest I didn’t check this on Channel 2. You can’t do multiple actions while using External Discharge anyway.
So you need anything resistive connected to the positive and negative poles on Channel 1. The setup above is very hacked together – proof of concept only. I have 6x25W 3.9Ω resistors in parallel connected to Channel 1 with just alligator clips. Hobbymate recommends resistors in the 1.5Ω-2.5Ω range. Again, my setup is strictly proof of concept.
I’m also not using these resistors in their specification. To be capable at 25W, they’d need to be mounted on some sheet metal. So I can’t expect them to take 25W for long. Discharging pretty much any power into these will see them heat up very quickly. And here’s the exact resistor:
Once the battery gets discharged, you’ll see the warning below.
And it’ll certainly discharge at 15A. The charger doesn’t actually care about your resistors – in my limited testing it’ll happily churn out 15A at any voltage – it could be tons of power!
So I managed the heat in this way. Just a random CPU cooler, with the fan running and the resistors resting against the aluminum. It didn’t work that well but it allowed longer testing.
I powered the 12V fan directly from my bench power, which was very handy. Below is my bench power, not the one in the build log – that was for a friend.
Here’s the full setup. A bit of a hodgepodge. The big fan on the bottom is just for spacing.
Friendly reminder time: The “Discharge” function tops out at 3A. The D6 Duo Pro will handle the heat generated with the internal fan.
The Ext. discharge function, on the other hand, tops out at 15A!
Here, it’s running at 10A.
All in all this is a nice feature. If you need to dump some power out of some battery packs, this is a nice way to do so.
Obvious competition is the Turnigy Reaktor D6 Pro Duo, seen here. From what I read, it’s the same charger. There are some firmware differences, but I’m fairly certain that firmware is interchangeable between the two.
What I like
- External discharge is easy to use, and nicely featured
- Firmware update is easy
- Wireless charging and USB out make this a great DC powered in-the-field charger
What I don’t like
- I wish Ext. Discharge would specify 1S (or just single lithium-ion cells too) and go higher than 15A.
- A bit expensive at $150.
- Not possible to completely turn off the beeps. Beeps are loud, even on the lowest setting. Also the startup beeps are quite loud.
- This item was provided by Hobbymate for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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