Receiver Power System Requirements
With all radio installations it is vital the onboard power system provides adequate power of 4.5 volts or more without interruption to the receiver even when the system is fully loaded (servos at maximum flight loads). This becomes especially critical with giant scale models that utilize multiple high torque/ high current servos. Inadequate power systems that are unable to provide the necessary minimum voltage to the receiver during flight loads have become the number one cause of in flight failures. Some of the power system components that affect the ability to properly deliver adequate power include: the selected receiver battery pack (number of cells, capacity, cell type, state of charge), switch harness, battery leads, regulator (if used), power bus (if used).
While Spektrum’s receivers’ minimum operational voltage is 3.5 volts, it is highly recommended the system be tested per the guidelines below to a minimum acceptable voltage of 4.8 volts during ground testing. This will provide head room to compensate for battery discharging or if the actual flight loads are greater than the ground test loads.
Recommended power system guidelines:
1. When setting up large or complex aircraft with multiple high torque servos, it’s highly recommend a current and volt meter (Hangar 9 HAN172) be used. Plug the volt meter in an open channel port in the receiver and with the system on, load the control surfaces (apply pressure with your hand) while monitoring the voltage at the receiver. The voltage should remain above 4.5 volts even when all servos are heavily loaded.
2. With the current meter inline with the receiver battery lead, load the control surfaces (apply pressure with your hand) while monitoring the current. The maximum continuous recommended current for a single heavy duty servo/battery lead is three amps while short duration current spikes of up to five amps is acceptable. Consequently if your system draws more than three amps continuous or five amps for short durations, a single battery pack with a single switch harness plugged into the receiver for power will be inadequate. It will be necessary to use multiple packs with multiple switches and multiple leads plugged into the receiver.
3. If using a regulator it’s important the above tests be done for an extended period of 5 minutes. When current passes through a regulator heat is generated and this heat causes the regulator to increase resistance which in turn causes even more heat to build up (thermal runaway). While a regulator may provide adequate power for a short duration it’s important to test its ability over time as the regulator may not be able to maintain voltage at significant power levels.
4. For really large aircraft or complex models (35% and larger or jets) multiple battery packs with multiple switch harnesses are necessary or in many cases one of the commercially available power boxes/ busses is recommended. No matter what power systems you choose always carry out test #1 above making sure that the receiver is constantly provided with 4 volts or more under all conditions.
5. The latest generation of Nickel Metal Hydride batteries incorporate a new chemistry mandated to be more environmentally friendly. These batteries when charged with peak detection fast chargers have tendencies to false peak (not fully charge) repeatedly. These include all brands of NiMh batteries. If using NiMh packs be especially cautious when charging making absolutely sure that the battery is fully charged. It is recommended to use a charger that can display total charge current. Note the number of mAh put into a discharged pack to verify it has been charged to capacity.