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PeterCPC

Tracer Lithium Polymer Batteries - Beware

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I wanted to try to resolve some of the issues with power cables getting wrapped around my Celestron CPC800XLT and bought one of the newly advertised Tracer Power batteries from Rother Valley Optics. I bought the 8Ah unit so that I could fit in onto the scope mount so that it would go around with the scope avoiding any cord wrap. See page 45 of the February edition of Astronomy Now.

I got some advice before buying that this would be ok for my scope.

Beware - when I used the Tracer the CPC GOTO system went haywire. Any other power method be it mains or Powertank and it was fine. I contacted both RVO and Tracer about this. RVO gave me a complete refund without any argument and Tracer were forced to admit that the power output from their Lithium Polymer batteries was not uniform and would not suit some telescopes. Maybe they would be  ok with a smaller lighter scope, I don't know. So if you have a larger scope beware, you might get problems. I suggest that you discuss it with your supplier before purchasing.

Peter

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Interesting, that was a pain for you.

We've been using a Tracer 12V Lithium Polymer (22Ah, I think) with our 400P goto dob. It's been good as gold so far (though I suppose it has not had a ton of use thanks to the awful weather!) and I'm very happy with it as it's stopped the headache we had of cables getting in the way. It just sits on the board with no overhanging cables. I used to have to keep moving my old battery around and watch out that the cable didn't get itself wrapped around the base, and you had to watch out not to trip over it.

A battery might not seem that exciting a purchase, but it helps me enjoy the views a bit more without worrying about the cables.

I wonder if someone who knows about electricity has one who can comment on the power output?

Edited by Luke

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Thanks for the warning Peter.  Is yours one of the thin ones?  Like Luke I've got one of the more cubic ones (designed for golf trolleys etc).  When I was researching I looked at the two types and the bigger ones seemed to hold their top level charge for much longer and at a more stable level.  

Helen

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I wanted to try to resolve some of the issues with power cables getting wrapped around my Celestron CPC800XLT and bought one of the newly advertised Tracer Power batteries from Rother Valley Optics. I bought the 8Ah unit so that I could fit in onto the scope mount so that it would go around with the scope avoiding any cord wrap. See page 45 of the February edition of Astronomy Now.

I got some advice before buying that this would be ok for my scope.

A 12V lithium battery pack will be 12.6V when fully charged and fall down to about 9V when it;s considered empty. So whatever mount you power with a 12V lithium battery it has be specified as being OK down to about 9V DC.

This sounds much more like a your scope electronics have not been designed very well (which is more common than you think). They should never do anything like that if the supply voltage falls a bit low!

If we designed our electronics to have anything like that kind of behaviour we would not have been employed in the develpment team for very long. But then things are VERY different over in China land.

Edited by Cath

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Firstly, the big Tracer batteries are not Lithium Polymer so I would think that they would be fine power wise but, of course, they are too big to sit on the mount so you would still be left with cord wrap issues. 

I note the comment about the scope electronics but, as I say, It's quite happy with a Power Tank or mains adapter.

The scope malfunctioned at start up so the battery was fully charged. Tracer indicated that the power fluctuates (albeit by a minor amount) and it's this fluctuation that the GOTO software cannot cope with on my CPC.

Peter

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Peter, which big Tracer batteries are not Lithium Polymer? The specs clearly say that mine (the 22Ah, I am fairly sure) is Lithium Polymer, and it has "Lithium Polymer" embossed on the casing.

In case it helps, I just remembered FLO (where I got mine from) had some discharge curves (30W load for the 8Ah and 50W load for the 22Ah):

8Ah: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/user/manuals/tracer_batteries/Discharge%20curve%2030W%20constant%20-%20BP2544.pdf

22Ah: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/user/manuals/tracer_batteries/Discharge%20curve%2050W%20constant%20-%20BP2548.pdf

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The BP2568 and the BP2564 are Lithium Phosphate and weigh 2900g and 2000g respectively. Yours would be the BP2548 which is Lithium Polymer.

Peter

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oh right.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries hold their 3.2V cell very well then, which means a constant 12.8V output, which is nice!

The CPC electronics still leave a lot to be desired. I doubt Celestron employ the best electronics/software designers in the world. Their designs work for most which is what matters for them at the end of the day.

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The CPC electronics still leave a lot to be desired. I doubt Celestron employ the best electronics/software designers in the world. Their designs work for most which is what matters for them at the end of the day.

Could you please say what knowledge or qualifications in a relevant subject that you have that allows you to make such a definite statement.

Chris

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Hi Chris
 

I don't normally give a lot away on the net as to my private life and who I really am etc, but I'm a hardware (electronics) / software design engineer, have been for the past 35+ years. College/Apprenticeship to start with from 16, and on from there really. Fascinating field to be in if you enjoy cutting edge design etc.

DSP, FPGA's, real time image processing, RF and high-speed free space optical comms are favorites of mine ;)

Edited by Cath
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Hi PeterCPC, welcome to SGL :smiley:

I understand you didn't buy your Tracer battery from us but we do sell and recommend them so I am intrigued by your findings. About a year ago Tracer's importer/distributer asked us to trial some Tracer Lithium Polymer battery packs with a number of astronomy mounts. We did and they proved successful. I think two other astro retailers did the same. Even so we waited until several weeks after they were listed at our competitor's websites because we wanted to see if any of their customers had issues. We heard only positive reports so back in June 2013 we put them into stock and promoted them here at SGL. They have sold well and so far I don't think we have heard a single negative comment (until today) and we have experienced zero returns. 

I will investigate in the morning because your experience doesn't tally with ours and if there is a potential problem, I need to know  :icon_scratch:

Steve 

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I had the same problem a couple of years ago powering my CPC1100 with a Deben Tracer LiPo battery.  It gave inconsistent slews and the handset was very difficult to read, all classic symptoms of low voltage/current.

Anyway, the battery turned out to be absolutely fine, nothing wrong with it.  I was being a numpty and was using the bundled car cigar plug CHARGER to provide power to the CPC ... the lead that terminates in a phono-type male plug and which conveniently fitted the telescope power socket.  That lead is only rated at 1A according to the sticker on it, which is too low for the current demands of a telescope, which are more like 1.5A peak.  The cable is also thinner than the one provided by telescope manufacturers, such as Celestron. 

To cut a long story short, Deben showed me the error of my ways and sent me a complimentary power lead to fit my CPC, and all was good after that.

LiPo's have no problem supplying the required voltage for goto scopes.  If you still can't get it to work, Starizona offer their own designed piggyback type 8Ah LiPo battery for £152 delivered to the UK, VAT and customs duty included ... which is £40 more than FLOs delivered cost of a Deben Tracer.

Hope this helps.

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I have spoken with Tracer's tech team who agree with Cath, it is most likely the telescope misbehaved when the power depleted to around 9V. But this is not unique to Tracer batteries, the same is true for any other suitable power source. It is also well known here at SGL that astronomy telescopes and mounts are fussy when it comes to power supplies, leads and cables. 

Having said that it is possible PeterCPC's battery was faulty (a percentage of all products are) but that is rare.

Most here know us well enough to know we would drop a product immediately if we had concerns but in this instance we are still 100% confident so will continue to recommend Tracer Lithium Polymer batteries

HTH, 

Steve 

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I have spoken with Tracer's tech team who agree with Cath, it is most likely the telescope misbehaved when the power depleted to around 9V. But this is not unique to Tracer batteries, the same is true for any other suitable power source. It is also well known here at SGL that astronomy telescopes and mounts are fussy when it comes to power supplies, leads and cables. 

Having said that it is possible PeterCPC's battery was faulty (a percentage of all products are) but that is rare.

Most here know us well enough to know we would drop a product immediately if we had concerns but in this instance we are still 100% confident so will continue to recommend Tracer Lithium Polymer batteries

HTH, 

Steve 

I can only reiterate that the Tracer battery I was using was fully charged. Maybe I had a faulty unit - I don't know but I thought that it was worth mentioning my experience. I was never saying don't buy one, I was just suggesting that people discuss it with their supplier before buying just to be sure. 

It's a shame but it's put me off buying a Tracer battery again. The power lead to the scope that i was using was the one supplied by Celestron so you would hope that that would be ok.

Peter

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I have used the Tracer "24Ah LiFePO4" (chunky orange/black waterproof battery) on both my CPC800 and CPC1100 for many months with no issues at all.

I am very impressed by the battery.

http://www.lithium4golf.com/golf-batteries/golf-36-hole-24ah-lifepo4-battery.html

Likewise, no issues at all using the same to power my AZ-EQ6GT and CCD.

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Maybe I had a faulty unit - I don't know but I thought that it was worth mentioning my experience. 

I think you must have done :smiley:

You are right to mention it, I responded because it is a reliable product and one I rather like (I currently use the Tracer 22Ah model) so wanted to balance your findings with my own. 

HTH, 

Steve 

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I have been hovering over the "Add to Order" button on one of these for a couple of weeks and am re-assured by this thread, despite the OP's seemingly unusual experience.

I have a CPC1100 and plan to buy a powered dew shield. What I am unsure of is how many hours I could expect to get out of the 8, 10 or 22 aH versions of the power pack with that set-up.

Does anyone with experience of using these have the answer?

Thanks

Derek

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I got one of the 22Ah L/P Tracers from FLO at the beginning of the year to run my HEQ5 Pro. So far it's had one charge..  the initial 10 hour charge. I've done one solar imaging session and a Lunar & Jupiter session. Probably only 2 - 3 hours real use as the weathers been pants. Ran fine & it still shows as fully charged!

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I've been using the 14Ah Tracer on my AZEQ6 with no problem at all. Love it to bits!

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Derek. Something like an Astrozap powered dew shield will consume about 1A per hour on max power setting, but considerably less than that in normal use ... say. 0.5A per hour. A CPC tracking will consume very little power as well, so all of these batteries are comfortably going to give you a night time's viewing. Obviously, the larger the better, but the good thing about them compared to SLA is that you can discharge them all the way down without damaging them

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Thanks, Alistair, that's just the kind of advice I was looking for.

Roll on payday...   :icon_cool:

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I wanted to try to resolve some of the issues with power cables getting wrapped around my Celestron CPC800XLT and bought one of the newly advertised Tracer Power batteries from Rother Valley Optics. I bought the 8Ah unit so that I could fit in onto the scope mount so that it would go around with the scope avoiding any cord wrap. See page 45 of the February edition of Astronomy Now.

I got some advice before buying that this would be ok for my scope.

Beware - when I used the Tracer the CPC GOTO system went haywire. Any other power method be it mains or Powertank and it was fine. I contacted both RVO and Tracer about this. RVO gave me a complete refund without any argument and Tracer were forced to admit that the power output from their Lithium Polymer batteries was not uniform and would not suit some telescopes. Maybe they would be  ok with a smaller lighter scope, I don't know. So if you have a larger scope beware, you might get problems. I suggest that you discuss it with your supplier before purchasing.

Peter

I had a similar problem but with a Maplin's AC~DC power supply( the reallylarge one in a metal casing ) and my HEQ5 PRO, every time I used the supply after a few minutes the guiding or slewing would stop and the handset froze, I have gone back to using a dedicated regulated power supply now. I use the Maplin for powering the dew heaters now.

A.G

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I have been hovering over the "Add to Order" button on one of these for a couple of weeks 

Thanks

Derek

Lol, me too! How many people do that. Add to basket, remove from basket, add to basket, remove from basket....

Maybe I'll bite the bullet and buy it - my £30 Maplins car starter that had never let me down ran out of juice last night on my new 250px flex tube. I think i need more power than the 130p...

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Lol, me too! How many people do that. Add to basket, remove from basket, add to basket, remove from basket....

Maybe I'll bite the bullet and buy it - my £30 Maplins car starter that had never let me down ran out of juice last night on my new 250px flex tube. I think i need more power than the 130p...

I finally hit the button a few weeks ago and have been very happy with the result. I went for the 22ah version on the basis that I didn't want to regret having bought not enough power. It seems to go on forever and is very compact. Highly recommended :wink:

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