SM Services Multi 8 Charger

SM
Services Multi 8 Charger
by
Permian
Stock
Specifications
Size: 400
mm x 180 mm x 85 mm
Construction: Boxed
and fan cooled
Supply
Connections:
Standard
combined switched and fused IEC inlet with detachable
supply lead. (inlet fused with 20 mm x 5 mm 3 amp anti
surge)
Supply
Voltage:
230
V AC
Supply
Current:

0.75A
Output
Connections:
2.5mm
Jack connector Tip Positive. (centre Contact)
Outputs: 8
Independent Timed charge Outputs Each Short Circuit
Protected
Output
Voltage:
Automatic
Voltage Selection 1 to 12 Cells
Output
Current:
5
to 500 milli amps constant current user set
Cycle
and Capacity:
1
to 12 cells up to 9999 milli amp hours, 300 & 600
milli amp preset discharge rates
Indicators: Led
indicators for charging and cycling. Digital displays
for charge rate and battery capacity

S.M.
SERVICES (UK) LTD


There comes
a time in every airsofter’s life when they realise they have too
much kit; when opening up your closet to marvel at your collection
is like opening a vault at a TA divisional armoury, when your
wardrobe looks like a divisional quartermasters store room and
when popping out for a skirmish at Combat South requires days
of logistical planning.

I reached
that stage a long time ago, probably 2 years ago, but it never
really hit home until I acquired my ShadowAUG. With its 4 12V
600mA and 2 9.6V 1700mAh batteries charging times multiplied from
hours to days – preparing for a skirmish took a week. My 3 chargers
(2 TLP Premiums and 1 TLP AC-94) could charge 1 battery at a time,
on slow charge, for 14-18 hours. Multiply that by 6, then add
on the 2 batteries for my M4 meant getting them ready for a skirmish
took about 6 days. I only every charged my batteries during the
day because the noise of the fans on the TLP Premiums kept me
awake at night. Added to this time issue, the fact that none of
my chargers were able to cope properly with the 10.8 and 12V packs
I used, I would only get a partial charge.

So the answer
in short was to buy several new chargers that were rated to 12V
(10 cells). I initially looked at the Systema chargers, and some
of the brick chargers sold by several UK retailers. But whilst
being rated for 12V it would still take days for me to charge
all my batteries. My team mate found the apparent solution to
all my problems on a website belonging to a small, company called
S.M.S Services. Specialising in model aviation product where multiple
multi current and multi voltage packs are common – their premier
product, the Multi 8, appeared to be exactly what I was looking
for. At £300 it had to be!!

Specifications

Size.
400 mm x 180 mm x 85 mm.
Construction. Boxed and fan cooled.
Supply Connections. Standard combined switched and fused IEC inlet
with detachable supply lead. (inlet fused with 20 mm x 5 mm 3
amp anti surge).
Supply Voltage. 230 V AC .
Supply Current. 0.75A.
Output Connections. 2.5mm Jack connector Tip Positive. (centre
Contact).
Outputs. 8 Independent Timed charge Outputs Each Short Circuit
Protected.
Output Voltage. Automatic Voltage Selection 1 to 12 Cells.
Output Current. 5 to 500 milli amps constant current user set.
Cycle and Capacity. 1 to 12 cells up to 9999 milli amp hours,
300 & 600 milli amp preset discharge rates.
Indicators. Led indicators for charging and cycling. Digital displays
for charge rate and battery capacity.

Shopping
I
ordered the charger by calling SM Services themselves, and spoke
to Terry who was exceedingly helpful and gave me the low down
on the charger, its features and functions. Being sold on it I
asked him about the connector leads, as the Multi 8 uses 2.5mm
plugs to connect the battery to the charger. I requested he solder
power leads onto the 2.5mm plugs – as soldering was hardly my
speciality. He said he would gladly oblige providing 1m worth
of cable per lead on each plug. They accept Switch, Visa, Mastercard
etc… I paid for mine and Terry informed me they would deliver
it in 3 working days – 1 for testing and 2 for delivery. 3 Days
later a large box arrived containing a very padded charger.

I rushed home
and opened it up. I was impressed by what I saw.

Overview
The charger is large, compared to the TLP Premium charger
this thing is massive – it measures 40 x 18 x 8.5cm. The
Charger is predominantly PC Beige except of the main console
which is a smoky acrylic. It is this console that is the
heart of the charger. The back of the charger houses the
AC power socket, master power switch and cooling fan. First
impressions are that the charger is very solidly built,
and it weighs about 3 Kg.

The
front console houses 2 LCD Displays, 18 dials, and 18 buttons
from which you can set each of the 8 channels charge rate
or discharge rate.

The
left hand LCD displays the charge rate in milliamp hours,
and the accompanying dial sets the channel you are viewing
(1-8). The LCD on the right displays the capacity of a battery
pack in mAh; again the dial here sets the channel you are
viewing.

The
first line of dials sets the number of cells in a pack on
a channel – for discharging. The next line of dials (potentiometers)
dictates the current supplied during charging. Below them
are the plug sockets and charge start buttons.

The
charger is only rated for 240V AC, so its no use for those
people camping or site based work where 12V DC Car batteries
are used to supply power (unless you use a power inverter).

Quite
an impressive piece of kit, that did look a little daunting
at first but after a read of the 1 page instruction manual
things became clear and the magic began.

Set-up
I bought the charger with my AUG in mind. Mike my team mate
uses 4 of the same 12V packs in his AUG so I took responsibility
for charging them as well. These combined with my 6 AUG packs
and 3 M4 packs meant I had over 12 batteries with the small Kyosho
style connector. Since I also had occasion to use a large battery
pack with a Tamiya connector and packs with DEANS connectors I
had to have all options open to me. So when I ordered the charger
I got 10 plugs with fly leads attached; 8 intended for small plugs,
1 for a large plug and 1 for a DEANS connector.

Setting them
up was merely a case of soldering the plugs onto the fly leads,
and covering the join with some heatshrink tubing.

Charging
The charger looks incredibly complicated at first glance,
but like everything if you read the manual it all becomes
very simple. First off you start by connecting the power
lead into the back of the unit. Then plugging the charger
into the mains, and turning on the Master power switch.
The unit lights up and both LCD panels should come on –
the left one reading 014 and the right one reading zero.
(0000)

I decided
to start things off on a grand scale and lined up all 8
12V 600mAh battery packs for a slow charge (The unit is
primarily designed for slow charging batteries, but you
can fast charge them but it’s not as straight forward).
I made sure the channel dial of the left was set to 1 and
that the Channel 1 current dial was set to zero. I then
plugged the connector lead into the socket on the panel
and plugged in the battery to the other end. I then pressed
the Channel 1 charge button located next to the plug socket,
and the CHARGE LED lit up indicating the channel was set
to charge mode. I then had to manually set the charge current
(typically 1/10th of the capacity of the cells you are charging
so for 600mAh I set the current to 060mAh) for the individual
pack.

Once Channel
1 was set I did repeated the process for the other 7 channels
and the charger did the rest. Every 2 hours I noticed a time indication
LED came on (these are located above the socket on the front panel
and read from 2 – 12). After 14 hours of silent charging (yes
even with all 8 battery packs) the time indication LED’s went
out and the charge LED started blinking. At this point the charger
reverted back to supplying a minimum top-up current to the battery.

Amazingly
simple, and silent – again I could not get over the fact that
the unit’s fan NEVER came on. The Multi 8 took 14 hours to charge
8 batteries, the TLP Premium charger would have taken 112 hours,
truly amazing. I had effectively charged ½ of all my batteries
in half a day.

Discharging
I used most of those batteries at the following Combat South
skirmish, 2 days after I had set the charger up properly. So I
now had to use the Multi 8’s very useful discharge function.

One of the
features of the Multi 8 is that the when it comes to discharging
the channels are divided into 2 blocks. Each block is set to discharge
a certain capacity range. Channel’s 1-4 discharge batteries up
to 650mAh and Channels 5-8 do everything above that. This means
that discharge rates are more stable and more specific to pack
capacities.

Discharging
battery packs is more complicated. You first have to set the channel
up to match the number of cells on the battery pack (so for the
12V packs it is 10 cells), and set the capacity channel to channel
you are discharging from. I then set the charger up as though
I was charging the batteries, setting the channel, battery charge
rate etc… Once the CHARGE LED came on I pressed the CYCLE button
located above the charge rate knob. The left LCD flicked down
from 060mAh to 011mAh, and the right LCD started counting up from
0000, in intervals of 2.

I repeated
the process for all 8 channels, putting 4 600mAh packs on Channels
1-4 and 4 1700mAh packs on Channels 5-8. After 2 hours the unit
felt hot to the touch and I finally noticed the cooling fan in
operation. From 3 meters away it was totally inaudible, but up
close you can just about hear it. Soon after the first 600mAh
packs started to finish discharging, this was indicated by the
CHARGE LED flashing. I noticed that the right LCD was reading
598 (mAh), it had effectively discharged the battery and checked
it capacity at the same time a bonus feature for identifying dead
battery packs!

The 1700mAh
packs took about 4 hours to discharge, but again 4 hours to discharge
8 battery packs – even with the TLP premiums and my TM dischargers
(all 4 of them) it would have taken at least double that amount
of time.

Conclusion
This charger is nothing short of amazing. It has the ability
to set individual charge rates on 8 battery packs, up to 14V.
It has a discharge and battery checking function built in and
is silent in operation. For the first time ever I can’t find anything
wrong with a product I am reviewing, I can’t find anything to
fault it, it excels in every area. It’s totally adaptable, easy
and intuitive to use, well made and has a full 1 Year guarantee.

The price
is a bargain when you consider that to obtain the same functionality
from the TLP Premium chargers you would have to buy 8 of them
– and at £50 a go including P&P (and not TAX) that’s
still £400 with no guarantee, over £100 more than
the Multi 8.

I usually
advocate going overseas for airsoft kit usually because of price,
but here I make an exception. BUY the Multi 8, buy it knowing
you are buying the BEST charger on the market, buy it in full
confidence knowing its supported by a 1 year warranty, buy it
know its been designed and built but enthusiasts like you and
me.

If you are
a site owner, or just have more batteries than you know what to
do with buy the Multi 8 it will make your life a lot easier, and
prolong the life of your batteries.

Simply put
a 10/10 product, you won’t find better on the market.

by
Permian

External
Links:

SM Services website: http://www.smservices.net

SM
Services Multi 8 datasheet

Site
links:
TBA

 

Comment
on this review in the forums


Last
modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2001 9:37 AM copyright 2001 ArniesAirsoft




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