Many RC handsets run on rechargeable battery packs, which are made up of commonly sized cells, such as AA, AAA, or C. Whether the current battery pack is no longer holding its charge or you are looking to upgrade, understanding proper replacement is imperative for maintaining the integrity of the RC handset. Changing out the entire battery pack is always an option; however, switching out the cells within the battery pack itself proves more cost efficient.
Choosing a Battery Pack Type
Many individuals upgrade their battery packs to lithium polymer (LiPo) cells. These cells offer many advantages over older style nickel cadmium or NiCd cells and nickel metal hydride or NiMH cells. Renowned for their large capacity and high level of output, LiPo cells are able to efficiently operate using fewer cells and thereby weigh less. Still, if simply planning to find the correct replacement battery, keep in mind the manufacturer and model number of the device. Generally speaking, RC handset battery packs last one to three years with normal use.
Determine the Number of Needed Cells
After deciding on the battery cells, figure out the input voltage on your RC handset; this number should be labelled on the unit. Next, divide the input voltage by 3.7 to work out the number of cells you need. It is important to note that the output voltage from the battery pack should not exceed the input voltage of your RC handset by more than 10 per cent, or damage may ensue. Be sure to align the batteries properly based on polarity and connectivity in order to avoid damaging the handset or causing a fire. The new battery arrangement should be identical to that of the original pack.
Replacing the Battery Pack
Prep your work area by lining up the new battery pack cells. Be sure to rotate alternate cells a half-turn so that the terminals are at either end. Next, wrap electrical insulating tape around the cells to form a battery pack. Then, cut strips of AWG 16-gauge wire; be sure to first measure the distance from the RC battery pack to the control to ensure the correct length. The number of strips directly depends on the number of cells you are wiring.
Recycle Your Spent Battery Pack
Many battery types, including NiCd and NiMH batteries, are considered hazardous to the environment. Thus, it is important to dispose of them properly. Many locations allow for used battery recycling free of charge. To fully discharge spent batteries, enlist the help of a RC battery charger.