Hello Nerfers! I’m here today to tell you about the wonders of Lithium Polymer batteries!
LiPo’s have a bad rap in our hobby due to perceived dangers of their usage – the manufacturing process of these power cells means they must be treated with care, but by following instructions and taking the right precautions, they are no more dangerous than that set of AA’s you have decomposing in a TV remote in your own living room!
What is a LiPO Battery?
According to wikipedia, a LiPo battery is this:
“Lithium-ion polymer batteries, polymer lithium ion, or more commonly lithium polymer batteries (abbreviated Li-poly, Li-Pol, LiPo, LIP, PLI or LiP) are rechargeable (secondary cell) batteries. LiPo batteries are usually composed of several identical secondary cells in parallel to increase the discharge current capability, and are often available in series “packs” to increase the total available voltage.”
Does that clear up everything? No? Oh, alright then… better keep reading!
Essentially, they are very powerful batteries used for a number of applications, including power packs for model cars and helicopters. They use a solid polymer to hold the electrolytes used to make the ENERGY, which is a fancy way of saying they wont leak acid all over your pants, and they come in a range of shapes and sized, usually long and thin, but occasionally little bricks or flat rectangles – it depends on the battery.
LiPo batteries carry very strong currents, and if misused, they can literally explode or catch fire – by misuse I mean stabbing it with knives, trying to charge it on a frying pan or, I dunno, bite it or something. With proper care and use it is as harmless as the next high powered electrical device, and I have personally run mine through all manner of wars and abuse and had no issues – just show them a little respect, and they will be fine.
LiPo’s require a special charger to ‘balance’ the cells that make up the battery. The batteries can commonly have up to 6 cells, sometimes even more, but for our purposes you wont need many more than 3 cell LiPos (12v approx.). Each cell must be charged to the exact same level as the others to prevent an accident – fortunately, the charger takes care of all that electronically (though they recommend you charge on a concrete or cement surface far from flammable objects, just in case).
So Crooks, which one should I buy??
Well kids, I’m glad you asked! There are many, many, MANY LiPo batteries available, and choosing the right one for you is important – when I bought my first one, it proved to be too powerful for my poor Stampede and blew it’s gearbox clear across the room (not really). I’m going to give you a list of Crooksie’s recommended batteries in just a tick, but for those of you who want to explore on your own, I will give you these tips (note: Crooks is no engineer, so this is a basic guide, and I apologise to anyone more knowledgeable if I have dumbed it down to the point of unintelligibility…):
Capacity – mAh: milliampere-hour: e.g. 1000mAh. A battery with more of these will run for longer. Essentially. The higher mAh also corresponds with a larger battery size – an 850mAh LiPo is a cute little guy – a 5000mAh one is a housebrick…
Voltage: e.g. 2S1P / 2 Cell / 7.4V. LiPos are made up of linked cells that each contribute slightly more than 3.7v each. The more cells, obviously, the higher the voltage, and you MUST make sure that your charger can handle the number of cells your battery has – if the charger can manage only 3 cells and under, and you buy a 4 cell battery, then YOU FAIL.
Discharge – C-Rating: e.g. 25C constant, 50C burst. This is a rating of how long it will last in the described conditions. Most Nerf blasters are used in a burst capacity, unless you have an unmodded Barricade, in which case, shame on you. The higher the C-rating, the longer the battery lasts at charge.
Alright, to the batteries!
This is the battery I recommend for anyone running a Stampede with a 6kg spring – the blend of power and speed is perfect for Assaults in FF:S and it is my personal loadout in those games. The larger mAh rating means this battery can be used game after game without needing a charge (i’m up to about 8 games in a row since I last juiced it up).
This little guy is similar to the one used in my clip-fed Barricade custom jobbie – it gives it enough power to make your enemies pay, but without too much risk of burning out the motors. If you are clever like me, you can even fit it inside the casing of your blaster…
This is a slightly beefier version of the last one I linked – the ACTUAL battery I use in my Barricade. It has a higher C-Rating so again, you just never have to recharge…
This has the same voltage as the battery I recommended for the Stampede, but at a lower mAh. It’s smaller size might make it a good option for a Rayven, which takes 6v stock and has been known to take 16v, though not for long…
Okay, say you just HAVE to have the final say in power and rate of fire, and to heck with your gearboxes! 14v and higher batteries are a risky prospect in our toy blasters – the plastic components just aren’t up to the abuse, and 9 times out of 10 it isnt really worth it. However, we are nothing if not pioneers and these batteries are good value for what they deliver, just… be careful, okay?! If you have a Stampede with a 9kg or higher spring, then it could be coupled with one of these babies, theoretically, but don’t say Crooks didn’t warn you!
How DO I charge one of these anyway??
That’s a very good question, and here is a link to the charger that I bought:
PLEASE NOTE: These chargers do NOT come with a power adapter, as they are from overseas, where things are done differently. You’ll need to source one from Jaycar or Dick Smith’s, or a woman’s purse, or David Bowie’s MIND.
Alright, that’s about all for now, but one more thing before I go – your Nerf blasters are not automatically going to accept your LiPo batteries – you need, at least, a soldering iron and some connection plugs to get them connected, and there is a slight element of risk involved in that procedure. Fortunately, your pals at SNW have these things and more, and we will be having mod days in the near future where such projects can be worked on. Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook page for group orders from this supplier!
PLEASE NOTE: Members under 16 years old will need permission from their parents to join a group order – that is, I will need to hear it from them personally (no ‘notes’ from parents thankyouverymuch).