One of the early learning experiences I had flying small quadcopters was seeing how easy it was to sever balance connectors from my LiPo batteries. Sure, crashes and repairs were expected in the early days, but I was unaware just how often I found severed balance wires after a bad crash.
Worst of all, depending on how or when they were severed, repairs may be impossible. Nothing worse than shortening the lifespan of a nearly new battery!
Thus, we wanted to cover another way you can increase the durability of your gear by protecting your LiPo batteries. If you are having difficulty securing those pesky balance connectors, read on!
About LiPo balance connectors
The balance connector allows your charger (or you) to monitor and manipulate each cell of your battery. Using this connector in tandem with a “Balance Charge” setting on your charger can greatly improve the lifespan and overall health of your batteries!
Severing and losing the balance lead or breaking the cables from the connector will significantly shorten the lifespan of your battery. Unless repaired, you will no longer be able to balance charge your battery.
While a damaged connector can be repaired, it should only be done with extreme caution. Your better bet is to use preventative measures to avoid damage in the first place!
How to protect balance leads
First off, as a standard rule of thumb, no wires should reach any moving part of the quadcopter. The easiest way to test this is to pull your loose wires toward the props. If you can move the wires into a position where they can be cut, they need to be secured better.
Realistically, this applies to every loose component inside the frame. However, balance leads have a propensity to find their way into the prop arc if incorrectly secured.
Because of the short length of balance wires on most batteries, they can be difficult to secure. Thus, we wanted to share some of our favorite solutions for securing your balance wires!
The no-budget solution: use your battery strap
Not much to say here! But if you have no other solution available, you should absolutely tuck your balance lead under your battery strap. This is the minimum effort you should take to make sure your balance wires don’t say hello to your props.
However, depending on the size of your battery and how much wiggle room you have for positioning your strap, the balance wires may not fit cleanly under the battery strap. If this is the case for you, definitely look into another method!
The removable consumable method: electric tape or zip ties
When it comes time to charge, peel back the tape to loosen the connector, charge up, and then tape the lead back down. With enough time, the tape is going to get pretty gross from attracting dirt and grime and will lose its stickiness. However, using small amounts of tape now and then are much cheaper than losing an entire battery.
As for using zip ties, be careful. You don’t want to overtighten the zip tie on your battery and put pressure on the cells. If you get some puffage to your battery later in its lifespan, you don’t want to be cranking down on it with a new zip tie every charge.
You probably have a ton of rubber bands lying around in a junk drawer or can get a big bag of them on the cheap. The same application process as the other strap options apply here: wrap the rubber band around the wire to securely hold the connector to the battery.
The downside here is the cheapness comes at a cost of durability. Most budget rubber bands won’t last more than a few bad crashes. However, keeping a few in your bag takes up no space and is a great way to secure your connectors in a pinch!
Network cable straps
My personal method of choice for securing balance leads. Network cable straps are traditionally used in IT for securing cables without the permanence or potential cutting damage that comes from removing zip ties. These are lightweight Velcro straps that are easily adjustable and reusable no matter what type of battery you have.
There really is no downside that we have experienced with these other than their cost compared to other methods. They aren’t super expensive, but you can get a bag of 600 rubber bands for the price of 100 network ties. Considering a bag that will last you a lifetime of flying costs less than one battery, it’s decent insurance.
Whatever solution you use, secure your LiPo balance connectors!
No matter what method works for you, take a few minutes before the next race or freestyle session to secure your LiPo balance connectors. In theory, you should only need to toss a battery due to old age or puffage, not because you severed a connector!