Thursday, 5 May 2011

Lipos ... A cautionary tale.

Touring cars have been using lipo battery packs for around 3 years now, mostly without incident.
In fact the BRCA electric board have published some basic principles governing the use of lipo packs. These principles have been incorporated into the regulations and can be seen here.

The US governing body for RC racing is ROAR who also have a conservative attitude towards the use of lipo batteries. The US rules govering the use of lipos are even stricter than those of the BRCA and go as far as excluding the use of warmers. The rules for lipo use under ROAR can be found here. (Rule 

These regulations have been rigorously enforced at most circuit events I have attended over the last couple of seasons. Most people understand why and are, for safety's sake, happy to oblige. 

OK if you are still awake you are no doubt thinking . . . "What is he banging on about?"

I'm getting to it!

In the US 1/8 electric buggy racing is becoming increasingly popular and what happens over there eventually happens over here, albeit more expensively!

I have been attending a few 1/8 rally-x events over the last few months and electric buggies are definitely growing in popularity, which is great. I think it's a brilliant way to get people interested in the off road scene without the added complication of those noisy, smelly gas engines that I love so much. 

Here's the thing. I don't think I have seen one electric buggy using a hard case lipo. 99% of the time this is no problem but as for the other 1% ?!

I don't know who this was but I'd guess it ruined his day.
(Get in touch if this is your car)

This one failed in Mark Chatfield's buggy at the Slough round of the SRS series.

He was lucky to have a brave (foolish?) marshall nearby who saved the car from extensive damage.

 Buggy racing, even if it's not supposed to be, is a contact formula. With lots of stones and sharp bits of kit flying around at 40 or 50 miles an hour a softcase lipo seems, to me, to be somewhat vulnerable.
Maybe for the sake of the class, and for the safety of all concerned, race organisers should be looking carefully at the rule book and considering the implications should a serious incident occur. Whats the situation with BRCA insurance for instance?

Moreover many of the people using these batteries are the less experienced or novice drivers who don't understand the best way to handle these potentially dangerous bits of kit. Perhaps more seasoned users should be setting a good example and helping the new guys to be safe.

Failures don't always occur on track. It's important to understand the charging limitations of lipo batteries. Repeated abuse can come back to haunt you. Always read and adhere to the charging information supplied with your new battery.

 Imagine the scene if this guy hadn't been using a charging sack.

A lipo sack is not expensive and could easily pay for itself in the event of a mishap.

A quote from ROAR:
  "ROAR believes the first and most effective step towards Lipo safety
 is an informed and fully educated user."

The only other thing we need to do is make these leccy buggies a bit noisier so the marshalls can hear them whilst on their roof in the bushes. Perhaps we can use a peg and a cigarette packet like we did on our bicycles when we were nippers?

Feel free to discuss your thoughts in this thread.

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