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Vencon UBA5 Ultimate Battery Analyzer & Charger

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Vencon UBA5 Ultimate Battery Analyzer & Charger
  Introduction:
Vencon Ultimate Battery Analyzer UBA5 is professional grade, very versatile, PC controlled, dual channel, battery analyzer, charger and data logger with networking capability. With its extensive flexibility, UBA5 is a single unit that will cater all your battery analysis requirements. UBA5 enables you to virtually test any kind of batteries with any kind of battery chemistries. Be it small button cells, big batteries; Alkaline battery chemistry, NiMH rechargeable batteries (both standard and LSD), NiCd rechargeable batteries to Li-ion & Li-polymer batteries; anything as long as it falls under the acceptable power, voltage and current range of UBA5 can be tested using Ultimate Battery Analyzer UBA5.

The first UBA version was introduced in 1992; back then, UBA was the first low cost PC controlled battery analyzer in the world. Introduced in 2007 with multiple enhancements and improved capacity, UBA5 is fifth and latest revision of the legendary (Ultimate Battery Analyzer & Charger) UBA Architecture. UBA5 is a result of more than 15 years of extensive analysis, study, continues research and evolution of the UBA series. Notably, Marc Venis, founder of Vencon Technologies, built his first automated analyzer in 1981. The latest UBA5 easily caters needs for the most advanced and demanding battery users. Be it for military equipment batteries, medical equipment batteries, RC enthusiasts, Flashlight enthusiasts, battery manufacturers, caver's, divers you name it UBA5 has got everyone covered.

Anyone who needs to ensure that their batteries perform with utmost reliability must have UBA5 for the ultimate analysis and testing. UBA5 console software offers unlimited potential and flexibility to engineers & researchers for testing multiple types of batteries simultaneously. With networking features of UBA5 and UBA5 Console Software, You can connect many UBA Analyzers together, the possibilities are endless. Best of all, Single Console Software controls ALL the UBA's in the network. UBA5 is available in various configurations and combinations including UBA combo packs. You also can order custom configuration directly at www.vencon.com. A host of accessories such as temperature probes, external loads, relays, etc. are readily available. Vencon, a company with a team of highly experienced professionals is dedicated to offer the very best in terms of product options, technical help & customer support. Reviewed here is the UBA5 General Purpose (GP) Combo Pack. UBA5 GP Combo Pack includes UBA5, Software installation CD, 19 Volts 4.5 Amp universal power supply, serial & battery cables and operating manual.

Vencon UBA5 Ultimate Battery Analyzer & Charger (UBA5 GP):
UBA5 Technical Specifications:
  • Batteries Supported: All types of primary & secondary batteries. Primaries including Carbon Zinc, Alkaline, Primary Lithium, Silver Oxide etc. Secondary batteries including NiMH, NiCd, Gell Cells, Lead Acid, Lithium-ion and and Lithium Polymer batteries. UBA5 can accept Single cells or battery packs either in series or a combination series parallel cells.
  • Battery Voltage: Ranging from 0 to 18 Volts.
  • Battery Capacity: 20 mAh to 120 Ah or more
  • Internal Load: Two electronic loads, one per channel
  • Internal Load Type: Programmable, Constant Current/Constant Voltage
  • Internal Load Current Capacity: 12 mA to 3000 mA in 12 mA increments. Power capacity limit of 45 Watts per channel.
  • Internal Load Accuracy: 0.5% reading ± 2mA
  • Internal Load Resolution: 0.1 mAh
  • Load Cycle Termination: Cutoff Voltage, maximum time, maximum capacity, any combination of maximum time and / or capacity, temperature termination with optional temperature probes.
  • Internal Charger: Two, one per channel
  • Internal Charger Current Capacity: 20 mA to 2.0 Amp in 20mA increments.
  • Charge Termination: Peak (delta V), maximum time, charged capacity, any combination of maximum time and / or charged capacity; temperature limit, dT/dt with optional temperature probes.
  • Power Input: DC, accepts 15V to 26V, 4.5 Amp max current input
  • Battery Input: Two pairs, banana connectors
  • Ports: Two, Standard 9 pin RS232 connectors, one male, one female
  • Other Ports: Total Four Accessory input output ports. Two programmable digital outputs and two analog inputs
  • Input Protection: All inputs and outputs are reverse polarity protected
  • Other Protection: Internal temperature sensor
  • Indicators: 3 LED, 2 Red for battery, 1 green for power
  • Size: 130mm x 170mm x 75mm (WxLxH)
  • Weight: 820 gm

UBA5 Software Features:
  • UBA Console can control multiple UBA's simultaneously
  • UBA Console has professional graphical & visual user interface
  • Excellent context help and online manual
  • Built in Tools: UBA Network Viewer, Battery Analysis Routine Designer, Battery Analysis Results Viewer
  • Database Tools: View Battery Database, Add / Edit Battery Database, Find Battery Wizard
  • Software Compatibility: Win9X/NT4/2000/XP/Vista/Linux-Wine
In-Depth Review & Pictures:
Vencon UBA5: The UBA5 Ultimate Battery Analyzer & Charger package includes the UBA5 pictured below with host of other accessories. UBA5 is a small box with electronic goodies packed inside. Externally the box measures 130 mm in width, 170 mm in length and about 75 mm in height. The box has a beautiful black colored anodized matt finish. All labels over the box are printed in bright yellow color making it easy to look and clear to identify. On top of the box you will notice square shaped attractive design created by a combination of circular and rounded wide rectangular perforations placed for easy airflow. Just below the perforations, you can see through a cooling fan installed for forced air cooling. The temperature controlled variable speed cooling fan dissipates heat generated during high current charge and discharge.


Vencon UBA5 Front Interface: Recognizing the product is easy, Vencon Logo and text "UBA5 Battery Analyzer & Charger" is printed boldly on top of UBA5. There are 2 pairs of color coded banana connector input terminals available. Each pair is identified as Channels. Each pair has clearly marked +ve and -ve polarity. The acceptable voltage and current range also specified. Located centrally across each pair is an indicator red LED. On center of front console, a green indicator power LED is also present.


The red LED indicators come to life when a test is under progress. Green LED will light up as soon as UBA5 gets power.


At the rear end of UBA5, a lot of information and connectors are placed. First to notice on top left is the company name and website. On top right is the model number with Serial Number. At the center of top row is the accessory connector. Since the UBA package was not configured to opt for optional temperature probes, input is blocked with a soft plastic cap. You may, however at any point of time remove it to connect the accessories. At the bottom left standards compliance and approval logos are printed indicating UBA's safety standards. FCC ratings for UBA5 tested to comply for use at home or office. Placed centrally are the two most important RS232 ports. First RS232 male type port is used to connect to another UBA in series to form network. Second RS232 female port can either connect to PC or to next UBA5. One of the best things of having RS232 port is backward compatibility. The logic behind is, since tests and analysis may require you to have a dedicated PC, you need not have a high end PC with USB ports. Any old PC with supported operating system will do just fine. If your PC does not have a RS232 port, you can buy optional USB to Serial adapter or a USB to Serial cable. Vencon has done an excellent job in ensuring that multiple kinds of USB to Serial cables are accepted through various communication modes in the software. There are extensive options in the software to configure the ports accordingly.

At the right most bottom side, a standard 2.1mm DC barrel power plug (center positive) connector is provided. UBA5 accepts DC power supply with Voltage range from 15 to 26 Volts. If you plan to build your own power supply, please ensure to have a well filtered and conditioned power supply with the correct polarity and the voltage is within the specified range. In case if you have connected with wrong polarity, not to worry. UBA5 has built-in reverse polarity protection. There wont be any damage to UBA. If you have bought a UBA5 combo pack, the power adapter is configured properly and you need not worry on any thing. It is suggested to go in for a UBA5 Combo pack if you are an intermediate user. User built power supplies are for advanced users only. Should you require, Custom Power Packs are available at Vencon site.

UBA5 Comparative size: As an indicator of size, placed just above the cooling fan perforations is Sanyo Eneloop AA sized battery.


Vencon UBA5 Package Contents: Apart from UBA5, the UBA5 GP Combo pack includes Software CD, "Where's the Power Switch" Getting Started user manual.


UBA5 GP Combo Pack is configured with 19 V 4.5 Amp Universal Power Supply. The power supply is of SMPS type and works for worldwide Voltage range ranging from 100 V AC @ 60Hz (US) to 230 V AC @ 50 Hz (UK and rest of world). It has international approvals including California's efficiency standard and is lead free.


By default, US power plug cable is included. If you are in UK or in other parts of world you might need an optional UK 3 pin adapter.


UBA5 GP Combo Pack includes the necessary RS232 Serial cable, 2 pairs of high quality banana plug cables with mini crocodile clips are also supplied.


If your PC does not have a Serial RS232 port, you may need to buy additional USB to Serial Cable. You should prefer to buy Vencon recommended USB to Serial cables. Manufacturers such as IO Gear, Belkin (more specifically Belkin F5U103 & Belkin F5U409) or CYS (USC1000) are recommended. The main advantage of using preferred USB to Serial cables is that they are pre configured in UBA Console Software. No additional configurations necessary. However, you can also buy any generic but standards compliant USB to Serial cables. As long as it is has proper software drivers installed and is functioning properly, UBA Console Software will be able to use it. Note that you may need to try different configuration options for the communication & set proper duplex mode if the default mode is not working.

Safety Instructions:
Before beginning installation and testing, please ensure that you carefully read the supplied user manual completely and thoroughly. This is very important step and should not be overlooked no matter how advanced the user is. Here are the important safety warnings taken from the manual.

Batteries are electro-chemical devices that have the potential to burn, explode, or emit harmful chemicals. Please read these safety warnings:

Safety Warnings:
  • Observe battery temperature. Allow cold batteries to warm up and hot batteries to cool before charging. Stop the battery test if the battery becomes very hot.
  • Do not attempt to charge non-rechargeable batteries such as alkaline, carbon-zinc, or non-rechargeable Lithium batteries. Attempting to charge them may result in explosion.
  • Do not short the positive and negative battery terminals together.
  • Do not exceed the battery manufacturer’s recommended charge current and voltage limits. Doing so may damage the battery and result in venting or explosion.
  • Charge and discharge Lithium batteries in a fire proof container.
  • Double check the settings before starting a battery analysis.
UBA Console Software:
One of the best things for using UBA5 is minimal prerequisites and system requirements. A simple basic PC with any flavor of Windows operating system with RS232 port is sufficient to get you started. For extensive analysis, you might want to have a dedicated PC, but there is no need to buy a new one! Any old PC will serve the purpose as long as it is in working condition. In fact, PC's have two RS232 communication ports as a standard. More over UBA Console can run on a Windows 95 operating system. UBA Console can even be operated on a Linux PC through Wine. Most of the standard PCs today have at least one RS232 communications port. If you are using a laptop or your PC does not have a RS232 port, not to worry. As mentioned earlier, UBA Console can easily make use of USB-Serial Adapter cable.

UBA Console CD: The software CD accompanying each UBA5 includes a host of utilities and configurations; most importantly it includes calibration file that is unique to each UBA5 and many sample test BAR files.

Installation: UBA Console installation is a straight forward process. To begin installation, insert the CD in PC's CD drive. Browse to find file "SETUP.EXE" on drives root folder. Double click on "SETUP.EXE" and follow the simple onscreen installation steps by clicking "Next >". Upon completion of installation, you may require to restart the PC.

UBA Console Software: To start UBA Console, if you have chosen to have a UBA Console shortcut on desktop during install, simply double click the UBA5 icon available on desktop. Alternately, to start UBA Console you may navigate to Start Menu --> Programs --> Vencon --> UBA5.

Here is a screen shot of UBA Console without the UBA5 connected.
UBA5 Console Main Window
For some reason, if this main window does not appear or you are prompted with windows error implies that your PC is not up to date and needs a microsoft update. Assuming you are using Windows XP, you might need to download and install WindowsXP-KB935448 update. Upon installation of KB935448 update, UBA Console should start fine.

UBA Console Interface: Let's examine UBA Console interface. UBA Console is master controller window that enables you to launch all the tools required for the battery analysis. There are 4 main icons to perform most used functions. First is power on icon to initialize UBA network, next is the Virtual UBA button to select UBA and perform actions related to the selected UBA, third is Digital Volt Meter (DVM) and lastly battery analysis button to begin battery analysis. Apart from this, the tools are organized and available through console's dynamic drop down menus. From the file menu you can launch UBA network viewer, Battery Analysis Routine Designer, Battery Analysis Results File Viewer and set the options. The Instrument menu has option to Tile Windows, View Active Instruments, Multitester, Battery Analyzer Window, Virtual UBA and perform Self Test. The Database menu has option to organize batteries in database. The Help menu does what it says. In fact, the help included with UBA Console is excellent.

Setting up UBA Console for USB - Serial Cable: If you are using USB to Serial cable other than the recommended cables, you have extensive options to try and make the USB Serial cable work. There are ready to choose buttons like Optimum Setup, Robust Setup and Linux/Wine setup. You also have option to manually choose mode of communication and change Duplex mode. Here is the Options window of UBA Console showing Serial Port Advanced tab.
UBA5 Console Options Window

Alternately, if you are using the recommended USB-Serial cable, setting up for it is as easy as choosing from list of options available from the "USB to Serial Converters" drop down.
UBA5 Console Options Window

Battery Analysis Routine (BAR) Designer:
Before performing battery analysis, you might first want to design the test or use an existing BAR. The BAR Designer tool allows infinite possibilities for you to create test routines. It can be as simple as a simple constant current discharge test to as complex as simulating digital camera taking pictures or it can be even more complex analysis with multiple routines. You can even have endless loop charge/discharge cycle to determine actual cycle life of a rechargeable batteries. The BAR Designer tool is a visual tool that will allow you to perform drag and drop operations. At each step you can click on the "?" icon or click "help" button to get context sensitive help. Every aspect of each module and routine is documented in detailed and in easy to understand language. Here is an example of included IEC NiCd & NiMH test BAR.
UBA5 Console IEC NiCd & NiMH test BAR

First BAR Creation: For the first BAR, we will choose a simple discharge of 0.5 Amp to 0.8 Volts for an Alkaline battery. To create a new routine, we will begin with blank. On the main UBA Console window choose "File --> Battery Analysis Routine Designer..." You will see a window pops up. It is the Battery Analysis Routine designer with a blank template. It has a Begin and End steps with nothing in between.
UBA5 BAR Designer Blank

Now we need to add a simple discharge routine. For this, the next step is to right click any where in the window to see options that can be added. Choose "Lithium Ion / SLA --> Add Cycle --> Discharge Cycle". Do not worry about the names at this stage.
UBA5 BAR Designer First Step UBA5 BAR Designer First Step

To rename, simply right click over the "Li-ion/SLA Discharge" box, new edit popup will appear. Type the desired name in the edit box and hit enter.
UBA5 BAR Designer First Step UBA5 BAR Designer First Step UBA5 BAR Designer First Step

To set discharge parameters, click "Alkaline Discharge". You will be greeted with another popup window where in you can set options. Select "Absolute" from Load and type 500 in the "Constant Current (Absolute Values)" and "Write to results file every" 10 "seconds". With this, you have enabled a 0.5 A continuous discharge and UBA Console will take a note of results every 10 seconds. Next is to determine the finished state. Use the "Finished" tab for this purpose. On this tab set the "Cut Off Voltage" as 0.8 Volts/Cell. Please note that at this stage the BAR file is not yet saved.
UBA5 BAR Designer First Step UBA5 BAR Designer First Step
Click on OK. To save the file, Once you click OK you will return to the main BAR window. Choose "File--> Save" and provide a desired BAR file name. This is how you can create a simple discharge BAR. Please have a look at some of the pre created BAR files, read the supporting document as well as the context help. Start dreaming for different battery analysis flows and begin building on your battery analysis dreams with the BAR Designer.
Battery Analysis with Vencon UBA5:
Let's begin some testing. We will start with a simple Alkaline battery discharge at 500 mA of current that we have just created. Before that, we need to have an arrangement to hold battery securely. For this purpose we used a ratcheting bar clamp and a pair of high current capacity multi tester cable.
Battery Holder Arrangement

Here is a the assembly holding Eneloop AA Battery. Extreme Caution: DO NOT tighten the grip too much. Ensure that the battery is not getting crushed due to excessive pressure.
Battery Holder Arrangement

Testing batteries with Vencon UBA5: In progress
UBA5 Applications:
UBA5 is a very versatile tool. You can use it for many battery test applications. Be it for testing RC battery packs or Military equipments. We use UBA5 extensively in our reviews to test batteries.

The Verdict:
UBA5 from Vencon is a technological masterpiece of art. With it's extensive options, we can safely conclude to say that you would need not any other charger or analyzer ever. You can dream a custom test with multiple options and use Battery Analysis Routine (BAR) Designer to build and implement it. The fun really begins at the BAR...

Reviewed: 2008-07-12
Updated: 2009-08-06


Buy Vencon UBA5 Ultimate Battery Analyzer & Charger at www.vencon.com
 
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