EP Buddy ParaBoard

Creation date: Sept. 15, 2010
Thanks to Dale over at EPBuddy for sending me a ParaBoard to use, review and show off.

With the popularity of parallel charging increasing daily, a need for useful parallel charging accessories has arisen. First available were parallel cables and although these work well, an all-in-one solution has been wanted by many. EP Buddy has stepped up and designed an all-in-one parallel charging solution, the ParaBoard. The ParaBoard combines all parallel wiring connections on a single board. This not only greatly reduces clutter when parallel charging but also just makes it easier to use. It is available with most balance connectors including JST-XH, TP, Hyperion and Kokam, and is very reasonably priced.

First impressions
The first thing that came to mind when I pulled the ParaBoard out of the package was that it was heavier than I expected. I expected some weight from all the connectors and such, but it is far more "dense" that it looks. This is likely from the heavy circuit board used and the wide traces. That leads me into my next observation, build quality. The board is very solid and everything feels very nice. All the wire used appears to be silicone sheathed and is a nice heavy gauge, 14awg on the main leads and 20awg on the balance wires. It is also a nice length, about 8in long. The plastic surrounding the board feels a little cheap but fits very well and looks fine.

The board ships with a 7-pin (6s) balance lead that has JST-XH connectors on both ends and 5 t-plug covers to prevent shorts when packs are plugged in and they fit very snugly over the t-plug connectors. The front shows the board type silk screened on the PCB and the back shows a sticker with some basic info on it.

The board, leads and covers.

The label on the back.

Unscrewing the 4 screws on the back allows
 the case to be removed from the board.

The circuit layout on the JST-XH board is very straight forward and well done. Effectively there is a horseshoe shaped set of traces that connects all the different balance connectors together. Then there are 2 wide traces that run down the front and back of the board to carry the current to the t-plug connectors. All the soldering looks very good.

The nice, thick traces.

Overall I am very impressed with the design and build quality of the board. It uses nice wire and is well laid out. Currently I only have 3 wishes/complains.
  1. It would be nice if the board came with different main connectors. I use XT60s and so I will have to buy/make adapters for all the plugs I want to use.
  2. I wish there was a 4x board available. I never charge 6 packs at once but do 4 packs regularly.
  3. I would like to have seen some sticky rubber feet on the bottom of case in order to keep it in place. 
All these are small complains or personal wishes though and as a whole I like the board very much.

Using the ParaBoard
The ParaBoard is of course a parallel charging board (see my Parallel charging how-to for more info). It is compatible with almost all chargers except for those from FMA (see note below). To use it you simply connect it to the 6s balance port and the main leads. Then you can charge up to 6 packs that are the same type and cell count, regardless of the capacity of each pack.

Well that is all there is to using it. Just plug it in, connect up the packs and charge. It really is as simple as that.

Important notes:
  • With all parallel charging: Always connect the main leads before the balance leads. This allows the main leads to carry the current flow caused by any voltage differences between the packs. Under normal circumstances this is not a problem but if for example a charged pack and discharged pack were connected together, there would be a large current flowing between them and it could easily destroy the balance leads.
  • Remember to keep the caps on the unused t-plug connectors as they are electrified by the other packs.
  • Note on compatibility with FMA chargers: FMA uses a non-standard balance connector input wiring on their chargers. This is not a connector issue but an actual wiring incompatibility. As such the paraboard will only work in a very limited fashion and is not recommended for use on their chargers.
In conclusion
The ParaBoard is a very handy addition to any charger (well almost any). It is well thought out and well built. I expect these to be very popular among the parallel charging believers, I know I will be using mine!