Monday, September 7, 2015

Hobbyking ECO 6-10 200W & USB data

© Hobbyking

A while back, I bought this charger. May seem a little pricy, but I wanted the more powerful discharging. More on how that bites you in the ass later (fan's loud as fuck). Anyways, there was a USB port on the side, was even labeled as USB.
While as it seems that some of the Hobbyking ECO series use this connector for UART, this one is a real USB device, a CP2102 UART to USB bridge to be precise. If the PC finds a USB device once you plug it in, you have USB version. (huh, who would've thought...)
So, we have a UART bridge connected to a charger, now what.
For starters, you need the CP210x_VCP driver. (google, there's plenty links) Once that installs, you can actually connect to it with a serial monitor, that i can personally attest. However, after 30 minutes of trying different combinations of baud rates, parity, data, stop bits and hardware flow settings and still getting garbled nonsense, I gave up. There's like, only, 2240 permutations, and that's excluding the software flow control settings...oh, and 9600 baud, 8 bits, no parity and 1 stop bit does not work btw...
Turns out, there's actually custom software that can do all the work, the downside is that it's proprietary. The charger manual actually even mentions it - EAC200.
When googled, a company named Bantam keeps popping up. They even make a charger named "eStationBC610". 6-10...where have I heard that before...when in China, expect copies of everything.
Buuuut, since I'm cheap and don't feel like paying $20 for a CD and postage, I kept on searching.
As it turns out, good people still seem to exist, there's an opensource program that can do the same - DataExplorer.
DataExplorer is Java-based, there are 32bit and 64bit versions, watch out for that, the wrong one will install fine, but won't run. From what I understand, the 32 or 64 bit should be dependent on your version of Java, but from my experience of having 64bit Windows 7 Professional with both Java versions, I needed the 64bit.
Once you install everything, you have to choose the "eStationBC610", don't worry if nothing happens even if you have the charger connected, you have to start charging/discharging for it to communicate (which is weird, since the charger is sending something through the port even when idle.)

The moment you start charging, it comes to life
1 minute 20 seconds in
10 minutes 40 seconds in

I'd call that a success, free (even open source) and it works...