Smart Battery Chargers

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 09:06
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Have just had my second C Tek Mxs5 fail after just being out of warranty. Any recommendations or advice as to a better Smart Charger that I should try.
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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 09:31

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 09:31
I've also killed two Cteks, now have a 25 amp Projecta which has performed perfectly for a couple of years now.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:00

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:00
Bosun,

Also have a Projecta, a 15 amp model, and it's been going well for 4-5 years. Probably a bit more simple than the Ctek.

Also have a Ctek 7 amp charger, but it's soooo slooooow I rarely use it now. And it's probably >10 tears old.

Bob

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:04

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:04
">10 tears old". Ha ha, bloody iPads.........years, that is :-)

Tears alright, tears of frustration waiting for it to top off a battery any bigger than a AA size.

Bob

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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 21:50

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 21:50
Bob, a 7 A battery charger will take twice as long to charge a battery as a 15 A one will no matter what the age and brand. I don't know what your beef is about.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 22:43

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 22:43
Didn't realise I had a "beef" Peter? Just commented that they were so slow.............my opinion.

Did have crumbed steak for tea tonight, closest "beef" I've had for a while.

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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:31

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:31
Busun Broome & Peter,

Do the Cteks and the Projecta have cooling fans?

I'm just curious as having spent more years than I care to remember working with electronic equipment I have found one of the most unreliable types of electronic equipment to be switch mode power supplies as used these days in 240V battery chargers / DCDC chargers and many other types of electronic equipment. The general weak link is the electrolytic capacitors used in their construction which tend to dry out over time especially when subjected to high temperature environments, hence the question, does it have a cooling fan and possibly if this relates to one being more reliable than the other?

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:37

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:37
Forgot to add your local tele tech might be able to repair it but I think the units only cost about $100 so probably not a cost effective repair.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 12:00

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 12:00
Leigh,

The Projecta has a fan, but don't think any of the Ctek do.

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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 13:08

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 13:08
No, the Cteks don't have fans, and they do get warm.

Bob, I have a Ctek 7 amp too. It is slow, so I mostly use it overnight.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 14:07

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 14:07
All the larger Cteks have fans that come on automatically when they get HOT.
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Reply By: ABR - SIDEWINDER - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:58

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 10:58
Hi Bosun

What are you charging ? Perhaps you need a bigger and heavier duty charger, we start at 10A (with fan) we also found that the small chargers 4 to 6 amp don't last well and stopped selling them.

Regards

Derek from ABR



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Reply By: Member - wicket - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 11:57

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 11:57
don't have one but reports are favourable
http://www.ozcharge.com.au/
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Reply By: Peter Schrader - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 13:19

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 13:19
I use a Meanwell 3 stage battery charger for 240v, in conjunction with a Redarc 25A dc-dc converter. That was after the second Ctek dc-dc charger failed on me, won't be touching them again.
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Reply By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 14:04

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 14:04
Don't know what your doing with them, we have 3 in our workshop (25amp) and they must be getting onto 6 years old now with out a problem. It's not a common thing to have them fail.

Chances are if you are having problems with a Ctek you will have problems with any of the others out there.
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 14:45

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 14:45
"It's not a common thing to have them fail."

That's an interesting statement, seeing the OP has killed two Ctek units, the next poster has also indicated he has had to two fail and now Peter Schader has also indicated he has had a Ctek unit die?

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:37

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:37
Yes forums are a wonderful thing..... you never hear about the ones that have survived.

Yeap have to agree 4 failures from two people definitely means they all have failed or they are a bad design.

Not knowing the circumstances to do with the failure or why they failed means very little...... power surge, damaged plug from being yanked on too many times????

Ask about a Projecta failure and I'm sure you will get a response.

Thought you being an engineer? you would understand this.

If it was common Ctek would soon be out of business and nobody would support them as most would fail in their warranty period of 2-5 years.

We have a Hitachi 24v/50a switch mode power supply/charger in our workshop for testing 24v gear and it's only done maybe 20hrs of run time and that failed a few months ago....... $1600 down the drain
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Follow Up By: Member - Peter R (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:50

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:50
Leigh I have had the one Ctek7 since 2005 and initially used it to charge van battery.
Since 2009 it is permanently charging battery (2) in boat and sits out in the rain ,wind and heat and has not missed a beat.
Have a Ctek 25 in van which charges 2 AGM batteries.

Just ordered a ctek 5 to charge 2nd battery in Prado via an Anderson plug ;also am wrapped in your Alternator Voltage Booster

So I am a ctek fan

Pedro
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 18:30

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 18:30
Here is an extract from a technical magazine I was reading, it was posted by a technician involved in the repair of battery chargers etc for the RVA market: “Most, if it not all, of the devices on the market are able to be repaired at the component level. Specialist parts are not obtainable and circuit diagrams are not passed onto their service agents like myself. Fuses are soldered into the PCB and components are crammed so tightly that one needs specialist tools to carry out any repair work. If you’re keen enough to carry out a repair, it’s often only a training excersize for one’s self. Some IC’s have had the type numbers ground off, so there is no way you can identify the part number without a circuit diagram. Software is highly guarded and often changed, so it’s incompatible with older models that may still work perfectly. Most of the control electronics is surface mounted and covered in glues, lacquers and bonding cements – so you cannot extract it without serious damage. Likewise with hair-thin copper PCB tracks. As you may have already concluded, this means 98% of items are made to be thrown away and if repaired, whole PCBs have to be replaced. Yes it is back to being a board jockey – If you can get the PCB! If the warranty expires or the fault is outside the warranty, the item is then scrapped and deemed B.E.R –“Beyond economic repair”(unless you’re like me who still tries to resurrect such for my own use). Most items are designed in Europe and are not suitable for Australian conditions; 40C ambient temperature being considered hot in Europe, despite the Bureau of Meteorology rasing their temperature scale to 55C recently. This makes the failure rate much higher than would be considered acceptable here. Some items I work on have a failure rate as high as 10%. One well known battery charger I service, touted to be “the world’s smartest charger”, was measured by me with an infrared temperature gun in an air-conditioned workshop (about 27C), It had a running temperature of around 85C on some major components. Spit would sizzle on the iron-cored input choke. No internal fan was fitted as it was classed for an IP65 rating. Another Chinese inverter charger I work on has a design temperature of 150C for the output transformer. As a result, you would burn your hand on the core of the transformer at moderate load. Yet it’s considered safe! The wire and insulation paper is rated for at least 150C. This temperature rating makes for smaller size and less weight in the design. Added to this, many power semi-conductors have poor design selection for their operating point, risking secondary breakdown issues. Thermal heat sinking is often inadequate and they are squeezed in between tightly packed parts. Most electrolytics are rated at 85c, these being cheaper than 105C types. Confine all this in a tightly spaced box to make it small and attractive to the customer, with some items not including a “noisy” fan, and it’s no wonder they don’t last long. But in reality that is what many manufactures and distributors want – a high failure rate – so they can sell more items to customers.”

He goes on to write that salesman often have no idea of what their selling just pushing the manufactures glossies etc.

This reminds me of the early days in consumer electronics, it took a long time for manufactures to work out what would and would not work. The current new generation of manufactures getting into complex automotive electronics will find out in the next few years that a car is a hostile environment for any electronic device.

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 18:37

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 18:37
Should read "Most, if it not all, of the devices on the market are not able to be repaired at the component level."

Yes I accept any device can fail, but to posters who have had two units fail is a pretty high failure rate!

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 18:41

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 18:41
I also have to agree with him regarding many European designed device are just not able to cope with the conditions in Australia, many consumer electronics manufactures have found that out over years. Still did make for high profit bread and butter jobs for the repair industry:)

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 19:06

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 19:06
I have two Ctek chargers, a 7amp and a 15amp. Both have performed faultlessly and the 15amp one has a temperature probe incorporated on the positive terminal clamp.

Just as a comparison to those who have stated their Cteks have failed, I also have a Projecta smart charger which I stopped using after a Thumper portable battery system appeared to look decidedly "pregnant" and eminated a foul odor whilst on charge. Had it tested by Home of 12 Volt who couldn't find a fault with it and the Thumper was repacked without charge as it hadn't been mistreated or charged in an inappropriate manner and was still under warranty.
Still don't know if it was a fault in one or more of the Thumper battery cells, or the charger, but I lost confidence in the Projecta charger.



Bill


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Follow Up By: Slow one - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 20:14

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 20:14
Well I don't know about all the tech stuff but I do know of 4 ctek charges that have operated in horrendous conditions for over 8 years. When I say horrendous, I mean 45c heat in summer with the back of them in the sun, so that would be getting up around 60c to 75c and not one failure.

I also have a smart charger that a tech on this forum said had crap components. 8 years later and used every week it is still going and has been dropped and dragged out of my driveway 3 times.

These are real world figures and not what someone says in a mag.

No one will pay for repairs on this sort of component anymore when it is out of warranty, the same as they won't pay for tv's to be repaired. That is life.
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 20:40

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 20:40
I was not pointing the bone at CTEK chargers, my original query was if the unit had a fan and if not did temperature cause a premature failure?

This is simply history repeating its self, back in the early days it took manufactures quite awhile to work out good design practices. When Japan fired up history repeated itself until the Japanese manufactures got up to speed. Then China and Taiwan, again history repeated itself.

And yet again it seems, manufacturers using low temperature components or components working at their operating maximum figures to save a few cents.

The author of the article above is heavily involved in the repair of off-grid products and has some 40 years experience in the field of electronics ranging from manufacturing to service and repairs of scientific apparatus and also training work place staff and the public on the use of equipment.

It is a very interesting read if anyone is interested, see June Siliconchip/Mailbag/Off-grid products are often unreliable.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 21:54

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 21:54
Sounds like some creative writing too me.

What he said about the choke made me laugh...... Spit sizzling on a choke.

For water to sizzle it has to be above 100 deg C, below that water flattens out and evaporates.

So does he say how he got it so hot, our Cteks do get hot when charging big battery's for up to 24 hrs at a time....... Done that for over 5 years and they still work.

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 22:22

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 22:22
Doesn't sound like creative writing to me, anyone electronic tech/engineer would find nothing he wrote ito be out of the ordinary in poorly designed equipment. I have on many occasions when doing a rough temperature check had a wet finger sizzle when touching the the case of a power output transistors, found 125C thermal fuses open in transformers, thermal transfer paste dried out due to excessive device operating temperatures, electrolytic capacitors dried out in close proximity to high output devices due to excessive radiant heat.

It is all to common an occurrence to find the PCB charred in around high power components but then if you don't regularly repair PCB/ECU to component levels you wouldn't know such things.

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 22:38

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 22:38
Just as another aside, I was recently reading a article another techo wrote regarding a piece of test gear he purchased from China. He purchased this particular unit for their repair center as it was much cheaper then sourcing locally. Before swapping the power plug for a local version he decided to have a quick gander at the internals, well to say the least he was not impressed, the anchoring of the power cord was not up to the Australian standards, the PCB track work carrying 240V, was approximately half the minimum spacing required between the live track work and the low voltage side.

The locating screws for the power switch were to large allowing the active terminal to be moved to a point were it could contact the common output terminal of the device, this would make it possible for the common to become live and when working with other earthed test equipment a lethal combination.

There has been a recent fatality involving a non approved power supply, I would suggest anyone buying any form of electronic equipment to not assume it is well designed, safe, or that it complies with the Australian standards.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 23:48

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 23:48
Back in my previous life before I got a full time work after finishing schooling I use to repair CB radios and car audio gear me and my mates bought at swap meets..... Feeling temperatures was one piece of test gear used often as was a can of freeze and a plastic ferrite slug adjustment tool .... Or a ball point pen to check for dry joints.

Gave up on TV's after I got a big boot and destroyed a multimeter after testing a flyback transformer...... Yes it hurt.

Getting back to the article..... I always take articles with a pinch of salt, seen too many times an article being written about a product criticising it's short coming only to find out in the same issue or following issues a company advertising their products having improved this and that; that was the short coming of other similar products........ Like - we use 105 deg C caps and 0.1% resistors........ Talk about planting a seed.

As is his remarks about temperature being raised to 55 deg C....... Means temps are no where near this and more like 26 deg C.

Manufactures designing high failure rates is not what they want, design something with a unacceptable industry acceptable failure rate and people stop buy, resellers stop supporting and selling the said product.

When you push stuff constantly to it's 100% duty cycle things fail, we have had Caterpillar gear with high ambient kits fitted fail in open pits where the temp was reaching 80+ degrees C.

Most stuff survives well if kept within the duty cycle it was designed for.
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:55

Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:55
olcoolone,

You were lucky with your fly back experience, I have seen EHT jump across a high voltage probe a throw a tech across a room when a XRAY protection circuit failed to kick in on a large CRT set, amazingly the tech involved only suffered a few bruises from his fall, mind you he refused to work on that particular model if it came in to the shop again.

I see where your coming from, however the article was in technical magazine for techo's and not a sales blurb, it was written by a tech that works for a company supplying various makes of equipment to the RV and off-grid power market, he working in their repair center acting as both a local service agent and doing warranty work for manufactures and suppliers of this type of equipment, and also liaising back with the manufactures as to common and unusual service issue that should arise with respect to their equipment. This is common practice in any large volume repair center.

Repairing second hand radios for friends is not the same as running a electronics repair company where you have 20 or 30 units a day crossing your test bench, and relying on it as your source of income,
you pretty quickly get to see which items have high failure rates.

I have run my own business for over 40 years, including doing authorised warranty work for many companies operating in different fields. The problems experienced by the author above are common place, I have seen TV horizontal output transistors fitted with heat sinks that are half the size of the main board and weigh so much that they have cracked the board!

The use of 105C is common place in most products to save a few cents, ask any electronics tech, first thing you do with power supply faults, is an ESR test on the electrolytics and swap out the dried out ones with high temp types.

Simply fact is like any other device electronics are built to a price, I remember one highly respected manufacture back in the last days of VCR's that put out a model we had a lot of problems with, by that time all VCR's had moved away from separate power supplies to switched mode types on the main board. This particular model had semi reverted in that it had a separate power supply in a can that was mounted via plugs directly to the main PCB. I found that the power supplies in this model would become unstable (just out of warranty usually) and either overheat or go over voltage and destroy the VCR. Tried everything I could think of to correct the problem but nothing worked. Had several discussions with the companies tech support and they couldn't supply a fix either apart from a cost prohibitive new power supply (interesting too that it had been designed a a plug in unit) this continued till there was a couple of house fires attributed to the VCR in question. The companies solution was to issue a service bulletin to their authorised service centers to replace the power supply free of charge if the VCR was presented faulty. They did not perform a general recall.

Another company had a TV that would regularly blow up the vertical output chip, over the life of the model they put out around 6 service bulletins describing various changes to correct the problem, they didn't, IC's still kept failing, they then put out a revised IC's still didn't cure the issue. Was glad when they finally replaced the model with a new one until we discovered it still had basically the same vertical output stage in the new model and the same failure rate. I don't know how much the company made out of selling the vertical output IC concerned but gudging by just how many we went through at around $40 a pop it must have been considerable! This also triggered a market in third supply of the chip concerned, yet the company still sold "lots" of the set concerned.

As for manufactures designing high failure rates, I don't believe any engineer would purposely design a unit to have a high failure rate just happens sometimes and then is not cost effective for the comapny concerned to re-engineer it, it happens. Generally the public aren't aware, the service industry loves them as they become bread and butter jobs, one look and you know the problem, and time is money, these are the jobs you make a profit on, it's the reliable equipment that's a pain in the bum, you rarely see them, they usually present as different faults when they do come in and generally take hours to diagnose, and then you never see that fault again which means you loose money on them:(

By the way their has been a couple of companies that have had to change their names due to the high failure rate of their equipment and bad image in the industry.

Problem with consumer electronics these days is its not cost effective to repair most things unless your doing warranty work that is, this is why many business that haven't diversified into other areas of electronics are shutting up shop.

Some like myself started taking on automotive electronics work many years ago from auto elects etc to keep the cash coming in, the problem now is most manufactures have gone to black box design ie they get the electronics modules designed by other companies, these companies don't supply service info, they use propriety components etc, some units you can reverse engineer and repair providing the components are available, once supply of the modules and or components run out then that will be that. You'll probably be able to get after market engine management systems to keep your vintage car going but you certainly going to have problems sourcing a body ECU for example.

At least in the consumer electronics area (brown goods) service information is generally available, auto electronics is a whole different kettle of fish, generally service info is not available, companies like VDO in the early days went to considerable lengths to try and prevent third party repairs, they too as described above would grind off part numbers and won't supply schematics etc. This has carried over in to other areas of auto electronics ie battery chargers, if you try and obtain detailed specs or service information, again as described above then the companies will come back with it is propriety information and commercially sensitive, it a battery charger for gods sake!

If someone really wanted to steel their secrets they would just get a Chinese company to reverse engineer a unit, the Chinese are much better at reverse engineering than they are at designing equipment themselves, the American chip manufactures these days get the Chinese to reverse engineer their chips when they have a production line issue they can't resolve to locate what the problem is! They have got it down so pat that they can copy the chip so accurately that the firmware is copied across too!

What these companies are really saying is we don't want third party repair business to cheap repairs to their equipment, instead you have to return it to our service center and we will quote the repair at a price that you'll just buy a new one.



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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 15:10

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 15:10
A google search tells me that the MXS 5 is a 5 amp unit and is an excellent choice for the ride on battery.

For anything bigger you need a bigger charger. I also have the 25 amp CTEK, also since 2006 and no problems and it does have a built in fan also.

My advice is don't buy anything less than a 15 amp charger as the bigger they are the better they are for the batteries. If you have gone through 2 CTEKs then you are probably killing them with overwork.

Suggest the next charger you get should be a 25 amp unit.

Just as an example, I used to go through a heap of big batteries in the tractor for many years. The alternator, while working as it should have, eventually packed it in and I fitted another alternator which belts the battery after start up with 60 amps of charge for about 15 seconds before slowing down to around 10 amps after about a minute or so. This gets that charge back in quickly so the battery is nearly always fully charged. End of battery problems in the tractor. Have not had to replace it for years now.

This proves to me, by practical experience, that the bigger the charge going into your battery, within reasonable limits, the better.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:40

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 17:40
Don't know Bruce.... you will have the battery brigade picking your post to threads. LOL
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Reply By: Member - graeme W (WA) - Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 20:37

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 at 20:37
Hi. Have a xantrex 40 amp charger. They are very good.
Cheers Graeme
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Reply By: Bosun Broome - Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 17:33

Friday, Jul 11, 2014 at 17:33
Thanks guys for the feedback - I didn't intend on stirring up things. I think I probably was underdone and am going to try the new Projecta 25amp.
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