Dave Brown faces off on Lithium

Gentlemen, AMA voting for the presidency is in process. The information presented here is vital to that process. Please read the unmodified Soapbox item as submitted. Then review the
modifications Brown insists be made. [attachments not allowed on this newsgroup. Please request back channel for text in .doc format - Red S. snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net] 1. Dave Brown has been AMA Pres for three terms and should have stepped down this term as he had agreed. Yet, he chose to run again. 2. In May, 2004, Brown presented a Presidents Perspective column that was on the subject of Lithium Polymer Batteries that he knows almost nothing about, but chose to make it confrontational and misleading. 3. I took the matter up with him directly in dialogue, tried to educate and correct his most glaring errors. I spent an hour with Don Lowe of the Safety Committee at Toledo and Don and that committee handled the situation accurately and professionally. Yet, Brown belittles their efforts in his mark up of my article. 4. His response was a follow on column in the August issue that added more of the same and closed with an asinine remark. 5. I wrote a Letter to the Editor of Model Aviation in response and submited it to Bob Hunt, Editor. 6. Hunt requested that I make it a Soapbox article as one of the AMA's methods of presenting other viewpoints. This was done and the article attached was promised to be published in the November issue to hit the mail in Sept. All this has obviously been delayed in an attempt to stonewall and delay to the point that voters would not see a true picture. 7. The Oct issue arrived and there was no Soap Box. Surprise! 8. On Sept 27. I received a lengthy haranguing call from Dave Brown insisting that I change my opinion to conform with his. This is not arguable. I insisted that he send me a redline copy laying out his objections. I have attached the redline copy Brown sent me that shows it clearly. 9. I called Bob Hunt on Sept 28 to get his reading and he informed me he had sent the article to Brown for review. Why should this be done with a Soapbox article that is supposed to represent another viewpoint? This was done even though Hunt admits he never had the opportunity to edit Browns two columns. Hunt then insisted that the article would not be published unless it was modified to accomodate Browns directives. 10. Thus Brown demands to deprive AMA membership of a more accurate viewpoint from one who has led the way in AMA Frequency matters and in the introduction and promotion of Li Po technology via strong eductional activity. 11. This is a travesty and an egregious misues of power to suppress the first amendment rights of any AMA member to be heard and to exercise undue influence on the editorial staff of Model Aviation. 12. Truly, it is time for a new AMA Pres. I take this opportunity to endorse Dave Matthewson for that position. 13. You have my authorization to forward this message to any member of AMA that you know. The number of electric flyers alone is enough to decide this election. 14. An attempt to reach Rob Kurek, Director of Publications today to see if he was aware of this situation brought the usual AMA response: leave a message.
Fred Marks AMA 1733
I have tested Kokam lithium Ion extensively, discussed issues with Don Lowe and as Fred states they handled the situation accurately and professionally.
Not many DB Products addressing electric flight.
Red S. Red's R/C Battery Clinic http://www.rcbatteryclinic.com
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HI Red
Here is the complete post Fred Marks has been making:
AMA MEMBERS: AMA voting for the presidency is in process. The information presented here is vital to that process. Please read the unmodified Soapbox item as submitted. Then review the modifications Brown insists be made. 1. Dave Brown has been AMA Pres for three terms and should have stepped down this term as he had agreed. Yet, he chose to run again. 2. In May, 2004, Brown presented a Presidents Perspective column that was on the subject of Lithium Polymer Batteries that he knows almost nothing about, but chose to make it confrontational and misleading. 3. I took the matter up with him directly in dialogue, tried to educate and correct his most glaring errors. I spent an hour with Don Lowe of the Safety Committee at Toledo and Don and that committee handled the situation accurately and professionally. Yet, Brown belittles their efforts in his mark up of my article. 4. His response was a follow on column in the August issue that added more of the same and closed with an asinine remark. 5. I wrote a Letter to the Editor of Model Aviation in response and submited it to Bob Hunt, Editor. 6. Hunt requested that I make it a Soapbox article as one of the AMA's methods of presenting other viewpoints. This was done and the article attached was promised to be published in the November issue to hit the mail in Sept. All this has obviously been delayed in an attempt to stonewall and delay to the point that voters would not see a true picture. 7. The Oct issue arrived and there was no Soap Box. Surprise! 8. On Sept 27. I received a lengthy haranguing call from Dave Brown insisting that I change my opinion to conform with his. This is not arguable. I insisted that he send me a redline copy laying out his objections. That redline can be posted if requested. 9. I called Bob Hunt on Sept 28 to get his reading and he informed me he had sent the article to Brown for review. Why should this be done with a Soapbox article that is supposed to represent another viewpoint? This was done even though Hunt admits he never had the opportunity to edit Browns two columns. Hunt then insisted that the article would not be published unless it was modified to accomodate Browns directives. 10. Thus Brown demands to deprive AMA membership of a more accurate viewpoint from one who has led the way in AMA Frequency matters and in the introduction and promotion of Li Po technology via strong eductional activity. 11. This is a travesty and an egregious misues of power to suppress the first amendment rights of any AMA member to be heard and to exercise undue influence on the editorial staff of Model Aviation. 12. Truly, it is time for a new AMA Pres. I take this opportunity to endorse Dave Matthewson for that position. 13. You have my authorization to forward this message to any member of AMA that you know. The number of electric flyers alone is enough to decide this election. 14. An attempt to reach Rob Kurek, Director of Publications today to see if he was aware of this situation brought the usual AMA response: leave a message. 15. The message was not returned, also as usual.
Fred Marks AMA 1733
The following was messaged today to Dave Brown and Bob Hunt: Bob and Dave,
This is to let you know officially of my displeasure with your censorship of the article that Bob Hunt asked me to write in lieu of a Letter to the Editor. You have abridged the policy of AMA and Model Aviation that fosters presentation of other viewpoints in the national publication. In so doing, you Dave have exercised undue influence over the publication that is supposed to represent us all, not just one dictatorial view. You opportuned to write two columns unedited by Hunt and not reviewed by the Publications Committee. For you then to block publication of the opinion of a senior member of long standing and service to the AMA is an egregious abuse of presedential power. You have abrogated my First Amendment rights. The membership must be informed of this abuse as soon as possible by whatever means practical. I have no intention of modifying my opinion to coincide with that of Brown as a prerequisite to publication of my article. I also find today that a letter to the editor from Jef Raskin was not published. Come now; press censoship is not part of AMA history.
Fred Marks, AMA 1733
SOAPBOX: ELECTRIC FLIGHT AND THE FUTURE OF AMA
We feel it is necessary to correct misinformation published in two editorial columns ("President's Perspective," Model Aviation, June, 2004 and August 2004) that-however well intentioned-is misleading. Having worked with Dave Brown on the Frequency Committee for some 20 years and through his three terms as President, it was disappointing to see such information presented with no apparent evaluation of the information or time taken to understand the impact on the fastest growing and most important technology in AMA model activity; i.e., electric. AMA is vitally concerned with the continued loss of flying sites because of noise and has been concerned for 40 years with the gradual growth in average age of its membership, i.e., the perennial "where are the juniors?" problem. Electric airplane modeling has leaped forward from a very specialized activity that few cared to pursue because of limited performance to the point that Designer Scale/Team Scale at a number of key scale meets has been won by George Maiorana with a 30 lb 4-engine TU 4 bomber powered by Li Po packs and brushless motors. Electric models are now placing in world competition. Li Po has made it possible.
In the past two years, Li Po suppliers have jumped from one to at least 20 in the US and prices have dropped by 1/3. As of this summer, brushless motors and the third generation high discharge rate Li Po packs can now be used to convert and power models that had been powered by 40 to 90 size glow engines. By the time this is published, a 3.2AH Li Po pack that can deliver over one horsepower in the same weight as a 16 ounce tank of fuel will be available. Cost of a tank of fuel: about $2.00. Cost per 100 flights: $200.00. Cost to recharge: about $0.10. Cost for 100 flights: $10.00. Time to refuel: about five minutes. Time to recharge; about 23 minutes. The wait for your turn at the pin: about 15 minutes. Time to wipe the oil off the model: about 20 minutes! No more oil soaked models. Properly handled, Li Po batteries are much safer than glow fuel and very much safer than gasoline. You wouldn't place an open can of gasoline next to your furnace and we hope you won't put Li Po batteries under charge on a box of balsa.
Electric modeling has been freed from the limits of small, hand-launched park flyers. Now, the beginner that AMA covets so much can purchase the ARF or kit trainer of his choice, charge the batteries, install a Co-Pilot for stabilization and, with minimal help, learn to fly out of mowed grass without crashing. The most difficult task of all, save learning to fly, of getting a balky engine started, adjusting it, and flying it without burning it up with a lean run has been replaced by flipping a switch, advancing the throttle while a safe distance from the prop and taking off. Being able to pick up the clean, dry, oil-free airplane to go home is icing on the cake. The variety of scale electric models is endless. Little wonder new modelers are being attracted.
It behooves AMA leadership to recognize new technologies and utilize them to the fullest to return the AMA to the vibrant, hobby/sport that has so excited three generations since the AMA was formed. Slamming the technology that can make it so is not acceptable. If we all looked at it that way, we would still be trying to fly on five frequencies at 27 Mhz. Once involved, the electric modeler then has the option of moving through the ranks of all facets of modeling up to and including giant scale modeling.
First, let's explain the difference between Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer. The older Lithium Ion technology (circa 1991) requires these cells to be enclosed in sealed metal cans. If a Li Ion cell is electrically abused, pressure builds up in the can. It takes a lot of pressure for the can to relieve. That pressure can cause the can to explode violently. The over pressure occurs when the cell is subjected to over voltage during charge, by shorting the cell or from incineration.
Lithium Polymer (LiPoŽ technology was developed specifically to replace potentially explosive Li Ion). Contrary to Dave's statement, LiPoŽ batteries are relatively tolerant of overcharge and do not vent until they have been charged at some 40% above the limit of 4.2V/cell for up to 20 minutes. If abuse continues, the pouch ruptures at relatively low pressure. Under extreme conditions of overcharge, venting may be accompanied by flames. The release of pressure is a hiss, not a loud "Pop" like you get when a paper bag is popped. Venting occurs only after the cell has swelled by over 50% to create a "silver sausage" to warn you. Cells in metal cans don't warn you before they explode!
What is important is that in the U.S., over the past two years, usage has grown to well over a million LiPoŽ cells in use in RC without protective circuit modules (PCMs). In those two years, LiPoŽ packs have been charged several million times. Out of those several million cycles, there have been some 20 to 50 reports of venting with flames- the precise number is not significant. There has been no bodily harm. That is a probability of roughly one in a million - miraculous in view of not having PCMs on the packs. No damage in any incident has been caused by a pressure wave that causes pressure impact- as defines an explosion- even one that took place adjacent to my clumsy hand that had just accidentally run a T-pin into a big 3.2 AH pack. I can report personally that not even a hair on that hand was singed! LiPoŽ cells do not spontaneously catch fire during storage. The main concern is severe cell abuse and, even then, only in the presence of certain concentrations of moisture and oxygen. The main thing needed to handle LiPoŽ cells safely is to treat them as if something can happen and to act accordingly. We do not encourage people intentionally to cause cells to ignite for one common-sense reason: it happens only under narrow conditions. We know of several who have tried this and found that the cells did not ignite. This, in itself, leaves a false confidence that ignition never happens-and that is not good. We don't say ignition will happen; rather, that it can.
As reported by incident observers, almost all LiPoŽ incidents were caused by incorrect charger cell count settings, and all are fully described in online forums. Of the reported incidents, all but one would have been prevented by use of the device known as Safety Guard or a stock PCM or cell balancer that will soon be commonplace. All can be prevented by use of the upcoming generation of charge control adapters/chargers during pack charge. The newest generation of automatic cell count detection chargers has a proper logic that is much safer than manual cell selection. It is easy to forget to reset a manual count.
Protective circuits prevent overvoltage when charging LiPoŽ packs with a current-regulated charger. Connected between charger and pack, if the protective circuits output voltage exceeds 4.2V/cell, it disconnects the pack or the individual cell from the charger-minimizing the chance of cell damage and dangerous conditions. A Protective Circuit Module (PCM) is used on every Li Ion pack. Versions of a cell balancer that can be connected across each cell in a pack will be available by the time this is printed. The cell balancer by-passes charge current around that cell as soon as 4.2V is reached across the cell. PCMs as such can not prevent cell unbalance; rather, they do prevent any cell in a pack from exceeding 4.2V. If a pack has a cell out of balance, that cell may never reach 4.2V but the "good" cells will and they must have charge terminated before they reach 4.2V. A cell balancer will cut off charge to the better cells as they reach 4.2V and continue to bring the low cell up to 4.2V. With the cell balancing charger, every cell in a pack is brought to perfect balance on each charge.
LiPoŽ-compatible Electronic Speed Controls (ESCs) prevent over-discharge by cutting motor power while maintaining receiver and servo operation. Normal PCMs remove all power, so they cannot be used in RC airplanes. An in-line cut off just introduced will permit use of Li Po with any ESC ever made.
There was one reported incident where a protective circuit or cut off of any type might not have worked. In this incident, a flyer crashed his model, but never took the pack out of the model to check it (so it's unclear whether the wiring shorted or the pack was damaged). He laid the model in the back seat of his car, where the model caught fire and proceeded to burn an expensive luxury car like tinder. This makes one wonder about the safety of car interiors.
LiPoŽ handling, charging, use and disposal are thoroughly described at many web sites and forums. Similar precautions are required for NiCds, NiMHs, fuel, and turbine powered models. You wouldn't stick your hand in a spinning prop. Likewise, treat your batteries with respect. Education and discipline are the keys.
The most misleading statement in the President's Perspective is that LiPoŽ chemistry is explosive and Li Ion is not. As explained above, this is just the opposite of the facts. That could really get someone hurt, as Li Ion cells absolutely must use a Protective Circuit Module (PCM) when charging. Use of the PCM is what makes them safe and mistakenly led the interpretation that Li Ion as a product is safer. Every cell phone next to your ear, every laptop or notebook computer, PDA, digital camera or the like has a PCM on the pack or on each cell in the pack for the reason that Li Ion cells can explode; not "do explode" - but "can explode." If a manufacturer uses Li Ion without a PCM- look out. Many millions of Li Ion cells are used worldwide in consumer products. If even a few of these exploded, the media would quickly publicize the problem and manufacturers would issue recalls. We hear of many concerns for cancer possibly caused by radiation from cell phones, but never an exploding battery. That is because cell phones using Lithium cells are equipped with a PCM. Some two years ago, before LiPoŽ cells began to see widespread use, people were modifying Li Ion packs to remove the PCM so they could be used for model airplanes. We are indeed fortunate that no one was hurt by an explosion of those unprotected cells.
Since Li Ion cells are contained in sealed metal cans like NiCd and NiMH cells, they explode with great force. We recently received a report that a Li Ion cell exploded during a high overcharge test at a major testing lab. The cell destroyed a heavy plastic enclosure and cracked a concrete block wall. A LiPoŽ cell might vent under those circumstances and it might flame, but it does not explode and create such a pressure wave. The eruption and resultant flaming material is easily managed in a container such as a coffee can. A fireplace, oven, charcoal grill, a toolbox or a surplus ammo box make excellent charge safes. Even a sheet rock enclosure will work. You can place your hand on the back side of ˝ inch sheet rock and direct a propane torch to the opposite side and not feel the heat.
The AMA Safety Committee recently released an announcement regarding the possibility of fires from Lithium cells. While this announcement was being drafted, we had a lengthy discussion with Don Lowe, Chairman of the Committee. As a result, the Safety Committee's announcement reflects a reasoned response to the situation. We endorse that announcement. Don and the Safety Committee are commended for taking a professional approach to handling the matter.
In summary, 1.Education and careful attention by the vast majority of users for two years has prevented all but a handful of incidents. 2. Every incident reported was preventable simply by following the warnings on the cells/packs and presented in the web site of most cell suppliers and 3. The new generation of accessories being introduced in 2004 will permit control of charge and discharge of LiPoŽ cells using proper protection during both charge and discharge that makes the LiPoŽ cells much safer than Li Ion cells. The reason? Even if a LiPoŽ control circuit should fail, LiPoŽ will cause no harm at all if you just follow the guidance to treat the cells as if they could, not will, vent with flames.
This story does not quite end there: I was in contact with Dave Brown and explained all these things to him after the first column. The statement " I guess the Hindenburg did not explode, it vented with flames" was the response. No, Dave, the Hindenburg was a tragic conflagration. Had it been an explosion, all the people waiting for it to land would have perished in the resulting pressure wave.
Best regards, Fred Marks, AMA 1733 AMA Hall of Fame AMA Distiguished Service Award snipped-for-privacy@fmadirect.com

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Just yesterday the AMA VP D-VIII started a survey re: drop off in meet attendance as well as just general sport flying at clubs. Question asked was, were park flyers beginning to erode clubs as they could be flown nearly anywhere, making the need for a club field much less.
Then Dave Brown's little flap over Lithium batteries with Fred Marks . . . .
Could it be that electric flight is perceived as a threat to AMA membership in general by the suits in Muncie?
Red S.
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Red
Be careful in painting the entire EC with such a broad brush. Fred talks about the actions of one individual.
It's obvious some on the EC are doing everything possible to promote electrics.

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Then they damn well better put a muzzle on their leader! :-)
Red S.

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What makes you think they can?

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| You have abrogated my First Amendment rights.
Whoa Nelly ...
[ those not in the US might want to stop reading here. ]
Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press. The First Ammendment does not require that a press owner let you publish whatever you want on their press.
In case you've never read it, the first amendment reads :
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Specifically, it only says that Congress shall make no such law, though it's this is generally believed to mean `the government' rather than Congress specifically. But it certainly doesn't apply to the AMA -- the AMA cannot make laws, but the AMA can use it's own press as it sees fit, and just sending the AMA money every year doesn't give you any special access to their press, unless there's some contract (or bylaws? I'm no lawyer) that says so.
It would appear that the AMA (or some members of the AMA) has behaved poorly here, but let's not pretend that it's a first amendment issue -- because it's not.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled flame war, already in progress ...
--
Doug McLaren, snipped-for-privacy@frenzy.com
A person is just about as big as the things that make them angry.
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wrote:

Doug,
I suspect he was claiming his freedom of speech was violated. That's the impression I received anyway. But in fact, they were not! One can say just about anything they want but, as you pointed out, they can not force or require the press to print it. Just sounds like more sour grapes to me. So goes this saga we call the AMA. You know, if they could film it and put it on TV they'd probably win an Emmy for Soap Operas.
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