Core SWX Fleet Micro Charger: Charges Batteries, and a Whole Lot More

0Share

The Core SWX Fleet Micro battery charger is named so, not because it’s particularly fast at charging (although it is), but because it is ready to charge and maximize your personal fleet of professional V-mount or Gold-mount batteries.

Perspective

In the 1980s, I had an old Cine 60 battery belt. It had a 4-pin XLR output, used NiCd cells, and had a built-in overnight charger. My cat used to sleep in it when it was charging during the winter because it was the warmest place in the house. Battery cell technology has come a long way since then, and lithium-ion cells are the standard now. Small, compact, and powerful, they have changed the way in which batteries are handled and charged. Battery manufacturers (re-packagers) who use similar cells from a few select manufacturers, the actual contribution being the case design and electronic control, spend a lot of time maximizing the effectiveness and safety of their batteries. A lot of effort goes into designing the battery and chargers. It is a fair guess that most manufacturers of professional on-camera or on-light batteries would prefer you use their brand of charger, and sometimes it can be difficult to use one brand of battery with another brand's charger.

The Device

The Core SWX Fleet Micro is a two-bay charger, available in Gold mount or V-mount. It is also available as a four-bay charger in V-mount or Gold mount. The two-bay version I received for testing had one Gold mount and V-mount plate each, although this isn't the usual case, since the chargers are normally one or the other. If you need one charger that can charge either V-mount or Gold mount batteries, adapter plates are available. However, since the charger I tested had both battery mounts, I figured why not take advantage of the situation? I tested the charger using Core SWX slimline 82Wh batteries, a Gold mount and a V-mount. I also tested it with an Anton Bauer battery, the Digital 90.

Core SWX Fleet Micro 3A Digital Dual Charger for Gold Mount Batteries

The Challenge

Core SWX makes a variety of claims concerning charging batteries from other manufacturers, and they are well founded. All three of my test batteries charged. You would expect that with the Core SWX batteries, but Anton Bauer batteries on other brand's chargers can be finicky, so it was nice to see the Anton Bauer battery charging with no issues. The charger has a built-in fan for dissipating heat, and it is very quiet. Core SWX also claims that the Fleet Micro can charge RED BRICK batteries and, although I did not test this, Core SWX is listed as a third-party-compatible vendor on RED’s web page.

Even More Good Things

I was curious about how much power the charger uses, so I pulled out my trusty old pass-through power meter. The charger was drawing 0.9 amps while charging two batteries. Yes, the technical information states up to 3 Amps for each battery, but that is DC volts; I was measuring the amount of AC power it was drawing while charging—less than an amp to charge two batteries simultaneously. The charger displayed the percentage of charge the battery was receiving during the process. It is fast too—no overnight charging here, just each pack being charged simultaneously and independently of each other.

SafeFly for Air Travel and Shipping

Not only are there limits to the capacity of the batteries you can carry with you on airplanes, there are additional conditions for shipping Li-Ion batteries. Batteries must be shipped at less than 30% charge capacity. So, you can drain them manually, but that is a great deal of effort, or you can pop the battery onto the Fleet Micro charger and press the “SafeFly” button. Doing this took the batteries down from a full charge to about 26%—even the Anton Bauer battery—and kept them there. It’s a nice little labor-saving feature, if you need it, and with the air travel guidelines subject to change as it is, a handy one. Speaking of guidelines being subject to change, the charger has a mini-USB port for firmware updates.

A Few Extra Features

Another noteworthy feature is the Test function, which charges, then discharges, and then recharges your battery. This tests your batteries’ performance, and can send the info out through the mini-USB port. There is an app coming that will let you keep all this information in a spreadsheet, but the built-in LCD screen offered me an assurance that the tested battery had delivered 73 watts before the charger recharged it. If you want a readout of your batteries’ condition, without putting it to the test, you can simply mount a battery, and press “Selection.” This will share the battery pack’s stored information: name, serial number, date of manufacture, current charge percentage, actual capacity, design capacity, and number of charge/discharge cycles.

A 4-pin XLR is built into the charger, so you can use it as a power supply when plugged into AC power. Although you can't charge your batteries and use the unit as a power supply at the same time, a switch lets you toggle between power supply and charger. When AC power isn't available, you can also use the batteries to provide power through the 4-pin XLR in what Core SWX refers to as Hypercine power supply mode. Please note that per Core SWX, Hypercine mode is unregulated, so as the voltage of the batteries drops from 16.8 to 12 VDC, so will the output voltage. I know we all want that feature, and it is nice to have, but I haven't run into the need for it.

Does What It Claims

Overall, I enjoyed my time with the Core SWX Fleet Micro 2-bay charger. We had some laughs together and I was sorry to see it go. Okay, the truth is this: a charger that will charge different manufacturers’ batteries is plenty exciting for me. If I had a bunch, or fleet, of mixed brands of V-mount or Gold mount batteries that I needed to keep charged and didn't want to carry multiple chargers around with me to shoots… I have a good idea of which charger I'd want.

Tell us about your favorite battery charger in the Comments section, below.

Close

Close

Close