HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR RC BATTERIES
Well I've looked all over the web for this question and couldn't find it all in one spot so I decided to make it easier for the next person. Lipo batteries, NiCd, and NiMH are the most commonly used rechargable batteries in RC hobbies.
Below are simple instructions to charge and discharge these batteries. I will add to this as more time permits.
NiCd (nicad) - These batteries when slightly discharge have a 'memory' affect that will shorten the life of the battery. Therefore a proper discharge should be done.
Personally I discharge to .9v per cell. Some people short the battery and some discharge to all the way, however I keep the .9v per cell rule. Therefore on a 2 cell battery I would discharge it to 1.8v or on a 1 cell battery I would discharge to .9v. I personally discharge at .5A rate. I use this rate of .5A as my default amperage for all my NiCd batteries.
As for charging, you must know your batteries milliamp voltage. I have a Hot Shot glow plug that is 1.2v 1500mA. I charge it at .8A and I sometimes charge it at 1.5A based on the charge time I have available.
NiMh (nickel metal hydride) - I use NiMh hump pack 5 cell batteries for my receivers. They come in different amperage. I personally have a 1400 mA and a 1600mA.
I use a similiar rule as I do for NiCd batteries which is the .9v per cell. So for my 5 cell hump packs I could discharge them to 4.5v, however I only discharge to 5v (1v per cell) just as a safety precaution. I discharge every 3rd or 4th charge to recycle the batteries memory since I dont typically run down the battery too often in the rc car. If I have the time I'll do two cycles of discharge/charge. I discharge at a rate of .5A down to 5v (or 4.5v minimum).
For charging, I set the charging amps at milliamps/1000. So for the 1400mA 5 cell hump pack, I charge at a rate of 1.4A, and for the 1600 5 cell hump pack I charge at a rate of 1.6A. I use high end chargers that monitor the temperature and peak. I find some brands differ in what they show as mA versus actual milliamps the battery cells can handle. For example my Dynamite 1400mA hump pack really only holds 1180mA according to both of my high end chargers. I'm not sure this was due to initial bad habit charging or just the quality of the cells. I also have an Omni 1600mA hump pack that actually holds more like 1700mA. I will buy this brand again when my 1400mA dies out on me. But as long as keep these good charging habits, the batteries should last years.
LiPo Batteries- super light weight compared to NiCd and NiMh, great storage capacity, great discharge rate. These are the latest batteries used in the Radio Controlled (RC) field. Some people love lipo's and some people hate them. Why do some people hate them. Well they can catch on fire if they discharge too low and they can catch on fire if over charged. So if you do not have the correct chargers with lipo balancers, then I encourage you to stick with NiMh or NiCd batteries. However, if you have the correct chargers, the lipo batteries will benefit your Rc experience with the lower weight and better charge capacity. Lipo batteries I've heard can be charged thousands of times if properly maintained.
Charging: use a lipo balancer - do not charge more than 4.2 volts per cell. I have two 3200mA 7.4v Venom Lipo batteries (2s) 2 cell. I charge at 3.2A up to 8.4 volts using the lipo balancer port to make sure each cell is balanced properly. The lipo balancer makes sure each cell is equalized properly as to not have too much or too little charge per cell. I always use the balancer and set my charger to Lipo Balance mode when charging these batteries. Make sure you have a Lipo charger that can handle your Lipo. Make sure the settings are correct, do not charge a 2S 7.4 battery at 3S mode (11.1v).
I typically do not discharge my lipo batteries on purpose (recycling) as I do my NiMh or NiCd batteries. You should not let your lipo batteries go below 3v per cell. I have two 3200mA 7.4v (2S 2cell) Lipo batteries for my Traxxas Slash. I try to have it not go below 6.4 volts and definitely not below 6v or 3volts per cell. I'm not sure about the memory effect Lipos have so I just use the charge method.
I will add more details and specifications to this page as I learn more. Thanks for reading.