2009.10.28

We’ve got a Sony PD-150 video camera which uses these “InfoLithium” batteries, and over the years, these batteries have given us a hard time, but no more… (We hope!)

See, when these batteries go “bad” they tell the camera not to work. When you power it on, there’s an error message: “For Infolithium Battery Only” which is the camera telling you it doesn’t like the battery. It should be noted that we’ve had the camera for about 9 years, and we’ve used third party batteries for years without issues, but hey, Sony is Sony, you know how they are.

Video Shoot

Turns out the battery has a processor it in, and when things are not quite right, it tells the camera, and you get the error message. Don’t worry, the battery is not dead, it’s just very sick. :)

We got this error with one of our batteries, and since we still had one good one, I tossed the bad one in a drawer and forgot about it for about 9 months. Then our good one did the same thing, so I decided to pull out the bad one and give it one more try. Amazingly enough, it worked! Seems that since it was sitting dormant for so long, it must have lost enough charge to reset itself, and it was back to normal. (So now the bad one was the good one, and the good one was the bad one…. you follow?)

So the fix is to let your battery sit in a drawer unused for 9 months.

Or… I guess you could manually discharge it.

I’ll provide the warning that if the phrase “manually discharge” scares you, you might not want to do what is described below. (If you’re careful, it’s really not that dangerous, but people love disclaimers.)

I initially did some searching, and came across this page on Infolithium Batteries which held the secret. The whole page is worth a good read.

With knowledge in hand, er, in head, I stopped by Radio Shack and picked up a two-pack of 10 ohm/10 watt resistors. (Cost was about $2.00)

resistor
Photo by Mike Krukowski.

The idea is to short the battery with a resistor (do not try it without the resistor!) so that the battery can drain it’s charge and reset the processor. This took quite a while for the battery I had, and when you read that part about the resistor getting very hot I hope you were paying attention. It actually started to melt the MiniDV cassette case I had it sitting on. It’ll definitely burn skin. Put it on a safe surface that can take the heat!

I was warned by local robotics enthusiast Royce Pipkins that I should perhaps not let the battery drain all the way, as that might render it useless. So at this point I was letting it drain and checking the voltage every now and then. Here’s where I screwed up and left it on too long, and I thought it drained completely. (I assumed the voltage would continually get lower and lower, but I don’t think that happened.) Luckily, even with the battery completely drained, I was able to charge it and the camera recognized it, so I guess it worked!

Anyway, even though the Infolithium Batteries page has been around for years and years, I figured I’d add my 2 cents about the issue, since, you know… that’s what the Internet is for.

Enjoy your (like) new battery!

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