posts tagged with the keyword ‘battery’

2019.01.19

snow-blower-01

Let me tell you about my history with snowblowers… Around 2000 I got a used snowblower from a rummage sale. It was corded, but I had extension cords, so I wasn’t too worried. The seller let me plug it in and test it. It worked! and it was like $15 so I got it.

The first time I tried to use it I went out to the garage, tried to fire it up, and it wouldn’t run. Dead. I took it in the house to work on it in the basement, and no luck. I let it sit in the basement, went outside and shoveled for hours, and tried it later in the day (still in the basement) and it worked fine! After much investigation I discovered it didn’t work well in cold weather. Yeah, a snowblower that didn’t like the cold. I kept it in the basement and used it occasionally but to be honest it was small and under-powered, and I got sick of extension cords.

Fast forward to 2013, new house, new places to blow snow away from, including the section between the garage and the alley, and part of the alley. My family has a way of saving old things, even when they get a new one, so someone got a new snowblower and gave me the old one, which was a monster of a blower that my grandfather used to own. This one too, sucked instead of blowed. It was gas powered, but had an electric start, and despite being a large metal beast, seemed to die a lot in heavy snowfall. It also didn’t like to start. And worst of all, I had to pull my car out of the garage just to get it out of the garage. I gave it away last year…

snow-blower-02

So instead of using a 20 or 30 year old snowblower that uses gas, and oil, and filters, and all the things I hate, I got an electric snowblower that uses a 40 volt Lithium battery. Battery technology has improved tremendously over the past decades and if I can avoid gas engines and extension cords, I’m all for it.

We now have a G-MAX 40V 20-Inch Cordless Brushless Snow Thrower. I got to use it today and it worked. Cutting the first path took a bit of time, but with a 20 to 40 percent step-over, it did a good job with 15 centimeters of snow. The 4 amp-hour batter was enough to do the sidewalk and most of my two neighbor’s sidewalks, but it ran out of juice before I could do the alley, so I went in the house, charged it to about half-charge while I had breakfast, then did the alley.

I should note that I specifically wanted a “small” blower, and the 20″ model allows me to maneuver it around the cars in the garage with ease. This means I don’t have to move a car into the snow covered alley to clean the alley. It’s a win in my book. It’s also mostly plastic so it’s easy to lift if I do have to carry it, which came in handy getting down the steps to the sidewalk.

This is not a blower that will have you powering through deep snow at a fast walking pace, you’re going slow, or your knocking your step-over rate down quite a bit after the first path, but for the size of it, that’s understandable. I don’t have a 50 foot driveway or the space for a large monster blower, so I’m happy with what we’ve got now… it’s better than shoveling, because to be honest, I’m gettin’ too old for that shit.

I’ll probably get another 4 amp-hour battery, just so I don’t have to recharge mid-job, and with two spare 40 volt batteries in the summer, I may see if I can run my 36 volt Neuton lawn mower with them as well.

2012.04.13

MiFi Battery

You may remember me writing about the Virgin Mobile MiFi I picked up last year, and if not, that’s fine, but I’ve got an update, so you can just read this post…

For the most part, the MiFi has worked well as a 3G modem. Connection is hit & miss. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s crap, but it mostly works. I ended up taking it on a recent trip which involved minimal airport waiting time and things went bad. I fully charged it up the night before using the AC charger, and all appeared well. So in the morning at the airport I turned it on, got a few minutes of use, and it died. I wasn’t too concerned since I was just wasting time at the airport.

When we got to our destination I plugged it into the AC charger and charged it up, except it didn’t charge up. The charger got warm, so I assumed it was working and decided the battery had died. Ugh. Annoying. Still, not a big deal, as I got free WiFi from our host.

So when I got back from my trip I ordered a replacement battery from Amazon, which was less than $5.00. When it arrived I determined that it was not the damn battery, but the damn charger! I confirmed this by charging it up using a USB cable. Also, the charger doesn’t get warm anymore, so I assume it’s dead.

Besides that whole adventure, I learned something new. See, I got the MiFi partly as a backup to my home Internet connection, figuring that if it went offline, I could use the MiFi. The only issue was that you connect to it via WiFi, which my Mac Pro does not have. I never charged the MiFi with USB before because USB charging is typically slower than AC charging, but now that I’m doing it all the time, I’ve found the secret to using it via USB instead of WiFi. (I say secret because I kept seeing questions as to whether it was possible, and people saying it was not.)

Disclaimer: I use a Mac… I’ve not done this under Linux or Windows.

MiFi Mounted

Plugin the MiFi, and you will see it mounted in the Finder. Now, for many USB devices if you just want to charge them, you unmount (eject) them, and they keep charging.

MiFi Mounted

Here’s the trick with the MiFi… Eject it! Once you do, it’ll show up as a new network connection and you can see it in the Network Control Panel, and you can click the “Connect” button.

MiFi Prefs

Hey, we are now connected! You can see the send/receive data, and if you click the “Show in menubar” checkbox, you get a handy little menu. (I didn’t need to fill in any values like the account name or password. It seems to load them all properly from the MiFi somehow.)

MiFi Menu

I’m still not 100% sure it charges up while using it in this fashion, so a bit more testing is needed, but hey, it’s progress…

Update: I’ve got an addition to what is posted above.

Installer

I tried the above on another Mac Pro I have and it did not see the MiFi until I ran the installer you see when you first mount it. After that, it showed up fine in the Network Control Panel, but the magic values were not filled in. (I also did not reboot, like the installer asked me to.) I ended up getting the Account Name from connecting to the MiFi (using WiFi) and finding it under the WWAN -> Diagnostics menu (listed as NAI) and the password was my 6 digit account pin. A bit more hassle, but now you know where to look.

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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