posts tagged with the keyword ‘battery’

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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