Battery problem solution a discovery?

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denodan
denodan's picture
Battery problem solution a discovery?

My replacment battery only lasted 10 mins then blue lights and Rovio turned off. This has been a problem for many here, and some have replaced it with 9v chargers.

 I may have made an important discovery to fix this problem, if you charger is going of course.

What I found is after 1/2 an hour, or so, the pulsing would stop and Rovio showed full charge. What I have done is place it back on the dock, would charge a bit more, when it says full do it again and again.

 

Now I have had 43 mins on the battery, seems you can get a false indication your battery is charged. This can often happen with rechargables, which is why they say it can take serveral charges before you get max battery charge.

 

I know I find this is working with my Rovio. I am hoping it will give me a longer battery life then my other battery, which will last about 45 mins without the headlight accessory.

 

If your having your battery last only 10 mins keep charging your battery, when it indicates full charge, undock, then redock. I am seeing how long the replacement battery lasts in my broken Rovio

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

It's likely that these have a Nickel Cadmium or Nickel Hybrid batteries. The bad thing about this kind of battery is they are went to have their power supply totally exhausted before the next charge.

These batteries have a memory in them, so they remember the last time they were charged. So keep in mind, if you charge the battery frequently, and the memory in them thinks, it's fully charged when it's not, YOUR SCREWED.

The most simple solution I've found when dealing with these kind of batteries. Do not let Rovio return to the base for charging when batteries are low. If you can use the web interface to shut that option off.

Instead let Rovio keeping roaming the house until he goes completely dead. Keep his headlight off too. A slow discharge is better than a fast discharge. Then after Rovio is so robbed of power he can't make it to the base, put him on the base for a full recharge.

You've just manipulated, the memory in the batteries now. Now the batteries can get more of a full recharge. Try this only with Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Hybrid batteries. Never try this with a lead acid battery. Lead Acid batteries are more like car batteries. Totally discharging them can permanently damage them..

There should be a label on the bottom of Rovio telling you what kind of batteries are inside.

cowboyctx
cowboyctx's picture

denodan said: My replacment battery only lasted 10 mins then blue lights and Rovio turned off. This has been a problem for many here, and some have replaced it with 9v chargers.  I may have made an important discovery to fix this problem, if you charger is going of course. What I found is after 1/2 an hour, or so, the pulsing would stop and Rovio showed full charge. What I have done is place it back on the dock, would charge a bit more, when it says full do it again and again. Now I have had 43 mins on the battery, seems you can get a false indication your battery is charged. This can often happen with rechargables, which is why they say it can take serveral charges before you get max battery charge. I know I find this is working with my Rovio. I am hoping it will give me a longer battery life then my other battery, which will last about 45 mins without the headlight accessory. If your having your battery last only 10 mins keep charging your battery, when it indicates full charge, undock, then redock. I am seeing how long the replacement battery lasts in my broken Rovio

That is why I built that feature into Rovio Commander,  its call charge mode.  You can set the number of minutes to wait before the next backup command is sent to the Rovio.  Better than re-docking the Rovio manually.

denodan
denodan's picture

My battery has gone from lasting 5 mins to 1 hour. Timed it. I found it went to the last bar, then the battery completely died. Not bad for a battery that only lasted 5 mins to start with?

With a few more charges may get more then 1 hour. But my steps above are the soultion for anyone who's battery lasts 5 mins, you don't need a 9v power supply, as long as your Rovio's power supply is going, these steps will most likely enable your battery to fully recharge.

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

This does make sense. Since the battery has a memory in it. Very cool, how you managed to trick the battery's memory like this.

Hey if you can, find out for me what kind of battery is in the Rovio anyway.

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

Are you one of the folks at Wowwee who actually built Rovio?

cowboyctx said:

denodan said: My replacment battery only lasted 10 mins then blue lights and Rovio turned off. This has been a problem for many here, and some have replaced it with 9v chargers.  I may have made an important discovery to fix this problem, if you charger is going of course. What I found is after 1/2 an hour, or so, the pulsing would stop and Rovio showed full charge. What I have done is place it back on the dock, would charge a bit more, when it says full do it again and again. Now I have had 43 mins on the battery, seems you can get a false indication your battery is charged. This can often happen with rechargables, which is why they say it can take serveral charges before you get max battery charge. I know I find this is working with my Rovio. I am hoping it will give me a longer battery life then my other battery, which will last about 45 mins without the headlight accessory. If your having your battery last only 10 mins keep charging your battery, when it indicates full charge, undock, then redock. I am seeing how long the replacement battery lasts in my broken Rovio

That is why I built that feature into Rovio Commander,  its call charge mode.  You can set the number of minutes to wait before the next backup command is sent to the Rovio.  Better than re-docking the Rovio manually.

denodan
denodan's picture

cimplexsounds said: This does make sense. Since the battery has a memory in it. Very cool, how you managed to trick the battery's memory like this. Hey if you can, find out for me what kind of battery is in the Rovio anyway.

Battery specs of my battery are:

5LMH-43SC3000-W-T

NIMH 6V 43SC 3000mAh  PTC

Hope this helps

Hope

 

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

So this is a Nickel Hybrid Metal Battery. Thanks

Then it is safe to totally to completely discharge the battery, and then return Rovio to the base and put him on by hand, for a complete recharge.

Many laptop computers come with nickel Hybrid batteries. The manufacturers, allows recommend, totally discharging the battery, or at least draining the battery down until you get a critical battery alarm. They say this actually helps extend the battery life for a long time. The battery is probably hi amperage because of the kind of device it's powering. You should be getting at least two to three hours of use off of a single recharge, considering how power efficient Wowwee robots are suppose to be. Again my suggestion. I'd let the battery go completely dead a few times, and allow Rovio to achieve a complete recharge, before use. you probably find this will really help.

Fortunately you don't have Nickel Cadium batteries. They are less forgiving. If you don't totally discharge a Nickel Cadium battery during each use, it shortens their battery life significantly, mainly because of the memory.

In case you don't know the following are usually the symbol meanings for these types of batteries:

NIMH = Nickel Hybrid Metal Battery - more forgiving on partial recharges.

NI - CD = Nickel Cadium Very unforgiving on a partial recharge.
You usually find these symbols on the batteries.

5LMH-43SC3000-W-T would probably be the model number of your battery in case you ever have to order a replacement.

Hope this helps.

denodan
denodan's picture

An update on fixing my battery. I got a total of 80 mins out of it on a full charge

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

Very good!! Just keep running the battery down all the way, then recharge it up completely. You should eventually be able to get two to three hours of use on a full battery.

Please keep us posted.

Thanks

denodan
denodan's picture

I have another Rovio Battery also and never got 2-3 hours. Got around only 70 mins on that.

However you never know if I will get more? I am hoping it will end up a better battery then the other one I have.

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

The Rovio might be different the other Wowwee robots. I know I can get over 6 hours of use on both my Robospaien V1's and even my Robosapien V2 on a single recharge, with the video camera, built in to his head.

May I suggest? Try doing with the other battery, what you've done with this one. You've done a pretty good job of manipulating the memory on this battery. If you still have the old battery, try doing the same thing.

If it works, you'll have two good batteries!!

By the way I have a question for you. I've considered adding a Rovio to my Wowwee collection. How good is the video quality on the Rovio?

denodan
denodan's picture

I find it good in the day and ok with your lights on at night, but for it to be useful you need the headlight accessory. I know people keep going on about the camera preforming badly in low light, but what do you expect, with such a small apature camera lens?

gdmeade
gdmeade's picture

I'm having the same problems, but my rovio will not come on. I'm seeing 4.6 volts from the charger base on my volt meter. The NiMH battery is 6 volts... it's been my experience that you need to have a little over 6 volts to charge. The rovio wall transformer is rated at 8 volts... and that would be reasonable. But as soon as I plug it into the base I get 4.6 volts... not enough for a cycle charge. Anyone else experiencing this?

chris75
chris75's picture

From reports and my experience, there are problems with bad battery packs/ bad charger (too weak) and dock contacts at least.
I got the first 2 problems.

So check contacts are ok on dock (dirt etc..) if voltage goes under 7V when docked either too much current is drained (bad pack - short circuited elt) or adapter is too weak.

I replaced my adapter by a 9V / 3 Amps, charging is a lot better though not perfect. Later i replaced by a better 4800Ah nimh pack

A 5 nimh pack should be between 6.5 / 6.8V-7V fully charged so indeed 4.6V is not enough.

If it happens to be the adapter and you replace it, you'll have to do the dock/undock trick to keep Rovio charging and get battery voltage in the 'safe' range.

Charger board is a bit quick at doing a power off when battery is very low so no chance battery can go up enough before it is switched off...

Hope this helps.

cimplexsounds
cimplexsounds's picture

Hmmm. I didn't know about the battery pack and power adapter, not being properly matched to Rovio's power requirements. Thank You for the tip. Just another sign of bad engineering. The Robopet seems to have the same problem. Four AAA batteries just don't seem to be enough to power robopet for very long, even when they are fully recharged. I can only get about one or two hours of use from my Robopet.

This will help me be really careful when looking for the perfect Rovio to buy.

gdmeade
gdmeade's picture

Seems that Rovio was an overly priced piece of %^&%&. It isn't easy, if at all possible to get it to sink with a wireless lan and doesn't recharge either. I could have done better just putting a camera on a Roomba. I bought Rovio to help me engage with my family while I was in Iraq, but the honeymoon was over before it started. It turned out to be something I had to work on more than it was worth. I don't mind tinkering a little to make something better. But, I do mind having to make it work, when it was supposed to work out of the box.

jm
jm's picture

Hey Chris 75 can you point me in the direction of where you bought the higher-capacity replacement pack for your Rovio? I've found a couple packs that would work, but either slightly too large dimension-wise or wrong connectors.

Any help appreciated,

jm

chris75
chris75's picture

I built a new pack from 5 elements like these:
http://www.integy.com/st_prod.html?p_prodid=5368&p_catid=128

I used the power cable from my dead pack, so you'll need to do some soldering.

A guy from a rc model shop told me there may be a pack like this for rc cars called "Baja". He had none in stock, i'm not sure the connector is the same though the 5 elements are apparently assembled the same way.

Hope this helps.

chris75
chris75's picture

Found possible cause ? 

while reverse enginnering the Battery charger board and building a replacement, I found a diode was apparently soldered the wrong way.

Symbol on PCB board shows one orientation and the diode component (D4) is soldered the opposite direction.

I took a picture of it to show the problem:

I removed the diode tested it was ok (it was) and soldered it back the right way. 

Things looks a lot better, i placed Rovio on dock and it full charged and kept battery charge for 2+ hours (7.05V) , moving the Rovio looks like it's on steroid now.

Prior to this I replaced weak 8V  adaptor by a powerfull 9V one and replaced NIMH pack by a good 4600mAh  one,it improved things but did not fix the issues.

I still experienced disappointing autonomy/chaage  (<45mn off dock) and constant charging / discharging (blue leds blinking) cycles with most of times automatic shutoff as battery went too low.

All in all Rovio was unable to survive more than a day without shutting off and requiring the dock/undock trick to kick charge cycle again. 

If anybody had similar symptoms and knows how to dismantle the beast, i'm interested to know if D4 is wired like mine or not.

I'm still doing tests to see what's the new Rovio MTBF :) 

Hope this helps.

jm
jm's picture

Hey Chris, yeah the Baja seems like it would work, although the size specs I was able to find seem to indicate it's ever so slightly larger than the Rovio pack, but if the cells are standard it should fit. The Baja does have the wrong connector so that would have to be swapped.

But, WOW on the diode. Or should I say, WOWEE! As soon as I'm done with my standard 90-hour workweek I'll take a peek. I don't know how to dismantle it, but I'll figure it out. My thinking is I've got a useless lump of plastic right now, I don't have much to lose :)

jm

chris75
chris75's picture

First unplug battery to avoid problems, then to remove the Rovio top you'll have to remove 6 screws under the Rovio (near edge).
Then you'll have the charger board on one side (left if you look Rovio from front).
Then you need to remove 2 screws to release a plastic part that keeps the charger board in vertical position.

Pull the charger board to extract it from the 2 plastic rails.

Hope this helps.

chris75
chris75's picture

With diode fix, Rovio was able to stay off dock for 3H40 with 30mn / 1H web connection, then it redocked and resumed charge without shutting down which was what happened most of times when redocking in low state.

So looks like this inverted diode was really causing some trouble to Rovio charge.

I'll check how many days it can survive now but it's already hugely improved.

chris75
chris75's picture

Hi all,
looks like all my battery issues are gone (Yeah!), Rovio is now operating properly for 48H+ hours.

If battery pack/adapter are not dead (which has been reported too) and
If you have these symptoms:
- Rovio never full charge ie: when solid blue you get - When battery low you may need to dock undock several times to get it charge again.
- If left on dock for a long time it sometimes switches off.

Send it back to Woowee or if you know how to solder you can check power board for the inverted diode issue I mentionned above.

The grey ring on the diode should correspond to the bar on the symbol (cathode), if you have something similar to the picture I took (bad direction of d4) , removing the diode and soldering it back in correct direction may solve the issue.

See my posts above for details.

So I bought my Rovio in June 2009 and we are now in July 2010, Woowee support disappeared quickly after I reported the battery issues, though I admit they were kind enough to send replacement battery / charger which has not fixed issue anyway. I'm afraid if these HW issues are common they got massive returns and
their Rovio line is a financial disaster....

Even partly broken Rovio is an impressive assembly of technology for such a price, that's why I did not return it, though if you're not ready to hack it and just want it to work it may just be a useless piece of plastic (if you get one with defects) ....

Hope this helps.

liang
liang's picture

hi,

same problem
the picture you made, is that the way it should be or the way it was?
could you show a picture the of the change you made?

thanks and greeting liang

SiGGy
SiGGy's picture

The diode is backwards from the factory, the diode is backwards in that photo. The photo is the board unmodified.

If you look at the photo do you see the silver ring around the D4 diode and the silver ring on the diode behind it?

The silver ring marks one side of the diode. And the direction for the flow of current.

On the board underneath each diode you'll see the triangle symbol pointing to a vertical line. Sorta like this >| (the triangle points towards a vertical line) Note the symbols for the D4 diode and the diode behind it are pointing in opposite directions, this is showing they should be installed opposite direction of one another. However if you look closely you'll see the diodes are actually installed in the same direction. It's easy to over look because they cut the leads (the 2 wires on the diode) different on the diodes, so it'll trick your eyes. The lead (wire) closest to the silver ring on the D4 diode should be soldered to the same side as the vertical line in the diode symbol. It's not on the D4 diode. The silver ring is on the opposite side...

Once you can see the problem; you'll see the diode was installed incorrectly from the factory. Assuming the silk screen on the PCB is correct.

liang
liang's picture

Thanks,

your probabely right i was onley looking at the side the diode was on and not the side the ring was on the diode
so i think i wil try this.

also hope it works and wil not fry my rovio

do you know of other people who have tried this solution ?

greetings liang

airspeed
airspeed's picture

The problem have modified now, the direction of my rovio's  D4 diode is correctly!

chris75
chris75's picture

Yes, I confirm photo is board unmodified with diode mounted in wrong direction.

Chris

TheCrustyChicken
TheCrustyChicken's picture

Mine was correct.... this must not be the problem with my rovio :(

JFR
JFR's picture

just finished checking mine, and it was correct also.
Wowwee must have installed them in the later runs. I just got mine this month.

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