A Dying Lithium-Ion Battery

Well, I’ve come across another dying battery.  This time though it’s not brand new… however, it’s not that old either. This is a Samsung 30Q battery that I was using in my daily carry Emisar D4v2 flashlight. The D4v2 has battery indicator RGB leds in it and I had noticed that my light was losing its charge between uses. At first I thought I had just used the light more than I realized, but after I carried my Convoy S2+ shorty for a week, I noticed the D4v2 was still self draining. So I gave it a full charge and went back to my voltmeter for daily checks and yup… it is indeed self discharging. Note that I didn’t check it for a week at the end of my chart as I knew it was gone at that point. The frustrating part about this one is that this battery wasn’t that old. I label all of my li-ion batteries with the date I got them and this battery was from 8/2020, making it just a year and a half old now.  While I don’t think I had an excessive amount of charge cycles on it, I will admit that since this battery was in my pocket hot rod light, it did get driven extremely hard a number of times. However I don’t think it’d been driven hard recently, so I’m not sure why it just decided to go bad on me. If you have any thoughts as to why this happened to a relatively “young” battery let me know. Fortunately I had a spare 30Q from my UV light that I replaced with a more powerful version, so I didn’t need to order a new one. However I do need a new Samsung 50E for my new UV and those have been out of stock for like 3-4 months now… these stock shortages on literally everything are getting mighty old.


Tracking Down a Battery Drain

Attention: This content is 3 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

The other day I picked up my Convoy S2+ flashlight as my carry light for the day, and I clicked it on to check it, and it started stepping down almost immediately. The light turned off after about 30 seconds, as the low voltage protection was kicking in, which means the 18350 Li-Ion battery in it was out of juice, and the light’s programming was shutting down the light to avoid flattening the battery. I thought this was odd as I was pretty sure I had only used this light once or twice since the last time I fully charged it, but I shrugged it off as my own bad memory and chucked the battery in the charger. After it charged up, I pocketed the light and carried it. After a few days of relatively minimal use, the light started stepping down again, meaning the low voltage protection was kicking in again. My first thought was that the light was causing some sort of parasitic drain on the battery while not in use. However, this light is not an e-switch, it’s a physical tail switch, so it’s not actually possible for the light to have a parasitic drain.

So what is going on? How is a battery being drained while physically disconnected? The only way this would be possible was with a bad or damaged battery, but this battery is only 5 months old so I wasn’t sure. I decided to set the battery on the counter and check it with a volt-meter daily to see if my idea was right.

So, I started logging daily voltages and quickly had my answer. After just the first day it dropped .05 volts by just sitting on the counter. There should not be any measurable voltage drop after such a short amount of time. The next day was even more dramatic with a .14 volt drop after a day!  Well, there we go… the battery was bad… and it was likely my fault.

This light usually takes an 18650 battery, but I decided to order the optional (smaller) 18350 body with it as I mainly just wanted a smaller light as another daily-carry option. I found a lot of run time charts as this is a very popular flashlight, but was having trouble finding run time info for my particular LED and battery combo, so I decided to perform a run time test myself our of pure curiosity. I set it to 100% and let it run. The Convoy S2+ is an older design and while it does have Low Voltage Protection, it does not have a thermal throttling ability like my Emisar, Noctigon, or Q8 lights. This means that it doesn’t care how hot it gets, it will keep going, and relies on your hand to tell you to turn the light down. Li-Ion lights like this are really only meant to run on 100% for a short period of time as they produce a lot of heat when running full blast. After all, these are 4 volt lights, some running upwards of 15 amps at a time. I hadn’t really considered this small fact before beginning the run time test. After about 7-8 minutes I want to check the light and it was VERY HOT, so much so that I could barely touch it. It freaked me out a bit and I quickly shut the light off and let it cool down and didn’t think much else of it after that. However, I think on that day I cooked the battery. This light/battery worked fine for a good month before I performed this run time test, so I think I damaged the battery and it created some sort of internal short which was causing the battery to self-discharge.  Fortunately a new battery is only $6 so it wasn’t an expensive lesson to learn, but a good one to learn never-the-less. I will be more careful with lights that lack either LVP or Thermal Throttling in the future 🙂

A few minor site updates

Attention: This content is 3 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

I just realized that a handful of old posts on this site still had Youtube videos embedded via a flash object. With Flash’s forced demise last month, all of these embeds broke. I have gone through and fixed them all (aside from one that was linked to a now-deleted account) to embed the videos using Youtube’s html 5 object. So, shall you want to watch a remote control pumpkin drive around my office, or an Acer Predator fail right out of the box, you can once again. Thrilling, I know. I have also fixed some image sizing problems that were making my logo look less than optimal since the site redesign, as well as fixed the automatic icon created if you bookmark this site on an Android or iPad tablet device.

Sega Game Gear Refurb

Attention: This content is 3 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

As opposed to my Game Boy Pocket Refurb this one is going to be a bit more involved. My GB Pocket was fully functional, it just needed a quick membrane replacement job.

The Sega Game Gear is a different story. Game Gears of original vintage have a long-known problem. Sega used low quality capacitors in them, and as a result they tend to fail and leak out over the years, especially when stored in unfriendly environmental conditions (i.e. a hot attic). This means that you could have packed away your Game Gear in perfectly working form in a box, pulled it out years later, and found it dead. Much was a similar situation for my father-in-law’s Game Gear. I was a full-on Nintendo kid growing up, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that really wanted a Game Gear. I mean, how could you not? The color backlit screen blew away what the Game Boy was doing!

My FIL got this out and tried to play it, but found it dead. It would power on, the screen powered on, but there was no video output and no audio output happening. He showed me what it was doing and I knew it was a capacitor problem as I’d known about their failures from watching some retro gaming channels on youtube (big shout-out to The Retro Future!). I told him I could fix the system but that it would be a while as I needed to get a better soldering iron. The one I had was cheap to begin with and already on its last legs, barely having the oomph to get hot enough to melt solder.  Well, that was over a year and a half ago and I honestly kept putting off getting a new iron because this job intimidated me. My soldering skills are pretty amature-level as I only solder things a couple of times a year, and a Game Gear re-cap is a big job. When my wife got me a nice Weller iron for Christmas this year, I knew it was time to tackle this beast of a job.

A couple weeks ago I ordered a new cap kit from RetroModding. I selected that kit because it was cheap and came with enough caps to handle any revision of the Game Gear motherboard, as well as the sound board (different revisions have different caps). I did not order the power board recap kit as this unit still turned on, and from what I read these caps were far less likely to fail. I think because it had to do with higher voltage stuff and being UL listed, Sega actually used decent caps in those. Once I had my bag of shockingly tiny caps in hand, I grabbed a capacitor list and capacitor layout diagram from the Console5 Wiki. Their extremely helpful diagrams make it easy to identify which caps go where, as well as the polarity of each location. I printed them out and laid out each cap in each spot so that I could just hammer through them back-to-back. This took some times to set up, but I’m glad I did it before I fired up the iron, because after the first couple caps, I hit a pretty good stride with pulling the old one, trimming the new ones, and replacing.

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Game Boy Pocket Refurb

Attention: This content is 4 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

Back in November I picked up a Game Boy Pocket that matched the one I traded off a long time ago. It was in extremely good condition as it was, but there was one thing that felt a bit worn out on it; the buttons. More specifically, the button presses felt very loose and sloppy, not how I remember my Pocket. Fortunately it is a fairly easy job to swap out the button membranes, and there are companies out there making factory-spec replacements! I picked mine up from Retro Modding who has an incredible selection of OEM-Like parts, as well as many modding-centric after-market parts. I ordered the membranes and got them a couple weeks ago, but I made a small mistake. I had a tri-wing bit (the type of bit needed to open most Nintendo hardware), but the one I had was way too big for my GB Pocket. Doh! So I had to place another order with Retro Modding and grab one of their retro-system bit sets. The bits came in today and I couldn’t wait to get the new membranes in my GB Pocket and try them out, so that’s just what I did.

After removing the 6 tri-wings on the back (2 in the battery compartment) the back comes off the GB Pocket. I also took the metal cartridge shield off the back just to clean under it. This is totally not necessary but while my GB Pocket was apart I wanted to give all of the insides a good cleaning with some Ispropyl Alcohol:

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One year in the glovebox for an 18650 li-on battery

Attention: This content is 4 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

I’ve seen arguments online about whether keeping an 18650 battery in your car is a good idea or not. I always remind people giant banks of 18650’s power Tesla’s, laptops, and power tools, all of which see all kinds of use and abuse in all kinds of climates.  Still, I have seen people insist that the wide temperature ranges will somehow kill an 18650.  Well, a year ago I decided to toss one of my 18650 powered flashlights in my glovebox to see how it would fare. I used it on occasion over the last year and did not charge it at all. I pulled out my multimeter and checked it last night and would you look at that…

Sitting at 4.05 volts. Like I said, I have used this flashlight a handful of times, so this is basically still a full charge. A full charge would only be about 4.1 volts anyway, so the small drop is just from my use of it. Tested and verified, I have no qualms about leaving an 18650 powered light in my glovebox for years to come.

Original Hardware

Attention: This content is 4 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

I’ve owned every revision of Game Boy over the years. Original Game Boy, Pocket, Color, Advance, and Advance SP. I still own my original Game Boy (although it’s lost in storage some place) and Advance SP, but my Pocket, Color, and Advance were all traded in on their new models at some point. Out of the 3 models I traded in, the Pocket, Color, and Advance, I missed my Game Boy Pocket the most.  The Color was never a great device IMO due to the absence of a backlight, and the Advance was only improved upon by the Advance SP.  And while the Advance SP is probably the pinnacle of Game Boys, it also changed up the form factor significantly. It lacks that old-school feel with its foldable design and bright backlit display.

Something about the old-style rectangular top-loading format of the Game Boy speaks to my past childhood.  I have missed the Pocket since I got rid of it because of its compact form factor and its vastly improved LCD display over the original Game Boy.  It was basically the Game Boy revised and fixed the biggest issue with the original Game Boy by using a crystal-clear and much more responsive LCD panel.

I ended up coming across one on eBay that was in really really good condition that didn’t break the wallet (increasingly difficult these days), and decided to jump on it.  I gotta say, I am very pleased with this beauty.  Just look at it!

I think the membranes are a little worn out on it, so I am planning on replacing those soon, but the over all condition is incredible. A nearly scratch-free lens, and fully intact and functioning pocket is back in my collection, this time permanently.  The display is just as beautiful as I recall too. While I really do enjoy my emulation devices, there are just some things that don’t translate well to emulation, or can’t even be emulated at all. Now, if I could just find wherever the hell my Game Boy Printer went to, and hope I didn’t leave batteries in it, I would be really happy… Digging through boxes is a task for another day though.  Time for some old school gaming!

Free Lumens (Kind of)

Attention: This content is 4 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading as its contents may now be outdated or inaccurate.

I recently flashed a modern OS on to my soda-can quad light, the BLF Q8. The refreshed interface on the light brought my interests back to it and had me wondering… what else could I do with this light? After doing some reading around on various forums, I found out that the Q8’s output could receive a significant increase in output with a few fairly simple mods! One mod is what is call a “spring bypass”. The Q8 uses gold plated steel springs, and while they’re okay, they’re not the best springs you can use, as they create some resistance between the batteries and the light. A spring bypass is basically soldering in a better conductor between the top and bottom of the spring so that is exactly what I decided to do. I already had everything I needed for this one, a soldering iron, solder, and some wire.  I used 18 gauge copper wire and made the connections. It wasn’t difficult, but my soldering iron is really showing its age and I need to upgrade to a better one sometime soon.  Here’s what my tail PCB looked like after modding:

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