Author Topic: HC-2 opened up photo's  (Read 6398 times)

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HC-2 opened up photo's
« on: October 09, 2015, 12:08:34 PM »
Originally posted by TS on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on May 15, 2015

Hello all,

While wandering about the 'net looking at hardwire installation ideas
(how I wish I had a loco with a 9 pin plug in it already!) I came across
this which I thought might interest some.

http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?34308-Railpro-Start-UP-W-Pics/page2

On the second page, which the link points to there is a couple of
photo's showing the HC-2 opened up, which shows the rechargeable
batteries. They are nothing short of AA size in a clip so that means
you do not have to send it back them them like they say to change the
batteries.

Now, back to thinking of ways to shoehorn these modules in......

Best to you all,

Tim
Land of OZ

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2015, 12:08:46 PM »
Originally posted by kpack05 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 11, 2015

Tim,

I had seen this too a while ago.  I never had the guts to open up my unit (HC-1) because I'm mostly clueless when it comes to electronics.  I didn't want to take the risk of destroying something.

So question for all you electronic whizzes out there: would it be possible to change out the batteries for ones with a higher mAh rating?  Would that allow longer use time?  Would the unit be able to recognize the capacity of the batteries and therefore display the correct battery status information on the screen?

Just questions out of curiosity.  My HC-1 doesn't have quite the batteries that the HC-2 has, and I've been curious to see if they could be upgraded.  The current charge is more than sufficient for my needs, but a little more never hurts!

-Kevin

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2015, 12:08:59 PM »
Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 11, 2015

Longer battery life would be nice on the HC-2 also ;)

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2015, 12:09:13 PM »
Originally posted by kpack05 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 11, 2015

When I've been running, I seem to be able to use the HC for a very long time.  Usually I run for 30-45 minutes at a time a couple times a week, and I charge the HC once every other week.  It's when I'm updating or installing large files (prime movers) that my battery life gets wrecked!  How is it on the HC-2?

-Kevin

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2015, 12:09:29 PM »
Originally posted by goodbyemarissa on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 11, 2015

I ran from a full charge to almost empty in one session lasting just shy of 4 hours. Screen brightness set to 15%. The HC-2 probably would have made the full 4 hours and more but I didn't want to run until it died.

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2015, 12:09:41 PM »
Originally posted by picturemaker22 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 11, 2015

The batteries in my HC-2 last about 4 hours too. It is good to let these batteries run down to almost dead before charging them. They will develop a  "memory"  after a while if they are charged while still having a significant charge left in them.

I make sure I have a full charge before downloading anything from Ring. No problems so far.

Mel

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2015, 12:09:53 PM »
Originally posted by goodbyemarissa on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 11, 2015

I am no battery expert but I cannot see why installing higher capacity same chemistry batteries should cause any problems. In my mind it is no different than powering from a D cell instead of a C cell. The battery state of charge indicator is likely measuring battery voltage to calculate remaining charge. I doubt Ring would go to the expense of using something like coulomb counting or other more sophisticated measuring method. If true then the state of charge indicator and charging circuit should work the same regardless of the battery capacity.

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2015, 12:10:03 PM »
Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

I usually get a little over 4 hours from my HC-2. I just got a second one now as I am heading toward more serious sessions.
Loading updates is hard on the battery for sure.

My op sessions can be more than 4 hours long when I have guest operators and the break for lunch or supper is not long enough to fully recharge the HC-2.

I have been considering using a separate charging pack - the kind you use for a cel phone. I have a set of interchangeable tops for the charging battery I have but I don't have quite the right tip. yet. These batteries only provide 5v while the Ring Charger indicates 6v.

Once I locate a tip for it, I'll test it and see how it works.

- Bill

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2015, 12:10:14 PM »
Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

I measured the tip and I get 3.44mm outside and 1.09 inside.
So I'm thinking this is a 3.5mm x 1mm connector.

The battery pack I have has a 3.5mm x 1.3mm connector, which does not fit.

I was hoping I could find a pre-made 3ft USB cord on ebay, but I cant locate one with the right tip.

- Bill

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2015, 12:10:24 PM »
Originally posted by rgourley@... on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

My assumption is that Ring is using NiMH batteries, which can range from 1200 mAH to 2600 mAH, for an AA cell.  Therefore, if Ring went with lower capacity cells, 1200-1350 mAH, then you could easily double the capacity by switching to 2400-2600 mAH cells.  If Ring is already using the higher capacity cells, then increasing the number or size of the cells would be the only option.  That would involve modifying the battery holder.  I would not recommend switching to a different battery chemistry, as that could be extremely hazardous.  The cell voltages can be different (higher for LiPo), which if not accounted for, could damage the throttle.  Also, if not charged properly could result in a fire.

Without knowing how long it takes to recharge a throttle, I really can't speculate on what method Ring is using.  If they went with a low fixed current method, then it might not be possible to reach the full potential of the increased capacity.  This is due to the fact that the charging current used, is usually based on the capacity.  Also, since NiMH batteries can be damaged by overcharging, some chargers have a time limit, as well.  This might further impede the chances of the larger capacity cells reaching full charge.  If they used a delta V or delta T method, then there is a good chance that the increased capacity would be fully charged.  However, since the delta in voltage is not as pronounced, as with a NiCd battery and could be slightly different for a different brand or capacity, there could be a risk of overcharging.  Hopefully, Ring took into account potential increases in battery capacity and designed the charger accordingly.  If not, and they are using a fixed low current with time limit, then maybe the charging current and time could be updated via firmware.

As far as the battery indicator still being accurate with an increase in capacity, well it could go either way.  With alkaline batteries, the voltage decreases as the battery discharges and it's pretty much linear.  However, with a NiMH battery the voltage remains pretty constant, only dropping off once the charge is extremely low.  Therefore, there is not a direct correlation between voltage level and charge level.  Some level indicators can be as crude as just keeping track of the on time and calculating the level based on the average consumption rate and the battery capacity.  Therefore, if this method is used and the battery capacity value can't be updated, then the indicator will be inaccurate.  However, if the charging algorithm also calculates the battery capacity, then more than likely the indicator will be accurate.

If Ring, is using NiMH batteries, then there should not be any concern of the batteries developing a memory.  Therefore, there is no need to fully discharge them prior to charging.  In fact, fully discharging, especially multi-cell packs, can do more harm than good.  That is why most devices will automatically turn-off once the battery voltage drops below 1.1 to 1 volt.  Also, NiMH batteries self-discharge, so the batteries will discharge over time, even if the device is off.  Therefore, if a throttle has been sitting for a while, topping off the batteries prior to a run, would help extend the run time.  Placing the throttle on the charger between runs would also help extend the time.  The downside is, NiMH batteries have a limited number of times they can be cycled, I believe in the 250-500 range.  I've "heard" that those figures are based on deep cycling, letting the battery get down to say 10%, before charging.  Therefore, some claim that only letting the battery get down to 50% before charging, can increase the lifespan (number of cycles).

I don't have much hands-on experience with NiMH batteries, so this is all based on what I've heard from customers and peers.  To make matters worse, my memory is not what it used to be.  Therefore, I would view my information as more speculative, than factual.  I have to imagine there are a lot of published studies and white papers on the topic.  When I have more time, I'll do a little research to see what's out there.

Hopefully, this is somewhat helpful,

Rian

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2015, 12:10:46 PM »

Originally posted by TS on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

It's a good idea Bill, but I don't think it will work (oh, and going by
the specs on my charger I have a 1.4mm/3.5mm plug which fit's just
fine).

By the looks of things the HC-x can't be used while charging, I
tested this just now by plugging the charger into the HC-2 (the charger
was not connected to the wall outlet so it was not powered at all). The
HC-2 still thought it was charging and I could not get off the charging
screen until I unplugged the charger from the HC-2.

It really is strange they did not give it the capability to be used
while charging /with external power applied; Just about every battery
powered device these days can do it. Having external power supplied
(via charger or USB) would be very useful while downloading and
transferring files, and external power, such as those emergency battery
packs for mobile phones would be extremely useful for operating;
4 hours is no where long enough, especially if one uses it at a train
show for example.

The design isn't good either, it would be great if there was just a
simple slide cover over the batteries and you could just simply change
them like any remote control but no, they made that task difficult too.

Tim
Land of OZ

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2015, 12:10:58 PM »
Originally posted by kpack05 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

Rian - Great information, thanks for sharing.  I believe that Railpro uses NiMH, but I will have to double-check that.  I might go ahead and open up my unit this weekend and see what type and what capacity they have.

The discharge rate is not linear, so I do not believe it is on a simple timer.  The battery will discharge much quicker if you are performing major software updates and/or transferring large files.


Tim - Yes, the controller can't be used while charging which I'm not a huge fan of either.  I believe there is a switch in the charging port that senses the presence of the plug, which then activates the charging circuit whether or not the cable is actually plugged into a wall outlet.  I haven't talked to Tim about this, but I'm assuming that can be changed with a firmware update.  It certainly would be nice to have the unit plugged in when downloaded/updating/transferring files.  I'll shoot him an email and see what the response is.

-Kevin

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2015, 12:11:08 PM »
Originally posted by William Brillinger on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

I also just emailed Tim about charging during use.

I don't think there is a switch aside from "software." My HC-2 is fully charged right now, and plugin the adapter in does not cause the charging screen to come up and the unit can be used normally.  I'll deplete the battery a bit and try again.

- Bill

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2015, 12:11:20 PM »
Originally posted by goodbyemarissa on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

The no-user-serviceable-parts (batteries) may be a result of trying to limit liability and legal issues in our lawyer filled world. In a conversation I had with Tim long ago regarding removal of a module plastic case for fitment purposes he stated it should not be done because of, among other reasons, potential fire issues (exposed module board touching loco resulting in short). As the discussion progressed it was clear to me Tim was, rightfully so, doing his best to limit any potential for a problem rather than advise on best means of using an un-cased module. I don't blame him for this approach. Even a frivolous lawsuit would cost his small company a wad of cash. I can easily imagine some moron installing the wrong batteries and then hiring an ambulance chaser after they catch fire.

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Re: HC-2 opened up photo's
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2015, 12:11:32 PM »
Originally posted by kpack05 on the RailPro Users Yahoo! Group on Jun 12, 2015

Definitely agree on the liability part.  I completely understand where Tim is coming from on this and fully expect him (and support him) in covering and protecting himself and the company.  Experimentation like this would obviously have to be done without any blessing from Ring Engineering at our own risk.

Bill - I also sent Tim an email just now.  I asked about the batteries, but I suspect he will not be too forthcoming about possibilities of switching them, for the reasons mentioned above.  I hope to hear from him regarding the charging issue though.  We'll see what he says.

-Kevin