Author Topic: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge  (Read 13029 times)

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« on: November 14, 2010, 09:16:03 pm »
This was the winner in my hunt for portable power.


exciting!



confusing!



watertight...




On the bike



Bit of a mess o cables



So- what you get is a silicon wrapped portable battery which can be charged by mains, USB, or dyno-hub.
There are dire warnings in the packaging of blowing out the regulator if the charge isn't going anywhere, so I've wired mine up with the Cyo. I haven't found the reduction in light output is significant. Crucially, it just works. I ride around with my phone doing the most power-hungry stuff it can think of (and it has feeble battery life) and it charges up. Generally it takes a couple of hours from empty to full- roughly comparable to off the mains. There's a whole bunch of connector heads included but I found these a bit flimsy and have reverted to the data/charge cable that came with the phone. Extra connections were just a weak link in waterproofing and vibration shake made them come loose. The non-specific device mount is pretty good but I've managed to lose it somewhere  ::-) It also is worth carrying around off the bike giving a couple of full charges from the battery. It'll charge anything which is USB chargeable, including, ironically, my emergency bike lights.
I'm very pleased with it. Worth waiting (several weeks!) for.
If some techno-bod could make a switch that attached to the connector so I had the choice of light/charge/both it would be PERFECT.

TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2010, 10:38:18 am »
Kewl.
Getting there...

Tim

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2010, 10:42:58 am »
There's one at home waiting for the bike to come back to attach it to.

I think that cabling the dynohub to a splitting point behind the headtube which has contacts for both plugging in lights and charger would be worthwhile. That'll require a short while spent with heat shrink, crimping and spade connectors. Maybe even an inline switch to be able to turn off power to either.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2011, 05:31:11 pm »
HK had some problems with her Reecharge failing to charge her iPhone yesterday. The Solidlights worked fine though. Some headscratching and possibly fettling awaits. I suspect that HK has ridden without the battery connected and that some electronic Dahon gubbins has expensively gone 'fizz'.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2011, 05:42:49 pm »
If these things are cooking zener diodes when unloaded then they're as bad at circuit design (or perhaps as slow on a bike) as I am!   :facepalm:
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2011, 07:14:35 pm »
I'm fastidious about keeping the battery charging while I'm riding. So far so good. The cables occasionally jolt loose and can be a bit of a bugger to re-seat tightly on the move.
The blooming phone however has taken an intermittent huff about charging and periodically refuses to do so without a reboot. I also seem to have short life data cables that only last about 3 weeks.
The device has been rained on snowed on and spent all day in pea soup fog and no water ingress.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2011, 07:19:22 pm »
Yup, the weather protection of the Reecharge and iPhone mount is sufficient. It does annoy that there is an adaptor required to charge an iPhone, even though it is the same plug type.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2011, 07:25:52 pm »
Is that because of Apple's 'creative' interpretation of the USB dumb charging standard?
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2011, 07:36:23 pm »
I don't know enough to understand the question. Ask me about big things you can see, not those funny electron-type things.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 08:40:35 pm »
Ah, it's those wee bastard USB plugs, you see.  They were originally intended for connecting things to computers, some of which needed power (keyboards, mice and the like).  Hence they've got two wires for data and two wires for power.  Then they became popular, and a de-facto easy way of obtaining small amounts of power from computers.  Then they became a standard for charging gadgets.

But the USB specification dictates that a device may only draw a limited amount of power from a computer's USB port, which wasn't quite enough to charge a phone or whatever in a sensible amount of time.  No problem - just provide a mains adaptor with a USB socket on it that can supply plenty of power for charging.  Fine.  Until you plug the phone into a computer and it draws too much current from the USB port and something bad happens (typically, the port shuts itself down until you turn the computer off), which isn't going to get anything done...

So they decided to be clever: have the phone determine whether it's plugged into a mains charger or a computer, and only try to draw an appropriate amount of current.  The standard way of doing this is for the charger to connect the two data pins (which aren't doing anything on a simple charger) together through a low-value resistor.  The phone spots this and starts fast-charging.  (When connected to a computer, it can actually negotiate the amount of power it can take by communicating on the data bus, but that's a bit too involved for a simple charger.)

And then Apple came along, and in their capacity as the New Evil Empire decided to be different.  The iPhone charger identifies itself by putting specific voltages on the data pins, rather than connecting them together.  Consequently, an iPhone won't charge on the vast majority of generic chargers, and there's no easy way of telling what will work with what.  The special adaptor presumably provides the Apple-style charger identification voltages on the data pins.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2011, 01:49:33 pm »
What you've said makes sense but it seems bloody stupid that the ReeCharge doesn't just output Apple-approved voltage as standard.  It already has some electronic trickery wrapped up with the battery and it is advertised alongside the Dahon iPhone Bike Mount.  I guess the other connections work better with a dumb output, rather than an Apple-regulated output.

Never mind, there are other charging hassles with this arrangement that I need to get sorted.  It seems that this ReeCharge will only recharge a iPhone (2 phones tested) if the ReeCharge is nearly full.  It charges a phone when there are three battery capacity LEDs lit and for a short time (5-10 minutes) with two LEDs lit before there is one of two warning messages randomly displayed and the phone stops charging, "Charging is not supported on this accessory".  The other warning has the same text below a warning triangle.

I've tried charging the ReeCharge via the wall adaptor and simultaneously charging the iPhone.  It works for a time when two LEDs are lit and,  around the time the third LED starts randomly flashing, charging stops and the warning appears again. 

HK and I suspect that something similar was occurring during Saturday's Willy Warmer when her iPhone kept displaying this warning and drained the internal battery rather quickly.  The Reecharge appeared not to be charged by the continuously connected hub dynamo, despite the the green input LED lighting up as expected. The red output LED appeared to be working.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2011, 02:00:33 pm »
"Charging is not supported on this accessory".  The other warning has the same text below a warning triangle.

That sort of thing usually means the voltage has dropped below that needed to charge.  I've noticed my Nokia isn't entirely happy with a USB-spec 5.0V, needing more like 5.2V (IIRC the USB spec has a maximum voltage of 5.25V, and many wall chargers do seem to output something towards the top end of the permitted range) to charge when its internal battery is mostly depleted.  It will unhelpfully refuse to charge at all when supplied with 5.0V on a completely flat battery.

The great thing about standards...   :facepalm:
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2011, 05:27:28 pm »
Having just repaired boab's ReeCharge, some thoughts:

Firstly, the battery unit really isn't bad.  It does what it says on the tin.  They've done a pretty good job at splashproofing a USB socket.  Sadly it's not completely waterproof, as there was some evidence of water ingress inside, and the switches benefited from a good squirt of contact cleaner.  I thought the soldering on the input socket was a bit iffy, and re-made the connections using proper solder with lead in.


The fault turned out to be with the module that converts dynamo current to regulated 6V DC:



This can easily be prised open with a flathead screwdriver to reveal the innards:


I'm really rather unimpressed by this.  It's a simple bridge rectifier and linear regulator design, so the efficiency is relatively poor, and quite a bit of power is wasted as heat in normal use.  More critically, there isn't any form of overvoltage protection on the input - my fears about it cooking a zener diode clamp were unfounded - they didn't even bother with that!

A hub dynamo is effectively a constant-current source, and is capable of producing very high voltages if spinning fast with a light electrical load.  If this regulator unit is connected to a dynamo and isn't either actively charging the ReeCharge battery or in parallel with a lighting load, the dynamo voltage can easily exceed the rating of the reservoir capacitor (that's the big electrolytic in the top left of the picture) and the voltage regulator (the three-legged semiconductor device top right).

...which is exactly what had happened:



As you can see, the capacitor's electrolyte had boiled and ruptured the can in a puff of Magic Smoke.  There's no obvious cosmetic damage to the regulator IC, but it was also non-functional.  Fortunately these are cheap standard components, and it's a straightforward job with a soldering iron to replace them.  If you've got the same problem, you'll need a 25V 1000μF electrolytic capacitor (watch the polarity!) with a nice high maximum temperature rating and an L7806CV 6V voltage regulator.  A 50V capacitor would be even better (as the input voltage could then safely rise to the 35V maximum rating of the regulator before damage), but I didn't have one that would physically fit inside the case.

So, if you've got one of these it's imperative to avoid travelling at high speed with the converter unit connected, especially if it isn't actively charging something or you don't have the lights on.  Fitting a switch as described by Feline in this thread is probably a good idea.  I'd also suggest that connecting a couple of zener diodes back-to-back across its input might be a good idea:

o to regulator in o
|                 |
|     D1    D2    |
+-----Z<---->Z----+
|                 |
|                 \  Sw1
|                 |
|                 |
o   from dynamo   o

(excuse the ASCII art)

Sw1 would be any single-pole switch capable of breaking an amp or so.  Main priority is waterproofing and mechanical design.  D1 and D2 are zener diodes with a zener voltage of somewhere between about 9V (the lowest needed by the regulator) and 25V (the rating of the reservoir capacitor).  I'd opt for 25V to keep heat dissipation in the zeners down, and to have as little effect on clever LED lights (that might make use of higher voltages) as possible.  The diodes need a nice high power rating - they're going to dissipate several watts on fast descents - and you'll need to work out where this heat is going to go.

Experience suggests that zener clamps like this tend to burn out eventually, but they usually fail short-circuit, which will avoid damaging the ReeCharge.  And if you've built it once, you can build it again.

Some dynamos (usually bottle dynamos) have this voltage limiting built in.

Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2011, 08:13:41 pm »
My experiences of the Reecharge are in this post:

http://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=51443.210

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2012, 03:54:37 pm »
A  little experiment  with  the food  processor http://youtu.be/ypPDhNUsGUc has produced  a  very simple  fix for the  REEcharge.
The  circuit  below is connected  in parallel with the  REEcharge, You  could  connect only the zener,  resistor and SCR across the  REEcharge's own bridge rectifier probably  rendering  the  resistors shown in Kims pic redundant. The limiter  would latch  on and  not  reset  until you  stopped. If  lights  were connected  in parallel (probably not usual)  that would  mean a high speed descent  into sudden darkness  :facepalm:


http://i1191.photobucket.com/albums/z468/hedley_a/SON%20Hub%20and%20Pedal%20Power%20Tests/DahonLimiter.jpg

The  circuit is  simplicity  itself, the  AC is  full wave  rectified  and  un-smoothed. On each 1/2 cycle  of the  AC input if the  voltage goes  above  24  Volts - Unloaded  generator then Zener  conducts  Triggers  SCR  which Crowbars  the  supply. It  does not  go to zero due  to 2xdiode and  SCR  forward  voltage drops. As  the  AC drops  to zero volts  the  Crowbar  resets  ready  for  the  next  AC half  cycle.




Here's  what  you  get  from a  SON hub with  no load shocking stuff


Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2012, 04:11:28 pm »
My Reecharge is in parallel with my light. I would still need to fit a switch to isolate the Reecharge at night, but this would be worse because currently I can run the light and the Reecharge if I need to, with that I wouldn't be able to risk doing that. If I have understood correctly!

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2012, 05:05:33 pm »
No, I have  included   the  options and warned  people about what  will happen if  they  modify  the  design without understanding  it.

Actually  you can use just  two Anti-Parallel thyristors  on the AC input. I only  used  the  bridge  because I had only one thyristor in my bits  box



Andrew

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2012, 06:29:27 pm »
An old thread but hopefully my question is relevant to it.

My Dahon reecharge works perfectly on my GPS but not at all for my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Europa). There's no micro usb supplied with the Dahon (or I've lost it!) so I'm using the USB cable provided with the phone, which works fine if recharging the phone from a computer. If I use that same cable plugged into the Dahon, the phone does not charge. No message, nothing. I presume I need another type of cable... but which type?

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2012, 12:49:01 pm »
No, not another type of cable.
The Dahon battery isn't kicking out enough amps for your phone.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2012, 12:55:51 pm »
I don't know the phone - but it might need the data lines shorted together to indicate a dumb power source.  When you plug a USB device into a computer with a straight-through cable, it actively negotiates how much power it can draw...

*Then* you get the issue of whether the battery pack can source the current that the phone is expecting from a dumb charger.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Andrew

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #20 on: September 10, 2012, 03:24:41 pm »
The Dahon battery isn't kicking out enough amps for your phone.

I must admit, I just assumed it would since it can charge iPhones etc. So I looked at the specs for the Dahon....

Quote
USB 2.0 output at 5V adaptive 200mA ~ 850mA depending on devices

the phone's wall charger outputs 700mA so I think the Dahon should manage that.

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2012, 03:58:18 pm »
It could have something to do with the data cables. If I plug my Garmin Edge into the Dahon with a normal mini USB cable then it sends it into PC mode. You have to open and solder together the data cables inside the cable to make it just charge the Edge. It's possible you have an issue like this with the phone. Worth asking Dahon directly?

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2012, 04:20:46 pm »
My dahon battery doesn't kick out enough oomph for my phone, nothing to do with the cable. Since I've had a decent cache battery I've been appalled how poor the dahon battery is.
It was enough for it's predecessor, but I now have a Galaxy sII and it just doesn't cut the mustard for it.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2012, 04:26:02 pm »
Have you run it connected for a bit and verified that the battery level doesn't go up?  It's possible the phone could fail to acknowledge the charge onscreen but still get some current into the battery.

Re: Dahon Ecologic REEcharge
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2012, 06:37:20 pm »
My dahon battery doesn't kick out enough oomph for my phone, nothing to do with the cable. Since I've had a decent cache battery I've been appalled how poor the dahon battery is.
It was enough for it's predecessor, but I now have a Galaxy sII and it just doesn't cut the mustard for it.

+1 to the Dahon pack being a bit rubbish compared to the newer Pebbles and Technets now out there.

I would use one of those instead if it wasn't for the one crucial thing the Dahon pack can do that the others cannot, and that is charge up whilst simultaneously charging something. It's also waterproof/resistant which can be a bit of a plus riding in Wales.

I'm basically using my Reecharge pack as a buffer between the dynohub and gadget in case of current-spikey DETH. I've found if I ride all afternoon with it charging the Garmin, by nightfall both the Garmin and battery pack are fully charged and I can then turn the charging from the hub off and ride all night with the Garmin backlight on. Usually at about 3am the Garmin will tell me external power has gone off, but it is at that point fully charged so there's no problem waiting until daylight to turn the dynohub back from lighting to charging.

This system for multi-day rides just wouldn't work with a pack that couldn't charge and be charged at the same time. The largest Technet would however offer so many Garmin charges that you wouldn't need to recharge it at all for several days anyway. I've recently wondered whether dynamo charging might be a bit pointless when you could actually just buy as many Technets as you need for your ride/tour. Would the extra weight of having more than one of these be worse than the drag of keeping a hub charging all day?