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Exterior Battery Charger Connections (Read 423 times)
Oldfeller--FSO
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Exterior Battery Charger Connections
10/19/08 at 05:55:44
 
NOTE:  ALL VOLT/OHM READINGS ADJUSTED AFTER THE FACT.  THIS WAS DONE AFTER RECALIBRATING SWING NEEDLE UNIT AND RECHECKING VOLTAGES WITH FLUKE/BECKMAN MULTIFUNCTION UNIT.



Yoda saw me working on my bikes this morning and he started in on me asking why I keep taking my batteries out of my lesser used bikes in the winter time.    He said it was a test of my comprehension of the ways of the Force, so I had to try to answer him as best I could.

I tried to explain to him that when it gets cold I mostly ride the Savage as 1) it is the nimble get around town bike and it has the saddle bags and 2) I am not going on a long trip in the cold so I don't need the touring bike so much and 3) I don't plan to be going over 100 mph or go out dicing corners at high speed when the wind chill factor would take the finger and ear temperature down to way cold very negative numbers, so I won't be needing the squid bike.  

Because I don't ride the other bikes very much when it is cold, it is just plain smarter to take the batteries out and store them indoors (giving them a bump charge every month or so until spring time).  This way the batteries don't go bad on me and I don't have to fork over big bucks in the spring for new batteries.  

Yoda wasn't impressed with my logic, he thought my thinking was very poor and I missed the point about batteries entirely.

"Ah, my young Paduwan -- so little you know to think you know so much.  For your ignorance, your challenge to go to Radio Shack and Harbor Freight is.  Flow with the Force you must.  A way to ride your bikes all winter long and not hurt your batteries you will discover.  $20 here is -- a solution installed on at least one bike before the sun sets you must or your light saber you lose for another 6 months ..."

Shoot, I hate that.  Just got my light saber back not more'n a week ago from the last six months screw up.  I think he just likes picking on me and taking my light saber away for no good reason.

So, I take the 20 spot and head on out to Harbor Freight.  I figured they must have the charger there as Radio Shack doesn't carry bike or car stuff.  This thinking worked out pretty good, the girl behind the checkout told me they had a $10.00 float charger on sale for $5.99 this week.  Spec on the charger was ideal for a bike, less than an amp output and it has electronics to keep the voltage to exactly 13.5 volts and the current goes way down to near zero when the battery gets "full" so it won't overcharge and boil out the battery.  Money was right, it was on sale -- must be what Master had in mind.

Next stop, Radio Shack -- but why was I sent there?  I didn't have a clue, but it did occur to me to go to the one nearest to the swamp.  Maybe I could scope out what Master had in mind if I could maybe ask and find out what he had been looking at lately??

The girl behind the counter clearly remembered the old floopy eared rascal that had patted her on the behind as he left just last week.  He had been asking her for audio termination supplies that were in a low cabinet that made her bend way over to get out the various stuff he said he was looking for.  

Looking at the girl, I knew what Master was really looking at and I asked her a question just to get some verification.  Yep, he never did buy anything ...  just fingered the packages, dropped a few on the floor for her to pick up,  chuckled some and left.  She pointed out the cabinet where the various ocular misdeeds had been done to her so I went over and pulled it open.

Stereo stuff, plug ends, connectors and stuff.  There were some that had more greasy finger prints than others, so I got a few of each well fingered type and went back to the counter.

I took out the charger and put it out next to the connectors.  Hmmm .. the only clue from my quest challenge that seemed to apply was "you must have the solution installed on at least one bike by the time the sun sets".  Something has to be installed --- hey, could he be after some method to quickly connect and disconnect the float charger to the bike?  

I mean you'd have to take the seat off any of my 3 bikes to use the alligator clips that come with the float charger.  If you could use a stereo jack to do the connection, heck you could just unplug it and ride -- then replug back in when you returned.  Quick and easy ....

Of the packages I took out of the drawer, only two were same-same on the connection ends -- male/female versions of a simple inexpensive solder on stereo connector.  I knew they had to be the ones because they were the cheapest ones.  Well, relatively cheap anyway (it's Radio Shack, remember?  Ain't nothing cheap at Radio Shack).  

Also I noted that this simple uncomplicated jack could make a ground connection to the chassis with the threads that mounted it AND that the protruding male positive on the mating jack that would be in your hand would never be able to make a shorting connection to the battery powered jack (a consideration to worry about if you have ever directly shorted out a battery and damaged a screw driver doing it).  

As long as you hit the hole, you would be safe on all fronts.  Failing to hit the hole would not make a big flash and smoke, just a tiny spark from the charger's output.  Since the jack is simple and the hole is relatively large, even Master Yoda could hit it after an evening of sniffing his funny smelling herbs and drinking his swamp root potions.

The two packages had enough connectors to do all my bikes but between the two of them they cost a good bit more than the float charger did at Harbor Freight.



I paid the nice lady, told her she had really pretty brown eyes (just to prove I had actually looked up once at her eyes) then I hopped on my bike and beat it back to the garage.  I took out my soldering iron and my drill bits and a 1/4" National Fine (28 threads per inch) tap and immediately hit a wall -- where is a piece of metal that is exposed the outside of the bike that will allow you to tap the female connector directly into sheet metal to get a negative ground connection and still allow you to run a wire in a protected fashion over to the positive battery terminal?   This is easier to say than to do, believe me.

I figured I'd try on the oldest bike first in case I screwed something up.  Plus there isn't near as much sheet metal available on my squid bike so it would be the more difficult task anyway.  After considerable study, I found a piece of sheet metal that met the requirements and I drilled and tapped me a 1/4-28 hole, ran the wire through a rubber grommet that was used to run the wiring for the turn signals, ran it out through the new tapped hole and hit a snag.  First, if I solder the thing on to the wire how am I going to turn it 20 times to thread it all the way in?  Next, the bumper isn't flat -- gonna look ugly and have a potential to rust up the hole over time from rain water.  Not good.

Looked in my junk and found me an "O" ring that matched the male thread on the connector (which fixed the rain water issue) and it also took up 10 turns on the thread.  I soldered the connector in place after threading on a piece of heat shrink tubing and then the "O" ring.  Solder job went well, I then put the "O" ring on the threads and then shrank the tubing over the solder joint to make everything nice and water proof and strong.



Now, I made a big loop of wire inside the fender then I counter-rotated the connector 12 times (winding the wire counterclockwise) and then screwed it into the sheet metal 10 turns clockwise plus one turn to compress the "O" ring.  Then I pulled the wire back back up through the fender into the underseat area through the rubber grommet all nice and snug.  Then I ran the wire over under around and about until it came up to the solder joint where the screw on terminal was factory soldered and crimped on to the big positive red lead (so I had me some existing solder to solder the little wire on to to make a good connection).  

Easy peasy so far -- then I proceeded to check to make sure I had continuity where I wanted it and a ground to the metal chassis where I wanted it.  Yeah, so far so good -- now some red gasket sealant over the inside of the fender where the heat shrink tubing and the raw threads came through and are exposed to tire thrown water (can't have that nice metal to metal ground contact in those threads getting corroded).



You can see the little brown wire running here and there and everywhere going back to the rear fender.  Time for the final continuity and ground checks and ......

Schist on a stick !!!  It is leaking nearly 100 milliamps of current !!!!

I said me some things that would have cost me my saber for a year, easy.  But Yoda wasn't around to hear them.  Besides, cussing isn't totally darkside -- Yoda does it sometimes when I slide him off my shoulders down on his head by accident when we are doing his stupid old Force coordination training drills.  He don't hold on all that good while he's all doubled over laughing at me ....

Check it again -- hey! no milliamps leak!!  Check it again -- now it leaks.   Switch the leads -- no leak, switch the leads -- it leaks.  Touch the center post of the installed mating jack with the black point -- it leaks.  Touch the center with the red point, it doesn't leak.  WTF ??!!

Ah!  Diode bridge in the regulator/rectifier -- shows milliamps leakage when current flows with the bridge, shuts off all current flow when current flow tries to go the other way -- that's how it turns AC from the stator into DC.  Now I feel better -- it might just work fine the way it is.  Tiny current from the volt-ohm meter is going through the bridge through all the coils and giving me a test resistance of the stator.  Like to give me a heart attack -- I thought I was screwed.

Now for the charger connector.  Only trick here is to figure out a way to strain-relief the wiring real good as this is the one that is going to get yanked on all the time.  Stacked heat-shrink tubing made up an interference fit to the cable for good strain relief while insulating the wire joints at the same time.



Now for a little clever touch -- I preserved the ability to use the alligator clips by reattaching them to a spare bike fitting.  The 'gator clips plug in just like a bike does.  

Yoda should approve, I don't have to run out and go buy another charger for them larger alligator type batteries.

So, the sun is still up and I take my solution out to the swamp to show Master Yoda.  He grunts, pulls on the fitting on the charger to make sure it is firmly attached, asks me what output voltage I am getting (13.5 volts on the nose) and he asks how much it all cost, all total, which was $17.53 with parts left over to do an extra bike later on.

"Keep the change" he sez.  

Well, I just about let the bike drop on the ground and my jaw with it.  Keep the change ??!!  Never ever before  .....!!!

"Well you did -- preserving the use of the charger for other batteries. Proper use of the Force, it was.  Tomorrow give you another harder test we will -- see if this excellent progress you can continue."

Whups -- another test tomorrow?  A harder test than this one ??

Shocked   Shocked   Shocked

Being a Jedi is hard, sometimes I wonder if it is worth it.

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« Last Edit: 12/31/08 at 13:25:53 by Oldfeller--FSO »  

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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #1 - 10/19/08 at 05:58:31
 
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Re: Quick connect float charger <$20 installed
Today at 12:48:14 Alert Board Moderator about this Post! Quote
Oldfeller wrote on Today at 03:37:11:
Spec on the charger was ideal for a bike, less than an amp output and it has electronics to keep the voltage to exactly 12.5 volts..


Oldfeller wrote on Today at 03:37:11:
..asks me what output voltage I am getting (12.5 volts on the nose)..


Are you really sure it only gives you 12.5 volts? If it does, you've built and documented an automatic battery drainer.


     

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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #2 - 10/19/08 at 05:59:15
 
Normal charging is plus voltage and moderate to high amperage.  A new battery reads 13-13.5 volts when fully charged.  You go into total discharge and have a cell going flat if you go below 12.0 volts.

Goal of a float charger is to offer no more than 13.2 volts at a mild positive current flow when the battery is "full".  This does not overcharge the battery and boil out the electrolite or cause the plates to form lead sulfates.  It does not "supercharge" the battery like a fast charger does.

What is does do is keep the battery at a steady moderate charge state (alive and charged no matter how cold it gets) such that it will always start when asked, yet it does no damage to the battery being hooked up all the time.

For example, voltage from the charger is 14.5 volts when a partially discharged battery was first connected to it.  It ran this way for most of an hour and then dropped to 13.5 volts (and the violent bubbling stopped too).

Looking at a battery tender site, the Battery Tender brand says it never float charges at a rate of over 13.2 volts as that is the bubble point of a modern lead acid battery.

Obviously, this is a cheap Harbor Freight charger that has been adapted for easy use -- I will report on if it works well or causes battery failure during cold weather.  As such I will pull the posting from Tech Section and put it in Rubber Side Down until the system proves itself out.

Oldfeller
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« Last Edit: 10/19/08 at 15:32:51 by Oldfeller--FSO »  

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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #3 - 10/19/08 at 06:56:01
 
Oldfeller--FSO wrote on 10/19/08 at 05:59:15:
Goal of a float charger is to offer exactly 12.5 volts at a mild positive current flow when the battery is "full".  This does not overcharge the battery and boil out the electrolite or cause the plates to form lead sulfates.  It does not "supercharge" the battery like a fast charger does.

What is does do is keep the battery at a steady moderate charge state (alive and charged no matter how cold it gets) such that it will always start when asked, yet it does no damage to the battery being hooked up all the time.

Looking at a battery tender site, the Battery Tender brand says it never charges at a rate of over 13.2 volts as that is the bubble point of a modern lead acid battery.

Obviously, this is a cheap Harbor Freight charger that has been adapted for easy use -- I will report on if it works well or causes battery failure during cold weather.  As such I will pull the posting from Tech Section and put it in Rubber Side Down until the system proves itself out.

Oldfeller


Ah, it's only a float charger to keep the batteries topped up after being fully charged during riding? It would still be better if the voltage was higher. Battery Tenders have 14.4 volts during bulk charge mode and 13.2 volts in float charge mode. Have you checked what kind of voltages your bike batteries have, do they drop clearly below 12.5 volts? I once measured 12.74 volts after the bike had sat still for over 3 weeks. At least in that case 12.5 volt float charger would have done nothing except drain the battery a bit.
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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #4 - 10/19/08 at 07:21:21
 
The particular bike shown charges batteries at 15.5 to 17 volts and it tends to boil electrolite down the full range over the course of a summer.  It never has battery issues until winter comes and it stops being ridden frequently.

The battery registers 14.5 to 15 volts when you finish a ride.  This drops to 13 to 13.5 after an overnight rest.
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« Last Edit: 10/19/08 at 10:37:14 by Oldfeller--FSO »  

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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #5 - 10/19/08 at 10:27:03
 
For curiosity, I pulled out my Fluke/Beckman true RMS meter and checked on the voltage.  I know that simple magnetic swing needle volt/ohm meters see the world differently from a digital gage that senses both high and low ranges and filters them into a true RMS reading.  Digitals tend to see direct current at higher voltages than swing needle unit does and since you are giving info in two decimal places I bet you have a digital volt/ohm meter.

Plus, I haven't adjusted my cheapie swing needle working tool in a while, other than to zero the needle motion to the zero point on the scale.

Fluke/Beckman sees max spike on voltage on a pulsating DC current coming from the float charger at 14.50-14.85 volts raw (no load).  

When buffered by hooking up to the battery in question, voltage rises to 14.90 to 15.15 volts but drops after an hour to 14.70 - 14.90.  This is the top of the voltage spike, the fully averaged setting shows 13.55 - 13.75 volts.

PS my working swing needle was off by nearly a volt when needle zeroed compared to the average many reading buffered setting on the Fluke/Beckman.  I tuned the swing needle up a volt so it shows same same as the better digital tool does in full average mode.  

Now, rub is that the Fluke/Beckman hasn't been calibrated in a long time -- I should carry it into work and get it calibrated by the Gage Lab.  Still, I think there are differences between the way a swing needle unit sees things and a digital unit see things because a swing needle's intertia simply never shows any true peak readings.

For clarity's sake (and since I was wrong and my gage was out of whack) I will modify the initial postings with the adjusted readings.
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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #6 - 10/19/08 at 11:57:47
 
Oldfeller--FSO wrote on 10/19/08 at 10:27:03:
When buffered by hooking up to the battery in question, voltage rises to 14.90 to 15.15 volts but drops after an hour to 14.70 - 14.90.  This is the top of the voltage spike, the fully averaged setting shows 13.55 - 13.75 volts.


That's much better. 12.5V output sounded like a bit useless even as a float charge.
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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #7 - 11/02/08 at 01:54:24
 
Last week I had occasion to swing by Harbor Freight and I picked up some buck and a half worth of heat shrink tubing (a lifetime supply for me) and a three dollar digital volt/ohm meter to leave out in the garage.  

Not bad for $3.00, not wonderful, but not bad at all.  Nobody has an excuse not to have a volt ohm meter when $3.00 buys you a functional digital tool.

Set the Savage up with a float charge jack similar to what was discussed above.  Used the thick aluminum casting that supports the sissy bar since it is well grounded in several locations and it is aluminum and will not quickly corrode the tapped thread junction on the electrical jack.

The Savage really needs this sort of exterior charging connector as it is a plum pain in the ass to get to the battery to charge it.  Seat, two side covers, battery box lid, backup plate and physically pulling the battery all have to come off just to get to the battery with a clip charger.  That my friends is "a right pain in the ass" to do.




Now I am all set up for winter use for the two bikes I would ride during the cold months.  And I have one more spare jack left over for something else.

It occurs to me that a seldom used car could benefit from this same trick (and I drive my car less than I do my bikes, even in the winter time).





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Re: Yoda's Quest
Reply #8 - 11/02/08 at 03:44:45
 
I bought one of thoe $3.00 Ohm meters. I like it. It stays near the battery charge station, where I have a battery organizer & 3 chargers. Im tired of dead alkalines.
My older meter, from Radio Shack, is in the Electrical drawer of the tool box. In the shop.
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Re: Exterior Battery Charger Connections
Reply #9 - 01/16/09 at 20:21:53
 
It's getting down to 10 degrees tonight, likely about as cold as it will get this year in North Carolina.

To celebrate the chilliest night of the year I went out and plugged in my Savage to keep the battery toasty warm all night long.

Instead of taking 20-30 minutes of fumbling in the cold to get to the battery, it took me less than 10 seconds to get it all hooked up.

I like this mod -- sorta a practical type of thing to have.  

Tomorrow I will be able to start right on up -- even though it will still be cold as the dickens my battery will be HOT HOT HOT  !!!
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