Author Topic: Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight  (Read 543 times)

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Offline DaleReid

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Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight
« on: July 21, 2017, 02:09:38 PM »
I have experience with a couple regular Mark IIIs and now have three LR Mark IIIs.  The two that are around my immediate area are on different codes for transmitting, and have done well.  Until last winter that is. 

I have had the ISS stop sending.  It is the version with the circuit board in an oblong white box, with the solar panel on a pivot out base and a wire to hold it to one of three positons.  It is NOT the round one with the solar panel fixed vertically.

It stopped sending last winter and I assumed it was a combination of a unit I had gotten off the internet with a lesss than happy battery, plus a cloudy winter.  When the temps warmed enough to allow me to retrieve it, the 6 volt battery was down to about 3-4 volts, and swapping a used, but 'conditioned' gel cell with a nice multifunction battery tester/conditioner/charger with nearly 6.2 volts seemed to do the trick.  The local supplier of batteries wanted way too much for a replacement, so I went with one I thought tested good.  Now just recently, maybe 4 months after the swap, the ISS has stopped sending again.  I haven't retrieved the unit yet, but we have had a very sunny  summer, and the panel output was indicating voltage sufficinet that it should have kept a battery charged, or even brought a somewhat low one up on it's own.

Further, right now the unit, despite being in the sun, still isn't transmitting.

I'll of course check the battery and also voltages coming from the panel when I start in on this, but I'm wondering if there are voltage steering or charge regulators on the motherboard that could be shot since all the rest of the unit seems to function as it should except for this annoying problem.

Has any one had a Mark III with charging issues?  Is it repairable if sent in or is it now mainly trash? I like the way it functions otherwise and in this particular situation  I would even consider running DC up there and putting a charge on the battery through some self-added access and terminals just to keep it going.

Dale
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Offline WA7FWF

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Re: Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2017, 09:52:43 AM »
  I had a MKIII one time with a bad solar panel once that would measure the right voltage but give you almost no current,if you unplug the solar panel and put a current meter across the leads you could test if it is making power in full sun, also if everything is working correctly you should see the voltage get up to at least 7 when charging on a sunny day.

Kevin

Offline DaleReid

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Re: Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2017, 10:38:57 AM »
Thanks.  I will try that today since the heat index isn't going to be as brutal as the last couple days and sunshine is here already.  I haven't much experience with troubleshooting panels, so my thought was if there is voltage, all is OK.  That would be an easier fix than would be the board, but rather than send the unit back, if it is necessary, I could pull the board and send it for repair.  The darn thing works perfectly otherwise when a charged battery is in place.  I also need to run the gel-cell through a couple cycles on the battery conditioner ( a friend told me about the conditioners that Radio Control pilots use that is very good so I bought one and have had only a few chances to put it to good use.) 

Dale
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Offline WA7FWF

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Re: Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2017, 02:28:07 PM »
Kinda hard to recondition gel cells, on a wet plate lead acid you do a equalization over charge to knock off the sulfur and stir up the acid but with these batteries overcharging like that causes the rubber caps to vent and then the battery dries out. There are places that you can get new batts pretty cheap, pretty sure this is what's inside the MKIII, http://www.allelectronics.com/item/gc-64/6-volt-4.5-ah-gel-cell/1.html

Kevin

Offline DaleReid

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Re: Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2017, 08:14:33 PM »
Before winter sets in, I'll get a couple of these ordered and swap out the offending cells, but while waiting for them to show up, I'll do the check on the charging current from the panel.

Again, thanks for all the advice and the extra steps to find the economical 6 volt cell.  The local Battery's R Us wants about $34 for one after tax....
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Offline zeppline

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Re: Mark III holding battery charge, or charging with sunlight
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2017, 02:01:13 PM »
MY rainwise came with Duracell Ultra AGM SLA 6V 5AH Battery $22.00 dollars at batteryplus. 50 to 100 recharges from 0 volts. Rainwise has tested battery in a freezer for 6 months and it will still works.  On sunny days my battery charges at 7.05 volts. You can add a custom tag and see the voltage on your web site or main screen.

Rainwise MKlll w/ cc3000 logger Win 7