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FYI: Phase One BP-9xx battery issues

docholliday

Active member
I did, but I must admit I've haven't used it yet. I do have one battery that has been misbehaving I think, so now I have a good reason to use it!
Awesome! I didn't think I'd use it as much as I do, but since I had it, all my packs have been cycled/tested and their capacity with date written on a sticker on the battery. That way, I can check it again at a later date to compare how the battery is doing (and/or pack quality).

If you do something like I've done, either use a Sharpie on the pack itself (some PEC-12 will remove the marker) or put the sticker on the bottom END of the pack (door/latch side) so that it doesn't get stuck in the back!
 

kdphotography

Active member
Wow---thanks for doing all the background and legwork.

I've never like the old Hahnel charger---that one seemed to fall apart or get banged up if I even looked at it funny. The new Hahnel Cube is much better in terms of durability.

Dolgin Engineering TC400 4-Position Charger for Canon BP-900 seems to be the one to put on my list...

ken
 

docholliday

Active member
Wow---thanks for doing all the background and legwork.

I've never like the old Hahnel charger---that one seemed to fall apart or get banged up if I even looked at it funny. The new Hahnel Cube is much better in terms of durability.

Dolgin Engineering TC400 4-Position Charger for Canon BP-900 seems to be the one to put on my list...

ken
You're all welcome...glad the effort helps! Yes, the TC400 is the one I have. It's great as it will charge all 4 batteries simultaneously and rapidly. The readout is also nice as you know where you're at capacity-wise, not just percentage, if you do need to pull off charge early. The Cube is nicer than the old Twin-V, but I still prefer the Dolgin. It makes the Cube feel like a plastic toy (both physically and feature-wise)!

You can sometimes find the Dolgin's used on Ebay. If you are buying new, they have "Cosmetically Imperfect" ones that'll save a few hundred bucks. Also, there's an option for the "TDM" (Test-Discharge Module) that's nice to have since you can cycle packs and tell how much wear they have and which to replace. The other thing I like is that it's a truly-professional piece of gear and that you can get replacement battery plates or have the plate changed for another battery make/type (and the plates are soldered in, not using the slide on trays of the Hahnel that result in whacky no-contact errors).

I love that I can slap on 4 batteries at the end of a shoot and walk away. Then, when I go to pull them the next day, I can look at the display and tell that each one 1) is fully charged, 2) how much it charged, and 3) know that I didn't have to slide the battery back-n-forth a bunch of times to be sure that the charge started correctly or risk ending up with an uncharged pack.
 

Bill Caulfeild-Browne

Well-known member
I'm not an expert on Li-Ion batteries but there are those who believe that they should not be routinely charged to 100%. Those chargers that show 100% but have actually charged to 80% may be prolonging the life of your batteries.

I drive an electric car (an iPace) and the advice I have received is to avoid charging the Li-Ion battery pack beyond 80% or so, except occasionally to balance the cells or immediately prior to a long journey. Apparently always charging fully will shorten the battery's life.

Does this apply to camera batteries? Maybe someone with expertise in this area can comment.

Bill
 

docholliday

Active member
I'm not an expert on Li-Ion batteries but there are those who believe that they should not be routinely charged to 100%. Those chargers that show 100% but have actually charged to 80% may be prolonging the life of your batteries.

I drive an electric car (an iPace) and the advice I have received is to avoid charging the Li-Ion battery pack beyond 80% or so, except occasionally to balance the cells or immediately prior to a long journey. Apparently always charging fully will shorten the battery's life.

Does this apply to camera batteries? Maybe someone with expertise in this area can comment.

Bill
With Li-ion batteries, charging to 100% is perfectly fine as long as you are expecting the design of 400-500 cycles. Some charge systems (Sony is famous for their "Stamina" battery life extender) will allow you to charge to a lower capacity to increase cycles. Also, keeping a battery at 100% or below 20% constantly can be bad for the cells, but not regular cycling of the battery. It's actually better to constantly "use" the battery, charging it often.

It makes sense on expensive batteries (such as a car) to under-charge to increase life span. But, not on these old-assed design batteries that don't even have a cell balance feedback pin. I'll use the battery for 500 or so cycles and buy a new pack for $50-70 as needed. They are consumables. The TDM on the Dolgin is nice as it can cycle the cells to indicate the true charge level and allow me to determine when it is at a capacity where I feel it needs replaced.

Also, it makes no sense for the charger to under-charge, as it should then read less than 100%. The voltage at cutoff and cutoff current would also not be where it is. It's purely a crappy charger in this case, cutting off the charge prematurely and telling me that it's 100%. Rather, it's that the charger has some hard-coded passive cutoff instead of actively determining cutoff based on CC and CV. The knockoff no-name chargers are even worse. And, if it was "designed" to undercharge, the 100% on the Hahnel would always be xx% on the Dolgin, not sometimes 80%, sometimes 90%, and I've even had a few 70% during my tests.

If one was designing to under charge, it would be best to give the user the option to full charge or undercharge. And, then to show the proper capacity. Lenovo laptops have a setting in Vantage that allows the user to declare the charge start/end percentage. It's nice for laptops that live on docks all day with only the occasional mobile usage. But, those are proper and if set for 80%, will show "80% Not Charging" to indicate to the user the setting.
 
One last thing that I forgot to mention... When I ordered the charger, I received a phone call from the owners of the company (even though it was a Sunday afternoon) as they wanted to make sure that I was planning on charging BP-9xx batteries big enough not to necessitate changing how quickly the batteries would be charged (i.e. 3400 mAh and not something <2000 mAh). Although I'm not sure I understood all the engineering issues that were mentioned during the phone call, I was grateful for the call and knowing that I would receive what I needed.
 

docholliday

Active member
One last thing that I forgot to mention... When I ordered the charger, I received a phone call from the owners of the company (even though it was a Sunday afternoon) as they wanted to make sure that I was planning on charging BP-9xx batteries big enough not to necessitate changing how quickly the batteries would be charged (i.e. 3400 mAh and not something <2000 mAh). Although I'm not sure I understood all the engineering issues that were mentioned during the phone call, I was grateful for the call and knowing that I would receive what I needed.
Yes! They are definitely a great team and very personal. Since I had bought my unit used, I had asked them if there were any changes needed or updates to the unit for charging the 3500mah CI and 3400mah OEM batteries. They responded very quickly, asked for a few pictures/details of the unit, and were very detail oriented.

My used unit had two of the battery plates with broken tabs as seen in the pictures I sent them and they let me know there were replacements with newer, improved plates. I didn't send the unit in as I just ordered the parts and soldered them in myself, but it definitely makes one feel good about a product when they stand behind their products while treating each and every customer the same no matter if they purchased $20 or $2000.

The new plates definitely are very robust and well designed. No more sloppy mounting like the other chargers where the battery is loose on the plate.
 

Alan

Member
Does anything like the Dolgin chargers exist that’s more universal (or more specifically for Nikon batteries)?
 

docholliday

Active member
Does anything like the Dolgin chargers exist that’s more universal (or more specifically for Nikon batteries)?
Not that I know of. These chargers are designed for pro/studio/rental house usage, mostly in video applications. The reason that there's a lot of Canon/Sony stuff is that those manufacturers both are popular in the video world.

The closest thing I can find that should be reliable would be the Nitecore chargers for Nikon, but only certain batteries. Nitecore has always made good stuff, lights, batteries, and chargers.

Sorry that I can't help more with Nikon...never shot any of their stuff, only Canon, Hasselblad, and Phase.
 

docholliday

Active member
Just an update for those who'd been following me through all of this. After a few weeks and couple dozen shoots with the Dolgin charger, I can definitely say that the problem was the Hahnel's inconsistent charging.

The new P1 OEM battery, along with the CI "Certified" non-OEMs are performing very reliably and above all, are predictable. I can estimate how long a battery will go in a shoot before I'll need to change and almost hit the mark dead on each time. Great for planning breaks in shooting and determining how many batteries need to be readily available/charged when in the field. In all actuality, the CI batteries have been lasting notably longer than then OEM packs.

Upon return from shooting, the Dolgin charges up in a few hours and the readout has been consistently showing the re-charge fueling of the batteries each time. I can pretty much say "this battery is going to take around a 3100mah charge to top off" and the charger will confirm my guess was close.

Battery chemistry and matrixes are interesting creatures. Sure, there's no "memory effect" like old Ni-Cd batteries, but the cells do like to be consistently charged with a well-regulated charge. Inconsistent charging will cause cells to prematurely wear and "good" charging can actually promote expanded capacities of the cell or longer service life. Both my new and old batteries have been exhibiting very strong stamina since switching to a charger that works properly. Compared to my old notes during the time I worked to determine the problem originally, the same cells are now showing an average of 15-30mins more life through a shoot. I haven't changed habits or settings throughout.

Another interesting note is that my oldest, most notable problem child battery from ~2014 originally cycle tested as weak and with quite a bit of capacity loss. I cycled it a few times with the Dolgin's TDM Test-Discharge as the battery was my guinea pig for seeing how consistent the cycling was since I figured the battery was going to the trash soon enough. I'd let the TDM cycle down and charge up, then let it sit for sometimes a day or two on the charger (I'd actually forget about it after I'd get busy). I ended up cycling the battery about 10 times.

The battery has actually recovered itself to be a decent battery with the last charge taking and holding a 2200mah charge. The original test showed that it was only holding around 1900mah and used to drop from 100% to 60% in 15 minutes or so in the back. It's been holding up well and only going down to 80-90% in 15 minutes. Not bad for a 6+ year old battery!

So far, the one-month (or so) results show that the charger is worth the money and that a good, industrial grade charger does make the difference in how a battery performs over a period of time.
 

docholliday

Active member
So... another update...

I left a fully charged, brand new, CI-certified battery which had been cycled a half dozen times in my IQ250 back while I used other cameras/backs over the last 30 days. It has just been sitting on my backup H5X body and hasn't moved from it's spot on my desk. I checked the battery today and it still shows 100%. Putting the battery on the Dolgin charger resulted in a top off charge of 0.4A (400ma), which is very reasonable considering it just sat there, in the back and on the camera, for a month.

I've heard much talk over the years about removing the battery from the backs when not in use 'cause they'll drain the battery in a short period. I had a problem that seemed like that originally with this back, but it seemed to resolve after I hard reset and updated the firmware on the back, twice. Between the updates, I reset the back to default.

So yes, the batteries can be left in the backs without them being drained!
 

earburner

Member
Just not the IQ4 150, I had the iq3 100 and it was fine for shelf discharge, the iq4 will deep discharge your batteries...
 

buildbot

Member
Just not the IQ4 150, I had the iq3 100 and it was fine for shelf discharge, the iq4 will deep discharge your batteries...
This was a big problem with early sony cameras, I wonder if it something to do with switching over to an ARM platform, IIRC sony A7 series cameras were ARM processor based too. Does an IQ150 take longer to boot after taking the battery out?
 

docholliday

Active member
This was a big problem with early sony cameras, I wonder if it something to do with switching over to an ARM platform, IIRC sony A7 series cameras were ARM processor based too. Does an IQ150 take longer to boot after taking the battery out?
Nope, boot time is the same from cold vs warm. Most of the drain had to do with the back's design not truly powering off, but rather just being in a sleep state and one or more parts not fully powering down. Usually, it should be in the range of microAmps to a few milliamps, just enough to keep the recognition circuit active that detects the power button being pressed.
 

Mexecutioner

Active member
Just not the IQ4 150, I had the iq3 100 and it was fine for shelf discharge, the iq4 will deep discharge your batteries...
Yeah this is bothersome, I wonder if a future FW update will address this? Not the end of the world, but I'd rather leve the battery in instead of having rattling around the case.
 
anyone have the Hahnel cube charger?

I have one for the Fuji batteries and it seems to work great. The Phase version is about 3x more expensive than the other battery types at over $200.

Edit: wow; looked up the TC400 o_O
 

docholliday

Active member
anyone have the Hahnel cube charger?

I have one for the Fuji batteries and it seems to work great. The Phase version is about 3x more expensive than the other battery types at over $200.

Edit: wow; looked up the TC400 o_O
I have the cube, twin-v, 2x knock-offs, and the TC400i. The two Hahnels suck, but not as bad as the knock-offs. I've since retired all chargers to a drawer except for the TC400. The 3rd knock-off took a nice hit at 75yds with a .308.
 

dolgin_eng

New member
We just learned of this forum through one of our customers. Glad our products are working out.
docholliday - your in-depth hands-on testing results speak to our design philosophy of producing
reliable and smart equipment for the video/photo professional.
We appreciate feedback and are always available via our website to answer questions.
Susie - Dolgin Engineering
 

docholliday

Active member
We just learned of this forum through one of our customers. Glad our products are working out.
docholliday - your in-depth hands-on testing results speak to our design philosophy of producing
reliable and smart equipment for the video/photo professional.
We appreciate feedback and are always available via our website to answer questions.
Susie - Dolgin Engineering
Thank you Susie for coming on here to introduce yourself! I think it's great when a manufacturer takes the time and effort to engage their users, especially when they make quality products that solve problems instead of creating them. As an electronics engineer myself, I also appreciate when manufacturers attest to their product quality through the design, construction, and support of their products without excessive marketing and "magic", simply letting the products speak for itself. Keep up the good work!
 
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