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FYI: Phase One BP-9xx battery issues

bshigeta

New member
Would authentic Canon BP-915 batteries work in the IQ4? They are only 2200mAh compared to the Phase One 3400mAh, but I'm assuming the form factor is the same?
 

docholliday

Active member
Would authentic Canon BP-915 batteries work in the IQ4? They are only 2200mAh compared to the Phase One 3400mAh, but I'm assuming the form factor is the same?
Pretty much all of the Canon OEM batteries don't have enough current to drive any new(er) back properly. That includes the IQ2-3-4. At least 2500-2900mah min is recommended. Those old BP-915s are not only low at 1950-2250mah, but they have a different drain profile in the cells and are known for causing some backs to have issues.
 

paparazz0

New member
Wow, thanks for this excellent deep dive. This explains a lot of possible mysteries with digital backs acting up. I'm a small time guy and not a big studio, and definitely can't justify the price for the tc400-i or tc200-i. I only have 3 PhaseOne batteries, one at 3400~mah and the rest are lower. Are there comparable chargers to the Dolgin that can properly charge the batteries at a reasonable price?
 

docholliday

Active member
Wow, thanks for this excellent deep dive. This explains a lot of possible mysteries with digital backs acting up. I'm a small time guy and not a big studio, and definitely can't justify the price for the tc400-i or tc200-i. I only have 3 PhaseOne batteries, one at 3400~mah and the rest are lower. Are there comparable chargers to the Dolgin that can properly charge the batteries at a reasonable price?
Sadly, of the good, reliable chargers, the Dolgin is one of the cheapest. If you watch EBay, you can find the tc200 with Canon BP9xx plates sometimes for cheap. If you can solder, you can also get any of the models and order a set of Canon plates from Dolgin to solder yourself. It's easy, just a few screws and two wires per plate. They sell the plates so that the units can be "serviced" by the user quickly of a plate gets broken.
 

RLB

Member
Doc,

Great write up and diagnosis. I have multiple Hahnel chargers for my Phase batteries with adaptors for Canon. I have both the older Twin chargers and the newer Cube chargers.

Last year I purchased 5 brand new OEM canon BP900 batteries and after using them a few times with a new Hahnel Cube charger it bricked all of them. Yes, bricked as in it fried the IC dead man switch...$400. in batteries caput after 3 cycles. I've charged Canon batteries on the older Hahnel Twin charger for more than 7 years. This of course led to a dialog with Hanel and eventually with the CEO of the company. Their anwer: CANON has changed the threshold charge voltage in their IC and not told anyone...older batteries are fine newer ones should not be charged on the Hahnel chargers...Twin or Cube unless you are short on expensive paperweights. Hahnels solution: sent me 5 of the Hahnel orange BP900 look alikes for free. So far all is well. When I travel I like to take one charge with multiple plates...smaller, lighter, less overlap.

The other issues as has been mentioned with the new Cube charger is the contacts below the plates. Great idea, poor execution. Now we no longer have the cable to the battery adapters, we have spring loaded ball bearings. When one inserts a battery there is enough play to get that battery adaptor off kilter a fraction and now one side of the charge stops working. Solution? Tiny amount of Dielectric grease on those contacts under the plate....a very tiny amount be careful not to bridge contact with an adjacent one.

Robert
 

docholliday

Active member
Doc,

Great write up and diagnosis. I have multiple Hahnel chargers for my Phase batteries with adaptors for Canon. I have both the older Twin chargers and the newer Cube chargers.

Last year I purchased 5 brand new OEM canon BP900 batteries and after using them a few times with a new Hahnel Cube charger it bricked all of them. Yes, bricked as in it fried the IC dead man switch...$400. in batteries caput after 3 cycles. I've charged Canon batteries on the older Hahnel Twin charger for more than 7 years. This of course led to a dialog with Hanel and eventually with the CEO of the company. Their anwer: CANON has changed the threshold charge voltage in their IC and not told anyone...older batteries are fine newer ones should not be charged on the Hahnel chargers...Twin or Cube unless you are short on expensive paperweights. Hahnels solution: sent me 5 of the Hahnel orange BP900 look alikes for free. So far all is well. When I travel I like to take one charge with multiple plates...smaller, lighter, less overlap.

The other issues as has been mentioned with the new Cube charger is the contacts below the plates. Great idea, poor execution. Now we no longer have the cable to the battery adapters, we have spring loaded ball bearings. When one inserts a battery there is enough play to get that battery adaptor off kilter a fraction and now one side of the charge stops working. Solution? Tiny amount of Dielectric grease on those contacts under the plate....a very tiny amount be careful not to bridge contact with an adjacent one.

Robert
I can see Canon doing that with the new batteries in lieu of all the new paranoia about lithium cells catching fire. However, I don't/won't/can't use the OEM BP batteries as they are too low of a capacity to work with the new(er) backs. What most likely actually happened with your batteries is the semiconductor fuse between cells tripped. The Canon OEM batteries use a lower capacity cell, which have to charge at a lower rate (the "C" of chargers) than the higher capacity cells. Too high of a charge rate and it generates excessive heat, which in turn raises the current consumption of the cell and pops the protection fuse. Ideally, batteries want to be charged at .5C or so. The higher the rate, the faster the charge, but the more wear on the cell. So a modern 3200mah 18650 should ideally charge around 1600-1700mah. That same 1700mah on the older design 1950mah cells (even if they are new), would nuke the cells in a 1/3 of the time. It also would generate a massive amount of charge heat and the thermal fuse is usually taped between the cells, which would pop from the heat.

Even Dolgin's charger has the limitation. If using the lower capacity cells, the charger has to be reprogrammed by them to charge at a different rate and cutoff. Those Canon BP cells needs to stick with what they were designed for - older Canon camcorders.

I had one of the Cubes and I ripped out the ball contacts and soldered wires directly to the charge plates. All of those parts use plated metal, which will oxidize and cause problems when least expected. Good concept, but bad execution. Most exposed contacts like that need to be physically exercised to keep the oxidation down. With Canon flashes (and probably most other manufacturer nowadays), the contacts in the shoe are pointed so they can "scratch" the camera body contacts when attaching. The Canons with the slide lock also move the flash side contact pad when locking - to scrub the contacts each time.

I wouldn't use dielectric grease on anything - it's job is to *prevent* good contact, primarily to keep water and other contaminants out. The "di" in dielectric means it's an insulator. What you would want is an anti-oxidant or conduction enhancer, like DeOxit Red and then a sealant like Deoxit Shield. I've also used OxGard in a pinch, which is commonly used for power distribution panels and available at most hardware stores. You'd do best to clear that di-e off with some isopropanol and get one of the Deoxit "Cell phone" kits. It has small tubes of the Red for a decent price and you'd very sparingly apply it to the contacts on both sides.

You can bridge contacts all day with dielectric grease...it'll just keep those contacts from contacting the other side but will never short out between them - it can't! You can also be sloppy with the Deoxit, as it's not conductive. But, OxGard is - it's a paste that has suspended metal particles and will short out to nearby contacts.

The dielectric grease commonly used on automotive spark plugs is not to make good conduction to the plug - it's to keep moisture out of the boot and prevent high voltage corona escaping the plug to the block/head. A common problems is that people who change plugs don't realize this and fill the boot with di-e grease, which can keep the plug anode and boot contact from conducting, especially on high wear boots where the crimp ring is worn and not physically scrubbing the grease off the plug contact. The result is a random misfire/stumble at the engine.
 

RLB

Member
I've been educated...all this time I thought that Dielectric grease was a conduction enhancer! Thanks for info.

R
 

docholliday

Active member
I've been educated...all this time I thought that Dielectric grease was a conduction enhancer! Thanks for info.

R
Don't feel bad...there's a lot of people that confuse dielectric grease for conductive grease. It's more common than you'd think! I know a guy that slathered a bunch on to a wirewound pot (high power variable resistor) that was scratchy. He couldn't figure out why there was no volume afterwards. The most common is still the heavy loading of grease onto ignition coils and plug boots then experiencing rough idle, misfires, and even loss of ignition.

The best thing to buy is something like the Caig Technician Survival Kit. It comes with a little of everything and lasts a long time. I use their stuff on battery contacts, flash contacts, chargers, headphone plug/jacks, test equipment connectors, etc. to prevent contact issues since most contacts nowadays (even "gold plated" ones) are cheap, prone to oxidation, and sensitive to the effects of the oxidation resistance changes.

The key to using their stuff is to remember that the Red cleans oxidation, the Gold protects gold surfaces after cleaning, the Red protects non-gold surfaces, and the Blue (Shield) protects in harsh environments or really crappy metal contacts (like the PCB pad contacts in the older Hahnel Twin chargers). If the part number has a 100 in it, it's pure solution. If it has a 5 in the number, it's only 5% solution with a solvent for flushing away contaminants. The greases are for sealing things like automotive battery connections. Took me forever to figure out how their stuff was meant to be used. Once I did, though, I put it on everything and see almost no conductivity issues except for some extreme cases like direct water ingress.

I also use the Gold on all CF and SD contacts. The cheap gold plating on the cards are prone to oxidation too and can cause data dropouts. All my camera gear uses CF and I use tiny fiber optic swabs to polish and apply the solution to the pin camera side. I only use SD on audio devices, but they are much easier to apply to by adding to the card contact and "scrubbing" the card in/out of the socket a few times.

RAM and SATA/SAS connectors also has issues oxidizing and causing the effects of bad memory, especially in laptops that see a lot of temperature changes. I'm also the IT director for a few businesses and the fleets of laptops used to have random issues, especially in the summer going in and out of the AC. Careful inspection of the RAM showed a darkening of the gold contacts at the edge of the SODIMMS that would make the computer randomnly reboot or throw errors at power up. Since applying the Gold to each SODIMM and SATA/SAS port, the problems have gone away and I don't see the units back until end of lifecycle (or some idiot drops their laptop).
 
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bensonga

Well-known member
Thanks Doc for all the research, testing and info. I’ve read thru this thread a number of times and finally decided to order one of the Dolgin chargers. I have two of the older Phase One backs (P20+ and P25+) with a mix of older (2400-2500 mAh) OEM and 3rd party batteries plus a couple of the newer Phase One 3400 mAH batteries. I’ve been using a mix of the Hahnel Twin V Power and other chargers. I ordered the TC200-i-TDM today after calling Dolgin to confirm the standard configuration of this charger will work ok with my 2400-2500 mAh batteries and did not need to be re-programmed. I still plan to gradually replace my older batteries with the latest 3400 mAh batteries.

Gary
 

docholliday

Active member
Thanks Doc for all the research, testing and info. I’ve read thru this thread a number of times and finally decided to order one of the Dolgin chargers. I have two of the older Phase One backs (P20+ and P25+) with a mix of older (2400-2500 mAh) OEM and 3rd party batteries plus a couple of the newer Phase One 3400 mAH batteries. I’ve been using a mix of the Hahnel Twin V Power and other chargers. I ordered the TC200-i-TDM today after calling Dolgin to confirm the standard configuration of this charger will work ok with my 2400-2500 mAh batteries and did not need to be re-programmed. I still plan to gradually replace my older batteries with the latest 3400 mAh batteries.

Gary
You're welcome Gary! You'll be surprised how "stable" the batteries become with the new charger. Dolgin seems to be a great company with people who actually care about their products and their user base.

Instead of getting the OEM P1 batteries, look into the CI battery to save some money (or get 2 for a few bucks more than 1 OEM). They are just as good, if not better, than the OEM. I've been running 3 OEM against 2 CI batteries seamlessly. Between the "expected" runtime and the Dolgin charger's report of charge added during a cycle, I can say that you'll lose nothing by using the CI batteries. Here's the link to their batteries: https://www.digitalback.com/product/ci-3400-mah-digital-back-battery/
 

bensonga

Well-known member
Thanks for the link to the CI batteries Doc. I just tried to order two of them, but the online order form will not allow them to be shipped to me in Alaska. I think that is why I have not ordered batteries from CI in the past and why I started ordering batteries for my P+ cameras from DT Commerical instead. They ship to Alaska for a flat rate of just $5 and the batteries have arrived in 4-5 days.

Gary
 

docholliday

Active member
That;s
Thanks for the link to the CI batteries Doc. I just tried to order two of them, but the online order form will not allow them to be shipped to me in Alaska. I think that is why I have not ordered batteries from CI in the past and why I started ordering batteries for my P+ cameras from DT Commerical instead. They ship to Alaska for a flat rate of just $5 and the batteries have arrived in 4-5 days.

Gary
That's weird, considering Alaska is still the US. Gotta be something weird with air freight and Li-ion cells, but those batteries should be DOT approved for small batch shipping.

Before you order the OEM ones from DT, you might try to get a hold of Steve Hendrix from CI and see what's going on.
 

docholliday

Active member
Thanks Doc for all the research, testing and info. I’ve read thru this thread a number of times and finally decided to order one of the Dolgin chargers. I have two of the older Phase One backs (P20+ and P25+) with a mix of older (2400-2500 mAh) OEM and 3rd party batteries plus a couple of the newer Phase One 3400 mAH batteries. I’ve been using a mix of the Hahnel Twin V Power and other chargers. I ordered the TC200-i-TDM today after calling Dolgin to confirm the standard configuration of this charger will work ok with my 2400-2500 mAh batteries and did not need to be re-programmed. I still plan to gradually replace my older batteries with the latest 3400 mAh batteries.

Gary
BTW, please let me know what you think of the Dolgin when you get it. I think their charger feels like a piece of industrial, hard-working gear instead of the plasticky toyness of the others. I'm assuming that since you listed the -TDM model that you got it with the Test and Discharge add-on...it's really nice to know the health of the packs without guessing!
 
I would echo the assessment of the Dolgin charger. I’ve been using mine for the last few months and it has worked flawlessly. As docholliday mentioned, it’s extremely well-built.
 

bensonga

Well-known member
That;s

That's weird, considering Alaska is still the US. Gotta be something weird with air freight and Li-ion cells, but those batteries should be DOT approved for small batch shipping.

Before you order the OEM ones from DT, you might try to get a hold of Steve Hendrix from CI and see what's going on.
Unfortunately this difficulty with getting Li-ion batteries for cameras shipped to Alaska from many L48 retailers has become the norm in the past couple of years. B&H Photo will no longer ship batteries here, nor will Amazon or many of the re-sellers there. Olympus will not even ship batteries for their cameras to our local photo shop in Anchorage anymore.

I will call Steve tomorrow and see if there is a way for CI to get the batteries to me.

Thanks Doc.

Gary
 

Ray Harrison

Active member
Another +1 for the Dolgin (TC400+TDM for me) - I've been using it for the past few months as well, with superb predictable results. Great company to work with too.
 

bensonga

Well-known member
That;s

That's weird, considering Alaska is still the US. Gotta be something weird with air freight and Li-ion cells, but those batteries should be DOT approved for small batch shipping.

Before you order the OEM ones from DT, you might try to get a hold of Steve Hendrix from CI and see what's going on.
Hi Doc. I called Steve Hendrix this morning and purchased two of the CI batteries. They will ship them to me via USPS for the same $5 fee as DTCommercial charges. I think the CI online store defaults to Fedex shipping and so the restrictions on shipping Li-ion camera batteries to AK probably comes from Fedex. Thanks again for the recommendation and your help!

Gary
 

docholliday

Active member
Hi Doc. I called Steve Hendrix this morning and purchased two of the CI batteries. They will ship them to me via USPS for the same $5 fee as DTCommercial charges. I think the CI online store defaults to Fedex shipping and so the restrictions on shipping Li-ion camera batteries to AK probably comes from Fedex. Thanks again for the recommendation and your help!

Gary
That's awesome! Glad it worked out for ya. Fed-UPS has some weird rules on their shipping that boggles the mind for a business whose business is to move stuff. $5 to Alaska is better than some of the costs here shipping a pair of pliers across Indiana!

The one thing that I definitely like about the CI batteries is that they stand behind them with 6 month warranty. I've never seen the OEM P1 battery mention a warranty anywhere, so if there is one, it's not notable. Remember too that the P1 batteries aren't made by P1. Those packs are just another "third-party" battery that's been tested and certified by P1 as good (enough) for their gear.

When you get the new batteries, charge them up on the Dolgin and then run them down with the TDM (or via the back with power management disabled until the back turns off). Let it charge up until the cycle completes (the display'll let you know) and take note of the final reading on the Dolgin's LCD which will tell you how much charge it put into the battery. I put a sticker on the end of my battery with the date and the capacity (never on the side or connector end - it'll get stuck due to the increased thickness!). That way, you'll be able to tell if a cell is wearing down improperly as well as how the health of the battery performs in the future.

Also, you may have to cycle the battery 2-3 times until the cells "form" and level out at the proper max charge. It'll never be at the rated capacity (my 3400mah packs usually never take more than 3100-3200 from completely drained). The remaining is stopped from being discharged by the protection circuit inside the battery as a completely drained battery will never charge properly again.

Then, once a year (or anytime the battery performance seems odd), I'll just TDM cycle the pack to see what it's doing and "calibrate" my expectations. A little bit of wear is normal, but a sudden massive loss of capacity indicates a shorting or worn cell in the pack and you can replace it before getting a sudden surprise in the field miles from a power source.
 
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bensonga

Well-known member
That's awesome! Glad it worked out for ya. Fed-UPS has some weird rules on their shipping that boggles the mind for a business whose business is to move stuff. $5 to Alaska is better than some of the costs here shipping a pair of pliers across Indiana!

The one thing that I definitely like about the CI batteries is that they stand behind them with 6 month warranty. I've never seen the OEM P1 battery mention a warranty anywhere, so if there is one, it's not notable. Remember too that the P1 batteries aren't made by P1. Those packs are just another "third-party" battery that's been tested and certified by P1 as good (enough) for their gear.

When you get the new batteries, charge them up on the Dolgin and then run them down with the TDM (or via the back with power management disabled until the back turns off). Let it charge up until the cycle completes (the display'll let you know) and take note of the final reading on the Dolgin's LCD which will tell you how much charge it put into the battery. I put a sticker on the end of my battery with the date and the capacity (never on the side or connector end - it'll get stuck due to the increased thickness!). That way, you'll be able to tell if a cell is wearing down improperly as well as how the health of the battery performs in the future.

Also, you may have to cycle the battery 2-3 times until the cells "form" and level out at the proper max charge. It'll never be at the rated capacity (my 3400mah packs usually never take more than 3100-3200 from completely drained). The remaining is stopped from being discharged by the protection circuit inside the battery as a completely drained battery will never charge properly again.

Then, once a year (or anytime the battery performance seems odd), I'll just TDM cycle the pack to see what it's doing and "calibrate" my expectations. A little bit of wear is normal, but a sudden massive loss of capacity indicates a shorting or worn cell in the pack and you can replace it before getting a sudden surprise in the field miles from a power source.
Thanks for all the great info Doc! I will certainly follow your recommendations. I'm also planning to do the hard reset process you mentioned earlier in this discussion on both my P20+ and P25+ backs to minimize the battery discharge while the backs are not in use. My only question/concern is about doing the firmware update during that process. I haven't had to update the firmware on either of these DBs since they already had the latest firmware when I bought them. I'll figure that out before I start the hard reset process of course.

Gary
 
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