Distinguishing between Different Battery-Types

One of the things I recently did, was to pair my Linux-laptop, which I name ‘Klystron’, with an external Bluetooth-Mouse, because even though this advanced, HP laptop has as its hardware, an advanced Synaptics touchpad, that emulates a mouse quite well, we can grow tired of always using the built-in touchpad. I documented here, what I needed to do, to accomplish this pairing.

Well one of the features which the KDE Desktop Manager gives us under Linux, is to indicate the battery-charge-levels, not only of the laptop’s built-in battery, but also those of attached BT-mice, or of anything else which is connected, that has a battery, and the hardware of which is able to report as telemetry, the battery-level.

What was surprising me about this arrangement, was that the indicated battery-level of the mouse seemed to track accurately over the days, that the mouse was connected. This surprised me, because as I was remembering events, I had placed Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries into the mouse some time ago, and most devices which are physically designed to accept batteries in the AA-format, or in the AAA-battery-format, would be calibrated for Alkaline, Zinc-Manganese-Oxide batteries. When such accessories try to gauge the battery-level, if they have the chip to do so, the voltage-curve of a Ni-MH battery tends to remain lower than that of an Alkaline. A fully-charged Ni-MH only generates about 1.2V per cell, while an Alkaline generates 1.5V. And so when a Ni-MH battery is inserted, this chip will usually indicate a partially-discharged battery, even immediately after it has been charged, and then, when this battery-type finally goes dead, its voltage will collapse almost instantly.

Before the indicated charge-level dropped below ‘70%’, I decided to take the AA-format batteries out, and to put them into a charger I have, that’s designed for Ni-MH batteries, and what I found was, that the LEDs in the charger refused to light up, for the inserted batteries. They did not indicate partially-charged or anything, they just stayed ‘off’.

And so next, my thinking was, ‘Darned! I now have either batteries which have failed on me, or worse – a charger which has failed on me 100%…’

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The Roku Remote

I feel like I might want to add some constructive criticism, about the new playback device, of which I just bought one, as described in this posting.

The designers have made some progressive statements in how they designed this hardware, that range from only taking up circuit-board space with modern, HDMI output, to designing a novel remote-control. I think that although I like many of the concepts that wen into the remote, there is some room for improvement.

This remote has a headphone-jack, so that we do not need to plug any headphones into our TV or into our stationary devices, which may be located on the other side of the living room, from where we sit. The first thing I would typically test about that, is whether the sound from the TV actually does mute, when we plug in headphones. And in fact, this works as it should.

That headphone jack came bundled with headphones for me to use, right out-of-the-box. I suppose this comment might seem petty, considering that this is a standard jack, into which I could plug an any headphones I supply. But in the included headphones, the Right ear-piece could be labeled more clearly, to distinguish it from the Left ear-piece. They look nearly identical, and the tiny ‘R’ stamped into the Right piece, might be hard for people to read, whose vision is not 100%.

Okay, but now I am done with the trivial details.

The remote has 4 pre-assigned buttons, for 4 possible channels, which the designers felt that their users would want to visit most-frequently. Netflix is one of them, but there are 3 more. These buttons save us the possible hassle, of navigating a menu, to the channel we want to view most-frequently.

The problem with this is, that depending on what a certain user prefers, the other 3 channels might not be set up. They are, as usual, free to install, but then we need to enter the log-in information into our , to connect to each of the accounts. What if we do not have these accounts? For example, ‘‘ was randomly chosen to deserve a button on its own, and yet I would find it impractical to set up a account, to use for the duration.

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New Batteries for my Neato XV Signature

I own a Neato XV Signature, vacuuming robot, which I bought almost a year ago. During my first attempt to let it run, its batteries lasted long enough to be able to vacuum the assigned area at least once, which took about 40 minutes (as it does today). I had also gauged the size of the area it should vacuum, in hopes that the robot would not need to return to its base station to recharge, in the middle of its job, even though that is a task which it can also accomplish – in most cases.

Neato XV _1

But then, after having let this robot vacuum my floor 3x per week, the battery life became shorter. Eventually it would need to break off at least once, to recharge, after which it would complete the job. By that time 1 battery charge was only lasting for 30 minutes. And finally, the robot needed to make three stabs at completing the same assigned area, thus recharging twice automatically before it was done.

So it seems logical that the robot simply needed a new set of batteries, which I just installed today. But, those were Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries, which I think are usually supposed to last longer than just a year. For example, my electric toothbrush still has the same Ni-MH batteries it was originally equipped with, and continues to work after 20 years, with proper battery maintenance.

I always had the suspicion that the robot was over-charging the batteries consistently.

(Edit 11/10/2016 : ) This suspicion arose, because when I left the robot connected to its docking stand continuously, in spite of only working briefly, three times per week, its indicator-LED would switch back and forth between the solid-green-I-am-full and the blinking-green-I-am-almost-full within short intervals – more often than once per day. Considering that the unit had not been working, this was an incorrect sign, which it no longer shows, with the new batteries calibrated.

After I installed the new batteries today, I followed instructions on the Web, according to which we are also supposed to perform a battery calibration, and then the idea struck me, that the early demise of the first set of batteries may have been partially my own doing.

When I first received this robot, I did not perform any initial calibration – of its first set of batteries. Now that I have allowed the robot to do so, it is capable of vacuuming my entire floor space twice in one shot, which takes it 1 hour and 15 minutes of continuous running.

If everything worked as planned, This Defined the Voltage-End-Points, of One Charge-Cycle. However, it is a disappointing drawback of this model, that it gives no feedback, of whether the calibration was in fact a success or not.

Mind you, it was never written in the instructions that came with the Neato XV Signature, the way I received it, that we should do an initial calibration, but doing so might in hindsight have prevented incorrect charging behavior the first time around.

I know one person myself, who bought the same robot, who was not actually much of a Technology Person, but who was systematic enough in her ways, actually to do a calibration, before setting her robot on its first chore.

And it is also commented on the Web today, that sometimes a recalibration will be helpful – for a while – in spite of keeping the first set of batteries.

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