Overheated Circuitry

One of the things which I do frequently, is ‘walk around’, or, ‘use public transit’, with my disposable earphones plugged in to my Samsung Galaxy S9 Smart-Phone, and listening to music. These earphones are clearly not the ones, which had the AKG seal of approval, and which shipped with the phone. But this week-end marks the second heat-wave this Summer, when outside daytime temperatures exceeded 31⁰C, with direct sunlight and not a cloud in the sky. And under those conditions, the battery of my phone starts to hit a temperature of 42⁰. One of the facts which I know is, that Lithium-Ion batteries like the one in my phone do not tolerate temperatures exceeding 41⁰C.

A peculiar behaviour which has set in for the second time, during this second heat-wave of the season, is that the music I was listening to would either back-space to the beginning of the song, or skip ahead one song, or just stop. So, a catastrophic sort of explanation I could think of would be, that the entire phone, with its battery, is finally just having a meltdown. But, a second possibility exists, that merely the chip in the earphone-cord could be malfunctioning. After all, the little pod in the earphone-cord has one button and a mike, and it’s actually cheaper to mass-produce the chip that makes it work, than it would be to mass-produce other sorts of discrete components. One cheap chip could just be malfunctioning in the extreme heat, and not the entire, complex circuitry of the phone. (:1)

The earphones cost me about $15, while the phone is much more expensive than that.

But even if it was true, that only the little remote-control in the earphone-cord was malfunctioning, this can lead to impractical situations, because just random patterns, of unreal button-press-combinations, could also send the software of my phone into a confused state, and even so, if the circuitry in the smart-phone never malfunctioned. This behaviour could get misinterpreted by the security apps of the phone, let’s say, as though somebody had ripped the earphone-cord off my head, and thrown all my possessions around.

All that was really happening was that my music was no longer playing, as I was walking home normally, in the heat, with my overheated electronics. And when I got home, my actual phone never displayed any signs of having malfunctioned.

(Updated 8/17/2019, 17h50 … )

Continue reading Overheated Circuitry

One of my A/Cs has just failed (Not).

In the Greater Montreal Area (Canada), we have been subject to a prolonged heat-wave, with daily high-temperatures of 35⁰C (+), for approximately a week in a row now. This is expected to continue at least until tomorrow (Thursday, July 5). Luckily, my own home has been protected by two working, 8500BTU air-conditioners until now.

The way an A/C works is such, that it has a compressor-motor, the windings of which are cooled by the return-flow of refrigerant in its gaseous form, after that refrigerant has evaporated in the evaporator, and done its job cooling the home. Yet, these motors are not designed to run with 100% duty, 24/7. They need to cycle off periodically, and one reason for which they normally cycle, is that their function has achieved some sort of (low) target temperature. But, another reason fw the compressor-motor can switch off, is the possibility that its windings themselves, which are linked to yet another temperature-sensor, have overheated.

Even worse than to have the temperature-protection trip once, because of overheated windings, is the very common problem that eventually, the enamel-insulation of the windings may itself fail, causing a permanently defective motor! This tends to happen eventually, because of the cheap way the motors are made.

If that happens, certain turns of the enameled wire, within the motor-windings, will act as if they were the secondary winding of a transformer, to which the still-healthy turns would form the primary winding. A heavy current flows through the short-circuited turns in this way, that can be hard to detect, unless one also measures the exact amount of current drawn by a running motor, and compares it to a known, correct amount of current, which I do not know for the motor in question. But if a winding has in fact started to short in this way, the amount of heat that builds up inside it becomes more acute, of course.

What I am used to from my A/Cs, is that they will run for about 15 minutes, if they fail to reach a target temperature, before their compressors cycle ‘off’. But the A/C in my bedroom, where the temperature is 24⁰C right now, has started to run for only 5 minutes, before turning off. And I have it set to achieve an evaporator-temperature of 20⁰C.

I’ve decided to switch off both my A/Cs temporarily, even though the temperature outside is 35⁰ at the moment, in hopes that they will recuperate. As they are switched off, of course it will start to get warmer in all parts of my home, including in the computer room.

If I should not be able to keep my indoor temperatures under control, I will need to shut down my actual computers next, which are more important to me than the A/Cs, or than my own, personal comfort. In such an event, my blog will also go offline. For the moment, my site and blog are still accessible. But depending on what happens next, there could be some downtime.

(Edit 07/04/2018, 23h05 : )

Apparently, my A/C is still fine. But in order for me to understand this strange behavior, I need to take into account the peculiar way in which my present A/Cs are designed. They are both indoor, portable A/Cs, which have air-ducts that send warm air, with the waste heat, out a window.

Continue reading One of my A/Cs has just failed (Not).