batterybulgedtrScary even when it’s not Halloween! This bulging DTR series battery is from a radio that came into Delmmar’s 2-way radio repair center for repair. The customer has chosen to have their DTR650 radio repaired (flat rate $85) and purchase a new battery to replace this bulging one. Bulgy has been disposed of in hazardous waste.

In the news recently there has been a lot of talk about electronics devices catching fire on planes. An educated guess would be the battery in the device was damaged or poor workmanship. It could have been physical or liquid damage, overcharging, poor manufacturing, or the effects of the change in air pressure in the cabin. While we have not heard of any incidents involving 2-way radios (which have restrictions when taken on a plane), users should always use wisdom whether in the air or on the ground.

There are dozens of youtube videos showing these types of batteries in flames once they are abused, overcharged, wet or mistreated.  Short story: If your battery bulges, or shows any sign of puncture/damage DO NOT use it. Motorola has a good explanation concerning the differences between Li-Ion and Li-polymer batteries. You can read it here.

For your two-way radio choose a good name brand battery from a reputable radio dealer. Choose good quality Li-Ion or NiMH batteries instead of Li-Polymer.

~cl

GOT STATIC? GOT POOR TRANSMIT? Using an old battery on your radio can cause you problems, including poor or intermittent transmit, a battery that no long last the full day, lots of static or white noise, poorly functioning add-on audio devices, and more. Continual use of an old or bad battery can eventually cause wear and tear to the radio itself, resulting in the need for repair. The life expectancy of the average rechargeable battery used in 2-way radios or other devices is 2 years. This includes your rechargeable flashlight as well as your portable radio.

How can you tell the age of your battery?
Nearly every manufacturer of a rechargeable battery marks the battery with a date code representing the date of manufacture. Sometimes these date codes are hidden in plain sight. You might feel like you need a secret decoder ring to break the code. Motorola is no different than most manufacturers, their batteries and accessories are marked with manufacturing codes.battdatecodes

Motorola batteries follow a very simple date code system. You will find a 3- or 4-digit number on the battery label (or embossed in the plastic of the battery itself). Use the example 1611, the first two digits are the year, and the next two digits are the week of the year. The battery shown is dated 2016 the 11th week.
If you have a 3-digit code the first number is the year. 611 would be either 2016 or 2006. (You can usually tell by the appearance of the battery if it is 10 years or more old.)
For more details see this PDF: Battery Date Code Sheet

Next time you have a poorly functioning radio check your battery date code. Maybe you simply need to replace your battery.

Battery tips:

  • Clean your battery contacts on your radio and charger periodically with a pencil eraser to remove any film or debris. This will allow your radio to make better contact on the charger. (Never use chemicals or a sharp object to clean contacts.)
  • Always have your radio turned off when placed on the charger, and if in an emergency you must have a radio turned on when on the charger, never ever transmit while charging. This can burn out components in your radio causing the need for repair.
  • If you feel you have an old, bad, or poorly functioning battery, try trading batteries with a known good radio and see if the problem is solved. You may simply need to replace your old battery.
  • The shelf life of a battery which has never been charged (initialized) is supposed to be indefinite. If you store new batteries before you use them, mark them with the date you initially charged the battery. This will give you a better idea on your 2 year life expectancy.
  • When initially charging a battery that has been in the cold or stored for a period of time before use it may take 2-3 charge cycles for the battery to successfully take that first charge. If you charger is blinking when it usually doesn’t, leave the battery on the charger and let it blink a few hours, even try again the next day doing the same thing. The battery will usually wake up, charge and be fine.
  • Beware of aftermarket batteries from less than reputable sources. We’ve seen or tried them all. We do offer a good aftermarket battery for most models if you are looking for such a battery.
  • Dispose of all old batteries in hazardous waste.

What are you waiting on? Go check your date codes!
~cl
#motorolaradiobattery #nntn4497 #motorolaradiorepair #motorolabatterydatecode

wet radio rescue…

12 May, 2014

Wet Electronic Device We’ve found a new innovative product available to assist in saving a wet 2-way radio or cell phone. It’s the EVAP Rescue Pouch. The manufacturer states it is ” 700% more effective at removing moisture than rice. EVAP contains a unique drying agent that safely removes the moisture from sensitive electronics preventing damage while restoring use — fast!” The kit consists of a specialized ziplock pouch with moisture indicator, 2 large packets of drying agent, and easy instructions. The price of $15.25 each is less than we expected, considering most smartphone related items start at $29.99.EVAP Rescue Pouch

We received our first one in to look at and we were impressed. It comes sealed to keep moisture prior to use away from the special drying agent. The instructions are simple and concise. The bag is big enough for most modern 2-way radios or a cell phone. (Size:  5.196″W x 6.299″H) In the event your device is too large for the bag supplied you could still use the kit by putting your item in the pouch and then sealing it in a large ziplock bag. The handy moisture indicate on the bag will tell you when it is done in 6-24 hours.

Here at the radio repair facility we see radios coming in for repair daily which have liquid damage. The keep to repairability is getting the device dry and getting it shipped to us as soon as possible. With this new EVAP Rescue Pouch you could even ship it to us pouch and all. It could be drying out on the way here. Such a neat idea we wish we’d came up with it ourselves!

We spoke tips for wet radios in this previous blog post.

~cl

 

cellphone vs radioWe often are asked by friends, family and clients about the status of 2-way radio in a world where everyone seems to be carrying their own personal communications device, a cell phone. Here are some of our thoughts and thoughts of those in this industry concerning this subject.

Most people would admit they could not function without their smart phone, the computer attached to your hip. But in reality, as a communications device, a cell phone is still a device for making a phone call to another person. You dial a number, let it ring, wait for an answer, hope to talk to the person you are calling, possibly leaving a voice message. The process takes at least a minute of your time or more just to connect. And following this routine, you may end up having a conversation for several minutes.

When using a two-way radio you simply press the push-to-talk (PTT) button and instantly speak to your group (or one-to-one depending on your radio system). You can give a brief message or instruction, receive an immediate response and finish your task accordingly. The entire process typically takes a few seconds. It is fast and efficient, saving time and money. In the realm of public safety and businesses such as construction, it can save lives. In addition, radios are highly effective in high noise environments, built rugged for long-term use, offer an intuitive one-touch user interface, and feature a battery designed to do a full day’s work.

Nearly all business models of two-way radios are repairable and have replacement battery packs available. The life expectancy of a two-way radios is up to 10 years, with many exceeding this mark.  Computing the cost of purchasing a typical business 2-way radio (Motorola CP200) over 10 years including replacement batteries every two years and 1-2 repairs, it would calculate to under $10/month to own/operate the radio. Much less than the overall cost of cellular for the same time period.

Cellular devices are generally speaking rather fragile. The majority are too lightweight for work environments. Battery packs are often non-replaceable.  If you talk to those in the cellular industry, you will find the life expectancy of a phone is about two years. At the 2-year mark, the cell carriers are ready to make a deal with you where you can get the next model “free” or inexpensively to keep you as a client. The industry is reliant upon the monthly fees we all pay. We’ll let you do the math on what a maintaining a cell phone will cost you over the course of 10 years.

Radio communication is instantaneous with the simple use of a PTT button. The person needing information  receives it quickly. Requests for assistance are heard by everyone monitoring the frequency. This is essential in many industries and especially in public safety. Radios designed for public safety can also have other features such as an emergency button or a mandown feature where the radio will notify dispatch of an officer who is no longer vertical. In construction when giving instructions to a crane operator PTT radio technology is the quickest form of communication.  Think about restaurant hostesses or retail clerks communicating with others on their team. This type of communication is done more efficiently using a radio versus a cell phone. It would be hard to imagine the public safety or business world without 2-way radios.

Cellphone & CP200 side-by-sideAnd up to now we haven’t mentioned the downside of using a cellular device instead of a radio, things such as surfing the web, playing games, making personal calls, just aren’t a problem when businesses use two-way radios for their onsite communications. So when choosing between using your smart phone and 2-way radios, you can see where the two devices differ both in features and overall long term cost. Both have their place where they can work to the best advantage. It’s up to you as a business person to choose your communications device wisely. ~cl

Glue damaged radio arriving at the repair facility.

Glue damaged radio arriving at the repair facility.

Sometimes a well meaning radio user will use a superglue like adhesive to glue items to their radio, or even attempt to fix an internal component. As nice as we can, we’d like to say… please do not do this. Why? you might ask… When a radio comes in for repair the electronics technician repairing the radio utilizes the radio’s accessory jack to connect his test equipment. If glue has been used to attach the remote mic or other audio device to the accessory jack then the two must be broken apart. This generally causes damage to both devices. This can be an unnecessary expense to the customer. As you can see in the picture both the radio housing and the accessory’s plug were damaged getting the two apart.

On the CP200 style radio a simple solution is to use an audio accessory retainer. This is a device that screws onto the side of the radio to hold the plug in place. On HT750 and other HT Pro Series radios this screw on device is built into the accessories. On many other radio models which do not have this feature the accessory’s plug should fit tightly enough in the jack to keep the plug in place. (If not your radio likely needs a new jack.)

Internally you should never use glue or solvents on the component board of the radio. Superglue-like adhesives are an explosive/fire danger to a technician with a soldering iron. When touched with a hot iron components can actually be blown off the board causing a danger to the eyes, face and hands of the repair technician. Our techs are trained to watch for these types of substances, however, with the substance being clear it is sometimes hard to detect. So please keep this in mind the next time you or a well-intentioned employee thinks to glue something to a radio. Just say no! It will save you an unnecessary expense during your radio repair.

~cl

 

CDM1250 radio in for repair

CDM1250 radio in for repair

While we enjoy helping people and repairing radios, we also know how frustrating it can be to have your radio fail and need to come into the repair center.  We’ve compiled a list of ways to help you keep your radio out of the radio repair center.

  • Keep radios dry and free from dust and debris.
  • If your radio gets wet, do not transmit, take the battery out, dry it as much as possible and get it to the repair facility pronto.
  • Utilize dust covers provided to cover audio jacks and openings, do not remove them.
  • Refrain from operating the radio at full volume continuously.
  • Replace bad or weather checked antennas.
  • Use only the antenna, charger, and accessories designed for a particular radio model.
  • Always have the radio turned off when charging.
  • Never transmit when a radio is on a charger.
  • Charge overnight, not an extended amount of days (a weekend is okay).
  • Clean your battery contacts using a pencil eraser, never a sharp object or solvent.
  • Replace the battery every 2-3 years, or sooner if needed.
  • Safeguard your radio from crush damage, avoid back pockets and places people sit.

Please remember we are here if you need us, happy to help repair your Motorola radios, so you can put them back to work.

~cl

NNTN4497The Motorola CP200 radio has come with 3 different battery types over the past few years. The current CP200, CP200-XLS, and new digital CP200d come with the NNTN4497 Li-Ion 2250 mAH battery. You can expect this battery to give you a good full work day of 12-14 hours. Life expectancy is approx. 18-24 months. Li-Ion is less likely to suffer from the memory effect which is common to the NiCd chemistry of batteries. It is the preference battery by most users.

The current NNTN4497 Li-Ion battery and the earlier NNTN4851 NiMH batteries need to use the fast rate charger to properly charge their battery packs. The fast rate charger is easy to differentiate from the trickle charger. The fast rate charging tray has outlines of several batteries depicted on the bottom of it, while the trickle charger has only one outline of a battery.

The trickle (slow rate) charger is only useful for charging one chemistry of battery, the NiCd NNTN4496. Early models of the CP200 radio came with the NiCd battery and a trickle charger. Note: The NNTN4496 NiCd battery is no longer available from Motorola, but still available from after-market vendors. Older model CP200 radios can be upgraded to use the current Li-Ion NNTN4497 battery and a fast rate charger with no modification needed to the radio. You would simply need to purchase the Li-Ion battery and a fast rate charger.

The next step up in radios from the CP200 is a nearly identical PR400 radio. The PR400 radio can also use the same chargers/batteries as the CP200 line of radios. The PR400 comes standard with a slim Li-Ion 1600 mAH battery NNTN4970, which will also fit the CP200 radio.

The single unit and multi-unit fast rate drop-in chargers for the CP200/PR400 radios will accommodate any of the above mentioned battery types. The charger features a convenient insert which can be removed and turned around to fit the size of battery being used. This same insert has vertical rails which guide the battery into place, and will hold a battery alone or a battery attached to a radio in place during charging.

Tip: Always have your radio turned off when on the charger. And only charge your battery when it is 80% or more depleted. This will help you achieve a long full life from your batteries.

Most batteries will last approx. 2 years (or 3 years if you treat them really well). Use the manufacturers date code to determine the age of your battery. On a Motorola brand battery the first digit(s) are the year and the last two digits are the week of the year.  Example: 1226 would be 2012, the 26th week, and 226 would also be the same date (or if very old it could be 2002, the 26th week). Keep in mind using an old battery for an extended period of time can eventually lead to the radio needing repair. If you plan to use your radios for many years it is wise to replace your batteries every 2-3 years. This will help keep your radio in tip top shape.As always, call us if you have questions.

~cl

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