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Old 09-11-04, 03:47 PM   #1
mcavana
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Attention NICAD "experts"

I now use the 6v cygolite explorer NICAD 10-15-25w light system. I am EXTREMELY impressed with the performace of this thing on the road. The only thing that sucks is the charge time of 15-17 hours. They say the battery lasts for 3 hours on 10w, and this is normally the only setting i use. I commute to work, and some days i will need it for the hour ride to work, sometimes home, and sometimes both. So, most of the time I come home with a battery that is either 1/3 or 2/3 used, and i have no idea wheather i will need 1 or 2 hours out of it the next day. The charger is nothing special, you just plug it in, and unplug it when you THINK it is done charging. Supposed to be 15-17 hours if totaly dead. The charger does not shut off, so you can easily overcharge the batter, and damage it. Is there a charger out there that can be used in this situation? Does a charger exist that can actually read the battery, and shut itself off when it is fully charged? I know they have timer things that will cut the power off after a certain amount of time, but in this case, when i don't really know how long to charge it, that wouldn't be much help.

Thank you very much for your help!!!
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Old 09-11-04, 04:14 PM   #2
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A charger that takes 15-17 hours is a low current charger and will probably not 'overcharge' the batteries. Does the instruction manual warn you against leaving the charger on? It sounds like the charger was designed to be left on continuously so you will always have a fresh set of batteries when you are ready to ride.

BTW, if these are truely NiCad batteries as opposed to NiMH, they can develop a 'memory' where habitual recharging of partially discharged cells will eventually not take a full charge and will run down sooner. NiMH and Lithium Ion batteries do not have this problem. If you do develop the memory problem, use your light to fully discharge the batteries completely then recharge completely. This may restore the performance.
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Old 09-11-04, 04:22 PM   #3
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no, the instruction book specificly says that leaving it plugged in for more than 24 hours would damage the battery.
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Old 09-11-04, 04:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcavana
no, the instruction book specificly says that leaving it plugged in for more than 24 hours would damage the battery.
That's a sorry design. I would return the product if you can for something that has been engineered properly. You might research different manufacturers for on-line instructions and find something that is designed with the user in mind instead of the accountant.

I would look for something that will use standard rechargeable batteries. You can get NiMH AA cells pretty cheap. They have excellent storage capacity, no memory, and about 1000 recharge cycle life. A lead acid gel cell battery would be another great power source, though lead is pretty heavy!

If you are stuck with the light you got, then look at Home Depot or walmart for a timer. You can get a simple timer and set it up to turn on every day at 5PM and turn off at 7AM or so. There are timers that can run for some settable amount of time when activated, but I don't know if they will run for many hours at once.
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Old 09-11-04, 05:33 PM   #5
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NiCad batteries need to be discharged until almost totally dead. Then they need to be fully charged. Leaving any NiCad on a charger longer than necessary can promote premature failure. Very few chargers are built to detect the charge level and taper or shut off the charging current. This is a cost factor, I'm certain.

By following the proper procedure, I've gotten very long life out of NiCad batteries in many applications. These are just facts of life that one must follow to achieve the best performance from the product. Folks who can't or won't follow directions probably ought to buy a lot of Duracells.

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Old 09-11-04, 06:04 PM   #6
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well, i guess i will just keep rolling with it, guessing at charge times, and discharging and charging completely on the weekends. This part of it does suck, but i will NEVER get rid of the light. I HIGHLY recomend it for anyone who commutes, and needs reliable light at a resonable price.... for a rechargable system, that can go up to 25 watts, lasting 3 hours on 10 watts, that i don't have to fabricate, for 100 bucks is unbeatable in my opinion!
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Old 09-11-04, 07:58 PM   #7
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With a little math you can figure out how much time you need to charge the battery for, for example: You said it takes 15 to 17 hours to charge a fully discharged battery, now you used about 1/3 of the charge-simply recharge the battery for 5 to 6 hours! As far as overcharging the battery goes, there is a stupidly simple solution for that as well, just go down to Walmart and buy a cheap mechanical lamp timer! Then set the timer for however many hours you need for it to charge and the timer will turn off the charger after that time.
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Old 09-11-04, 09:15 PM   #8
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Go to a hobby shop that sells radio control models and they can sell you a charger that will fast charge the batteries then automatically shut off when fully charged. Most hobby shop owners will be fairly expert on charging systems. Expect to pay $50-$100 for an automatic fast charger.
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Old 09-11-04, 10:05 PM   #9
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Expect to pay $8 to $10 for a lamp timer, and fast charging a battery that was not intended to be fast charged will shorten the life of the battery due to the increase in heat (some are designed to handle fast charging, but the Cygo probably is not-check with Cygo before attempting to fast charge). By the way memory in a NiCad battery is a myth, it's actually voltage depression caused by overcharging. So here's the deal, don't deliberately discharge the batteries to avoid memory; don't leave the cells on trickle charge for long period of time-thus the need for a timer, and obviously don't overcharge-use the timer; do on occassion, if it didn't happen in normal use, fully discharge the battery down to roughly 90% then recharge-do this about every 30th time of use-it's called cycling the battery.
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Old 09-12-04, 02:30 PM   #10
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I have the same lights that you do. This is not a problem. If you don't already have one, go get one of those Christmas light timers. They usually have little plastic tabs that you stick in for "off" and "on." Simply do not install the tab for on. that way the charger can only receive power if you manually turn it on.

I just turn my timer on using the manual "on" switch and then set the red off timer 17 hours off from the present time. Then in 17 hours my charger goes off and my lights are charged and ready to go. BTW, i run my lights until the red led on the top of the lights tells me they are low, i then recharge. (this is per the instructions)
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