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Blackburn X3 battery - dead, or revivable?

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View Poll Results: How was your experience with the Blackburn X3 battery?
Used heavily, battery lasted a long time. Great!
50.00%
Used heavily, battery life seemed way to short. Waah!
0
0%
Didn't use much, battery still good after all this time. Great!
25.00%
Didn't use much, battery died of old age anyway. Waah!
25.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll

Blackburn X3 battery - dead, or revivable?

Old 09-21-11, 11:31 PM
  #1  
libove
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Blackburn X3 battery - dead, or revivable?

I have a five year old Blackburn lighting system X3 which has seen a total of maybe 15 hours of use. The last time I used it was probably over a year ago; I think I did remember to recharge the battery before storage, though I can't swear to that.
Yesterday I took out the pieces, found zero charge in the battery, plugged it in for 24 hours ... and still got no light at all.

I've tested the output of the charger/transformer with a simply voltmeter, and found about 15V output (seems right). With the simple equipment I own I can't test the amount of current that transformer is generating, but I assume that the transformer is good. The transformer gets slightly warm (as is normal). The battery never warms up (I don't recall whether it ever did during charging).

I detect no voltage across any two of the three poles on the battery output. (But that could be because there is something more complicated than a simple circuit there, given that the Blackburn X3 system has a remote control option available - I didn't buy that option, but I'm pretty sure that the battery is the same for all versions).

I called Blackburn warranty support, who 'helpfully' advised me that they offer absolutely no out-of-warranty support for the battery on this series, and suggested that I find a proper recycler to dispose of the $160 unit which I've used maybe ten times. Gee, thanks, Blackburn!!!

I've done battery surgery on my Marwi Nightpro light, replacing the pitiful little cells inside it's water bottle shaped and sized battery case with a set of 5 D-sized massive rechargeable cells which, at the expense of a bit over a kilogram of total weight, heh, give me four full hours of 20W lighting, so I'm up for the electrical part of any kind of possible repair or hack to bring this Blackburn light back to life, as long as I can open the Blackburn battery's case without trashing it beyond repair.

So, does anyone have experience reviving the battery in the Blackburn X3 system, or failing that, can anyone offer me advice on taking the Blackburn X3 battery unit apart as neatly as possible so that I can replace the innards myself?

Thanks,
Jay
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Old 09-22-11, 02:55 PM
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Sounds like you need a 12 or 13.2v battery. NiMH are heavy and cheaper (last time I looked), Li are lightweight, cost more, and won't last nearly as long as NiMH.

It's probably just as cheap to buy an assembled battery as it is to buy individual cells and assemble your own. My Marwi light had a great 7.2v / 8ah battery, using 4/3A NiMH cells. These cells are not common but they pack a lot of capacity for the weight.

https://www.batteryspace.com/asizeseriesbatteries.aspx

https://www.batteryspace.com/132vbatterypackseries.aspx

BTW Lowes and HD dispose of old cells for free, at returns desk.

Before you pour a lot of money into an old halogen light, you really should consider some LED lights. The battery cost alone will pay for most of a new Magicshine, for example.
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Old 09-23-11, 01:45 AM
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but, how to open the original Blackburn X3 battery case without damaging it too much?

Hi seeker,
Thanks for your thoughts! Finding the battery cells themselves isn't the problem; it's knowing how to crack open the case of the original Blackburn X3 battery unit without damaging the case beyond easy repair, in order to preserve the shape, mountings and electrical connections of that case.

Any ideas on how to do that with the Blackburn X3 original battery unit?

Cheers,
Jay

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
Sounds like you need a 12 or 13.2v battery. NiMH are heavy and cheaper (last time I looked), Li are lightweight, cost more, and won't last nearly as long as NiMH.

It's probably just as cheap to buy an assembled battery as it is to buy individual cells and assemble your own. My Marwi light had a great 7.2v / 8ah battery, using 4/3A NiMH cells. These cells are not common but they pack a lot of capacity for the weight.
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Old 09-23-11, 01:55 AM
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With the massive advances and price drops in LED technology over the last five years it might be more advantageous for you to simply buy a new light rather than try and build a battery pack for what was never a very good light in the first place.
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Old 09-23-11, 03:50 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
With the massive advances and price drops in LED technology over the last five years it might be more advantageous for you to simply buy a new light rather than try and build a battery pack for what was never a very good light in the first place.
Why do you say that this was never a very good light in the first place?

Regardless, a new light in a similar (or modern/better) class will set me back $150-$250. IFF I can open up this battery pack, then plus my time (which I'm willing to spend) the parts cost for batteries will probably be <$40.

Since this light was good enough for the purpose, to me it is still worth repairing.

I'd appreciate answers to my original question: How do I open this battery pack without damaging it beyond the ability to easily put it back together?

Thank you,
Jay
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Old 09-23-11, 09:43 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by libove View Post
Why do you say that this was never a very good light in the first place?

Regardless, a new light in a similar (or modern/better) class will set me back $150-$250. IFF I can open up this battery pack, then plus my time (which I'm willing to spend) the parts cost for batteries will probably be <$40.

Since this light was good enough for the purpose, to me it is still worth repairing.

I'd appreciate answers to my original question: How do I open this battery pack without damaging it beyond the ability to easily put it back together?

Thank you,
Jay
It's not very good as the battery mounting design is terrible and the light isn't very bright.

Nowadays you can get a quite bright and self contained light for around $100, and less if you are willing to use a flashlight.

FWIW I've heard of people using heat to open sealed battery packs. Maybe someplace like Candle Power Forums or MTBR (they've got a great DIY light section) would be helpful.
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Old 09-23-11, 02:25 PM
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Many of these enclosures are not made to be reopened - in fact they are difficult to open without tearing them half to pieces.

I see bolts in the X3 pictures on the internet. Take them out. Cut them if necessary. If housing still joined, pry and or cut apart at the joints. After that need a solder iron, for disassembly and reassembly.

It would probably be simpler to join cells in proper configuration (10S, 11S, 10S2P, 11S2P, whatever), wrap in heat-shrink-sleeve material (sold by battery stores), and fashion your own enclosure (may not need more than shrink wrap).

BTW you should be using cells with solder tabs, if available.
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Old 11-17-11, 10:59 AM
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I have a Blackburn x3 light system that went completely dead as well. I decided to crack open the black box and see what I could find! Here's the good news:
The battery pack is two halves held together by four screws. The screws are hidden under plastic caps on the side where the charger and lamp are plugged into. Remove the four screws which I think are 2 mm hex head. Pull the unit apart. You will find a circuit board, and five A cell NiMH batteries bundled together. Initially, I thought I would go buy some new batteries and solder them together to make a new battery pack. These batteries are available with solder tabs for about 4-7 bucks a pop, depending on where you get them. THEN, I noticed that there was another little 3 volt button cell (Panasonic CR 2025) located on the circuit board. I just happened to have one of these batteries handy. I inserted the new button cell into the holder and noted that the charge light began flashing red when I plugged in the charger! I left it on the charger for about ten minutes and what do you know, the headlamp turned on! I charged it overnight, and now the light will run for it's normal 3.5 hours at max intensity. I guess the 3V button cell powers the brain that controls the charging and operation of the light. This fix cost me four bucks and saved me unknown quantities of dough on a new light or battery pack. If the button cell does not do the trick, I suppose you could buy the A cell NiMH batteries and make yourself a new battery pack, it would be relatively easy if you know how to solder.

Remember: you can fix anything, you just can't fix everything!

I hope this works for you!

John
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Old 11-19-11, 04:39 PM
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Awfully nice of you to share this information, John; however it appears the OP hasn't been here since his last post nearly 2 months ago. My guess is your solution would have been his solution too.

I've never heard of a bike light configured as you describe (with a secondary button cell). Seems unnecessarily complicated for what I assume is a mode memory circuit. I bet Blackburn got a lot of returned headlights that simply needed a $4 button cell.
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Old 11-22-11, 12:04 PM
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Maybe someone with more than 50 posts can send libove a private message letting them know about my post regarding the repair of the Blackburn light. You can't send private messages from this site till you have 50 posts. Also, the screws that hold the two battery pack halves together are small Torx heads. I cut the bolts with a hacksaw from the corners of the battery pack. It is no longer water resistant unless some silicone is employed! There are probably a bunch of these things in closets or landfills that simply need a 3Volt button cell!
John
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Old 11-23-11, 09:24 PM
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done
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Old 11-24-11, 03:26 AM
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githerfixed, seeker, THANK YOU! You rule! It is so nice to see not only a perfect answer, but also such effort to get the reply back to me! Serious kudos!
Now, to see if I'm enough of a handyman to get this thing taken apart :-)
Will post back with my results in a few days...
Cheers!
-Jay
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Old 11-24-11, 03:57 AM
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Where are the screws hiding?

Following-up - I'm not as good a tinkerer as you are, githerfixed... What is the plastic cap, under which I would find the screws to disassemble the battery unit?
I'm attaching a picture of the battery unit, labelled with "1" and "2".
1 (of which there are four on each side of the battery unit) appears to be some kind of a weather cap over what, if I were building such a thing, would be where I'd put the screws. Is that where I need to find the screws you located? How did you get those weather caps out/off?
2 is a hard rubber wrapper which runs longitudinally all the way around the battery unit. It provides the non-slip, non-scratch surface which presses against the bicycle top tube. It can be partly pried up at various points, and at the bottom it has four snaps (two on each side) which can be easily lifted out of their matching anchor points in the hard plastic case on both sides of the battery. Are the screws which you found located somewhere underneath this hard rubber wrapper? If so, at what point, and how did you lift the wrapper enough to avoid tearing it? It sort-of looks like it was stretched over the whole battery unit, and with age I'm concerned about trying to stretch it back as I imagine it would tear.
Thanks again!
Jay
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Old 11-24-11, 07:45 AM
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Richard Cranium
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That's neat. Someone can quality help for an old light...... Hey that's almost better than the CP forums.......

Then again - new lights have benefits as well......
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Old 11-28-11, 11:04 AM
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Blackburn X3

Yes, your picture is showing the correct bolt covers. I just took a razor knife and kind of put the blade into the plastic on the caps (to get grip) then popped them out. I think the screw heads underneath are a 2 MM Torx head. The "rubber band" type thing around the battery housing should come off when you separate the two halves of the housing.

When I took my battery pack apart I thought it was heat sealed together. So, I took off the "rubber band" then took a hacksaw and cut the screws at the corners of the housing. "hack" is an operative word here! That's when I was able to see how the screws and caps were employed in the design. You should be able to separate the two halves as I have previously described.
Good Luck!
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Old 11-29-11, 09:51 AM
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Cool yes!

@githerfixed - You rule! You are the champion!
My X3 light works again!

"T9 Torx driver, €6,99. CR2032 battery, €2,99. X3 light system working again instead of buying a whole new one and committing yet more waste to the disposal stream, €priceless!"

With your excellent tinkering aid, I got my X3 battery pack open, found and replaced the little battery cell, fully re-charged and tested the light. Excellent!

Thank you so much!
(If you'll contact me directly, beer money's on me via Paypal! You can find my email address trivially by searching for my full name, below)
-Jay Libove
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Old 11-20-12, 08:14 AM
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@githerdone, you ROCK!

I had two Blackburn batteries that were dead to me, now raised to life! A couple of quick twists from my 1/8 in. drill bit and the four plugs came out easily. Quick trip to Lowes and $10 for the T9, two pancake batteries scrounged from an old blinkie and I'm in business again. Now it's off to the woods for a night ride, crisp November night, no leaves, bright moon...yup, life is GOOD!

Thanks @githerdone & libove!
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Old 11-20-12, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
done
See? There ARE some helpful people on this forum - and in this case - you happen to be one of them!
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Old 10-21-15, 01:40 PM
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I really appreciated that githerdone posted the instructions on how to open up the battery case on the X3! There is one little tidbit that I can add to this discussion: although my X3 came with A-size NiMH batteries, it appears that one can upgrade the batteries to 4/3 A size batteries if one removes the plastic spacer parts on either end of the battery pack. This will upgrade the storage capacity from 2.2 A-hr to 3.6 A-hr, giving 50% or greater run-times, at a weight increase of only about 3 ounces. My circuit board has an unpopulated connector and circuitry for a second light; I'm guessing that Blackburn shipped products that featured two lights with the larger batteries to keep run-times similar between the two products. You can get batteries at the on-line electronics distributor Digikey, by the way.
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