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How to fix a dead PowerBook battery ?

Message #1 - Posted 2006/12/16 - cab

Hi all,

My PowerBook (G4 Gigabit EN) original battery ended its useful life last January after 4-1/2 years of good service. Remaining capacity 700mAh, down from the original 3900mAh.

So I purchased a replacement one from AboutBatteries.com (Apple parts are so expensive...). That battery is already showing severe loss of capacity, 2360mAh today (11 months life) down from the original 3900mAh. But the warranty was only 6 months (!) so they are ignoring my request for exchange...

So I am pretty disappointed and I suspect that AboutBatteries are using some brand of cheap battery cells instead of the original Panasonic CGR 18650.

Now, I might buy a set of 8 new Panasonic cells and mount them into the old, original Apple battery pack. I opened it and this looks quite feasible, just make sure to order battery cells with soldering tabs. That would be an opportunity to mount cells with higher capacity than the original ones, 8pcs of 3.7V-2200mAh would make a 14.4V-4400mAh pack.

Has anyone done this before ???

If I do this I would certainly like to charge / discharge this reworked pack a few times before inserting it into my PB...
Who would know the pinout of the battery pack ?
+ are there separate in/out positive pins ?
+ need to connect the other pins ?
+ do I need a special charger or can I connect the PB's mains unit directly (assuming there is no other voltage converter in the PB) ?

CAB

Message #2 - Posted 2006/12/16 - John Johnson

Previously, cab wrote:

Hi all,

My PowerBook (G4 Gigabit EN) original battery ended its useful life last January after 4-1/2 years of good service. Remaining capacity 700mAh, down from the original 3900mAh.

So I purchased a replacement one from AboutBatteries.com (Apple parts are so expensive...). That battery is already showing severe loss of capacity, 2360mAh today (11 months life) down from the original 3900mAh. But the warranty was only 6 months (!) so they are ignoring my request for exchange...

Depending on your use of the battery, this might be perfectly reasonable. As the battery warranty is only 6 months, AboutBatteries.com's response is also perfectly reasonable.

Now, I might buy a set of 8 new Panasonic cells and mount them into the old, original Apple battery pack. I opened it and this looks quite feasible, just make sure to order battery cells with soldering tabs. That would be an opportunity to mount cells with higher capacity than the original ones, 8pcs of 3.7V-2200mAh would make a 14.4V-4400mAh pack.

Has anyone done this before ???

If I do this I would certainly like to charge / discharge this reworked pack a few times before inserting it into my PB...
Who would know the pinout of the battery pack ?
+ are there separate in/out positive pins ?
+ need to connect the other pins ?
+ do I need a special charger or can I connect the PB's mains unit directly (assuming there is no other voltage converter in the PB) ?

CAB

Unless you're experienced working with Li-ion rechargeable cells, I can't recommend rebuilding your original battery. The safety concerns aside (and they are significant, as battery fires, etc. indicate), you need to know how to attach new cells to the charge controller, and to reset that controller.

Frankly, based on the questions you're asking, I think that you'd do better to spend the extra $60 on a Newertech battery (depending on location, etc.). A charger would set you back a fair chunk, and your time is worth something.

Later,
John

johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu

'indiana' is a 'nolnn' and 'hoosier' is a 'solkk'. Indiana doesn't solkk.

Message #3 - Posted 2007/01/04 - cab

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

Hi all,

My PowerBook (G4 Gigabit EN) original battery ended its useful life last
January after 4-1/2 years of good service. Remaining capacity 700mAh, down from the original 3900mAh.

So I purchased a replacement one from AboutBatteries.com (Apple parts are so expensive...). That battery is already showing severe loss of capacity, 2360mAh today (11 months life) down from the original 3900mAh.
But the warranty was only 6 months (!) so they are ignoring my request for exchange...

Depending on your use of the battery, this might be perfectly reasonable. As the battery warranty is only 6 months, AboutBatteries.com's response is also perfectly reasonable.

I totally disagree... a battery that loses most of its capacity in less than one year is a pure crookery.

But a battery with a mean life of about 500 recharge cycles losing 40% of its capacity in 11 months is entirely within the realm of the reasonable. As John said, it depends on your usage patterns.

G

So far it has gone over 123 cycles...

Now _that's_ a problem.

Yeah. Wow.

Still, I can't fault Aboutbatteries.com, except for selling crappy batteries. Their terms were 6 month warranty and it lasted almost twice as long. Given that their price was so much lower than everyone else's, you realistically couldn't expect much from the battery.

Actually, it's odd how much less the 14.4V Li-ion batteries are than the other sorts. The Pismo and iBook batteries there have prices much closer to what I'd expect to pay, but the PB and (a different) iBook batteries are amazingly cheap. I think that their batteries are also lower capacity than Apple's originals, never mind NewerTech's uprated ones.

Summary: yup, it's a crap battery, and certainly irritating that it puked so quickly, but that's cheap gear for you. Moving on is really the best option, IMO. You've got a new battery from a reputable company, and I feel confident in predicting a good experience.

I purchased a battery from Newertech a couple of weeks ago. They claim 4400 mAh, better than the original Apple model. Well, this battery is declining very fast :
1st cycle (after more than 12h continuous charge, as advised by Newertech): 4400mAh displayed
after full drain and recharge : 4144mAh displayed
after 2nd cycle : 3888 mAh
after 3rd cycle : 3553 mAh
after 4th cycle : 3297 mAh
after 5th cycle : 3240 mAh
after 6th cycle : 2984 mAh
after 7th cycle : 2728 mAh

Am I doing something fundamentally wrong ??? I am careful to fully charge the battery (leaving the charger connected a few hours after the battery displays 100%) and to use it until the Mac goes to sleep (and does not wake up any more), so I can't see a problem there. Voltage looks ok as well.
I also did the PMU reset, no improvement so far.

Or is Newertech also using crap cells ??? They pretend to use good quality cells (which pushed me to purchase from them despite the high price, I am located in Europe and freight is expensive).

Their customer support does not look responsive at all. I sent them feedback a couple of times using their on-line form, no answer so far...

Does anyone have a good advice to me ???

CAB

Message #4 - Posted 2007/01/04 - John Johnson

Previously, cab wrote:

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

Hi all,

My PowerBook (G4 Gigabit EN) original battery ended its useful life last
January after 4-1/2 years of good service. Remaining capacity 700mAh, down from the original 3900mAh.

So I purchased a replacement one from AboutBatteries.com (Apple parts are so expensive...). That battery is already showing severe loss of capacity, 2360mAh today (11 months life) down from the original 3900mAh.
But the warranty was only 6 months (!) so they are ignoring my request
for exchange...

Depending on your use of the battery, this might be perfectly reasonable. As the battery warranty is only 6 months, AboutBatteries.com's response is also perfectly reasonable.

I totally disagree... a battery that loses most of its capacity in less than one year is a pure crookery.

But a battery with a mean life of about 500 recharge cycles losing 40% of its capacity in 11 months is entirely within the realm of the reasonable. As John said, it depends on your usage patterns.

G

So far it has gone over 123 cycles...

Now _that's_ a problem.

Yeah. Wow.

Still, I can't fault Aboutbatteries.com, except for selling crappy batteries. Their terms were 6 month warranty and it lasted almost twice as long. Given that their price was so much lower than everyone else's, you realistically couldn't expect much from the battery.

Actually, it's odd how much less the 14.4V Li-ion batteries are than the other sorts. The Pismo and iBook batteries there have prices much closer to what I'd expect to pay, but the PB and (a different) iBook batteries are amazingly cheap. I think that their batteries are also lower capacity than Apple's originals, never mind NewerTech's uprated ones.

Summary: yup, it's a crap battery, and certainly irritating that it puked so quickly, but that's cheap gear for you. Moving on is really the best option, IMO. You've got a new battery from a reputable company, and I feel confident in predicting a good experience.

I purchased a battery from Newertech a couple of weeks ago. They claim 4400 mAh, better than the original Apple model. Well, this battery is declining very fast :
1st cycle (after more than 12h continuous charge, as advised by Newertech): 4400mAh displayed
after full drain and recharge : 4144mAh displayed
after 2nd cycle : 3888 mAh
after 3rd cycle : 3553 mAh
after 4th cycle : 3297 mAh
after 5th cycle : 3240 mAh
after 6th cycle : 2984 mAh
after 7th cycle : 2728 mAh

Am I doing something fundamentally wrong ??? I am careful to fully charge the battery (leaving the charger connected a few hours after the battery displays 100%) and to use it until the Mac goes to sleep (and does not wake up any more), so I can't see a problem there. Voltage looks ok as well.

Li-ion batteries don't need to be fully discharged before being recharged. It's slightly better to recharge them as often as you can.

Read here for more:
http://www.apple.com/batteries/ http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html

I'm beginning to suspect that there's something wrong with your PowerBook; it doesn't appear to be charging the battery fully. NewerTech is a pretty reliable company, IME, with quality products. I've never had to use their support system, so can't really comment about how good or bad it is. They might be slow to respond because of the Christman/New Year holiday.

Later,
John

johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu

'indiana' is a 'nolnn' and 'hoosier' is a 'solkk'. Indiana doesn't solkk.

Message #5 - Posted 2007/01/05 - cab

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

Gregory Weston wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

Hi all,

My PowerBook (G4 Gigabit EN) original battery ended its useful life last
January after 4-1/2 years of good service. Remaining capacity 700mAh, down from the original 3900mAh.

So I purchased a replacement one from AboutBatteries.com (Apple parts are so expensive...). That battery is already showing severe loss of capacity, 2360mAh today (11 months life) down from the original 3900mAh.
But the warranty was only 6 months (!) so they are ignoring my request
for exchange...

Depending on your use of the battery, this might be perfectly reasonable. As the battery warranty is only 6 months, AboutBatteries.com's response is also perfectly reasonable.

I totally disagree... a battery that loses most of its capacity in less than one year is a pure crookery.

But a battery with a mean life of about 500 recharge cycles losing 40% of its capacity in 11 months is entirely within the realm of the reasonable. As John said, it depends on your usage patterns.

G

So far it has gone over 123 cycles...

Now _that's_ a problem.

Yeah. Wow.

Still, I can't fault Aboutbatteries.com, except for selling crappy batteries. Their terms were 6 month warranty and it lasted almost twice as long. Given that their price was so much lower than everyone else's, you realistically couldn't expect much from the battery.

Actually, it's odd how much less the 14.4V Li-ion batteries are than the other sorts. The Pismo and iBook batteries there have prices much closer to what I'd expect to pay, but the PB and (a different) iBook batteries are amazingly cheap. I think that their batteries are also lower capacity than Apple's originals, never mind NewerTech's uprated ones.

Summary: yup, it's a crap battery, and certainly irritating that it puked so quickly, but that's cheap gear for you. Moving on is really the best option, IMO. You've got a new battery from a reputable company, and I feel confident in predicting a good experience.

I purchased a battery from Newertech a couple of weeks ago. They claim 4400 mAh, better than the original Apple model. Well, this battery is declining very fast :
1st cycle (after more than 12h continuous charge, as advised by Newertech): 4400mAh displayed
after full drain and recharge : 4144mAh displayed
after 2nd cycle : 3888 mAh
after 3rd cycle : 3553 mAh
after 4th cycle : 3297 mAh
after 5th cycle : 3240 mAh
after 6th cycle : 2984 mAh
after 7th cycle : 2728 mAh

Am I doing something fundamentally wrong ??? I am careful to fully charge the battery (leaving the charger connected a few hours after the battery displays 100%) and to use it until the Mac goes to sleep (and does not wake up any more), so I can't see a problem there. Voltage looks ok as well.

Li-ion batteries don't need to be fully discharged before being recharged. It's slightly better to recharge them as often as you can.

Read here for more:
http://www.apple.com/batteries/ http://www.apple.com/batteries/notebooks.html

I'm beginning to suspect that there's something wrong with your PowerBook; it doesn't appear to be charging the battery fully. NewerTech is a pretty reliable company, IME, with quality products. I've never had to use their support system, so can't really comment about how good or bad it is. They might be slow to respond because of the Christman/New Year holiday.

Thanks for the links !

Sure, it may be that my PowerBook's charging circuitry is faulty. I need to give the battery to someone having a TiBook for comparison.

First hint is that the voltage at 100% charge (after leaving it charging overnight) is 16.42V which looks quite normal.

Message #6 - Posted 2007/01/05 - David Empson

cab wrote:

I purchased a battery from Newertech a couple of weeks ago. They claim 4400 mAh, better than the original Apple model. Well, this battery is declining very fast :
1st cycle (after more than 12h continuous charge, as advised by Newertech): 4400mAh displayed
after full drain and recharge : 4144mAh displayed
after 2nd cycle : 3888 mAh
after 3rd cycle : 3553 mAh
after 4th cycle : 3297 mAh
after 5th cycle : 3240 mAh
after 6th cycle : 2984 mAh
after 7th cycle : 2728 mAh

I agree with other posters - it sounds like there is something wrong with your laptop's power management circuitry.

I have a NewerTech replacement battery for my PowerBook G4 DVI. I bought the battery about two years ago and System Profiler is reporting 478 cycles, with full charge capacity of 4043 mAh (though I haven't calibrated it recently so this might be inaccurate). According to the label on the battery, its original capacity was 4800 mAh.

I am still getting in the order of two hours of useful life out of the battery. This is a lot better than the original Apple battery, which needed to be replaced after about two years (at which point it was down to about fifteen minutes of usable life).

Am I doing something fundamentally wrong ??? I am careful to fully charge the battery (leaving the charger connected a few hours after the battery displays 100%) and to use it until the Mac goes to sleep (and does not wake up any more), so I can't see a problem there.

The "use to fully charge then use to fully discharge" pattern isn't necessary for a Lithium Ion battery, in fact it will reduce the lifespan of the battery.

The best procedure is to a full discharge once, then fully charge the battery (leaving it plugged in for a while after it says 100%), then use the computer normally, plugging it in whenever possible.

The lifespan of a lithium ion battery is counted in full discharge cycles, and partial discharges only count part way towards a full discharge, so you will get longer life by minimising the time you are running off battery.

You should occasionally repeat the full discharge and recharge, as that will recalibrate the battery, giving you a better estimate of available power.

Despite doing unnecessary full discharges, your battery is declining at a rate which is much faster than I would expect.

Or is Newertech also using crap cells ??? They pretend to use good quality cells (which pushed me to purchase from them despite the high price, I am located in Europe and freight is expensive).

I'm located in New Zealand. The cost of buying a genuine Apple battery or importing a NewerTech one were almost identical, allowing for freight. (I think the NewerTech one worked out to be about US$10 more expensive.) The Apple one wasn't in stock, and the NewerTech one was higher capacity. No contest, and I've been very pleased with it.

Apple parts are a bit cheaper in New Zealand now, so the comparison might not be so rosy.

Their customer support does not look responsive at all. I sent them feedback a couple of times using their on-line form, no answer so far...

Does anyone have a good advice to me ???

Not if they won't reply to you. You might have to try ringing them, though this is the holiday season so they might be out of the office.

David Empson
dempson@actrix.gen.nz

Message #7 - Posted 2007/01/07 - cab

David Empson wrote:

cab wrote:

I purchased a battery from Newertech a couple of weeks ago. They claim 4400 mAh, better than the original Apple model. Well, this battery is declining very fast :
1st cycle (after more than 12h continuous charge, as advised by Newertech): 4400mAh displayed
after full drain and recharge : 4144mAh displayed
after 2nd cycle : 3888 mAh
after 3rd cycle : 3553 mAh
after 4th cycle : 3297 mAh
after 5th cycle : 3240 mAh
after 6th cycle : 2984 mAh
after 7th cycle : 2728 mAh

I agree with other posters - it sounds like there is something wrong with your laptop's power management circuitry.

I have a NewerTech replacement battery for my PowerBook G4 DVI. I bought the battery about two years ago and System Profiler is reporting 478 cycles, with full charge capacity of 4043 mAh (though I haven't calibrated it recently so this might be inaccurate). According to the label on the battery, its original capacity was 4800 mAh.

I am still getting in the order of two hours of useful life out of the battery. This is a lot better than the original Apple battery, which needed to be replaced after about two years (at which point it was down to about fifteen minutes of usable life).

Am I doing something fundamentally wrong ??? I am careful to fully charge the battery (leaving the charger connected a few hours after the battery displays 100%) and to use it until the Mac goes to sleep (and does not wake up any more), so I can't see a problem there.

The "use to fully charge then use to fully discharge" pattern isn't necessary for a Lithium Ion battery, in fact it will reduce the lifespan of the battery.

The best procedure is to a full discharge once, then fully charge the battery (leaving it plugged in for a while after it says 100%), then use the computer normally, plugging it in whenever possible.

The lifespan of a lithium ion battery is counted in full discharge cycles, and partial discharges only count part way towards a full discharge, so you will get longer life by minimising the time you are running off battery.

You should occasionally repeat the full discharge and recharge, as that will recalibrate the battery, giving you a better estimate of available power.

Despite doing unnecessary full discharges, your battery is declining at a rate which is much faster than I would expect.

Or is Newertech also using crap cells ??? They pretend to use good quality cells (which pushed me to purchase from them despite the high price, I am located in Europe and freight is expensive).

I'm located in New Zealand. The cost of buying a genuine Apple battery or importing a NewerTech one were almost identical, allowing for freight. (I think the NewerTech one worked out to be about US$10 more expensive.) The Apple one wasn't in stock, and the NewerTech one was higher capacity. No contest, and I've been very pleased with it.

Apple parts are a bit cheaper in New Zealand now, so the comparison might not be so rosy.

Their customer support does not look responsive at all. I sent them feedback a couple of times using their on-line form, no answer so far...

Does anyone have a good advice to me ???

Not if they won't reply to you. You might have to try ringing them, though this is the holiday season so they might be out of the office.

I lent my Newertech battery to a friend who has a PowerBook Titanium 1GHz which is very similar to mine and accepts the same battery types. He did a few discharge/charge cycles to force the battery to recalibrate. The System Profiles now shows 2636 mAh, just below the last capacity of 2728 I had seen before this test. So both PowerBooks charge the battery to the same level. I am now pretty sure that the battery is faulty, not my Mac's circuitry or my charger.
BTW, it looks the battery now does not chrge to 100% any more, only to 99%. Not that this makes a lot of difference, but I believe it is another sign of degradation. To be followed, of course.

Message #8 - Posted 2007/01/07 - John Johnson

Previously, cab wrote:

David Empson wrote:

cab wrote:

Their customer support does not look responsive at all. I sent them feedback a couple of times using their on-line form, no answer so far...

Does anyone have a good advice to me ???

Not if they won't reply to you. You might have to try ringing them, though this is the holiday season so they might be out of the office.

I lent my Newertech battery to a friend who has a PowerBook Titanium 1GHz which is very similar to mine and accepts the same battery types. He did a few discharge/charge cycles to force the battery to recalibrate. The System Profiles now shows 2636 mAh, just below the last capacity of 2728 I had seen before this test. So both PowerBooks charge the battery to the same level. I am now pretty sure that the battery is faulty, not my Mac's circuitry or my charger.
BTW, it looks the battery now does not chrge to 100% any more, only to 99%. Not that this makes a lot of difference, but I believe it is another sign of degradation. To be followed, of course.

Well, that makes it more likely that the problem is in the battery. I hope NewerTech comes through for you!

Later,
John

johajohn@indianahoosiers.edu

'indiana' is a 'nolnn' and 'hoosier' is a 'solkk'. Indiana doesn't solkk.

Message #9 - Posted 2007/01/12 - cab

John Johnson wrote:

Previously, cab wrote:

David Empson wrote:

cab wrote:

Their customer support does not look responsive at all. I sent them feedback a couple of times using their on-line form, no answer so far...

Does anyone have a good advice to me ???

Not if they won't reply to you. You might have to try ringing them, though this is the holiday season so they might be out of the office.

I lent my Newertech battery to a friend who has a PowerBook Titanium 1GHz which is very similar to mine and accepts the same battery types. He did a few discharge/charge cycles to force the battery to recalibrate. The System Profiles now shows 2636 mAh, just below the last capacity of 2728 I had seen before this test. So both PowerBooks charge the battery to the same level. I am now pretty sure that the battery is faulty, not my Mac's circuitry or my charger.
BTW, it looks the battery now does not chrge to 100% any more, only to 99%. Not that this makes a lot of difference, but I believe it is another sign of degradation. To be followed, of course.

Well, that makes it more likely that the problem is in the battery. I hope NewerTech comes through for you!

Ok, I sent the (probably) defective battery to OWC after having a phone call with them. The support guy was quite responsive and gave me a RMA number, then sent me the shipping instructions by e-mail in a matter of minutes.
I hope the replacement battery will be a good one... it cost me a 20 minutes overseas call plus $20 shipment. Plus so much time spent for doing tests.

Message #10 - Posted 2007/01/15 - one.miguel

cab;2713073 Wrote:

Ok, I sent the (probably) defective battery to OWC after having a phone
call with them. The support guy was quite responsive and gave me a RMA number, then sent me the shipping instructions by e-mail in a matter of
minutes.
I hope the replacement battery will be a good one... it cost me a 20 minutes overseas call plus $20 shipment. Plus so much time spent for doing tests.

Hi Cab -

I've seen the same thing with a NewerTech battery. I have a 12-inch G4 and what I found was:

Advertised Capacity: 5500mah

First Battery:
Inital calibration: 4400mah capacity
Every full discharge/charge: -200mah capacity

I sent the battery back when the capacity hit 3000mah.

Second Battery:
Inital calibration: 4400mah capacity
Every full discharge/charge: -200mah capacity

This time, I just ignored it instead of RMAing it because the battery seemed to last fairly long, lasting over an hour after the charge level is reported at 0%!

This weekend, I hit 1000mah capacity. Battery is still lasting long (about 3.5 hours of normal use, about 2.5 hours of intense use - subjective terms of course). It goes for over 5 hours just sitting there.

Then, after a charge/discharge, capacity went UP to 1200mah. Next cycle, to 1400mah. But then it went back down to 1200mah just now. *sigh*

The thing is:

Reported capacity is off, but the battery performs otherwise. The meter is also wrong (of course). I'm usually at 0% for over an hour. Watching the voltage is XBattery seems to be my best guage right now.

Please let me know what you find. I still have time to RMA this second battery, so I'll just wait and see what happens for a few more weeks.

And of course, anyone's thoughts are welcome as well!

one.miguel

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