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02-07-2019, 10:02 PM   #1
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Testing Batteries?

Another useless thread by yours truly, but I have a new issue

I have one genuine Pentax battery that came with the K-1, and 3 non branded batteries. The non branded batteries are performing badly, literally dying within 30mins from full charge, or at least one or two are (and I'm being unlucky by always using that same crappy one and thinking they are all doing badly when in fact that's just not the case and one in particular is the culprit etc).
In addition to that I am chewing through AA batteries all the time. Yes I have rechargeable's (16 or so), but I still buy brand new packet ones from time to time when I see them on special, but I get in a bit of a mess with keeping track which ones are dead, been used partially and which ones are fresh. (I've done silly little 'drop onto the table' tests to try and get an idea of battery health but yeah I think I want something more advanced than that).

So it's occurred to me that some kind of battery testing device is needed, something to give me an idea of the health of the battery and expected duration/last-ability.

Can anyone recommend something that can be used for the following;

1) A gizmo that can be used for weird batteries such as the D-LI90 K-1 batteries as well as being compatible with more regular battery formats such as AA/AAAs?
2) Something that can make sense of the readings for thicko's such as I. Something that can tell me information such as;

a) If the battery is fully charged or 75% depleted, 50% and so on.
b) Something that allows me to calculate the health of the battery and how long it will last if put in 'x' device that consumes 'y' power? It might be that the battery is fully charged but gone are the days it's going to last like it used to etc.

It might be that nothing can really calculate part 'b)', but it sure would be swell if I could input what the K-1 approximately drains a battery at (it's rated in per shots taken or something? is there somekind of power drain figure given?) and then test certain batteries and just bin the ones that are showing as being pathetic etc. Same for AA's in flashes.

So does anything like this exist, something that's not overly complicated for a thicko like me to understand? I don't mind if the gizmo spits numbers at me that I don't understand as long as I can input said number/figure into some kind of equation given here which would give an indication of health etc.

Battery wise I think I will buy Pentax genuine this time. Last time I literally bought all 3 for the price of 1 new authentic one, but time does seem to wreck these other non branded batteries, they just don't seem to have the same longevity...

Anyone help?

TIA!

Bruce

02-07-2019, 10:27 PM   #2
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There are battery chargers, they tell you how many mAH are put to the battery. From the empty state to full they should transport more than 1500 mAh to the battery when the camera schows empty, if this below 1000mAh the battery is defect.
When you buy nonames, they should have the same weight as the original one, if not the haven't the capacitiy needed (it sounds weired but it works)
(Digibuddy Ladegerät 5401 für Digitalkamera & Camcorder mit Display | eBay plus a charging dock adapter D-Li90)

For one time Batteries there are devices to check whether they are full / half full or empty
( amazon.com: battery tester for aa / aaa?tag=pentaxforums-20& )
02-07-2019, 10:53 PM   #3
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Get a cheap multimeter from jaycar - they cost about $10, use the voltage function to measure voltage.

Rechargeable AA should be somewhere about 1.35v or so fully charged 1v is fully discharged
Standard AA (or AAA) is about 1.5v fully charged, again voltage drops as it's used up.

Fully charged camera battery about 8-8.2v or so , 7.4 nominal, and something like 7v discharged. Some of my no-name batteries don't make it to fully charged when I charge them, but I have found originals to have better capacity.

You can do discharge testing, but that is more complicated and requires more equipment.
02-08-2019, 12:06 AM   #4
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Even faulty batteries will reach 8.4 Volts but they only store 800mAh, therfore they will be empty soon. You must check the capacity not the Voltage.

For the check of one time batteries the voltage check ist ok

02-08-2019, 12:27 AM   #5
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I use a $15 tester I got from Amazon. It will test AAA, AA, and 9v. It will put a load on the battery and tell you with some lights as to the ability of the battery. It is very small so I can keep it in my camera bag. I use it all the time to check my flash AA batteries. Nothing worse that getting somewhere and only have a few flashes from batteries that were FULL from the charger. It will test Alkaline as well as Rechargeable.

Delkin Devices DD/BATTEST MULTI RoHS AA/AAA Battery Power Tester
02-08-2019, 12:41 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by joergens.mi Quote
Even faulty batteries will reach 8.4 Volts but they only store 800mAh, therfore they will be empty soon. You must check the capacity not the Voltage.

For the check of one time batteries the voltage check ist ok
Agreed, but accurately testing capacity is more complicated - you could test using a live screen (just leaving the camera on till it shuts down and timing it) to get a ballpark figure compared to a known good battery. But without a known load and some test gear it's hard for a non techie person to test.
02-08-2019, 11:40 AM   #7
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A few tips:
Be careful mixing batteries of different ages, brands, charge levels, etc. The usable life of any multi-cell set of batteries in a device will be determined by the weakest battery. Worse, the stronger batteries in the set will end up driving current through the weak battery and damaging it.

You can find the weaklings in a set by fully charging all the batteries, using the set and then checking voltages right after the set goes dead. Weak or dying batteries will show strange behavior in the charger, too. A weak battery might give a "fully charged" green light more quickly than it's stronger companions or take much longer than it's stronger companions to charge.

I don't know if the 'drop onto the table' trick works for NiMH cells but it's a recipe for explosions and fires for lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries can be damaged by fully draining them or leaving them drained.


02-08-2019, 12:35 PM   #8
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My recommendation: Hähnel UniPal Plus
Unipal Plus

Alternative: Onni-Tec digibuddy 5401 (optional adapter from 5V USB to 12V DC5521 available)
b2b.onni-tec.de/camera-accessories/chargers/models-dtc-5101-digibuddy-5401/otb-spannungswandler-5v-usb-auf-12v-fur-5101-ladegerat.html


Thread about using Panasonic compatible chargers:
Battery cross compatibility - Pentax D-LI90 and Panasonic BLF19

Thread about ProCube2 adapter for D-Li90:
Hähnel PROCUBE2 - 3D printed adapter for Pentax D-Li90

Thread about storing D-Li90 batteries:
How do you ~safely~ store your D-LI90 batteries ?

Thread about USB chargers for D-Li90:
USB Battery Chargers for Lithium Batteries
02-08-2019, 02:20 PM   #9
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It's a bit of a guess-by-gosh thing to determine battery state by measuring the terminal voltage (though it can be done and is done pretty well for lithium ion batteries) but the terminal voltage will vary depending on when it was last used and whether it was charged or discharged. One usually has to let a battery set for some time without a connection before any sense can be made of the terminal readings relative to state of charge.

AlphaPower makes a small charger capable of AA and AAA NiCd and NiH batteries and it does both charging and testing for those. It won't do state of charge but will tell you what the battery capacity is after doing a charge-discharge-charge cycle, and thus is good for separating duds from usable batteries of those types.

In a sense you're finding the bad Li batteries just by using them. Unlike NiCd and some NiH batteries that can be reclaimed by cycling, Li batteries don't have memory effects and what you see is what you get - cycling just lowers their overall life since they have a given number of good cycles in their lifespans. It's best when a Li battery falls short of holding a charge just to toss it (recycle if possible) and get a new replacement. Never try to reclaim a Li that has been run to a dead state and left there. It is risky to try to bring a Li back to life when it has been run to near zero. NiCd and NiH are capable of being completely drained and sometimes benefit from it (reducing memory effect), but Li batteries rebel when completely discharged and may give you a non-operative result. Try to keep Li batteries above their 20% point and preferably higher than that, but store them at less than 100% (50-70% usually works).

I just use rechargeable batteries until they show significant capacity loss and then get rid of them. There's nothing worse than having a battery go bad at that inopportune moment, and bad cells just get worse and worse.

Last edited by Bob 256; 02-08-2019 at 02:25 PM.
02-08-2019, 11:39 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sqrrl Quote
Agreed, but accurately testing capacity is more complicated - you could test using a live screen (just leaving the camera on till it shuts down and timing it) to get a ballpark figure compared to a known good battery. But without a known load and some test gear it's hard for a non techie person to test.

I'm not interested to determine the exact capacity of the battery, it isn't of any interest. An empty good D-Li90 Accu from a K1 will take roundabout 1800mAh (starting by 6.8 Volts ending by 8.4 Volts in the Diggibuddy charger), the same battery will take 1600 mAh when empty in a K-3 (going from 7.1 to 8.4 Volts). Yes the two cameras say empty at different voltages. empty: the red batter indicator to be seen.


A bad battery in the same situation roundabout 900 mAh K1 and 800 with the K3.


Al measurements are the mAh delivered from the charger to the battery not the exact capacity of the battery. But I can determine wether a battery wents bad ore that the vendor is not telling the truth. Advertisement 2100 mAh Capacity but only getting 1000mAh loaded and the weight less then half of the original or good third party ones is fraud.

When I by third party one's the first thing is putting it on an electronic balance. Weighed and felt too light is sent back.

And a second thing we are here on camera forum, not on a battery quality forum and the TO says
"

1) A gizmo that can be used for weird batteries such as the D-LI90 K-1 batteries as well as being compatible with more regular battery formats such as AA/AAAs?
2) Something that can make sense of the readings for thicko's such as I. Something that can tell me information such as;
....
"


02-09-2019, 12:29 AM   #11
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I use a Innova 3320 Autoranging Multimeter, I use it for other electrical testing, but it works well with AA, AAA and other small batteries. It gives precise numbers and I think is very accurate. It's a bit on the pricey side, but I trust it.

I haven't tried it on my Pentax D-LI90 batteries, but with these I find my in camera battery tester in both my K5 and K1 works very well in telling me the strength left in the battery.

I've never used aftermarket batteries in either my K10D, K5 or K1...always have one rechargeable Pentax battery in the bodies and another fully charged one in the battery grip. I use battery grips for the three bodies. I believe in the old saying that you get what you pay for and I have heard other stories about some aftermarket batts. So far my Pentax batts have not let me down...touch wood.

I also have a Km and it takes regular AA batteries. I generally use my rechargeable Sony AA batteries in this body, but I note they don't seem to have the lifespan and ability to maintain a decent charge as they get older. I use a Sony charger with them.

With the K1,K5 and K10D...I wouldn't buy aftermarket batteries for these cameras. The Pentax batts do very well, are reliable and maintain good charge in my experience.

For my 360 flash I use a Kirkland AA batteries from Costco. They're cheap, last ok and do the job. Don't know if you're close to a Costco.
02-09-2019, 12:34 AM   #12
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Joergens - I haven't used any of the things that you have mentioned, apart from the electronic scales, but I doubt that's relevant. I'm not really %100 sure what you're saying.

I know how to test actual capacity by charge/discharge using a couple of multimeters, a resistor pack, an excel spreadsheet and a stopwatch - I've never bothered to do it, but I know how. I don't know another cheap way to do it though.

When i suggested a multimeter it was an answer to everything apart from measuring actual capacity, you can judge that roughly by how long the camera takes to run down. Plus a multimeter is cheap, simple, and has a bunch of uses in photography.
02-09-2019, 06:44 AM   #13
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West Mountain Radio makes a Computerized Battery Analyzer - you can test just about anything with it.
West Mountain Radio - Computerized Battery Analyzer
It will give you a nice graph of the discharge curve. I havent tested it with my Pentax batteries.


I've used Maha Powerex Imedion batteries for years, and recently switched to Panasonic Eneloop Pro batteries - both hold up well in my flashes, and hold a charge when not in use.
Imedion AA 2400mAh (4-Pack) - Maha Energy
BK3HCCA4BA eneloop? - Panasonic Canada


The charger can make a huge difference.
The Maha MH-C9000 rapidly charges, and each individual battery slot gets its own charge characteristics, so you can charge and test a mix of batteries.
Products - Chargers - Maha Energy
It has brought a few back from the dead as well. It also has shown me the ones that appear good to a voltmeter, but fail under load.
Fast charging does decrease the life of the batteries somewhat. You can set the rate on this one.
The Eneloop pro charger is slow, but is fine if you do it before bedtime.
02-14-2019, 02:33 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
The non branded batteries are performing badly, literally dying within 30mins from full charge, or at least one or two are (and I'm being unlucky by always using that same crappy one and thinking they are all doing badly when in fact that's just not the case and one in particular is the culprit etc).
Step1, Number or label your batteries. Date purchased is also useful.
02-14-2019, 05:14 PM   #15
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My Powerex 8 slot AA/AAA smart charger works great to recondition batteries while in the slow charge mode. It has brought a few AA batteries back to life.


The Pentax batteries I use are nice because they have a date of manufacture on them. For the third party batteries I have had good experiences using the Watson batteries from B&H. Kapaxen batteries not so much. But the chargers were cheap and work fine. Add a small label with date of purchase to third party batteries.


My AA batteries I keep in clear cases that hold 4 batteries each. If the batteries are fresh and not used they are all aligned the same direction in the container. If I have used them and then removed them because I don't plan on using that item soon, I alternate the direction in the case. It I have the time, I always use the slow conditioning charge rather than the fast charge to help extend battery life.


With my camera batteries, charged batteries are placed in a pouch contacts down. Batteries needing charging are placed in their pouch contacts up. FWIW, I never get anywhere close to the rated number of shots per battery on my camera. Totally due to the way I use the camera and not the camera's fault. I use Think Tank and Lens coat battery pouches for my camera batteries. Handy, can be worn on a belt or camera strap and take up little room in my camera bags.
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