Jason_25
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 6:25 pm

The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:34 pm

I am looking for a lithium ion charger board with a USB output. The requirements are:
1. No soldering required - this means a micro USB connector for charging, USB type A connector for output, and JST connector for battery
2. Passthrough / load sharing - this means it will run the device and charge the battery simultaneously
3. 2A output
4. Small as possible

Let me go through some of the lithium-ion only approaches that I have experimented with:
A. Commercial passthrough USB battery/charger
http://shop.mycharge.com/collections/all
Only one major brand supports this feature: MyCharge. Unfortunately their higher amperage units are too bulky for a small project.
B. Dedicated board #1
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WDQ ... ge_o04_s00
This does not support passthrough/load sharing necessitating an awkward wiring harness with switch for charging and running at the same time. Great charger though with a screen, flashlight feature and the battery leads are presoldered and strong.
C. Dedicated board #2
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VDP ... ge_o02_s01
This also does not support passthrough/load sharing. It also requires soldering battery leads and only uses a simple status LED. It is slightly more compact with a different connector configuration.
D. Dedicated board #1 or #2 as output ONLY with a separate external lithium-ion charger
1. This would require another custom wiring harness tied into the battery wiring with a female connector for external charging
2. This would no longer function like a typical device and require a specialized external charger
3. Depending on the charger characteristics, It could cause the output board to detect a fault and shut down
E. Adafruit Powerboost 1000C
https://www.adafruit.com/products/2465
This fits the bill in almost every way. Unfortunately it has problems too.
1. Requires soldering on the USB type A connector - this is by far the biggest problem. I am too mentally and physically handicapped for this.
2. Only available from a single source. Apparently no other storefront in the world has seen a need for this type of product. If a product based on one of their parts gets too popular they could pull the plug for any reason.
3. Adafruit does not provide phone or email support for their products! I've never even heard of such a thing before. This alone makes we want to find another alternative.

So you can see that is it not for a lack of trying that I am unable to find a reliable lithium-ion charger / output board. Indeed, my entire work is at a total standstill now because of this. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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chrisoh
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Location: Essex, UK

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:47 pm

Maybe if you contact adafruit they will pre-solder them for you, at a small cost maybe?
Raspberry Pi 3 model B Idle @ 250mA
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Douglas6
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Location: Chicago, IL

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:58 pm

Jason_25 wrote:3. Adafruit does not provide phone or email support for their products! I've never even heard of such a thing before. This alone makes we want to find another alternative
Of course they do; arguably some of the best support in the business. Email support@adafruit.com, or use the forums: forums.adafruit.com.

If you want to be a musician, you need to learn to play an instrument. If you want to be an electronics maker, you need to learn to solder.
Last edited by Douglas6 on Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rpdom
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Location: Chelmsford, Essex, UK

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:02 pm

Douglas6 wrote:If you want to be an electronics maker, you need to learn to solder.
That's rather harsh in this case!
Jason_25 wrote:1. Requires soldering on the USB type A connector - this is by far the biggest problem. I am too mentally and physically handicapped for this.
Do you have a local amateur radio or electronics club? They might offer to do the soldering and any other tricky bits for you. Maybe even a local school with an electronics club.

They would probably appreciate feedback on the rest of your project.

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Douglas6
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Location: Chicago, IL

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:10 pm

rpdom wrote:That's rather harsh in this case!
Humm, yes, possibly. My apologies. Finding help with the soldering is a good thought.

Jason_25
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 6:25 pm

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:31 pm

Thanks for the replies so far. As long as the initial post was I will still go into more detail.

I really like Adafruit. I have 2 of the 1000C units so far and they work great when soldered correctly. My concern was that the support page here states they do not provide e-mail or phone support: https://www.adafruit.com/support . After thinking about it more, I am not looking for "support" as much as pre-sales negotiations which is maybe something they would be willing to discuss.

I expected the "learn to solder" comments. Let me explain my soldering equipment. I have a Radioshack AA powered soldering iron and a Radioshack digital soldering station. I use the AA powered soldering iron for everything so far because I feel like I don't have the experience to use the digital soldering station yet. Also a corded device feels awkward to use now. The AA soldering iron has very inconsistent heating creating weak joints unless the batteries are fresh. I might try nimh batteries which should be more consistent. I put fresh batteries in it and it was much easier to solder the outside (power) pins of the type A connector which are the important ones anyway. I still do not have the dexterity to solder the middle pins!

The soldering is beside the point though. That is just not going to work in the long term. It's a boring, unhealthy, difficult task that is getting in the way of my overall vision. It might be fun for a while to find an electronics/computer club but I work best alone I think. For now, I am just barely able to get the connector soldered on strongly and I will contact Adafruit to see what they have to say for the future.

Steve Drain
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Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:08 pm
Location: Exeter UK

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:43 pm

This item from RS might be just what you want, but that is the in UK. It does power through and 2.1A.

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/power-banks/7757508/

Perhaps there is something similar at Allied.

Jason_25
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 6:25 pm

Re: The search for a lithium-ion charger/USB output board

Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:29 pm

Thanks for the recommendation.

I don't see power-through advertised for that product. Is that something that you knew beforehand? It is a little on the large side for what I'm doing but it may help others.

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