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Umbilical heater batteries & switches

Discussion in 'General Scuba Diving' started by Wibble, Nov 23, 2018.

  1. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Flooded my Light-for-Me suit heater battery last weekend. In a bit of a rush and forgot to plug the torch in.. Yep, complete plonker. Discovered it at 6 metres and immediately surfaced. Tested the heater then and it was OK.

    Have stripped it down and discovered some water. Disconnected the battery, rinsed out, then left in the airing cupboard. There wasn't much water in the torch, about a teaspoonful, but alas the switch electronics don't work. The battery's in pristine condition as it sits on a 2cm thick foam base -- on top of the switch where the water sinks.

    Was quite surprised at the switching circuit being fully solid-state using a Hall Effect sensor and high current surface-mounted power driver. Bloody odd given the amount of current going through there! (rated for 100 Watts which is 8.3 amps) Surprised at the choice of tech as surface mount's hard to make.

    The rest of the unit's well built with double O-rings on the top and bottom end caps. Pity that their sockets aren't waterproof even to IPX8 when uncovered.

    Question: has anyone heard of anyone else's experience with getting this board replaced? Haven't asked LFM for a quote yet.

    If it "can't" or "won't" be done, then I think I'll rewire it to be two sockets in parallel.

    Question 2: does anyone know of any in-line E-O connection switches? I know that Light Monkey do the Pitkin controller, but I'm not sure if this is switched or not -- I suspect not.

    Edit: added more photos.

    Some photos of the gubbins:
    IMG_3893.jpg IMG_3892.jpg IMG_3881.jpg IMG_3871.jpg IMG_3888.jpg IMG_3858.jpg
     
    #1 Wibble, Nov 23, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2018
    jps likes this.
  2. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Waiting on Light-for-me to see if they can repair it and how much it would be.

    If the repair's not feasible, pondering if I could simply use a magnetic reed switch (if the magnet's strong enough) and a 12v relay. At least then you hear a 'click' when it's working.
     
  3. Dave Whitlow

    Dave Whitlow Well-Known Member

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    Oh dear. Good luck getting that going again.

    Not heard of anything switched on the E/O as that is usually done at the end canister. Light Monkey canister is switched, but a simple mechanical switch which is simple to replace.

    The Pitkin controller merely interrupts the flow of electricity on a time basis and thus reduces the amount power reaching the heating elements.
     
  4. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Thanks Dave. It seems to be a massively "electronic" solution to something relatively simple.

    Out of curiosity, with a Light Monkey battery, could you remove the lid underwater? i.e. is the battery compartment completely sealed?

    They do look great but they're so expensive - the 20Ah is twice the price of LFM. I know quality counts. What depth are LM batteries and torches rated to? LFM are 100 metres.
     
  5. speed098

    speed098 Member

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    Can you read each capacitor/resistor ? number ? If so you may be able to buy replacements, then remove the damaged ones and solder the new ones in place. Before that though try cleaning the area check each solder point and if unsure remove solder and re-solder it may be one bad or broken contact.

    This I recommend only if you can not get a replacement for a good price as they may want the damaged board to be sent to them.
     
  6. speed098

    speed098 Member

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    Can not edit so.

    On the 4th picture you see a lot of green corrosion the contacts on the black surface mounted chip facing towards the words "light-for-me" look damaged. If you do attempt a repair i would start with those two contacts.
     
  7. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    On the dive, in NDAC so fresh water, I noticed very soon after jumping in, surfaced after 2 mins, climbed out and took the battery off. After the dive I connected the battery to my suit and I'm pretty certain that it was working.

    I then went home and tested the battery the following day to find that it wouldn't drive the light (which I'm pretty certain it would before). So took the head off and noticed some water inside. Not a lot, just some drops that had wept through the open connector. I put it in the airing cupboard for a couple of days, of course it was upright d'oh.

    Then I tested it, didn't work, stripped it down and found there was a teaspoon full of water in the bottom :( And then the green gunge.

    Cleaned that off with ispropyl and left for a couple of days more. Which is where we are now.

    Astounded at the thought that a surface-mounted component - BV5F11 - can handle that kind of current, approaching 10A!


    (BTW posting this as I can't find any other references to this kind of thing on t'internets and am quite impressed with the amount of tech in something so 'normal')


    IMG_3859.jpg

    IMG_3879.jpg

    IMG_3883.jpg

    IMG_3890.jpg
     
  8. Dave Whitlow

    Dave Whitlow Well-Known Member

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    A canister opened under water will not flood the battery (that seal is rated to 11 bar I think). Attempting to remove the lid under the water might be a battle against physics and would not do the switch and cables any favours. If there is an attached light (not e/o) there is the risk of water travelling down the cable to the light head.
    Yep, not cheap but buy once and keep for many years with the recommendation to change cables, sealing glands and switch boots every few years.

    Light Monkey canisters are rated to 150m+
     
  9. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    (My question wasn't about trying it, more about the consequences of a flood happening)

    The LFM connectors rely completely on a single O-ring which is very hard to get to to examine. Given that my disaster happened with a single drop to 6m for 2 mins, that does question what would happen on a deep dive when the O-ring fails. Having said that I've done hundreds of dives with my canisters without problem and there's no chatter about failing LFM connectors (except for their E/O connectors -- apparently they're changing suppliers?)

    Useful to know.

    Hypothetically, what's the normal recommendation for someone with a couple of LFM torches with the LFM connections? Is there an "upgrade" path to Light Monkey Nirvana aside from flogging the torches and buying LM?


    (LFM = Light-for-Me, LM = Light Monkey)
     
  10. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Electronics question: mechanical magnetic reed switches...

    Are they sensitive enough to work with a magnet through 10mm of Delrin?

    (If not, that's why they went with the fully electronic solution)
     
  11. nickb

    nickb Active Member

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    The battery pack sits under a sealed bulkhead and the contents of the lid itself (the switch and, if fitted, the Pitkin chip) are also behind a sealed bulkhead.

    The worst thing that could happen would be corrosion of the banana plugs and sockets but that would only be after leaving the flood without attention. Rinsing the canister and lid well after a dive would likely restore normality.

    Light Monkey packs are very flood tolerant and robust.
     
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  12. nickb

    nickb Active Member

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    I hear nothing but problems about LFM products and the aftercare has left many people unhappy.
     
  13. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    LFM's reputation appears deserved. No response in two weeks to my query 'ticket' which I've added a second chasing comment.

    I can require the internals to remove the duff controller board and just have an unswitched double output chuff battery.

    For a fallback, does anyone know of an inline E/O switch? I guess it could be possible to use an inline Pitkin controller set to the minimum level, although this isn't 'off' -- but as it'll be cold...
     
  14. mizzat

    mizzat New Member

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    I've sent my LFM NW7 for repairs to Poland twice (with 12 month gap in between). I flooded the head on the first occasion and broke the on/off switch on the second (both user errors on my part). They changed the driver circuit on the first repair. Cost was roughly 50 euros including return post. Second time around, repair and post was free. The torch is not new and is out of warranty. Reapir time are very long (couple of months each) however can't fault the torch or cost of repairs.
     
  15. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    That's good to know. I'll chase them again...
     

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