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TOPIC: Are these problems normal?

Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66292

  • Tomper
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Hello, I hope it's okay to post these questions here - I'm hoping to get some feedback from others if my current problems are "as designed" and well known, or if I should contact Saberforge for assistance.

I got two sabers from the ASP line recently, and I've experienced weird problems with both. I charge the batteries fully, and I've been very very careful when installing everything as not to twist wires or accidentally cause problems. I've only swung the blades around in the air, and did a very light sparring. No dropping or similar accidents.
  • One day the blade works fine. I wield if for one minute. I turn it off. Next morning it is dead. Tested the battery and it seems totally drained.
  • One day the blade works fine. I wield if for one minute. I turn it off. Some time later I turn it back on, light goes on and humming sound works, but no other Clash or Motion sounds work. Taking out the battery and putting it back in, and things work fine again.
  • I turn the blade on, and it works fine. Then after a while, I can't turn it off - holding the button does not turn the blade off. Had to eject the battery compartment and remove the battery. Next time after fully loading battery, I've not had the problem again.

Since all my problems seem to go away after reinstalling a fresh charged battery - I'm starting to suspect that the soundboard drains the battery even if it's turned off. And that the circutry is very sensitive to having a good charge, else all kinds of weird problems happen. Is this so?

I've read a few posts where people suspect that the battery is drained even after turning the blade off, but I've not seen any 100% confirmation that this is As Designed or considered a defect. Anyone know?

What's the knowledge of the batteries that comes with the blade, are they universally considered cheap, bad quality - buy another brand and my problems should go away? Or are my problems so odd and strange that they should not be simply related to poor quality batteries?

I'd appreciate any feedback and advice,
/Tom
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66303

  • jbeem
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The batteries most certainly drain even when the saber is turned off. IF your battery is in that saber...its draining. For some reason these ASP boards are draining the battery at a very high rate, I believe its because the boards aren't going into a "deep sleep" mode properly. I read this info from some other guy's electronic testing here on the forums so I'm just going from memory of what I read.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66306

  • Borommakot
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Yeah, it's been confirmed that the boards (or at least many of them) in the ASP hilts drain at a high rate. It's best to install the battery when you intend to use it, and remove it when you finish. Next step up is installing a recharge port/kill key.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66314

  • ToyKeeper
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Yes, the high standby battery drain is a known issue. Some Sabercore 2 boards have it, some don't. The affected boards drain a battery completely in a day or two, while the unaffected boards take about a month. It's pretty easy to tell which is which based on whether it drains the cell that quickly (while not used), and whether the driver is hot while the blade is off. Specifically, there's a square black chip between two capacitors which may or may not be hot to the touch.

If you are sure your board is affected, you should probably contact SF customer support because they may be able to exchange it for an unaffected driver.

jbeem wrote:
I read this info from some other guy's electronic testing here on the forums so I'm just going from memory of what I read.
That was probably me, since I did detailed measurements of both types of boards. Not sure "some other guy" is the right term though. ;P

Apologies in advance if this message goes poof.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66346

  • jbeem
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Yeah I was referring to your info Toykeeper, I couldn't remember the name other than "toy" something. By the way I have now had four defective asp soundboards in a row. Two crimson and two viridium. With the last two viridium orders I specifically asked about this "updated driver" and requested it come with the update. I was told it would have it. Well I'm not sure if it did or not because they have all had the exact same problem: the LED heats up intensely within 30-45 seconds and begins melting the wires.

So I assume that means they didn't come with the update? I thought I read that the updated driver reduces the heat problem. Either way, they aren't usable so it doesn't matter at this point.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66353

  • ToyKeeper
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jbeem wrote:
I have now had four defective asp soundboards in a row. ... the LED heats up intensely within 30-45 seconds and begins melting the wires.
That's very unfortunate... doesn't sound like the issue I've seen though.

The main LED is supposed to be driven pretty hard, especially on a full cell. That's why it has a big heat sink around it. Really shouldn't be a problem, assuming it's not modified. It's not driven anywhere near as hard as some of my flashlights, which are pushing easily six times as much power in a much smaller space.

The wires shouldn't be melting unless something is very wrong. However, wires can sometimes get caught or pinched during installation, which can sometimes look similar to melting. And if positive and negative wires both get pinched far enough to make contact with the saber body, you could end up with a nasty short. If that happened, it would probably melt wires because they're the weakest link of the circuit and they would be the first to fail, like a fuse.

The known issue only heats up a single chip on the driver board, and is primarily an issue while the driver is in standby mode with the sound and main LED off.


BTW, about running LEDs hot, here's an example of what can actually be done without anything melting or otherwise damaging itself. Between my two SF hilts is a flashlight I made, a Sinner Cypreus with a triple XP-L HI and BLF FET+1 driver. It puts out over 3000 lumens on a full battery, about the same as four "60 Watt" light bulbs, and the reason it's solid copper is because it needs a lot of thermal mass to pull heat away from the LEDs.


Now here it is with both sabers and the flashlight turned on. That's a 12W+ green saber, a 6W+ blue, and my cypreus running on a half-empty battery (so it only made about 2100 lumens at the time). The picture was taken during the day, but the camera adjusted the exposure automatically to avoid making the entire image pure white. Looking at a blade this bright hurts in the same manner as looking directly at a light bulb.


Basically, that's about what it would take to melt the wires SF uses during "normal" use. If your wires melted, it probably means there's a pretty bad short somewhere causing the battery to feed directly into itself, and most of the power isn't actually going out the LEDs because the XQ-E LEDs they use simply can't pass enough current for that to happen.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66354

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Here are my pics

The third board I had heat up super hot is where I first noticed the melting rubber although I could "smell" the burning rubber/plastic smell from all of them which is what first clued me in that there was a major problem.

Third board picture:




You can see that the black stuff melted out onto the adjacent red wire. When I sent these pictures to customer service they immediately mailed me out a brand new viridium board as this picture is of the third consecutive board that had this exact heating problem.

About a week and a half later I received my fourth soundboard and I hooked it up just like I had done for the previous one...not in the saber. To test it, I simply secured the new "deep red" LED into my Jade fire emitter with a blade attached (to see the cool new color) but the rest of the champion kit I just had out of a saber. So there are no possibilities of "wire cramping" or "touching the metal inside the saber" or anything like that.

After about 30 seconds of having the newest 4th soundboard turned on, I once again smelled the burning rubber/plastic and discovered that it once again was melting stuff. Heres the pics for it:



So this time it didn't run off onto the other wire but you can see the melting stuff in between the two black wires. Also the black wires including the big thick rectangular section (the resistor I believe?) in all four cases of my soundboards were heated to a very intense degree where I could not touch them for more than a quick light tap or I would have burned my fingers.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66357

  • ToyKeeper
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jbeem wrote:
After about 30 seconds of having the newest 4th soundboard turned on, I once again smelled the burning rubber/plastic and discovered that it once again was melting stuff. Heres the pics for it:

Yeah, the driver shouldn't be related to melting up near the emitters. The LEDs run pretty much direct-drive anyway, so it's not much different than if you were to hook up the battery directly to the red and black wires coming back from the emitter. All the driver does is connect that electrical path when it thinks the blade should be on; it doesn't limit the amount of current flowing through. Current is controlled only by the resistor(s) in-line along the wire, combined with the way battery voltage sags under load and LED forward voltage rises, so where they meet is where the current settles.

Basically, say the battery is at 4.0V, and a typical LED might have a Vf (forward voltage) of 3.3V. The LED is designed to run at up to 1.5 amps. Connect them and the battery sags while the LED Vf rises. They meet at 3.7V, perhaps, and maybe 2 amps, and it settles. It'll likely be a little hot, running 0.4V and 0.5A hotter than desired, but not enough to cause problems. 2 amps is fine as long as the heat sinking is decent. I think this is what the "+" means in "12W+" -- it can exceed the spec'd power level a bit when the battery is full.

But red LEDs have a significantly lower Vf. So let's try the same thing with a red LED with a Vf of 2.0V. This is a much wider gap, so a lot more current flows. Maybe they meet at 3.2V this time, at 8 amps, and it's running 1.2V and 6.5A hotter than spec. The LED will most likely give up its ghost in short order unless some other component blows first. To avoid this, they put a resistor in-line to reduce the effective voltage and maximum current.

But the LED didn't fail, the wire and/or resistor did. So the electricity is likely flowing along some other path and bypassing the LED. But the battery's protection circuit didn't trip, so the short is probably still fairly small and doesn't allow enough amps for the cell to shut itself down. Or perhaps the wires are so long and thin (high resistance) that they can't pass more current than the battery allows.

With four different drivers doing it, that hints that the driver likely isn't the problem. I've seen things like this happen on a flashlight when the LED+ pad (which is electrically the same as BAT+) was accidentally touching a metal reflector which touched the aluminum body of the light, and the body was carrying BAT-. So, it shorted the battery to itself and the weakest highest-resistance part (usually a spring) would melt. It had nothing to do with the driver.

Have you opened up the emitter pill to make sure nothing up there is shorted? If both wires were touching the same piece of metal somewhere inside the pill, it would behave exactly like you showed.

Alternately, the resistor(s) could be the wrong value, allowing too much current to pass. But for that I'd expect the LED to fail from overload before anything else melted. Could still be possible though, since red LEDs have a much lower forward voltage so the resistor would have to soak up a lot more voltage than with other colors.

Usually I avoid that problem by using a bunch of AMC7135 current-control chips instead of a resistor. Each one allows 350mA to pass, and each one burns off any extra voltage as heat. It's only 350mA per chip though, so several chips are sufficient to spread the heat around safely, even for very high-amperage lights. Just keep adding chips until the amps are sufficient. Like, 3x7135 per die (12x7135 total) would allow 1.05A per die (or 4.2A total), a fairly reasonably ceiling for the 4xXQ-E setup SF uses. Plus, it keeps the brightness more steady throughout the life of the battery.

Anyway, I'd be looking for a new LED module, not a new driver.
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Last Edit: 10 months 3 weeks ago by ToyKeeper.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66358

  • jbeem
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I've tested all four boards multiple ways. The emitter in the pictures was only put on so that I could connect a blade and see the new deep red color. The extreme heating happens even when the emitter is off and i'm just holding the electronics kit alone with no saber parts whatsoever.

Also it isn't tied to any one LED. With all four boards i've had I tested multiple LEDs. I currently own:

Arctic blue, Medium blue, Green, Red, Deep red, Cyan, Indigo. Every single LED heats up to this intense degree within 30-45 seconds of intial ignition. As a side note, my Indigo and Cyan LEDs are from sabers ordered through the main site so they have the bigger "black" heat sink around them unlike the new ASP LEDs that have the smaller "silver" colored heat sink. The two LEDs with the black heat sinks heated up just as badly. I'm not sure if those black heat sinks are supposed to be better (or by better I mean diffuse more heat than the silver versions at least) but they still weren't enough.

This is a crazy bizarre problem and I have no idea how I had four boards in a row do this. Two crimson and two viridium. My crimson board is actually still at saberforge being worked on atm. Its been a good two weeks now and I haven't heard back yet which is strange. They've been pretty fast with my replacements, usually taking about a week each time.
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Are these problems normal? 10 months 3 weeks ago #66369

  • h2soy
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It's looking like this topic is petering out of what help the resources here at the forum can provide you with. Keep This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the loop about this repeating problem so they can identify what the issue is and take care of your customer service needs. Gonna close this thread down for now so that SF customer service has a chance to fix your problem. Give us an update if you find out anything new.

... And Kouri passed this along:
It's likely not any wiring that's meling. SF uses black hot-glue in the assembly of certain electronics. It seems someone accidentally placed some by the resistors, which would get hot enough to melt hot-glue, but shouldn't pose any danger to the wire coating or heatshrink. Removing the hot-glue (perhaps while softened by the resistors) )should take care of the burning-plastic smell without harming any electronics.
Last Edit: 10 months 2 weeks ago by h2soy.
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