Black and Decker Pocket Power: Battery State

A Black & Decker Pocket Power emerged from the heap and refused to take a charge, which obviously calls for a teardown. The case has three screws, one lurking behind the label:

Pocket Power - case screws
Pocket Power – case screws

The sticker over on the right says it’s five years old, which explains the whole problem right there; you can evidently buy new-old-stock units from the usual low-dollar sources that will arrive with a similarly dead battery.

Peeling off the rubber bumpers and prying the case open reveals the innards:

Pocket Power - internal layout
Pocket Power – internal layout

The battery pack looks to be an octet of ordinary NiMH cells; the label on the other side of the shrink wrap reports 9.6 V @ 1200 mA·h, which is about what you’d expect, with a date in mid-2007 that matches the sticker on the case.

The upper left corner of the main label has some interesting information:

Pocket Power - label specs
Pocket Power – label specs

The tiny wall wart that came with the unit produces 12 VDC at 300 mA, which doesn’t match the INPUT spec at all. Perhaps the maximum current from the internal pack made its way to the label by mistake?

The label also shows the reason I got this thing: it can produce just enough 120 VAC power to run an arbitrary wall wart charger for a gadget that doesn’t charge from a 12 VDC source. Upconverting 9.6 VDC to 120 VAC, then downconverting it to, say, 14.4 VDC makes no sense whatsoever, unless that’s the only way to charge that particular gadget. Which has, I’m sorry to say, been the case every now and again.

I think the Model name has a typo: everything else suggests this is a CP120B. So it goes.

Unsoldering the leads and perpetrating the obvious tests produces these curves:

B&D Pocket Power
B&D Pocket Power

The black curve is the initial “won’t accept a charge” state with the wall wart and internal circuitry; the pack obviously has two weak cells. The curves in the lower left correspond to individual cells and series pairs that I discharged to 0.9 V/cell after the top curve ended.

The tiny stroke between the sets, way over on the Y axis, is cell pair BC (my arbitrary labels) that probably accounts for the sudden drop in the black curve. However, the orange curve also came from pair BC after charging for about 18 hours at 120 mA, so they’re not completely dead. Their capacity has dropped to about 700 mA·h, though, which isn’t good.

Soldering the pack back together and charging for another 18 hours at 120 mA produced the green curve at the top, which shows the same sudden dropoff at about 700 mA·h.

So I’ll put it back together again and let it charge for a while, but new cells will definitely brighten its disposition.

4 thoughts on “Black and Decker Pocket Power: Battery State

  1. I work for an automotive company and I was hoping to get something like this for when I have to visit our various sites. I received a DoA unit and I was wondering if the pack was replaceable?

    1. if the pack was replaceable?

      The odd cell layout means an ordinary 2×4 pack won’t fit, which means you can’t just buy a drop-in replacement. If you buy eight NiMH cells with tabs, then you could solder up your own pack; that’s what I plan to do the next time I order some cells.

      It’s a nice unit that’s long past its best-used-by date… [grin]

    1. Those are the ones; get ’em with tabs for easier soldering.

      They’re in an awkward 5+3 arrangement, so you can’t just get a pair of four-cell batteries and solder them up. You might be able to flip one cell of a four-pack over and stick it out over the other pack, but I haven’t tried that.

      There’s also a temperature sensor / thermal fuse tucked inside that you’ll want to harvest for the new pack.

      Solder carefully!

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