Archive for December 11th, 2017

Cycliq Fly6 Failure and Teardown

My Cycliq Fly6 continued to shut down during rides, even with a new video-rated card, suggesting:

  • The fault resides in the camera
  • The Samsung card is just fine

Following all the steps recommended by Cycliq Tech Support didn’t improve the situation. It’s just under two years old and thus outside the warranty, so they advised me to buy their new, not-quite-released-yet Fly6, now with Bluetooth / ANT+ / phone app / shiny, but still with a non-replaceable battery.

Seeing as how the Fly6 works as well as it ever did, apart from the minor issue of shutting down both dependably and intermittently, the problem is almost certainly a bad battery. Cycliq does not offer a repair service, nor a battery replacement service; being based in Australia probably contributes to not wanting to get into those businesses. You’re supposed to responsibly recycle the Whole Damn Thing when the battery goes bad. Which, inevitably, it does.

Protip: anything with a non-replaceable battery is a toy, not a tool.

The most recent ride gave some evidence supporting a bad battery. The first shutdown happened after about half an hour and it gave off three battery status beeps (four = full charge, as at the start of the ride) when I restarted it a few minutes later. It shut down again a few minutes later while we were stopped at a traffic signal and gave off one lonely charge beep when I reached back to restart it, indicating a very low battery voltage. The battery voltage (and the number of startup beeps) increased with longer delays between shutdown and restart, but after the first shutdown it’s never very enthusiastic.

Having nothing to lose, let’s see what’s inside:

Cycliq Fly6 Teardown from inside

Cycliq Fly6 Teardown from inside

Don’t do as I did: you should extract the MicroSD card before you dismantle the camera.

Remove the rubber plugs sealing the four case screws:

Fly6 - Exterior screw plugs out

Fly6 – Exterior screw plugs out

The case pops open, with a ribbon cable between the LEDs and the main circuit board:

Fly6 - Case opened

Fly6 – Case opened

Pull the ribbon cable latch away from the connector before pulling the cable out.

It’s amazing what you find inside a blinky taillight these days:

Fly6 - PCB Top side

Fly6 – PCB Top side

I’m sure there’s a fancy 32 bit RISC computer in the big chip, along with plenty of flash ROM just below it. The clutter over on the right seems to be the power supply. Yeah, it has a camera in addition to blinky LED goodness, plus USB charging, so eight bits of microcontroller aren’t nearly enough.

There’s supposed to be some nanotech waterproofing protecting everything inside. It sure looks like magic to me and, in any event, solders just like a layer of ordinary air.

Note: the case screws are slightly longer than the PCB retaining screws:

Fly6 - Case and PCB Screws

Fly6 – Case and PCB Screws

The underside of the PCB has even more teeny parts, along with, mirabile dictu, a battery connector and (most likely) battery charging stuff:

Fly6 - PCB Underside

Fly6 – PCB Underside

A plastic piece holds the “Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery Pack” in place:

Fly6 - Battery in place

Fly6 – Battery in place

A strip of gooey adhesive holding the mic and speaker wires in place also glues the battery strap to the case, but it will yield to gentle suasion from a razor knife.

Pause to count ’em up:

  • Four case screws (longer)
  • Three PCB screws
  • Two battery screws

It looked a lot like an ordinary 18650 lithium cell to me and, indeed, it is:

Fly6 - Battery - label

Fly6 – Battery – label

More razor knife work removes the outer shrinkwrap. The cell has a protection PCB under the black cardboard cover:

Fly6 - Battery Protection PCB - on 18650 cell

Fly6 – Battery Protection PCB – on 18650 cell

I don’t know what the yellow wire does:

Fly6 - Battery Protection PCB - wire side

Fly6 – Battery Protection PCB – wire side

The FS8205A on the left may be an SII S8205 protection IC preset and packaged for a single cell:

Fly6 - Battery Protection PCB - components

Fly6 – Battery Protection PCB – components

After all that, yeah, it’s a dead battery:

Fly6 OEM 18650 - EOL - 2017-12-06

Fly6 OEM 18650 – EOL – 2017-12-06

The red curve shows the in-circuit charge state after taking it apart, the green curve comes from charging the bare cell in my NiteCore D4 charger. I have no idea what the nominal current drain might be, but a 0.25 Ah capacity is way under those Tenergy cells.

A new cell-with-tabs should arrive next week, whereupon I’ll solder the protection circuit in place, wrap it up, pop it back in the case, and see how it behaves.