Archive for January 13th, 2020

Blackburn Flea Bike Headlight

A Blackburn Flea bike headlight and its USB charger emerged from the packs on our Young Engineer’s Tour Easy, but the battery was completely defunct. With nothing to lose, I applied a small screwdriver to crack the case:

Blackburn Flea - opening case
Blackburn Flea – opening case

The battery is a single cylindrical lithium cell:

Blackburn Flea - battery
Blackburn Flea – battery

The USB charger seemed defunct, as it produced only a few dozen millivolts when connected and plugged into its wall wart. Cracking its case revealed a tiny buck power supply with no obvious damage, but also no output.

So I manually charged the cell:

Blackburn Flea - external recharge
Blackburn Flea – external recharge

Definitely not recommended practice, but a bench supply set to 4.1 V and current-limited to 100 mA gets the job done: the current stays at 100 mA while the voltage rises to 4.1 V, then the current drops to just about zero over the next few hours with cell held at 4.1 V.

Unfortunately, the cell really was defunct, even after a few cycles, so I conjured a not-dead-yet lithium cell from the heap:

Blackburn Flea - measurement setup
Blackburn Flea – measurement setup

Given a good supply, the Flea still works perfectly:

Blackburn Headlight - Kyocera Li-ion - 50 mA-div
Blackburn Headlight – Kyocera Li-ion – 50 mA-div

The yellow trace shows the battery holding at 4 V while the LED current runs at 150 mA (3 div × 50 mA/div). You wouldn’t want to run ordinary 5 mm LEDs at nearly 40 mA, but Blackburn surely specified good parts.

Replacing the Flea’s internal cell seems impossible, given its peculiar form factor, and grafting the PCB to an external cell makes no sense, given that it’d then need a custom bike mount.

So another chunk of electronics goes in the e-waste box.

Ride on!

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