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Caution: Stuck auto battery tale.

Discussion in 'M-401/402 "Mini" & M403 Super Mini' started by Mammal, Mar 25, 2010.

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  1. Mammal

    Mammal Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 25, 2010
    Connecticut, USA
    I had a rather alarming experience with a stuck auto battery yesterday - I'm still researching it, but might as well share it with y'all while I'm too tired to think straight so you can know what to watch out for -

    I'd been using my new-to-me used PCC for a couple days (2, specifically) with nary a problem until last night, when I pulled my favorite auto battery out of it and screwed it onto the atomizer. I took it out while it was still charging, which may mean something, see way below...

    The first puff was okay, despite the LED failing to light; the next puff was awesome; the puff after that was starting to taste burnt - and you can see where this is going, as I started to notice the heat building under my fingers. I got the (potentially melty or flammable) cart off first and was treated to the sight of the atomizer glowing like a lightbulb... and managed to unscrew it rapidly before it became completely too hot to touch. Reactor meltdown averted!

    So the moral is that yes, this can happen, and the atomizer can approach soldering-iron hot for a considerable time before burning out or other (non-present?) safety mechanisms kicking in. The 'good news' is that the problem at least turned up instantly when screwing it on and not unexpectedly in my pocket; the bad news is that you can't trust the LED since it's definitely not a sure indicator of whether the battery feels like letting current flow.

    Now, it might just be coincidence - but I did take it out while it was still charging, and may have been unscrewing it while the display was even still on (though I'm pretty sure I didn't inadvertently start another charging cycle). It's hard to imagine any of that specifically causing problems, but I'm now making a habit to not add/remove batteries while the display is on, and not apply/remove USB power with one connected in case there's an issue with the PCC's regulation during those events. (Charging while USB is connected hasn't seemed to be a problem otherwise..)

    So... back to the story - after making some efforts against my better judgment to give the battery an overly-thorough cleaning in alcohol (to the point of submersion, never a really good idea), I was getting nowhere. But I finally realized that, obviously, the circuit must latch when charging so the current can get through.. and a battery that's 'crashed' for some reason might not 'snap out of' that state. Putting it back on a charger didn't do the trick, unfortunately, so... while pondering a way to 'power-cycle' it without being able to get inside it, I took the potentially quite dangerous route of shorting the terminals briefly (<500ms)... and lo, I had a battery that would blink on the charger again!

    Unfortunately, and probably from the completely unnecessary adventure with the alcohol, I have a battery that blinks on the charger but is now fiddly and nearly unresponsive to all the usual noises that would set it off - and this was my 'best' one that would activate at the drop of a hat and thus have the least latency when used... instead of waiting for it to generate, this one particular one (cherrypicked for being the kit battery?) would fire up so fast on inhale that it felt just like holding a cigarette already-lit. So I miss it quite a lot! I'll keep testing it as it continues to dry (though full-strength ethanol should've evaporated very quickly), but I guess I might have to give up on it...


    Anyone know if there's an official procedure to 'reboot' an auto battery? There's obviously enough logic in there to do the charging blink, at least... I'm not sure that a deep discharge with a light bulb would really be any safer than a short when the problem is that the controller that prevents those dangerous conditions has gone haywire..

    Anyone have a teardown of one?

    And an idea of how to get the components out without ruining or shorting them?


    ...and for manufacturers reading, incorporating a 'storage/run' switch on the auto batteries (all batteries, really) would be a much-appreciated item, since I am naturally a bit chagrined at the thought of purchasing more of a product that might burn my hand off. Maybe a rotating ashcap with a metal contact on it, or a 'storage cap' with a pin that would open a NC switch?

    [I've got a fair few spares now, but I was hoping to not have to dig into them so soon.]
  2. jamie

    jamie Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Jun 3, 2008
    I've had this happen with both auto and manual batteries, and auto and manual passthroughs, and with sometimes the LED staying lit and other times the LED not staying lit. It remains a problem designed into these products.
  3. VaporMadness

    VaporMadness Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    CA, USA
    Ouch, nothing like that has happened to me yet. Interesting failure mode.

    When the "auto-cleaning" cycle kicks on, the LED doesn't light up either. And your right, when charging, the circuit is closed too without power going to the LED. This doesn't feel like a problem with the auto switch at all, possibly a glitch in the circuitry (some loose contacts in there that can get crossed up).

    I'd be careful with that batt. Maybe prior to putting an atty on it, give it a test blow on either end to see that activating the switch actually activates the LED? I guess a test like that would be valid for a manual batt too (press the button instead of blowing on it of course).
  4. o1ooo12ooo

    o1ooo12ooo Full Member ECF Veteran

    Sep 10, 2009
    I believe this thread talks about the same issue
    intellicig evo cleaning cycle after battery swap ? also, cutoff time

    now I always watch for a second drag (on a fully charged auto bat) and twist the atty off, just enough to cut the power, to avoid burning taste on a next drag.

    p.s, I’ve never experienced this issue with my manual m401 bat.
  5. henrik

    henrik Full Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    Very nice review
  6. Brady

    Brady Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 22, 2009
    yep. had that on an auto too.

    I took the atty off right away. stuffed kleenex in the terminal and breather holes and gave it a good cleaning that way. it seems to function now but I watch them all.

    course, I have had 3 batts go kaput in about a week now...
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