Breaking into the bank

While waiting for my replacement battery bank, I decided to break into one of the broken ones to see how fixable it may be.

Inside the battery bank vault

Inside the battery bank vault

I ended up using a bit of a brute force and ignorance, but at least as a result I have a pretty good idea of how these are assembled, and hopefully I can disassemble another ‘broken’ one and fix it.

The flaw is that the USB B socket is only surface mount, and it seems the solder joints aren’t very sturdy; an impact of the USB B plug on the ground has torn the socket off the PCB.

So, is it fixable?  Most likely yes, had I not cut the battery wires to the circuit board safety reasins; the button almost certainly wouldn’t work, but given that just turns on the LEDs to show the charge level, it’s not a great loss:

  • the two PCBs just plug together with two rows of pins – there’s an obvious right way to do so; if your PCBs come out connected, then pull them apart.
  • Find the USB B socket – I pulled mine off trying to get the PCBs out of the case – yours may survive.  Either way, it needs resoldering back to the PCB – again, it’s pretty clear how; you’ll need stable hands as the connectors are surface mount.
  • That just leaves reassembly; assuming your battery is still connected to its PCB, replug the PSBs back together and slide them back into the case.  The battery just fits, and the PCBs have a pair of rails each to move along.
  • I suspect you may as well throw away the white button and LED covers – I think it’s these that make it hard to get the stuff out in the first case.
  • Once in, the blank white end screws back into the rails holding the PCBs
  • Finally the end-piece saying “IN” and “5V 1A” just sticks back on.

Next time I’ve got time to kill, I’ll give it a go.  What’s the worst that could happen? Honestly?  The LiPo could explode throwing a 2m flame from the aluminium tube.  Very unlikely, and very unrepairable if this happens!

To be very clear, this problem isn’t specific to the Vinsic ones; in fact it was breakages of 2 cylindrical ones from Leicke which triggered me to swap to the Vinsic ones as they looked better built and being square would sit more solidly on the quad frame.

My tip coming out of this is to never throw away those mini screwdriver kits that come out of Christmas crackers – you never know when they will be needed!

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