SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

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SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Sun 06 Nov 2016, 9:01 am

I've read and been told of the supposed merits of using a pair of 18650 LiIon cells in place of the 4 NiMH C cells in a SDC 2300 particularly in the WA Goldfields. The approximate 220 gram weight reduction over the Minelab supplied 5000 mAh NiMH Powerizer cells is a welcome fact (about 40 grams less for 6000 mAh NiMH Accupower) but other claims such as 2 days run time, 'smoother' running, greater depth penetration et al sounds like a bit of sales spin given the 2300 has a built in voltage regulator so the higher operating voltage would not seem to matter. Has anyone had any first hand experience, good or bad using these alternate batteries ?

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by Dozer on Mon 07 Nov 2016, 5:25 am

The bit about "smoother running" is the giveaway that it is a snakeoil sales deal.
DC voltage is DC voltage no matter what the battery pack is.
There is a guy on makerbot?? that will 3d print the adaptors for a fee or he gives away the coding for anyone with a 3d printer to do it themselves.

I haven't tried them and have no need to while the Nimh's are still working. A couple of people used them this season here in Leo and there were no negative comments.
Probably the best thing about them is they won't be susceptible to the restarting issues with the C size batteries.

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Mon 07 Nov 2016, 8:00 am

Hi Dozer, Thank you for your comments.
Agree the "smoother running" reference is very subjective....it either has some substance or not! I'd like to hear from some technophiles who can shed any light on this matter....I've read some explanatory notes about the discharge/voltage curve characteristics of both cell chemistry types and in this respect NiMH actually exhibits a superior flatter voltage drop and significantly longer life cycle which isn't always mentioned with all the hype about the 'new' Lithium cell technology.
IMO the 3D printed adaptors are agricultural with a very ordinary surface finish that use a bent paperclip as the terminal end....the machined versions are much better.
The re-start and rattle issue has been well documented and is easily overcome with a drinking straw stuck down between the batteries on one side.
Lastly, just re-read my initial post...as clarification the 4 x Accupower cells weigh approx 40 grams less than the Powerizer C cells so there is still a handy overall weight reduction of 180 grams that's almost 8% of the dry weight of the SDC which has appeal as I prefer not to use a harness.


Last edited by MikeAtKal on Mon 07 Nov 2016, 8:31 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Typo)

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by Moneybox on Wed 23 Nov 2016, 6:29 am

I have a friend with the SDC. He used two bulldog clips to connect to the SDC terminals and runs a cable to a 5000 battery on his harness. The battery compartment is closed off with a makeshift cover with the cable passing through. It all looks a bit crude for the technology wiz that he is but he claims much longer detecting times. Sandra's batteries are wrapped with tape, done by The Prospectors Pick when new and we've done the same for the extra two sets. It's only a partial fix but a dob of solder on the positive terminal of the original batteries fixed them up. The real problem is the type of material that the positive contact is made from is a poor conductor and the solder makes a more secure connection. I think the advantage of having the GPX5000 battery would be that it recharges very easily and quickly compared to the C-cell batteries. I think with a little work you could use a short length of PVC pipe in place of the batteries with the contact on the end so that it just slides in (in place of the bulldog clips) and secure it with a door and cable back to the Minelab battery. Then if you wanted to go back to C-cell batteries you'd just slide them back in with the original battery cover.

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by IsmaelJ on Wed 23 Nov 2016, 8:53 pm

Dozer wrote:The bit about "smoother running" is the giveaway that it is a snakeoil sales deal.
DC voltage is DC voltage no matter what the battery pack is.

Actually sometimes that "smoother running" is not just a deal maker as such, back in the day when we were doing 7.2V batteries for the GP series we noticed that the audio was definitely a lot better and smoother when we got the circuit diagrams we discovered why, yes the machines had a regulated system for most of the circuits but the audio section actually run off the battery voltage therefore allowing the amplifiers to run a lot better than just off of the nominal 5V circuits. I ran my SDC with lithium but lowered the voltage a little and it ran good after my mates ran them straight of the lithium and found it was even better. The SDC may not have a regulated system on the output as it is supposedly an SD detector therefore the voltage out of the coil would be straight across the battery so in theory if this is the case (SD Type) they will perform better and give better depth results...

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Thu 24 Nov 2016, 4:09 am

Hi Moneybox, My issue isn't run time, a fully charged set of NiMH C cells will readily provide 6 hours of swing time which for me is generally sufficient with a second set always on hand if I'm out for an extended period. Using the GPX battery in the manner you describe is an 'agricultural' alternative to the 18650 LiIon option which sits the 2 cells inside adaptor tubes within the existing SDC battery bay without any modifications, additional wiring etc that retains full wireless operation. These cells provide a welcome weight reduction and supposedly provide up to 2 days run time which is a handy bonus, however I'm yet to receive any first hand accounts to confirm this....anyone? Mike

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Thu 24 Nov 2016, 5:18 am

Hi Ismael, Thanks for your comments and experience with the GP. I note particularly your comment re running your SDC with the 'lowered voltage' so infer you did this via the trim pot on a Lucky Lark battery that provides around 0.5V drop....in practice did this make any difference? Regards the circuitry inside the SDC, I'm sceptical of any performance gains available just by upping the voltage as the input regulator which is likely set below 4.8V would negate the difference unless as you suggest, a portion of the circuitry is unregulated that is positively affected. Mike

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by Dozer on Thu 24 Nov 2016, 6:56 am

Thanks for your comments Ismael. I presume that the audio improvement for the GP series occurs primarily because the audio circuitry is in the battery container?
If the SDC is acting as you say with coil voltage being supplied directly from the battery then Minelab have caused themselves a lot of trouble needlessly.
I seriously doubt that this is the case as they are selling these machines with the ability to take alkaline or Nimh batteries. The significant voltage difference that exists between these two different chemistries would mean using alkaline batteries all the time, would it not?
Early in the days hunt when we are fresh, the flies are only numbered in the thousands, no sweat encrusted clothing, muscles are not cramped, the temperature is still to reach the blast furnace level we seem to find gold easier.
I doubt that it has anything at all to do with battery voltage, but that is only my opinion and I am happy to be shown the errors of my ways.

Dozer


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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by Moneybox on Sun 27 Nov 2016, 1:41 pm

There seems to be a big range of batteries available. I guess it would be safest to stick with known brands.


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16x 18650 10000mAh 3.7v GTF li-ion Rechargeable Battery Cell for Cameras RC Toys
AU $35.70


This looks like a pretty gutsy battery but you never know ubtil you give them a go. How do you go about charging the li-ion batteries?

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Mon 28 Nov 2016, 8:14 am

Hi Moneybox, As the poster of this thread, I've not surprisingly invested considerable time researching the current state of Lithium battery technology. LiIon as the chemistry of interest has greatly improved in the last few years associated with manufacturing advancements driven by the exponential growth in the use of this battery type across a huge range of power tools, electronic devices and automotive applications. Simultaneously the capacity of these types of cells has steadily increased with the popular 18650 size now topping out at around 3500mAh....the claimed capacity of these GTF (Chinese?) manufactured/branded cells is nonsense and will not be anywhere near this, let alone that of the recognised industry best Japanese brands. When it comes to batteries, the old axiom 'that you get what you pay for' is never truer! Although the cost of LiIon cells has steadily declined over time, they are still significantly more expensive than their long established NiMH counterparts and I'd expect to pay between $15-25 per good quality 18650 cell. There are a number of reputable manufacturers producing chargers to suit LiIon batteries, most are a universal design with sliding contacts to suit the various cell sizes with USB, 12 and 240V input or a combination therein. The charging process is multi stage and is controlled by micro processors to ensure complete, safe charging and optimise cell recharge cycles. Apart from their light weight, high capacity and low self-discharge rates, one of the other desirable attributes of Lithium batteries for detecting is their comparatively short recharge times. Some advanced chargers provide fast charge options and are able to charge NiMH as well, so avoiding the need for multiple units if you are using both cell types. There is a huge amount of information and reviews about LiIon chemistry, cells and chargers on RC Hobby, LED torch and Vaping (E cigarette) sites if you want to know more. Mike

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Mon 28 Nov 2016, 9:56 am

Hi all, Thank you for your feedback. For those that are following this tread, I thought I'd provide an update. As a practical hands on type, I've decided to take the plunge and have purchased a couple of 18650 cells and chargers to determine first hand the merits of lithium battery technology for use in my 2300. I figure the weight saving and likely improved swing time will justify the cost with any performance benefits (if they exist) an added bonus. After much research, I've settled on a pair of Panasonic NCR18650GA 3500mAh cells plus Enercharger 4 port (12 & 240V input, max 58W output) and 2 port (12V input, max 30W output) chargers to supply power to an Xtar VC2 Plus Master charger. Both the Enercharger devices are USB output so can be used with my existing Avantree Saturn Pro Bluetooth TX/RX and Audition Pro headphones that I use for wireless audio and will also work with other USB powered gizmos such as GPS and phone that are routinely charged in the home and vehicle these days. Both units feature Quick Charge 2.0 for compatible devices and are safe for non-enabled devices. The Xtar unit is USB input with advanced features that allow simultaneous NiMH and LiIon charging via separate circuits (auto cell detect), USB output function to use as a powerbank, countdown timer and adjustable charge currents. Sourcing a battery adaptor to convert from the standard 2 x C to smaller 18650 cells inside the battery bay has proved to be a problem with the local retailer out of stock but a relative has kindly offered to 3D print a pair in Polylactic (PLA) or ABS plastic. Unlike other examples I have seen, the print quality is very good albeit not quite the match of traditional machining, but has the capacity for intricate detailing and economical production. I'll post some photos of these when the design and printing is finalised with my findings when I've had a chance to put my 2300 through its paces running on the new batteries. Mike


Last edited by MikeAtKal on Mon 28 Nov 2016, 4:01 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Thu 01 Jun 2017, 10:32 am

After a lengthy search for suppliers of a suitable adaptor to fit the 18650 Lithium batteries into the SDC’s ‘C’ cell battery bay, initial thoughts of having to design and make my own were quickly dismissed when two options available in Australia were identified. My selection was based predominately on weight considerations and after some helpful correspondence to confirm details, my order was placed and promptly dispatched with thanks by Peter of speciality SDC accessory supplier, SDC2300Upgrades.com in Townsville. Photographs and details of his products are available on his website.

Despite my earlier stated reservations of 3D printed items, I was pleasantly surprised by the detailing and thought that has gone into these components. They are neatly finished with heat shrink tubing and commendably light at 25g each that provide a very snug fit around the Lithium batteries and inside the detector battery bay itself which thwarts forever more the dreaded C cell restart issue. The sliding fit is borderline interference so I applied silicone spray to all the mating faces to help prevent any sticking. At 18.7mm diameter and just under 70 mm in length, my NCR GA protected cells are at the upper end of the nominal 18650 cell size specifications of 18.6 x 65.2mm. They sit around 102mm overall in length within the adaptors and are accommodated inside the battery bay without problems in place of the 100mm of 2 x C cells via the plentiful spring compression of the SDC’s terminal ends. The switch from the Minelab supplied OEM Poweriser 4 x NiMH cells to 2 x LiIon cells with adaptors provides a worthwhile overall 180g weight saving.

With a maiden charge of my new Lithium cells completed and installed, I was keen to see if the claims of smoother audio and greater depth had any substance and whether the reduced weight provides any respite from the usual right upper arm workout that results from my election to keep the detector totally independent of my body without the vices of any cables and bungy cord.

Out in the field and back over the compact well worked banks of a mound surrounding an old timer’s shaft where I’ve previously pulled 9 small nuggets in 2 previous sessions, the immediate first observation was a minor change in response in the audio. Seasoned users understand the chatty nature of the SDC and over time I’ve taken to running mine on the highest possible sensitivity settings to help ensure no targets are missed. Over the gravelly banks the maximum setting of 5 presented few problems with clear signals that were easy to interpret with minimal falsing that yielded another 2 small pieces of 0.1 and 0.15g. My hope that several additional pieces might be found at increased depth did not eventuate despite several hours of intensive low and slow swinging that suggest supposed performance gains may not exist.
Moving to a nearby second ‘testing’ area that I have also previously worked extensively, with light ironstone over the surface of undisturbed ground and interspersed to depth in rehabilitated areas, the audio was notably noisier and I found myself having to reduce the sensitivity to setting 4, then to 3 to counter the false signals that were occurring. That got me thinking so I swapped the batteries out for a freshly charged NiMH set and repeated the process. The result was hardly definitive but the ‘overly lively’ signal did seem to settle and on 3 was as smooth as to be expected over the typically highly mineralised and noisy ground that we experience in the Eastern Goldfields. My gut feeling is the audio signal appears to be enhanced by the equivalent of one higher setting when running with the Lithium cells. What was more apparent was the reduced weight, the usual soreness that follows several hours of swinging without assistance wasn’t as apparent and I was comfortable up until the heat became a little too intense and I called it a day about 5 hours in.

Following my initial use, I’ve since tested my Lithium powered SDC for several days over different terrain that appear to confirm my initial findings.

I’m also pleased to note that the batteries were able to perform consistently for two 6 hour days dropping down to 15% capacity according to my Xtar charger before requiring a recharge which is handy for extended trips.

In conclusion, my observations suggest the audio is a little livelier, the weight reduction is noticeable and welcome, performance appears probably unchanged and total run time comfortably up to 12 hours. Mike

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by Nightjar on Fri 02 Jun 2017, 7:41 am

Thanks for the detailed report Mike. Will be trying our SDC2300 for the first time in a few weeks, then make a decision to either machine a couple of sleeves on my mates lathe or purchase ready made.
Purchased 4 spare "C" from eBay and found they were the exact same diameter as the supplied Minelab batteries. Two wraps of insulation tape makes them snug BUT............
The Chinese batteries were 1mm longer making it difficult to close the lid. They weren't going to be suitable so thought to try and cut losses, insulated jaws of my vice then clamped them in vice and compressed the + knob 1mm. No damage, fully charged, now fit perfect.
Cheers
Peter


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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Fri 02 Jun 2017, 9:46 am

Hi Nightjar,

I also considered turning some custom adaptor sleeves but after factoring in the cost of sourcing suitable plastic rod (Delrin), aluminium or copper rivets for the terminal ends and/or the time required to machine them and the sleeves, it was a bit of a no-brainer to simply purchase them with all the hard work already done. As I say, the units from SDC2300Upgrades.com are well designed and made, constructed of lightweight 3D printed plastic with a smooth external finish via a wrap of rubberised heat shrink tubing and fitted with a quality nickel plated brass terminal end that would be difficult to better made at home.

If you decide to switch to the Lithium 18650 cells I strongly suggest you select carefully, watch for dubious performance claims on some Ebay advertised products, stick with name brands assembled with Japanese made cells and fitted with protection circuits. Also choose a charger that can fit various size cells, handle both LiIon and NiMH cell chemistries to avoid duplication, preferably have USB input for use in the car, some also have a handy USB output function that allows them to be used as a power bank for charging mobile phones, tablets etc.

I'm surprised about your mention of the length of alternate C cells being an issue, I've found the SDC's battery compartment terminal ends have plentiful spring length that will accommodate a significant variance in cell length, in my case 102mm without issue.

Lastly, forgot to mention in my previous conclusion that another benefit of investing the $$ in the 18650 cells is their expanding application in a range of other portable devices such as radios, lamps, headlamps (LED Lenser etc) and high power hand held torches that are always handy at home and when camping. Mike

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by MikeAtKal on Thu 29 Jun 2017, 6:40 am

Hi all, With more than 1K readers of this thread, I figure that has got to translate into a lot of SDC 2300 users considering, or now using 18650 Lithium batteries with their own experiences. Since my initial observations mentioned at the start of June, I've since spent a decent amount of time on the ground with my Lithium powered SDC which has not yielded any new revelations excepting those already mentioned. Assuming others now also have plentiful first hand experience under their belt, I'd be keen to hear from anyone else regards using same, good or bad? Mike

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Re: SDC 2300 Lithium battery set up

Post by Moneybox on Thu 29 Jun 2017, 6:02 pm

1k readers and only a half a dozen give their input Mad

I know we don't all have something to share but there must be a lot of "users" out there.

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