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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lighting Battery May Be Damaged

Water is bad for electricity.

Though in this case, it isn't even directly the cause of the problem. I left my bike charging the lighting battery last night, and since I was going to work on it this morning, I left it out in the backyard, parked on the grass with the wide-footed kickstand engaged.

Sometime the middle of last night it rained, heavily, and the ground was soaked enough for the uneven weight of the bike to push more on the left foot of the kickstand, which squished the now-muddy ground under it down and let the bike fall over.

Not a problem in itself, but it just happened that the very edge of the metal cargo box landed on the wire from the charger to the battery, and cut just enough into the insulation of both wires to short them together, burning out the charger (fixable) and totally draining the battery (probably not fixable), which got so hot that the really tough plastic case on the outside is very slightly warped, and it was still hot to the touch some hours later when I woke up and went outside to find it this way.

I fixed the charger, and am now using a separate current-limited power supply to try to revive the battery. If it doesn't work, I may not have long-range lighting on my bike anymore, because the other battery I have only lasts about an hour or so before it's too low to still let the LEDs work, and it won't work at all (well, a few minutes at best) for high-current incandescent lighting like the scooter turn signals I'm still using.

Or else I can use a car battery. :(

If I had:
--placed the charger one inch over towards the front of the bike
--placed a piece of plywood under the bike, or parked it on the porch
--had it inside the house to charge
--had a diode in series with the charger input to the battery
--made the charger input on the other side of the bike
or a number of other things I can't remember right now, at the least the battery wouldn't be damaged, and at best it would never have happened. :(

Ah, well, live and learn.

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