MY BATTERIES


BATTERIES, AND THE TSA

This section is my devotion to public service for educational purposes and it explains about batteries, their uses in our disposable society, safe transportation and is designed to make you aware of their dangers and pitfalls.

The information comes from varying sources, the largest collection from many decades of personal witness, usage and some shocking experiences. Since many travel with my battery packs, the subject of air travel is the most common question I get.   

Being in the battery business, I will integrate some personal experiences with the correct information to add “some color” to what is usually very boring technical writing about a subject no one seems to be enamored with.  Enjoy.

Being a pilot has a lot to do with batteries.  I have written several papers on the subject including my synopsis of the MH 370 mystery missing Boeing 777 and that Lithium had a lot to do with it.

MY PASSION

Passion time, after my crew member time in the Air Force, I took additional flying lessons, got my tickets, and retired at 65 piling up a few thousand hours over 28 years and the occasional heart over stimulation.  

Over the years, I owned with partners on some biggies five aircraft that taught me quality control, maintenance, repair and fire-fighting.  If you own it, you work on it to afford it, you fix it, you fly it first, and it taught me about taking things for granted, like a blown fuel system spewing gas and in flames.

That was the bad news.  Fortunately, it occurred within three miles of an airport, I had altitude, with three others on board.  Best no-engine landing I ever made. I stopped twelve feet from the fire engine and got the foam bath. “Divine Guidance” and training. They still claim I left tire prints on the roof little two story building at that end of the displaced threshold.  

My first plane was Little bird, a Hershey bar winged Piper 140, shown in the bottom frame and the other plane was a Cessna 411 which we used for short charters and trips.  Below is Dolly,  and my Warrior...with the 160HP.

My life?  Being a bachelor was a good thing but it was still lacking something. There goes “Divine Guidance” again, like finding a camera. That was when I met the love of my life.  the one in the picture.

Her name was Dolly whom I met on the dance floor at an upscale honky-tonk in Clearwater, Florida.  I’m not into the bar scene, and alcohol was a no-no, no drugs, and neither was she, we left and went for a walk on the beach.  Bells went off.  Next day I flew us down to Key west for the rest of the week. We were never apart for the next three plus decades.

Till she passed on from cancer, we had 31 wonderful years together. She made me a changed man.  Never a day goes by I don’t miss her… and I never met anyone else with her compassion and spirit. We had a wonderful time together.

 

 

 

 

 

 





BATTERY PACKS I BUILD
Our Black Box and Tuxedo batteries are Sealed Lead Acid and rated or tested at the 20 AMP draw.  Two could start a car and they weigh less than 2.5 pounds.  And the quality of the boxes is industry high rated.  The internal boards and workings, of most battery operated products, the batteries themselves, even the plastic cases are made all over the world, China having the largest share in particular.  The Chinese samples I looked at were crap.  Mine come from Denmark. They were stronger and tested better than the Chinese ones. 

NOTE:   And now the game is taking the Chinese stuff, ship it to Canada or Mexico so that no tariffs are paid and does not show China as the builder.    This is NAFTA and we renamed and dubbed it SHAFTA.   So it might say, “Made in Mexico” because someone put it in a Mexican box. 

SLA batteries are strong and most weather and temperature conditions don’t bother them, lack of usage can be a problem, thats why we developed the charger we use.  Sulfating is the formation or deposit of lead sulfate on the surface and in the pores of the lead plates. If the sulfating becomes excessive, the battery may not work at all. Sulfating is caused by stored a long time in a discharged condition, operating at excessive temperatures, and prolonged under or over charging.

The major applications for lead acid batteries are automotive, related marine, and deep-cycle. Deep-cycle includes solar electric (PV), backup power, and RV and electric motor applications like trolling motors. Their life depends on how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors.

Gelled cells, as in Sonnenshine from Germany virtually do not exist, since they can cost twice to three times as much as an AGM, just too expensive and could be new but years old due to lack of knowledge of them and a need for them.


SEALED LEAD ACID BATTERIES
Our real SLA battery pack is a compartmented unit like the battery in your car.  Two volts per cell, three cells equals 6.4 volts internal. Most strobe units are six volts so we are not overclocking your strobe and doing it harm.  SLA batteries last longer and are more consistent.  It's less expensive per amp hour, with bigger capacities. In a pack they have less chance of leaking.  

Every day about 125 million cars start on SLA Batteries. It’s a proven chemistry.  And you would really be p*ssed if your car battery lasted a year and cost you over $100.00 to be exchanged.  It’s done everyday in the photo industry.  Thats before Hybrids  now a battery change can cost you 3000-4000 dollars.  

No chance of burning as there is nothing flammable in the SLA construction. Sealed Lead Acid batteries are legal for shipment through the USPS and other postal services  and the airlines have no restrictions, thats one reason why we use them.  

Equipment containing non spilling wet cell batteries (gel cell or absorbent glass mat) can be carried as cargo (Shippers must meet all applicable security requirements). The equipment with the battery installed must be protected from short circuit and securely packaged. The package must be marked “Non-spillable”.

SLA Batteries generally are tamperproof.  Packs should not be tampered with.  It is vitally important to understand there are potential chemical, electrical, and fire risks with the more powerful accelerated packs.  Again our Black Box and Tuxedo batteries can be changed rapidly, charge rapidly and last longer with Higher Capacity - They can  cover the whole wedding or event, have extended capacity and duration. Our packs can last the day.

One of the main advantages of our SLA system is that they do not require additional AA cells in the flash to operate which adds to corrosion and overheating.  Your strobe stays cooler and can operate for longer periods of time without harm to the flash.

BLINKERS
Other packs with blinking lights. Two things make no sense to me.  Man’s fascination with blinking lights and with LEDS. I don't use blinking lights to indicate when the unit is running low because they don't really work, that's why.  They are comparators not gauges. You can't predict whats left because you can't predict usage quantity.  It’s a gimmick.  

Also claims have been made LEDS don’t draw a lot of power, but if you look inside, whats all that other stuff for?  Added value?  Bullshit,  they require a lot of electronics to make them work that can fail, require tuning or updating, to make all those light work, so it’s a big lie.  Think pragmatic, did you know that 99.9 percent of cars that ran out of gas had a working fuel gauge?  

They last longer, other packs on NiMH go bad after two three years requiring pretty expensive rebuilds. And with no electronics in the battery compartment, there is nothing to harm. The biggest killer is heat so why put batteries and the circuits in the same package.  Repairs, there is a lot of profit in repairs. Ours are cost based. Upgrades available almost anytime. 


BETTER ANCILLARY PARTS
Our better chargers are standard.  Our regulated two stage charger and the "A-C" series chargers are "switching" type devices which operate without the use of transformers. I.C.'s control and regulate current and voltage and automatically switch from the higher fast charge voltage to the lower float voltage when batteries are very close to being fully charged.  At the float voltage it is safe to leave the battery connected to the charger indefinitely, making charging pretty much fool-proof. 

My packs are fast, I just don't push the word fast because there is another side to things. I do not promote speed if it can make your flash go dead.  There are one or two makes and models faster but that takes a toll on the flash gear.  Nothing I can think of is slower than a blown flash because some idiot over clocked it.

My pack will keep up with the other type, the accelerated packs based on partial power settings which is what the pros use, manual and partial power settings. The Red Carpet guys do that but it has become a bizarre shooting event.  I call it the elusive “Nipple shot which can be on one frame and missed on another”.  The guys are speed fanatics. The newer cameras at their higher speed will exceed any pack when pushed.
 

ACCELERATOR PACKS
An accelerated pack will recycle faster but will give you far less shots. Because they are keeping the energy going recycling the second flyback transformer or capacitor.  They also require using internal NiMH batteries for the units controller so you are right back where you started except higher maintenance, more often and dollars poorer.

Accelerated packs will eventually shorten flash life.  A flash can only operate at max for a while before there is trade off. You trade off your money for a new one.  With the rash of burnt units out there from too frequent a shooting and finally the unit overheats, you pay for the speed twice. 

The small but powerful strobes such as the SB-800, SB-900 and the Canon 580EX and EXII are basically pushing the electronics to the hilt and the accelerated packs push them over the cliff.  Just shooting too quick can do the same, the Nikon 900 has a shutdown mode if overheated or accelerated and will cause the heat meter to prevent a shot. Other strobes now have heat valves and new construction preventing higher packs.  Our pack helps that situation by not using internal AA cells which can generate 130 degrees of heat.

With accelerated packs you have by-passed some of the safety mechanisms. I truly believe based on size measurements and a little research both Nikon and Canon have pushed their best selling units to the end of the power curve.  "Sort of tweaked to the nines".  Making the strobes bigger means potential size and hotshoe problems and smaller is whats happening today.  They just can’t make prosumer flashes any bigger, they’ll be bigger than the cameras.