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Anyone upgrade a DS-125 battery pack?


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#1 davehicks

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 05:26 PM

All of my Ikelite DS-125 battery packs use the old style NiCad cells and smart charger. I'm down to one healthy battery pack so I decided to try to upgrade them to NiMH cells on my own. I ordered a dozen SubC NiMH cells and an appropriate smart charger from BatteryJunction for about $70 plus shipping.

I recently had to perform surgery on one pack to replace a loose charging connector and my thought was that this project should be pretty straight forward. I'm going to give this a try tonight, so I wanted to know if anyone has tried this. I'm a little leary of soldering the cells together, but they have tab so I think it will be safe enough.

Any problems I should be aware of? Am I setting myself up for disaster?

#2 segal3

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 05:34 PM

This isn't really specific to Ikelite, but battery pack construction in general. It's usually recommended to use a high-power soldering iron/gun so you can very quickly melt the solder and not let it heat soak to the batteries...heat-soak is bad :guiness:.

Cleaning/roughing up the tabs to provide a surface for solder adhesion is also important.
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#3 imasleeper

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 05:55 PM

The diameter of the older NiCd 1700 Mah Sub C batteries found in a DS-125 is about 0.8 in. The diameter of newer Sub C high capacity 3300-4500 Mah NiMH batteries is a smidge greater than 0.9 in. It may not sound like much of a difference but it is enough to create an extremely tight (if not too tight) fit within the battery case. It requires very precise gluing and soldering. You may wish to confine yourself to 3000 or less Mah capacities provided you can find batteries that are 0.8 in. in diameter.

The above advice recommending a "hot" iron is very good advice. I would recommend at least a 200 watt iron with short contact times. There are two O rings that must be lubricated and seated properly for a water tight seal; one surrounds the black power dial post and the other is located inside the screw hole (it's small). It seals the screw which holds the black power dial post in place.

In all honesty it is much easier just to send your batteries back to ikelite where they will replace and upgrade the batteries for you at a reduced cost compared to total replacement. FWIW

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#4 davehicks

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 06:24 PM

I updated the oldest of my battery packs last night without much difficulty. The only troublesome part was glue the cells together cleanly to hold their shape in the battery housing. I'll report back on how it all works after I've given it a try.

Here are the parts I bought for this project:

Name Code Qty Each Options
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Smart Universal Battery CHUN122 1 27.95
Pack Charger: 7.2V - 12V,

1 SubC 3800 mAh high Tenergy-Sub-C-3800x001-TABS 12 3.39
capacity NiMH Rechargeable battery with tabs

Subtotal 68.63

#5 imasleeper

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 06:20 PM

Hi Dave,

After reading your post on the relative ease of replacing the DS 125 batteries with the Tenergy 3800 Mah Sub C batteries I was curious regarding the diameter of these batteries so I ordered 6 of the SubC 3800 mAh high Tenergy batteries. Their diameter is slightly less than 0.8 in. This makes them relatively easy to fit into a DS-125 battery case as the diameter is slightly less than the stock panasonic 1700 Mah batteries , which is what you found. I have tried a number of different high capacity sub c batteries but many of these high capacity Sub C batteries have a diameter of slightly greater than 0.9 in which makes them very difficult to fit into the battery case. So thanks for this "discovery."

Regarding gluing the batteries together what I found that works the best is to use a small amount of thick CA and CA accelerant while using the center post of the battery case as a jig. The thick CA nicely fills in the gap between the batteries. It only takes a couple of seconds for the CA to bond once the accelerant is applied.

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#6 Drew

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 07:05 AM

Spot welding is best for tabs. It's faster and less heat damage.

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#7 PRC

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:20 AM

Spot welding is best for tabs. It's faster and less heat damage.


mmmm - probably, if professionally done - I have been in a production situation when the spot welds failed on 80% of the packs that we had sold - over a two year period.

Ended doing quite a bit of work on the technology and while it may be better overall I would not advocate it on a short run / home build basis - far better to use a hot iron.

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#8 divinman

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 09:33 AM

Now I am a pretty handy guy, got tons of tools and actually know how to use most of them.....that said, I can't for the life of me get the old cells out....

I am a visual kinda guy...anyone got pics?

BTW: Ikes website now says they are no longer upgrading DS125 battery packs.

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#9 davehicks

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 03:21 PM

Now I am a pretty handy guy, got tons of tools and actually know how to use most of them.....that said, I can't for the life of me get the old cells out....

I am a visual kinda guy...anyone got pics?

BTW: Ikes website now says they are no longer upgrading DS125 battery packs.

Terry


Remove the screw from the switch on the battery pack & pull out the switch and it will just drop right out.

Be careful because there is a tiny o-ring on the screw. Be sure to lube that up well when putting it back together. No the position of the switch on the circuit board as well to ensure all is lined up well when you reassemble it.

I just returned from a week long live aboard on the Nautilus Explorer where we visited nearly all the Channel Islands off SoCal. The new battery pack worked great! I don't think I ever even ran it down below 3 bars after 150 shots and a little use of the modeling light! The NiCad pack I used dropped to two or one bar at the same time. The charger worked great as well. I'll be buying a second charger right away and upgrading my other two NiCad packs now.

Even if you don't care to to dive into your own battery pack upgrades, I recommend buying these $28 cargers over Ikelites $100+ chargers. An added bonus: these chargers have a basic 2 prong AC cord versus the Socket Hogging bricks that Ikelite is selling.

Happy Upgrades!

Dave

Edited by davehicks, 19 May 2008 - 03:22 PM.


#10 DavidScubadiver

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 11:08 AM

Assuming I am buying a ds-125 new, and they are selling the Ike smart charger 1.5 hr $95.00, are you saying its safe and less expensive to buy a different charger instead? The batter for the Ds-125 is approximately $120. That seems outrageously expensive. But, can other batteries be used safely, and does this require a substantial modification of the flash? Frankly I am not at all handy and to save 50 bucks at the cost of voiding a warranty, is not something I'm comfortable doing, since I will likely need to repair what I attempted to fix... :lol:
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#11 divinman

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 11:51 AM

Assuming I am buying a ds-125 new, and they are selling the Ike smart charger 1.5 hr $95.00, are you saying its safe and less expensive to buy a different charger instead? The batter for the Ds-125 is approximately $120. That seems outrageously expensive. But, can other batteries be used safely, and does this require a substantial modification of the flash? Frankly I am not at all handy and to save 50 bucks at the cost of voiding a warranty, is not something I'm comfortable doing, since I will likely need to repair what I attempted to fix... :lol:



The 'upgrade' mentioned here is for people using the old style nicad packs. I had two die on me after a year os so. Ike used to upgrade them but they aren't doing it anymore. This DIY project allows you to refurb your own non-working battery.

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#12 davehicks

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 04:42 PM

Assuming I am buying a ds-125 new, and they are selling the Ike smart charger 1.5 hr $95.00, are you saying its safe and less expensive to buy a different charger instead? The batter for the Ds-125 is approximately $120. That seems outrageously expensive. But, can other batteries be used safely, and does this require a substantial modification of the flash? Frankly I am not at all handy and to save 50 bucks at the cost of voiding a warranty, is not something I'm comfortable doing, since I will likely need to repair what I attempted to fix... :lol:


I would definately consider buying this $27 charger for the new NiMH packs over the Ikelite charger. You do need to add the right plug (Radio Shack N-type power connector) and that's it for the handy work.

Unless you are very handy with a soldering iron, I'd avoid trying to replace the NiCad cells in your old pack with new NiMH cells. I like doing DIY projects, but otherwise it may not be worth your time to save the $$$.

I've upgraded all three of my packs now and bought two new chargers. It took me several hours of effort, but I only spent about $100 vs Ikelite's price of over $500. I used the new packs and chargers on a week like dive trip, and everything worked well.

Dave

#13 divinman

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Posted 02 June 2008 - 05:31 PM

I've upgraded all three of my packs now and bought two new chargers. It took me several hours of effort, but I only spent about $100 vs Ikelite's price of over $500. I used the new packs and chargers on a week like dive trip, and everything worked well.

Dave



Hey Dave! Can I send you a pack and some cash and have you do it!? :lol: Guess that wouldn't be "DIY" but I would be shipping it myself.

Edited by divinman, 02 June 2008 - 05:32 PM.

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#14 Swordfish

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 06:18 AM

Hi. I'm about to replace the batteries of my old NiCD battery pack with fresh NiMH batteries. Problem is, I don't know if I lost the "small" o-ring inside the power switch or if it's just there, when I disassembled the battery pack. Based on your posts, I get the feeling that one can easily lose the small o-ring, that it could fly without one noticing it, but I've searched the entire room for the o-ring (in case it did fly) but haven't found it. I've had my strobe for four/five years, and I also suspect that the o-ring might just be stuck in there. I don't want to get it out (difficult) and I might tear it in the process (if indeed it is just inside the black plastic power switch). I've tried using a flashlight, but it doesn't help. Anyone can tell me how to know for sure the small o-ring is there? Thanks!

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#15 Swordfish

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 09:25 AM

Okay, got it out by greasing the screw.

I hope somebody will give me an answer to my next query. Does anybody know if the Tenergy 4500 "high drain" (whatever that means) sub C batteries are the same size as the 3800 version? I just want to be sure because I ordered a set of 4200 batteries locally (different brand) and these didn't fit inside the battery holder.

About the size of the 3800 Tenergy battery, Imasleeper said it is slightly less than 0.8 inches (20.32mm). How come the Web site says its diameter is 23mm?

Am I better off just getting the 3800 version? Thanks.

Norman

Edited by Swordfish, 28 September 2008 - 09:29 AM.

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#16 davehicks

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 11:28 AM

There is very little room inside the battery pack and any increase in size would likely be a problem. As mentioned in my posts I got the Tenergy SubC 3800 mA cells and they fit just fine. I did not see any difference in size or diameter.

The 3800 mA cells are better than the original NiCads in that they seem to last longer. No doubt the 4500 cells are even better, but probably add more weight. I would stick with what we know works if there is any suspicion that the cells are too big. The Tenergy 3800's more than met my expectations for battery life, and they are still working great after about 40 dives of intense usage.

I hope that helps!

Dave



Okay, got it out by greasing the screw.

I hope somebody will give me an answer to my next query. Does anybody know if the Tenergy 4500 "high drain" (whatever that means) sub C batteries are the same size as the 3800 version? I just want to be sure because I ordered a set of 4200 batteries locally (different brand) and these didn't fit inside the battery holder.

About the size of the 3800 Tenergy battery, Imasleeper said it is slightly less than 0.8 inches (20.32mm). How come the Web site says its diameter is 23mm?

Am I better off just getting the 3800 version? Thanks.

Norman



#17 Swordfish

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 03:20 AM

There is very little room inside the battery pack and any increase in size would likely be a problem. As mentioned in my posts I got the Tenergy SubC 3800 mA cells and they fit just fine. I did not see any difference in size or diameter.

The 3800 mA cells are better than the original NiCads in that they seem to last longer. No doubt the 4500 cells are even better, but probably add more weight. I would stick with what we know works if there is any suspicion that the cells are too big. The Tenergy 3800's more than met my expectations for battery life, and they are still working great after about 40 dives of intense usage.

I hope that helps!

Dave


That helped. Thanks a lot.

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#18 Swordfish

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 07:01 PM

How do you solder these tabs? I mean, are you supposed to place the tabs across so they form a V in front of the two batteries you are joining? What is the black rubber on the tabs for? Am I supposed to remove these before soldering? Thanks.

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#19 davehicks

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 07:04 PM

Sorry for the delayed response, I've been traveling. (Sadly not a dive trip!)

Cut off the black rubber insulation with an xacto knife or the like. If you spread a little solder flux on the tabs they should solder together without much trouble. Use a bit of thin wire through the holes to tie them together before soldering if you have trouble. Don't forget the flux, it makes most soldering jobs a lot easier and more effective.

Dave


How do you solder these tabs? I mean, are you supposed to place the tabs across so they form a V in front of the two batteries you are joining? What is the black rubber on the tabs for? Am I supposed to remove these before soldering? Thanks.

Norman



#20 personaobscura

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:15 AM

Sorry for the delayed response, I've been traveling. (Sadly not a dive trip!)

Cut off the black rubber insulation with an xacto knife or the like. If you spread a little solder flux on the tabs they should solder together without much trouble. Use a bit of thin wire through the holes to tie them together before soldering if you have trouble. Don't forget the flux, it makes most soldering jobs a lot easier and more effective.

Dave



I have two Ikelite DS 125 strobes with NiMH batteries that need to be replaced. Rather than buy new ones from Ikelite I want to replace them with the Tenergy-Sub-C- 3800 mAh high capacity NiMH Rechargeable batteries as described above. Can I still use the original Ikelite charger on these or do I have to replace it with another one?
Thanks for your time.

Les