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P5100/P7100 battery issues

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ocguard

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We have been using the P5100 portable radios in York County for about 3 years now. Since the day the system was "rolled out," the batteries for these radios have been disgraceful. All radios were supplied with NiMH batteries and tri-chem chargers. When the police first got the radios, they were lasting about 2-3 hours. Fire got the radios next, and batteries would not last through a structure fire without needing to be changed. To compound the problem, the batteries seem to discharge at a fast rate, even when the radio is powered off. For instance, take a freshly charged battery, put it in a radio, and leave it powered off in the rig, come back two days later and turn the radio on, the indicator will read half charge, as soon as you key it up, it chirps and has insufficient charge to make a call.

Many agencies have "re-conditioned" batteries. Harris claims to have "re-worked" our chargers. Some departments have placed chargers in apparatus (which will make the radio work for about 2 hours once removed).

Does anyone have any input on this? Is it possible that somehow the programming of the radio has it drawing an exorbitant amount of power from the battery, even when powered off?

Our department has chosen to switch to XTS2500 radios, but we've been held up by the way the emergency button on the Motorola radios reset. This is a story for another thread.
 

harryshute

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I find the same thing with my Jag batteries using the Harris charger marked for both Nicads and NiMh batteries. No where near how bad you are finding though. The charger quickly goes from red charge to green ready and then only lasts about 10 minutes. Using a Maha charger has worked well but does not work well in all applications. Lasting 2 to 3 hours is not good performance.

I have heard of one department that sets it's Harris radio's on lowest transmit power to preserve batteries but user's go in and reset it to high power and carry a second charged battery. They want to be able to get through on their "lifeline".
 

LMR_Dude

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My users, fire and police, have P7100's using Harris and after market batteries with no issue like you describe. We run our radios in high power with lapel mics.

A customer using P7200's had a simliar problem and we traced it down to the volume knobs being loose, Harris has since come out with a TSM for both the 7100 and 7200's for this issue I believe. We turned down the backlight intensity to further reduce the draw on the battery.

At rest a P7100 draws about .08 Ah but with the back light on it jumps to .18 Ah (my memeory is vague so dont quote my numbers). P7200's draw even more current.

Constant jostling of the volume knob can have a detrimental effect, check the holsters and see if they rub ithe vol knob....food for thought.
 

ocguard

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My users, fire and police, have P7100's using Harris and after market batteries with no issue like you describe. We run our radios in high power with lapel mics.

A customer using P7200's had a simliar problem and we traced it down to the volume knobs being loose, Harris has since come out with a TSM for both the 7100 and 7200's for this issue I believe. We turned down the backlight intensity to further reduce the draw on the battery.

At rest a P7100 draws about .08 Ah but with the back light on it jumps to .18 Ah (my memeory is vague so dont quote my numbers). P7200's draw even more current.

Constant jostling of the volume knob can have a detrimental effect, check the holsters and see if they rub ithe vol knob....food for thought.
Thanks. Our radios actually seem to be rapidly discharging the battery when powered OFF.
 

smackdaddy

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Aug 31, 2001
Messages
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I would recommend trying some AdvanceTec conditioning chargers. They come in single or multi-position units. They have interchangeable plates, which allow you to charge different types of batteries on a single multi-charger.

You can safely leave the batteries on these chargers without fear of over-charging. This works particularly well in the volunteer fire service.. where it can be days or even a couple of weeks between calls. After returning to the station, simply take the batteries off the portables and put them back on the conditioning charger.

My only complaint would be that sometimes the plates can break if your users are a little rough with them.. which is bound to happen at a large fire incident where adrenaline is pumping high. However it is nice to be able to replace a $30 plate vs. the whole charger when things wear out.

I have historically found that many of these radio manufacturers are not great at designing chargers. Either that, or they realize that aggressive over-charging leads to premature battery failure, which leads to higher accessory sales. $$$$

Cheers,
SD.
 

RFrunner

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Sep 5, 2011
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Thanks. Our radios actually seem to be rapidly discharging the battery when powered OFF.
Some radios keep digital circuitry "alive" to speed up turn on time. Your radios may have been designed with this "feature". If so, store them with the batteries removed.
 
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Location
Texas
Some radios keep digital circuitry "alive" to speed up turn on time. Your radios may have been designed with this "feature". If so, store them with the batteries removed.
The P7100 and P5100 don't have any current drain when switched off - the switch isolates the radio circuitry.

More likely is that the batteries were never conditioned before they were used - or that they have been overcharged and a cell has gone bad. One quick check - measure the voltage on the back of the battery with the radio on and the battery fully charged, then transmit and measure the voltage again. The voltage should only drop by about 0.5v - more than that and there's a bad cell in the pack.
 
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