PD36R not charging

PhotonWrangler

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Last week I needed to charge my PD36R. I usually plug it into a simple wall wart charger with a USB type A port on it and I use an A to C cable to charge it. This has worked fine in the past.

The other day I decided to try it on a newer "smarter" wall wart with a USB-C to USB-C cable. Well not only did it not take a charge, the LED (the business end LED) would produce two brief flashes every 30 seconds or so. This seemed to be some sort of failure indicator but I couldn't find anything about this in their documentation. And now it won't take a charge on any type of charger.

I'm wondering if I've borked the charging circuit. Has this happened to anyone else?
 

Stress_Test

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What was the current delivery on the Type C charger? I was thinking that some of those are higher amperage than the older Type A (for faster charging of smartphones)
 

PhotonWrangler

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It's an Anker Nano 3 30W charger. At 5v it should be capable of delivering up to 6 amps. The Fenix specs state 5v at 3A max. The higher amperage capacity of the charger shouldn't burn it out though - theoretically the load only draws as much current as it needs from the source.

Ok, just as I was typing this, the charging LED turned green while charging from my computer's USB-2 port. The only change was that I opened it up and temporarily shorted out the contacts on the head to discharge any stray voltage. Now it seems to be working again. I'm suspecting this was a CMOS latch-up event.

Still REALLY puzzled by that 2-flash pattern while it was on the Anker charger. Hopefully there was no permanent damage done. I will not be using that Anker Nano to charge the light again.
 
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aznsx

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It's an Anker Nano 3 30W charger. At 5v it should be capable of delivering up to 6 amps. The Fenix specs state 5v at 3A max. The higher amperage capacity of the charger shouldn't burn it out though - theoretically the load only draws as much current as it needs from the source.

Ok, just as I was typing this, the charging LED turned green while charging from my computer's USB-2 port. The only change was that I opened it up and temporarily shorted out the contacts on the head to discharge any stray voltage. Now it seems to be working again. I'm suspecting this was a CMOS latch-up event.

Still REALLY puzzled by that 2-flash pattern while it was on the Anker charger. Hopefully there was no permanent damage done. I will not be using that Anker Nano to charge the light again.

I'm definitely not very knowledgeable regarding USB (nor especially fond of it as a power interconnect 'standard', BTW), so I'm speculating blindly. Is that Anker unit capable of outputting a voltage higher than 5V under certain conditions? If so, I would speculate that might be exactly what it did. If so, I'd have no idea why.
 
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PhotonWrangler

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I'm definitely not very knowledgeable regarding USB (nor especially fond of it as a power interconnect 'standard', BTW), so I'm speculating blindly. Is that Anker unit capable of outputting a voltage higher than 5V under certain conditions? If so, I would speculate that might be exactly what it did. If so, I'd have no idea why.
Yes, it's capable of putting out a higher voltage if the load device negotiates with the charger to request it. As far as I know the flashlight doesn't do this. I could test this by putting a USB power meter in series with the Anker and the flashlight I need to make sure it won't blow up the power meter first though.
 

aznsx

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Yes, it's capable of putting out a higher voltage if the load device negotiates with the charger to request it. As far as I know the flashlight doesn't do this. I could test this by putting a USB power meter in series with the Anker and the flashlight I need to make sure it won't blow up the power meter first though.
No, the flashlight likely doesn't do this as a feature. However, I imagine the combination of the more advanced(?) power supply, &/or a different cable (from the standard one for that flashlight), possibly along with a fluke / transient condition perhaps occurring at time of interconnection, probably caused your flashlight to see an excessive (out of spec) voltage - even if only transient. That's speculation, but sounds likely to me.

No, personally I wouldn't try in again to try to study the issue, but that's just me.

I do not want to be a smart-a at all, but this may be an example of why most manufacturers include verbiage like this in their instructions (and this is c/p from the 36R doc):

  1. When charging is needed, remove the dust cover to reveal the charging port in the light neck, and connect the light to the power source with the included USB Type-C charging cable.
I think they realize things like this probably could occur, and this is a sort of disclaimer to discourage experimentation. If you asked tech support, they might well remind you of that. Do I always use the 'supplied' cable? No, I admit I don't:). I'm just sayin'.

As I said, I'm not a fan of USB for such applications. To make it worse, as the interface / standards become more complex / advanced (like negotiated higher voltages, etc.), that probably just increases the likelihood of such interface snafus. That genie's long since out of the bottle though, but I'll remember to be cautious should I experiment beyond what I know works.

It's good that the flashlight doesn't seem to hold a grudge towards you because of it. I look forward to hearing of its latest adventures!

EDIT: I should mention that if I was bound and determined to try that setup again, I'd make my interconnections prior to applying power. That would reduce the risk if the issue is perhaps being caused by one pin making connection before another in just the wrong way with power applied, which adds to the variables.
 
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PhotonWrangler

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No, the flashlight likely doesn't do this as a feature. However, I imagine the combination of the more advanced(?) power supply, &/or a different cable (from the standard one for that flashlight), possibly along with a fluke / transient condition perhaps occurring at time of interconnection, probably caused your flashlight to see an excessive (out of spec) voltage - even if only transient. That's speculation, but sounds likely to me.

No, personally I wouldn't try in again to try to study the issue, but that's just me.

I do not want to be a smart-a at all, but this may be an example of why most manufacturers include verbiage like this in their instructions (and this is c/p from the 36R doc):

  1. When charging is needed, remove the dust cover to reveal the charging port in the light neck, and connect the light to the power source with the included USB Type-C charging cable.
I think they realize things like this probably could occur, and this is a sort of disclaimer to discourage experimentation. If you asked tech support, they might well remind you of that. Do I always use the 'supplied' cable? No, I admit I don't:). I'm just sayin'.

As I said, I'm not a fan of USB for such applications. To make it worse, as the interface / standards become more complex / advanced (like negotiated higher voltages, etc.), that probably just increases the likelihood of such interface snafus. That genie's long since out of the bottle though, but I'll remember to be cautious should I experiment beyond what I know works.

It's good that the flashlight doesn't seem to hold a grudge towards you because of it. I look forward to hearing of its latest adventures!

EDIT: I should mention that if I was bound and determined to try that setup again, I'd make my interconnections prior to applying power. That would reduce the risk if the issue is perhaps being caused by one pin making connection before another in just the wrong way with power applied, which adds to the variables.
aznsx, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I'm sure the flashlight driver isn't designed to make use of the new USB-PD protocol which offers voltages up to 48vdc. The higher voltages are supposed to be present only after an appropriate handshake over a correctly designed USB-C cable. This gets messy pretty fast.

The failure mode I experienced was when I used a USB-C to USB-C 3.1 cable, which likely has the correct pinouts and resistor value to allow for fast charging. Normally I use a USB-2 type A to C cable, which has never been a problem. The factory supplied USB-C to USB-A cable is a safe bet also, but it's only around 6 inches so it's not very practical for me.

I still might repeat this experiment, briefly, just to quantify exactly what happened so I can make better cable and charger choices going forward.

Thanks again for your input. (y)
 

PhotonWrangler

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Well it looks like it's toast. It blew through a fully charged battery really fast, then it refused to work when I replaced the battery with another fully charged one. I get about 14 quick red flashes on the LED in the small brass button, then nothing. I'm sure the conbination of the charger and USB-PD cable killed it. I'm chalking this up to a life lesson.
 
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ecallahan

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Thanks for sharing this story, I'm going to make sure I stick to my current charging setup. And sorry about your flashlight.
 

Dave_H

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Regret to hear of this happening. I was doing some reading on current state of USB 3/4 and USB-PD. It's a bit of a mess with compatibility issues in some cases. Type C cables vary in quality and capability. Anything which is capable to deliver up to 20v at 5A (actually now up to 48v) makes me a bit nervous when connecting to device which only needs to work with 5v, so I would err on the safe side and stick to 5v charging device.

Interesting that the Anker charger is using Gallium Nitride (GaN) instead of Silicon, I've been watching this gradually moving into mainstream.

Dave
 

PhotonWrangler

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Interesting that the Anker charger is using Gallium Nitride (GaN) instead of Silicon, I've been watching this gradually moving into mainstream.

Dave
This is why II bought that specific charger. It's very small for it's rated capacity because of the Gallium Nitride semiconductors. It will be interesting to see if this technology gets any traction in the market.
 

Dave_H

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This is why II bought that specific charger. It's very small for it's rated capacity because of the Gallium Nitride semiconductors. It will be interesting to see if this technology gets any traction in the market.
Indeed GaN and Silicon Carbide (SiC) are already really important for electric vehicle technology. One system component is referred to as "traction convertor" so indeed this will get traction!

Dave
 
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