Saturday, August 7, 2021

Electrical Repair

I have a gadget used for powering telescope mounts.  It is basically a rechargeable 12V battery with a variety of output formats, of which only the 12V cigarette light outputs matter to me. The recharger input looks like this. 

I have two of them for long evenings.  Both of these units are a bit cranky about position of the input plug.  It usually requires some pushing in various directions to get the charging LED to light up at full brightness and thus do full speed charging. (Right now, one is pressed against the wall providing enough force to charge it.) 

I believe the problem is the input port.  The plugs on the two units are identical.  This could be a fault of the input port or wiring behind the port.  I would prefer to repair rather than replace.  The battery inside seems to work well and hold a charge.   Let me rephrase that: I would prefer that it be repaired so I do not do it.  I have already replaced the lead-acid battery on one of these several years ago and it was almost more dexterity than I possess.

Why not buy new? It is about $80. Made in China of course.   I would prefer to buy non-Chinese; it would be cool to have an American maker.  Until some Americans decide to make these, repair is therefore not putting money in our next hot warfare enemy's treasury.

Is there anyone who feels like they would like to take one apart, identify the problem, and perhaps find a way to make some money in American made telescope power sources?

Alternative strategy.   I have a 12V motorcycle battery.  A battery clamp to a 12V cigarette lighter converter gives me the storage.  A wooden carrying case makes it portable with a permanent home for the converter and connectors for the recharge.  It does not have the light of these power banks, but I use a flashlight.  I have a battery charger that I can use to recharge the battery.  It is not quite as elegant as the power banks and the charger is almost certainly Chinese but I already have it.

The battery is 700Wh, and weighs as you would expect.  When these power banks cease to charge or work, I can buy a less heavy, lower capacity battery and the converter cable.

Even simpler.  A 12V cigarette lighter plug to 12V battery clamp cable to connect the battery charger to the 12V female socket.  One less set of exposed battery cables to short out or trip over.

So where do you find a non-Chinese 12V female cigarette lighter plug.  American is not essential.   Do the Chinese just outcompete every other country or buy out competitors in other nations?

This Schumacher unit is made in Mexico.  We are not going to war with Mexico.  The more jobs we create in Mexico, the less need to cross illegally in pursuit of jobs.  It is 15 pounds compared to 8 for the current units but will likely need charging less frequently.  I has no cigarette lighter port so I would need to graft one onto it.  But at that point, bungee cords across the charging plug seem to be doing the job.  Once these completely fail, I will buy the smallest sealed battery that I can find with at least 240 WH capacity, attach a cigarette lighter socket, put it all in a wooden box with a handle.  Use a battery clamp to cigarette lighter adapter and recharge it as needed from a battery charger.


  1. I gave up using a battery for my mount several years ago. If your mount is in reach of an outdoor extension cord, get a power supply used for ham radios and use that. Many of them have 12VDC (cigarette lighter-type) outlets.

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  3. Cig lighter plugs are ubiquitous, but highly unreliable, as you have discovered. The actual problem may be the other side - the plug, rather than the socket (try bending the spring tabs out) but if you can open the case, how hard can it be to replace the socket? At worse, two wires, They are easily available from any auto parts store, WalMart, etc..

    Being a Ham, I'd have installed the more or less universal Anderson Power Poles, but thats what Hams do.

  4. I've seen advice online for both these and the Celestion equivalent that the adapters supplied for the charging port are likely to overcharge the unit, decreasing battery life, and that the better way to charge is to IGNORE the charging switch and adapter input, and just use a motorcycle/car charger like a battery-tender or battery-minder unit hooking straight to the jump leads on the Orion.
    The charging lights on the Orion won't light, but the lights on the charger are actually more informative as to the battery state.