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  1. #1
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    Niteflux Photon max extreme malfunction

    I have a Niteflux Photon max extreme which has started malfunctioning at inconvenient times (bombing down twisty tree-laden trails). This has happened twice: it just dies without warning. No amount of button-pushing brings it back. It happens 30-60 minutes into the ride, and it is not overheating. When I get it home and touch the contacts of the charger to the charging jack it immediately works again. I can no longer trust the light and it may be a paper weight, but it's a shame because it is a great light and I suspect the problem is a simple electrical problem. There are no more domestic dealers and Geoman is out of business so I would be greatful for any suggestions. I have no qualms about tearing the battery open to try to find a short since it will be going in the garbage if there is no fix.

  2. #2
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    Really is hard to know for sure but when you said that you took the charger and plugged it into the battery which got the light working again, this tells me that there is a potential "intermittent short" somewhere. More than likely somewhere in one of the plugs or plug cords ( either one will do the trick ).

    If there is an intermittent short this causes the batteries' PCB ( Printed Circuit Board ) to issue an automatic shut down of all current coming out of the battery. When you plug the battery back into the charger the PCB "senses" the voltage potential from the charger and resets the circuit, allowing it to work again. ( * this is a standard fail-safe circuit used in most batteries )

    You might try to find the short by playing around with the plugs and wires. With the lamp working and the light ON put some gentle stress on the plugs and wires ( * bend the wires back and forth at the plugs ). This tends to be one of the most problematic areas where this can occur. Do one at a time so you can isolate the problem. If the light goes out while doing this you are half way there. Reset the battery and keep doing it till you find the precise spot.

    If you find the spot you have some options. If the short is on the battery side you could get a replacement battery or just try splicing in a new connector. Some minor DIY skills are required for the latter. If the short is on the light head side then your only options are to replace the wire/plug or get a replacement light head.

    Now with all this said hopefully you don't have an internal short somewhere. Those would be harder to isolate and fix and require major DIY skills.

    Since your seller is no longer in business you might try contacting Niteflux directly if you can't fix or find the problem yourself.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your prompt reply. Manipulating the wires does not seem to help. I emailed Niteflux and they think one of the cells is dead and want $150 to fix it. I like your explanation better (intermittent short that resets). I can get a more powerful Magicshine for $150 so sending it back for repair is out of the question. Perhaps I should break into the battery pack and see if there is an obvious short somewhere, o/w into the garbage.

  4. #4
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    My thought is in line with Niteflux. A bad cell in the pack is prematurely triggering the low voltage cut off on the protection PCB. Connecting to the charger resets it.

    After resetting it, does it run for the same 30 to 60 minutes, or is does turn off more quickly? If it turns off more quickly then that points more strongly to a bad cell.

  5. #5
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    I think I will open the pack as discussed here: Disassembling NiteFlux Photon Max Battery?, and test for a bad cell with a voltmeter. Replacement cells are fairly cheap although I acknowledge the risk and complexity of disassembly/re-assembly process.

  6. #6
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    looks pretty straightforward. If you want any tips on soldering to li-ion cells or even which cells to get and from where, post over on the DIY forum, you'll get a lot more views/ help there.

  7. #7
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    How old is your Nightflux. There are a number of manufacturers who will repair it even past the warranty. DiNotte, Lupine, etc. Ask them again if the light is not that old. I would assume they would want to keep you as a customer, maybe.

  8. #8
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    So I disassembled the battery pack last night and measured the voltages of the cells as follows: 3.89, 3.92, 3.93, and 3.95 volts. I have not recharged the pack since it died on me 2 days ago but did "reset" it transiently with the charger so it was working prior to disassembly. Do those voltages suggest that the batteries are ok and the problem is likely in the electronics? I can buy new cells for $26 but don't want to waste my time and money if tbe batteries are not the problem.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by campykid View Post
    So I disassembled the battery pack last night and measured the voltages of the cells as follows: 3.89, 3.92, 3.93, and 3.95 volts. I have not recharged the pack since it died on me 2 days ago but did "reset" it transiently with the charger so it was working prior to disassembly. Do those voltages suggest that the batteries are ok and the problem is likely in the electronics? I can buy new cells for $26 but don't want to waste my time and money if tbe batteries are not the problem.
    Here's the thing: If the cells are still connected to the pack they will self balance to some degree if not under load. Turn the light on wait about 25 min and then try to measure voltage drops. If you really think the problem is the battery than all you need is a replacement battery. I don't know what Niteflux charges for a new battery but it shouldn't be over $80. Then again I don't think I'd buy another battery from NF if a cell went bad. You might be able to buy a cheaper battery somewhere else and just use the old connector from the old battery.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, I wondered if they would self-balance. I'll leave the light on and then measure the voltage. Hopefully it will act up while I'm testing it. BTW, Niteflux wante $150 to repair the battery, and $200 to replace the whole pack (!).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by campykid View Post
    Thanks, I wondered if they would self-balance. I'll leave the light on and then measure the voltage. Hopefully it will act up while I'm testing it. BTW, Niteflux wante $150 to repair the battery, and $200 to replace the whole pack (!).
    If you have a Battery Plus near you they might be able to rebuild the battery as well. I don't know what they will charge but you can call and ask.

  12. #12
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    static voltages at that stage of charge aren't going to tell you much. I'd run the light until the problem occurs and measure again.

    Personally, I think it's pretty unlikely that the driver/ PCB circuitry is the problem as if it was the light just wouldn't work. Shorter than expected runtimes are almost always down to the cells.

  13. #13
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    Dinotte XML-3 $259 bright and your troubles are over. They'll back you.

    Or, ebay several of those 30 dollar XML T-6's and they should last you through this Winter until March or possibly buy 3, total $93 and you'll be good to go until next year. With 3, you should have 2 complete sets working for the year.

    My thoughts.

    MB

  14. #14
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    Found it! Turned light on and measured voltages. Three of the cells maintained 3.8 volts but 1 dropped quickly to 3 volts and the light cut out. I guess that's the cell I need to replace. Thanks for your help; will order cells today.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by campykid View Post
    Found it! Turned light on and measured voltages. Three of the cells maintained 3.8 volts but 1 dropped quickly to 3 volts and the light cut out. I guess that's the cell I need to replace. Thanks for your help; will order cells today.
    Good show! Are you going to replace all the cells or just the bad one? I would think it would be tempting to replace all the cells seeing you have the battery case open and can access all the cells. Regardless of what you choose to do you will probably need cells with tabs so that soldering will be easier. I do believe you can buy Tenergy 2600mAh cells with tabs but if you want the best I'd get something like the Callies Kustoms ( Panasonic 3100mAh ) with tabs.

    If you're just replacing the one cell I'd go with the Tenergy. I doubt the cells in the original battery are more than 2600mAh each.

  16. #16
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    nice job campykid! I'd really strongly recommend replacing all the cells at once, otherwise you're just storing up problems further down the road.

    you can pick up Samsung and Sanyo 2600mAh cells for ~$5-6+ postage (CNCqualitygoods) and Panasonic NCR18650 2900mAh cells for $7.50 +postage (same place and others), which are all good cells. Don't worry about soldering to cells without tabs, just rough up the poles of the cells with a file, tin them, tin the wire and then quickly solder them together (no more than 5s). Put a pair of pliers (usually holding the wire!) on the joint afterwards to wick away the heat and you're fine. I've soldered to a lot of cells with no problems. Also, there's far more choice and better prices on cells without tabs.

  17. #17
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    So I didn't take all of your advice and replace all 4 cells; only the 1 bad one. Now it's doing something new. The light cuts out without warning and the red light on the battery pack goes on. It resets when I hook up the charger, but sometimes the red light goes on while charging! Is it worth the time and money replacing the remaining cells, or is there likely a PCB problem? Niteflux wants $150 to repair it, which is not an option. Another option?: I have a new 14v battery pack from batteryspace; what would happen if I just hooked it directly to the lighthead (no switches or variable settings)?

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