Category Archives: Electronics

Troubleshooting A Pride Mobility GoGo Elite Traveller Scooter’s Power Problem

My mother-in-law is getting older and so are my wife and I. Let me tell you, It was a lot easier pushing around a wheelchair 10+ years ago compared to today. With this in mind, my wife and been watching for a good deal on one of those little electric mobility scooters. Finally, one day she saw one posted on Facebook at a local thrift store so we want and took a look.

The owner of the store buys abandoned storage units and a Pride Mobility Elite Traveller scooter was in one of them. It looked to be in great shape but it wouldn’t run. He could turn the on/off switch and a light would come on the little dashboard but that was it. He said he tried charging it for an hour but nothing happened and thought it was the batteries — this is a great example of someone giving you their diagnoses and then that affects what you do.

At any rate, it came with the original Pride Mobility charger so I figured it was probably the batteries and did a quick search on them and replacements ranged in price from $51-89/pair. With this in mind, we settled on a price of $250 and brought the scooter home.

Here’s the GoGo Elite Traveller scooter. It’s remarkably well made. I was impressed the minute I started critically looking at the fit, finish and serviceability.
Note: Pride Mobility puts all of their manuals online. I really appreciate it when firms do this. You can get the brochure, owner’s manual, specification sheet and more on their website – click here. Just FYI: They do not provide a repair manual or technical guide.

A few days went buy before I could work on it. The first thing I did was plug the charger into the wall, then the cord direct to the power pack, turned on the switch and the little red power light came on. The charger’s second indicator LED was supposed to turn yellow that it was charging. It did not – it stayed off. Also, the cooling fan never started. Hmmm…. interesting but I had run into problems before with smart chargers not starting if batteries were dead.

Now, this mistaken assumption cost me some time but I learned a lot in the process that I’ll share.

Removing And Opening The Battery Compartment

Based on what I saw, the engineering and build quality of the scooter was excellent. I’ve seen people driving them around but never had the need to look at one up close or take one apart. Everything is built heavy duty with reliability and resiliency in mind not to mention they put fuses all over the place to protect the electronics. With that overview comment done, my focus was on getting to the batteries because I thought that was the problem.

The battery pack is the black plastic “box” with a molded handle directly underneath the seat on the floorboard of the scooter and is held in place by a tab of 3M Dual-Lock fasteners on each side. Dual-Lock is a stronger than traditional velcro and it does a great job of holding the battery compartment in place both for the sake of safety as well as to prevent rattling.

To remove the battery box, lift straight up – there aren’t any bolts or clasps – just a combination of weight, the way the pieces fit together and the Dual-Loc. If you try to lift at an angle, you’ll be surprised how it will not want to budge – straight up is what you need to do.

That black molded plastic object with the handle in front of the silver set mast is the battery compartment. It comes off the scooter by lifting straight up. FYI – the white label on the seat mast has the date of manufacture.
Between the way the compartment sits into the molded floorboard and the 3M Dual-Loc tabs, the unit is very secure.

The battery compartment is very well made and to disassemble it, you need to remove six philips head machine screws. This is just an example of where I thought the design and execution was excellent – these are threaded machine screws that go into brass female inserts on the other side – they didn’t just go cheap using some self tapping screw. You flip the compartment upside down and remove the screws. The batteries are held securely in place by Dual-Lock also.

The 12 Volt Batteries Themselves

I’m going to step you through some details on the batteries but I did not change them yet. I’d recommend you read this whole post because your “problem” may or may not be the batteries.

Our scooter is powered by two 12 volt 12 amp hour batteries wired in series to provide 24 volts. In the compartment is a wiring diagram and everything is done very nicely to avoid confusion – red wires to positive tabs on the battery and black wires to the negative tabs on the battery.

These are the 12 volt 12 amp hour batteries that are hooked up in series to provide 24 volts. If you look to the right of the silver plug, the two red wires white plastic connector is on a fuse assembly that protects the charger circuit that you will want to check and the far right side has a circuit breaker that is also worth checking. Pride says they can go up to 6.7 miles depending on factors such as the weight of the passenger and cargo. Note how everything is so well labeled, the wiring is very neatly done and they even provide a handy wiring diagram above the left battery. Whomever designed and then built this cared about what they were doing.

For those of you unfamiliar with direct current (DC) batteries, these two batteries are hooked up in series to produce 24 volts. This is done by connecting the negative terminal of one battery to the positive of the other and then the opposite as well. In the scooter, this is done at the wiring block in the middle. You don’t need to worry – just note the wires when you take it out (a photo helps) and do a battery at a time – black wire to negative and red wire to positive,

Note, there are at least two sizes of batteries used – their standard battery pack is rated for 6 miles and uses two 12 amp hour (Ah) batteries. There is a 9.7 mile bigger 18 amp hour (Ah) battery and it correspondingly uses a bigger cabinet so if you decide you are going to replace your batteries, confirm what is in your battery compartment first. You can change cabinets – or even buy entire battery packs ready to go. From what I have seen, the cheapest bet is to just buy the batteries and swap them out in your existing compartment. I also see batteries with other capacities like 15Ah and over 20Ah, I’d recommend you confirm that their physical sizes will fit whatever battery compartment you have.

Troubleshooting the HP8204B Charger

The batteries hold the charge that runs the scooter but they must be recharged by using a battery charger. I should have checked this first but didn’t because I assumed it was the batteries but let me step you through what I did.

I put a voltmeter on each of the 12 volt batteries and they both read just a tad over 4 volts. So, not absolutely dead but boy were they spent. In doing automotive work, I would have expected the smart charger to sense the voltage and begin. Okay, something was fishy and it wasn’t adding up. It was time to look at the charger again.

The scooter came with a Pride Mobility HP8204B charger rated for 24 volts DC at 5 amps. That would mean that if I took my meter and put it on the pins, I should read somewhere around 28+ volts (the exact volts is an “it depends” – I would have been cautiously happy with anything over 24 and stopping somewhere around 30).

This is the original charger. Only a solid red light would come on. That indicated it had power. The cooling fan never turned on and the second LED that should turn yellow for charging or green for fully charged never turned on.

I used my multimeter on the batteries with the Pride charger connected. Only the red bulb on the charger was lit. No fan, no yellow light and no additional voltage detected on the battery terminals. I should have read 13-14 volts when doing the positive and negative tabs on each individual battery with the wires connected but I read just the 4 volts (by the way I word it like this because it was 4 and some decimal but I didn’t write down.)

The fuse you can see outside of the battery pack between the plug and a circuit breaker on the front of the battery pack looked fine and tested okay for continuity.

In looking at the battery pack, I unplugged the pin 1 should have been positive and pin 2 should have been negative. I cautiously touched my probes on the two tips because I didn’t want to unnecessarily short the system out by accidentally touching positive and negative together. Guess what? Nothing – not a thing. My auto-ranging digital meter was doing it’s usual millivolt reading garbage but there was no real voltage coming through.

The next thing I did was to turn off the original charger and remove the fuse from the end of the charger with the lights – undoing the round cap will produce a glass tube fuse. You can usually see if the wire running from one end to the other in the middle of the clear glass is intact or burned out. It looked okay and just to be sure I ran a continuity test with my meter and it was okay.

I also pulled apart the plug that goes into the battery pack just in case something was lose and it read zero volts too. In case you are wondering why there are three pins (I wondered why) – pin three provides voltage to the scooter so the little computer knows the charger is still attached and will not let the driver move the scooter – pretty good idea.

Okay, it was time to Google the scooter and the charger to learn more. The fact that only the red light was coming on but not the fan and/or the yellow charging light was making it look the the charger had failed. I did the “sniff” test to see if I could smell if anything had burned out but if it had, it must have been some time ago as I didn’t detect anything. In short, the charger was history.

There are tons of charger options on Amazon but I want to caution you against the little sealed chargers. They do work but they are going to get hot and they will probably fail at some point due to all of that heat. There’s a reason Pride went with the a fan cooled charger – they get hot converting AC (wall outlet) current to 24 volts DC (direct current).

Companies like Pride rarely make their own chargers. They will either use an existing charger on the market and not bother covering up the name of the maker or they will pay for it have their brand name on the decal. Pride opted for the latter or at least that’s what I think they did. The trick to realize here is that by searching on HP8204B, you can find either the original maker or another firm who did the same thing – had their name put on the charger. Regardless, you can save a bundle off a new Pride charger.

In my case, I found a seller named “ENCAREFOR” on Amazon selling what seemed to be the exact same charger but with the label “High Power” on it. Besides the label, the rated output is at 4 amps vs. 5 which means it will just charge a tad slower. It was going for $89.99 with Prime One Day shipping but I held off as I realized I needed to test the batteries and the scooter before I spent more money. In other words, I knew the charger was bad but didn’t want to spend more money if the scooter itself was burned out – if it was just the batteries, I could still order them.

By the way, you can buy used OEM Pride chargers off of eBay. I’ve had mixed experience with used chargers in general so I tend to just buy new. If you don’t mind gambling on a used one, they are on eBay.

Used a Noco Genius Car Battery Charger For Testing

At this point I was pretty sure it was charger and also thought that the batteries might be okay. Why? First off, there is a sticker on the mast pole of the seat that said the scooter was made in 2019 – that meant it was three or just under three years old (especially given I was doing my troubleshooting in mid-February 2022). Batteries can last maybe five years give or take. If the voltage was zero, I’d bet they were junk but since I was getting just over 4 volts from each battery independently, they weren’t completely dead. I started to wonder if a good reconditioning and charge might work to bring them back to life. I had just the charger to try.

I’ve written in the past about Noco products – I think they are great and I use mine regularly. Not only are they excellent smart chargers with a number of safeguards built in but they can also recover/recondition deeply discharged batteries as well. My big Noco G26000 can do 12 or 24 volt batteries but since I was planning on a battery at a time, I just needed the 12 volt option. Indeed, I have three Noco Genius chargers of varying sizes (meaning the amps they put out) and they all could have done the job although the smaller 5 amp charger would have likely taken longer.

Any 12 bolt charger can do the job provided you charge the batteries one at a time.

I undid the battery cables from the first battery only and directly connected the Noco to it. I charged for one cycle and then ran a repair cycle. During repair, the charger pulses the battery to desulfinate it.

Don’t let all the wires intimidate you. I hooked the plus (red) clamp of the Noco to the plus (red) terminal of the battery on the left, I then hooked the negative (black) clamp from the Noco to the black terminal of the same battery. I have a small voltmeter that clamps ,on attached also so I could monitor progress — that’s strictly optional.

Results

When the charging was done with both batteries, I connected the scooter’s cables back and seated the battery back into its cradle. I then turned the key on for the scooter and moved it forward and backward. It worked just fine. I checked the batteries and the voltage was holding – it wasn’t dropping down.

This is what I wanted to see — the batteries were fully charged. I drove the scooter around the house and the charge never went down. I also learned that scooters are bizarre little things to drive – their turning is like sitting upright on sensitive go cart.
Other than the decals and the lower 4 amp output, the new “High Power” charger looks identical to the Pride unit. Note, I’d opened the front of the unit up to inspect the inside — the front panel is what is dangling in the bottom left of the photo.
As soon as I plugged in the new charger and turned it on, the red power light and yellow charging lights came on.

By the way, the charger’s fan will make a pulsing or surging sound as the speed changes as it nears the end of charging. This is normal and will give you an indicator that charging is almost complete.

When the scooter’s batteries are fully charged, the yellow light will turn green. The fan will make a pulsing sound as the charging nears completion.

Bottom line, the batteries and scooter were fine – it was just the charger that had failed so I ordered the replacement above from Amazon and it topped off the batteries. I drove it around the house some and everything was working just fine.

In Conclusion

So I learned a few things. The scooter was exceptionally well made is my first comment. Second, I should have started from the wall and worked towards the scooter vs. focusing on the batteries to start based on what the fellow told me.

I should have confirmed power to the charger, then that there was no power from the charger to the scooter and ordered a new charger. I’d bet a new charger could have recovered the batteries – they documentation says they can recondition a battery but who knows. Even though I started with the battery, at least I could run the Noco charger through charging and repair cycles – I’ve used it to recover a number of really compromised batteries over the years.

The scooter is ready and now we need to wait for warmer weather to let my mother-in-law practice in the driveway. I hope this story helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Brother MFC-L8610CDW Color Laser Printer And OnlyU Replacement Toner Cartrdiges – A Very Affordable High Quality Solution

First, let me start off by saying I was an HP laser printer customer for years. The middle one didn’t last as long as I thought it should and I don’t recall the model. The last HP laser I will ever own was a M254DW. I use it to print all kinds of documents including all of my packing slips and mailing labels. At least I did until the printer downloaded an update and completely stopped working. Turns out the update was to set the printer to only work with HP brand toner that they charge a fortune for.

In an HP corporate response, they hid behind their end user license agreement (EULA) – the thing 99.99% of us never read – that said they could do that. Sorry HP – I bought a printer, paid you a fair amount of money for it and for you to brick it such that I couldn’t even work with no way to remove the update was completely unacceptable – EULA or not. I’m done with your printers.

With this incredible headache in mind and that the previous printer didn’t last very long, I started researching and really wanted a new all-in-one system. After digging, I bought a Brother MFC-L8610CDW. It came with introductory toner – meaning the cartridges were not full but Brother comes with a really good reputation and they did not block third party toner.

I bought one of the Brothers for $476.99 off Amazon in September 2020 plus after digging, I bought OnlyU TN-431 TN-433 toner cartridges for $47.99 and then got a $6/off coupon. I’m writing this in May of 2021 and will tell you that the printer is awesome and we’ve already gone through the starter set of cartridges and the OnlyU replacement toner set works great – there is a reason they get such good reviews – the printer and the toner.

The OnlyU cartridges come very well packed and since I have Amazon Prime, they are here usually the next day.

So, small business owners – and really anyone else – Brother printers have a great reputation for a reason and I wish I had moved sooner. I’m using it for all of my office printing including documents, presentations, packing slips and 8.5×5.5 self adhesive mailing labels. The scanner works great – I’ve not gotten around to setting up the FAX as of yet. I have an old FAX machine that is clunk that still works so I am not in a rush.

In terms of the toner, all of the OEMs are higher than a kite for their toner cartrdiges. GIven how well OnlyU works, I already ordered my next set of replacement OnlyU toner so it’s here when I need it.

Again, I bought the printer off Amazon and here’s the link:

Same for the toner – here’s the link:

The OnlyU toner print quality is just fine. Most of my printing is black and white but I do color also – the above is a photo of me working on my Desert Eagle 10mm 1911 pistol that I printed.

Now I should point out that OnlyU makes toner cartridges for a ton of different printers so if you are looking, I’d bet they will work … unless you have an HP (yeah, I am bitter – it stopped me dead in the water for two-three work days diagnosing, researching what to get, waiting for the new printer plus the setup time).

Here are some other products OnlyU makes:

I truly hope this helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



A Tale of Two USB Battery Packs With Integral Solar Cells – One is Worth It and One Is Not

These days it is hard for me to go long without a phone. Whether it is checking email or researching something – I need a phone. What does that also mean? I need a way to recharge the phone and the traditional approach woud have been to hoof around a spare USB battery pack. Now, add my wife and multiple devices into the mix plus no easy access to a charger for the battery pack itself and life gets interesting.

I’d seen USB battery packs on Amazon that had integral solar sells and decided to buy two different models to see which met my needs better. During a recent family trip we were able to really put the two units to a real world test and want to share the results with you.

First Up: The Soxono F16W

The F16W is a sleek looking unit with two USB charger pots, a light and integral wireless charger. There is also a pretty rugged rubber cover that seals the ports from water.

Here’s the top of the F16W
Here’s the back. There is an LED light at the top and the black circle is the wireless charging pad.

Here are the specs:

Model: F16WCapacity: 16,000mAH
Solar: 5.5v@280mAHInput USB-C: 5v@2.0A
Output USB-A1: 5v@2.1AOutput USB-A2: 5v@2.1A
Wireless output: 5WTotal Output: 5v@2.1A
Dimensions
LxWxH: 6.7″ x 3.3″ x 0.87″
Thickness: 0.92″
Weight: 0.78 pounds (12.5 oz)
Voltage and capacity data obtained from the back of the unit and not independently verified.

This was my first unit to try and it served fairly well as a battery back. My normal pack is a 10,000mAH Anker and I feel that the Anker lasts longer. We charged/topped off my Note 8 a number of times plus my wife’s S10+ once. We were taking a ton of photos and sending them so we were draining the phones quickly.

During the heaviest day of use it got down to one lit LED on its gas gauge and I can’t really say the solar panel made a huge difference for the amount I used it. If you notice, the output is really tiny at 280mAH, which is why it really didn’t help much. It does help some no doubt but it is a trickle compared to how fast you will likely use the battery. Would it be better than nothing? Yeah, but it’s going to take a looooong time to charge that battery depending on the amount of sunlight and temperature.

Now please note something, there are a lot of vendors out there putting a relative few solar cells on the top of their unit and charging a premium. With as small of output as those cells can generate, it would take any brand quite a long time to recharge the battery.

On the plus side, it was decidedly smaller than the next unit and the wireless charging was nice but I switched to cords once I realized the battery seemed to discharge pretty quick. Wireless charging on a battery doesn’t make a ton of sense if you are trying to get the most out of your battery because it is inherently less efficient than charging with a cable. Sure, there is the convenience of not needing cables and if that matters to you then fine and it does work on this unit.

Would I recommend it? No. Get an Anker charger if you don’t care about solar charging and just want a good reliable battery. The solar cells on top really don’t make a difference. If you do want solar, check out the next unit.

By the way, I highly recommend Anker batteries. I’ve literally used them for years and a number of different models. You can choose based on your preferences for size, capacity and number of ports.

Next up: The Hiluckey Outdoor HI-S025

Let me lead with: It’s bigger, it’s heavier and it absolutely did the job. It’s a Chinese product made by Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co., who is a very prolific manufacturer of these types of solar chargers.

Here’s the top of the unit with the solar panels unfolded. Note, the fabric encases the edges of the solar cells. One small area had the adhesive let go during a hot day in the sun and I pushed it back down. In looking at it right now at my desk, I can’t tell where it happened.
A simple but effective snap keeps the folded panels closed.

Here are the specs:

Model: HI-S025Capacity: 25,000mAH
Solar: 5v@6.0WInput Micro USB: 5v@2.0A
Output USB-A1: 5v@2.1AOutput USB-A2: 5v@2.1A
Wireless output: NoneTotal Output: 5v@2.1A
Dimensions
LxWxH: 6.1″x3.35″x1.37″
Unfolded Solar Panel
Width Becomes: 13.9″
Thickness Folded: 1.33″Main body Thickness: 0.86″
Solar panel thickness: 0.177″Weight: 1.29 pounds (20.64oz)
Voltage and Capacity data obtained from the back of the unit and not independently verified.

When I got this out of the box I really was put off by the size just to be honest. I wanted something that would fit in my pocket and the size and weight of this really meant it was better off going in my pack. You know what? It’s worth it.

First off, you have a pretty big battery in terms of capacity – 25,000 mAH and solar cells that generate enough output (6 watts is 6,000 mA by the way and 21.4x the solar panel output of the above unit). That’s not enough to keep up with a device drawing 2.1 amps (10.5 watts) but it is going to help and it is going to recharge the battery faster.

The smaller Soxono F16W is in the front and the larger Hiluckey HI-S025 is in the rear. The visible orange button on the Soxono controls the LED light and wireless charging.

We used this battery extensively over a full day and only lowered the charge from 5 LEDs to three. We did deploy the solar panels a few times and the only cosmetic issue I noted was that the adhesive holding the fabric to the face of one cell got soft and separated. I pressed it back down and it stayed put. It was 93F outside so combine that with being in the sun, that panel was pretty hot.

So, the bottom line is that it is bigger and heavier than a traditional battery-only pack but it worked. I topped my Note 8’s battery a number of times and my wife’s S10+ once with no problems.

Another Option: Dedicated Separate Solar Panels

There is another option that I plan to test – having separate solar panels that have a USB output for charging devices. This would seem to be the best of both worlds – a larger folding solar panel that can charge faster but it is separate from the USB battery that can still go in your pocket. I did some reading of reviews and bought the following unit and forgot to bring it on the trip … yeah, I left it right on the corner of my desk.

In Conclusion

I’d recommend Anker brand batteries for folks needing compact power. I would not recommend the Soxono and I would recommend the HiLuckey HI-S025 to folks who need a big battery that can actually recharge with an attached solar panel. I’ll report back how things go with the dedicated panel when I have time.


Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co

A quick parting comment – I’ve never heard of Dongguan Jili Intelligent Technology Co. before but they make a number of models and brands of batteries and solar related products on Amazon. They all seem to get very good reviews:


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.