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PowerAdd Pilot X7 20,000mAh Powerbank & Fast Charging Mod

PowerAdd Pilot X7
PowerAdd Pilot X7

Here’s the biggest portable USB powerbank I’ve seen yet – the PowerAdd Pilot X7, this comes with a 20Ah (20,000mAh) capacity. This pack is pretty heavy, but this isn’t surprising considering the capacity.

USB Ports & LED
USB Ports & LED

The front of the pack houses the usual USB ports, in this case rated at 3.4A total between the ports. There’s a white LED in the centre as a small torch, activated by double-clicking the button. A single click of the button lights up the 4 blue LEDs under the housing that indicate remaining battery capacity. Factory charging is via a standard µUSB connector in the side, at a maximum of 2A.

PCB Front
PCB Front

The front of the PCB holds the USB ports, along with most of the main control circuitry. At top left is a string of FS8025A dual-MOSFETs all in parallel for a current carrying capacity of 15A total, to the right of these is the ubiquitous DW01 Lithium-Ion protection IC. These 4 components make up the battery protection – stopping both an overcharge & overdischarge. The larger IC below is an EG1501 multi-purpose power controller.

This chip is doing all of the heavy lifting in this power pack, dealing with all the DC-DC conversion for the USB ports, charge control of the battery pack, controlling the battery level indicator LEDs & controlling the torch LED in the centre.

EG1501 Example
EG1501 Example

The datasheet is in Chinese, but it does have an example application circuit, which is very similar to the circuitry used in this powerbank. A toroidal inductor is nestled next to the right-hand USB port for the DC-DC converter, and the remaining IC next to it is a CW3004 Dual-Channel USB Charging Controller, which automatically sets the data pins on the USB ports to the correct levels to ensure high-current charging of the devices plugged in. This IC replaces the resistors R3-R6 in the schematic above.
The DC-DC converter section of the power chain is designed with high efficiency in mind, not using any diodes, but synchronous rectification instead.

PCB Back
PCB Back

The back of the PCB just has a few discrete transistors, the user interface button, and a small SO8 IC with no markings at all. I’m going to assume this is a generic microcontroller, (U2 in the schematic) & is just there to interface the user button to the power controller via I²C.

Cells
Cells

Not many markings on the cells indicating their capacity, but a full discharge test at 4A gave me a resulting capacity of 21Ah – slightly above the nameplate rating. There are two cells in here in parallel, ~10Ah capacity each.

XT60 Battery Connector
XT60 Battery Connector

The only issue with powerbanks this large is the amount of time they require to recharge themselves – at this unit’s maximum of 2A through the µUSB port, it’s about 22 hours! Here I’ve fitted an XT60 connector, to interface to my Turnigy Accucell 6 charger, increasing the charging current capacity to 6A, and reducing the full-charge time to 7 hours. This splits to 3A charge per cell, and after some testing the cells don’t seem to mind this higher charging current.

Battery Connector Wiring
Battery Connector Wiring

The new charging connector is directly connected to the battery at the control PCB, there’s just enough room to get a pair of wires down the casing over the cells.

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Panasonic NV-M5 CRT Viewfinder Hack

Viewfinder Circuits
Viewfinder Circuits

 

The old Panasonic NV-M5 has the standard for the time CRT based viewfinder assembly, which will happily take a composite video signal from an external source.

This viewfinder has many more connections than I would have expected, as it has an input for the iris signal, which places a movable marker on the edge of the display. This unit also has a pair of outputs for the vertical & horizontal deflection signals, I imagine for sync, but I’ve never seen these signals as an output on a viewfinder before.

EVF Schematic
EVF Schematic

Luckily I managed to get a service manual for the camera with a full schematic.
This unit takes a 5v input, as opposed to the 8-12v inputs on previous cameras, so watch out for this! There’s also no reverse polarity protection either.

Pins
Pins

Making the iris marker vanish from the screen is easy, just put a solder bridge between pins 15 & 16 of the drive IC. The important pins on the interface connector are as follows:

Pin 3: GND
Pin 4: Video Input
Pin 5: Video GND
Pins 6: +5v Supply

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Mini USB Soldering Iron

USB Soldering Iron
USB Soldering Iron

Here’s a novel little gadget, a USB powered soldering iron. The heating tip on these is very small & might be useful for very small SMD work. Bigger joints not so much, as it’s only rated at 8W. (Still breaks the USB standard of 2.5W from a single port).

These irons aren’t actually too bad to use, as long as the limitations in power are respected. Since nearly everything has a USB power port these days, it could make for a handy emergency soldering iron.

Heater Socket
Heater Socket

The heater & soldering bit are a single unit, not designed to be replaced separately. (I’ve not managed to find replacement elements, but at £3 for the entire iron, it would be pretty pointless).
Above is the socket where the heater plugs in, safely isolating the plastic body from any stray heat.

DC Input Jack
DC Input Jack

The DC input is a 3.5mm audio jack, a non-standard USB to 3.5mm jack cable is supplied. Such non-standard cables have the potential to damage equipment that isn’t expecting to see 5v on an audio input if it’s used incorrectly.

Touch Sensor & LED
Touch Sensor & LED

There isn’t actually a switch on this unit for power management, but a clever arrangement of a touch button & vibration switch. The vertical spring in the photo above makes contact with a steel ball bearing pressed into the plastic housing, forming the touch contact.

MOSFET
MOSFET

The large MOSFET here is switching the main heater current, the silver cylinder in front is the vibration switch, connected in parallel with the touch button.

PCB
PCB

The main controller is very simple. It’s a 555 timer configured in monostable mode. Below is a schematic showing the basic circuit.

555 Monostable
555 Monostable

Big Clive also did a teardown & review of this iron. Head over to YouTube to watch.