On November 10, we announced the new Chargie A.
It more or less does the same thing as Chargie Founder Edition, but more accurately and now it also measures the power drawn from your charger and displays it in the app. On top of that, I added functionality that cuts off power below a configurable threshold, or above a certain limit, to protect power surges or short circuits. Of course, your phone and charger also have this, but an extra protection measure is never bad. Android Auto support has also been implemented in hardware, a function waited by so many.
We had a few issues with the PCB assembly factory in China that led to a big delay (about a month) in deliveries. However, that is now history. All of the Chargies have been put into cases (still 3D-printed for now) and now they’ve shipped all over the world to the patient customers who waited dearly.
The effort has been huge – over 18 hours a day of work, answering to emails and making sure everything goes as planned, including finishes to the firmware, app and hardware. We even had to change all of the quartz crystals in every device, because of a human error at one of our parts suppliers.
But here we are. We prioritized UK deliveries because they’re going out of the EU on Jan 1st, and there’s no telling right now of how customs officials will behave after that date. So we packed them in one big parcel on Thursday and shipped them to a trusting partner in London via DHL, who re-shipped individual packs using Royal Mail’s next-day delivery with a tracking number, which means UK customers who preordered up to Dec. 19 will receive them first. I think we will implement this type of shipping with other countries too. Customs formalities are more complicated than with DHL if it’s not an EU country, but it might just work better in the long run. So expect a new, hybrid, piggybacked delivery method that’s faster, cheaper and better than normal post.
Well, not everyone’s experience has been the same. Others wanted to give out Chargies for Christmas, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible. However, this is not the norm and we’ll try to do better next time. I’m sorry for all those ruined plans. Our next stock will be double (we hadn’t expected such a surge in orders) and we will continue to restock well before it’s over.
I’m personally glad that the Chargie idea caught so well and that people are aware of their batteries’ degradation and want to protect what they already own. This is anti-consumerism at its finest.
So yes, we’re shipping more than just a product. We’re shipping parts of our lives, thousands of hours of hard work, sleepless nights, early mornings and the promise to innovate further. Very few people can say they made it to this point – having an actual product that sprung out of their minds, then make it and ship it to real customers, who use it in their real lives.
Thank you for all your patience, trust and involvement in the Chargie project. It means a lot and it fuels its own progress and the other innovative gadgets I have in mind.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
I’ve built the Chargie system from the ground up as a means to save battery lifespan by limiting the time your phone stays at high charge levels. It is working, and we have numerous reports of very satisfied customers whose phones did not go to rubble, but still continue to work great after a long time.
However, life is not ideal and there are circumstances when you really need that 100% for the next day. Up until now, you just had to set Chargie to go to 100%, and the app would cut it there and act upon the hysteresis you set (Allowed Charge Drop). It’s a pretty good method, but in the meantime, looking at real needs, I decided it’s not the very best, since you still keep the battery “up there” for the whole night (even if it’s discharging).
And, if you’re the unlucky person whose battery capacity has already been going south for a while, you’ll be emptying it well before you can plug in during the day, which would make using Chargie a nuisance, not an advantage. This would take it into a lower than 20% state of charge sometime in the afternoon, which creates heat and makes things even worse for it.
Apple has sniffed this realm since iOS13 and has done something good, in theory – keep the battery at 80% for the night and only top it up in the morning, before you wake up. It sometimes works. Because their algorithm attempts to “learn” your routine – if you have one. If you don’t, you’ll rely on their AI guesswork and you may wake up with only 80% in the morning or your phone may stay at 100% all night – and you won’t know, won’t you?
So here’s my proposal: I implemented a feature in Chargie that allows you to set up a time when you want your phone to start topping up. Essentially, you can keep the battery somewhere in the midrange – 50 or 60% – during the night, without any stress on it whatsoever, and if you wake up at 7am you can set the Top Up Scheduler for 6:15am (depending on your charger).
The Top Up Scheduler’s limit value is also configurable from Settings – so if you’d rather wake up with 90%, you can keep the phone at 50 for the night and only top it up to 90 before you wake up, very flexibly. This is way, way better than holding it up at 90% for the whole night, like it was so far possible.
For now, the time estimation is yours to make, but I’ll work on something more automatic in the following period. However, it will not resemble Apple’s, because it’s going to be something much better – no algorithm can predict your maybe hectic schedule more accurately than you. Charging times can be forecast, though. And so can your phone’s alarms be read and interpreted, if you use them. But it’s ultimately you who should be in control, not a “magic,” fully automated process.
The Top Up Scheduler is available right now in Beta version, under the Beta channel on Google Play – so if you want to experiment something new, go ahead and join the beta on the same Play page where you downloaded the app.
I would like to thank all of you who asked for this feature along the way and those who helped debug everything so far.
Go order a Chargie right now and join our community of resource-conscious people.
We all talk about it – there’s no point explaining what hit us earlier this year. Now, the latest version of Coronavirus is more popular than Coca Cola and Pepsi combined.
Viruses are basically pieces of software, or code – if you prefer. They run on our energy and mess with our intricate network of cells.
The world is nevertheless a complex place these days – any disruption in a supply chain can break a lot of connections. Just like our own cells, we are part of a global organism that needs us to function in order to survive.
Technology is the latest tool we have, the information it spreads is a continued contribution to many saved lives during this crisis. But information needs power to get through.
And this brings me to the topic I wanted to touch: batteries – our gadgets’ energy storage.
Crises like this brutally remind us how precious what we already own is, and at the same time how worthless everything is if we’re too sick to use it – as individuals or as the entire planet.
Batteries will also get more expensive, that’s for sure.
In a normal world, like the one only two months ago, even if you don’t care about things like sustainability, environment, pollution etc, you can been just fine for a while – you have your share of the pie that you can buy anything with – anytime, anyplace.
But – we don’t live in a normal world right now. What we have today is possibly what we’ll be having in a year, if the prophecies about an upcoming recession are true. So we must take care of our stuff and the environment, while it still works.
Charging your phone or laptop battery partially (manually or through Chargie) is one thing you can do to save your pocket technology.
Chargie only protects Android phone batteries for the time being, but in the very near future we’ll be releasing a 100W version that also works on laptops and iPhones, so our most expensive investments in technology can be work well for the foreseeable future.
A good battery may be key to your future professional success. In times like these, protecting what you have is no longer a virtue or a fad, like last year, but a necessity.
We need energy and real information to fight this crisis just like the virus needs our energy to replicate. It’s a 1:1 war we’re going to win only if we’re mindful with our resources – now and forever.
I created and spread Chargie devices on a full time basis now – yet relatively few people understand the need for taking care of their batteries. Chargie now represents a big chunk of my life and I am working continually to make it better each day.
Visit https://chargie.org to read more about Chargie and maybe purchase a pack to support this project and your phone.
image (c) graphene flagship
We, as a species, have evolved by eventually setting ourselves on top of the entire food chain. Nevertheless, the days of wandering for food with our empty bellies still haunt us genetically and that may be the reason why we sometimes make irrational decisions as to whether we actually need to have our supplies full or not: electric car battery, refrigerator, gas tank, stomach and our phone battery.
The scenario is simple:
- Joe wakes up. He takes a look at his phone, it’s 7am. Battery is at 75%, because he used Chargie to stop it.
- Joe eats his breakfast, sips some coffee while browsing through some news and his Facebook feed, maybe some e-mails. Battery goes down to 70%.
- Joe drives or takes the subway or bus to work, maybe he uses the power-hungry Waze, or scrolls through his Facebook feeds. Battery drops to 50%. At this level, the phone doesn’t get very hot because the internal resistance hasn’t dropped much yet, the battery has about 3.7V (ideal).
- He places his phone on the wireless charging pad at work. The pad also has a Chargie attached before it, so Joe’s Chargie app on the phone detects that it’s being charged, tests the power line, decides that it’s not the home charger, and looks for the work charger. After blinking the power a few times, it connects and quietly recharges the phone to 65%
- Joe uses his phone throughout the day, the battery oscillates maybe between 40% and 60%, but is stopped every time it reaches 65. Battery degradation: almost zero.
- After work, Joe gets back home. Before leaving work, he pumps some more power into the phone by setting Chargie to 70%.
- So maybe he goes to a bar, maybe he picks up his wife or kids from somewhere, it gets late.
- Joe goes to sleep at about 11pm. His battery, in its high 30s, is still giving him enough power without having been stressful throughout the day.
- Cycle repeats. Battery lasts forever without a hitch. Joe only takes it to 100% on occasion, which is by far less damaging than otherwise keeping it there all the time with no practical purpose.
So what’s the catch, you may ask.
Had Joe not used Chargie, the battery would’ve been at 100% or in its high 80s or 90s all day long. After a year, Joe’s battery would’ve started to die on him on long journeys or at times when he’d needed that phone. Joe would’ve been unhappy.
By only taking the charge to 70% or 60% or the lowest usable value for the day, Joe still has enough power in it and he’ll be able to use his phone at full capacity and speed for a much longer time. Should he decide to buy a new phone, the old one would still have a long fight until becoming technologically obsolete.
Joe is happy and so is the planet, because you know, recycling and reusing more are closely linked to lowered pollution levels of all kinds. And Joe’s battery is still at some 95% capacity after 5 years of usage. In a perfectly functioning phone, after an absurd amount of usage.
Bottom line: you don’t need a 100% charged phone if you work in an office where it sits on a charger all day long, anyway.
This practice just degrades your battery and the old 100% is not the same 100% after a while. The battery starts to get hot, the phone runs slower to prevent further damage by overheating, and after a year and a half you end up selling it for nothing or taking it to a repair shop. And buy a new, glorious phone that does about the same stuff the old one did, but faster – mostly because its new battery can still do it.
Wireless chargers have been widely adopted lately due to their ability to ease the charging process.
They’re useful, but nevertheless much more power inefficient because the inductive method used loses power through… heat.
And heat is the worst enemy when we talk about battery longevity. If you introduce heat in the equation of a battery’s lifespan, you will slash a good deal of that phone’s life.
That’s why I don’t normally recommend wireless chargers, but…
Since you’re using a Chargie, part of that heat gets dissipated through the fact that Chargie monitors battery temperature constantly and you can set it to charge only when the battery isn’t warm.
Even more, because Chargie’s allowed discharge property in Settings, the battery gets to cool down before receiving a final shot of power in the morning.
These actions, overall, will greatly improve the lifespan of a battery subjected to wireless charging.
Starting with version 1.19.00, Chargie now has a “Using wireless charging” option and a configurable delay. You can play with that to accommodate any type of charger and the connection delays it introduces while the autoconnect function is doing its thing, when you put the phone on the charging pad.
Get your Chargie at https://chargie.org. You might as well get a very discounted Family Pack, so all your current and future phones are protected against premature battery aging.
There we go.
It’s exactly a year since I’ve sketched the first Chargie schematic. I can’t believe it went so fast!
Today I’ve compiled version 1.18.06 of the app, the best so far. Now Chargie can do much more than it could back in May when version 1.0.0 came out.
I remember the first customer at Maker Faire Vienna in May – he was a very young dude, saying he’d dreamed about such a device for years – that’s what’s truly fulfilling about inventing and making stuff.
Knowing that your creation will enter people’s homes, will satisfy their needs, that some of them will be actively involved in the very core of your product’s development with their original ideas, is something few people experience in their lifetime.
It’s been an honor knowing you all from around the world. We’ve sold more than 1300 Chargies on every inhabited continent, in most of the countries where there’s a smartphone.
It’s been a good time – with real feedback, as deserved – good or bad.
Let 2020 be a year of progress for this project and let batteries live well for your entire phones’ lives.
Happy New Year!
Your Chargie’s creator,
Lithium ion battery capacities have been evolving at a steady rate in the past few years. This is driven mainly by electric cars, but also mobile phones have their share of the lithium ion market.
However, lithium resources are scarce compared to the global ambitions of Tesla, Apple or Samsung. Efforts to recycle have to be backed by efforts to preserve battery lifespan, without impacting the overall user experience.
This series of posts will talk about the different aspects that conscious phone owners have to take into account to extend their phone’s battery life, usability and recyclability.
We’ll be talking about lithium ion batteries, just because these are the norm nowadays and their environmental toll is high, which makes protecting them worth talking about.
The real life of batteries
Although in theory they should be lasting forever, in real life scenarios batteries are exposed to factors like:
- mechanical shocks
- electrical stress (sudden charge/discharge)
- depth of discharge
- trickle charging (keeping it constantly charged)
Most lithium ion battery manufacturers recommend from 300 to 500 charge/discharge cycles for their products. That is the conservative approach, which means they shouldn’t lose much capacity over that range.
Not all cycles are created equal.
They depend on the depth of discharge, time of charge and temperature. Lithium Ion units are very sensitive to the depth of discharge. The lower you go, the worse it gets for the battery. Some papers refer to cycles as a continuous charging process from zero to 100%. Others add mini-cycles (like from 30% to 50%) to this equation, but they’re not equal in terms of battery degradation.
The battery health is reflected by its capacity to store energy, measured in mAh (milliamp-hours).
Voltage doesn’t quite matter in this, as it is not linear. For example, a phone’s lithium ion battery starts from 3.2v (empty) and goes to 4.35v (full). But in between there are a lot of charging states that don’t correlate to the voltage directly.
On this matter, there’s no other authority online that has published more experiment results than battery expert Cadex, through their site batteryuniversity.com
They have published a graph that shows the degradation of a regular 1500 mAh lithium ion cell.
As you can see on the chart above, capacity heavily relies on the number of cycles. But these were full 0-100% cycles. The same scenario wouldn’t have happened if the cycles had been smaller.
In fact, not only those partial cycles would have helped, but the battery would have had much more combined activity than if it were cycled all the way through!
As you can see, at a shallow 10% DoD (depth of discharge) the number of cycles of a LiPO4 battery was dramatically increased. A living example are the batteries of 2nd-gen Toyota Prius, that still live on after 15 years. They’re being used regularly only in the interval of 50 to 75%.
Phone battery protection
But, you don’t have to do this to a phone. Phones are supposed to have a much shorter lifespan, but the user still has to enjoy its experience for as long as he wishes.
Practically, if you only charge a phone to 90% and then unplug, its lifespan will be increased to more than 5000 cycles before it shows any signs of degradation.
Chargie is a very useful tool to achieve that. Beyond first-hand usage, your old phone may get new life in someone else’s pocket, after you decide it’s time to upgrade it. A phone’s technology is usually good enough for 3-4 years, but a Chargie will protect all of your future phones, and much more.
The Chargie app sits at the core of your phone’s future battery life.
We thought about making an app that people won’t need instructions using. And we think we succeeded, but still things are clearer for everyone when they’re being laid out properly.
0. Connect the hardware
Nothing special here – just insert your Chargie stick into the regular wall charger or mobile battery and the phone in the other side of Chargie. It should sit in-between your charger and your phone.
The setup is so simple it’s almost magic.
1. Keep it on
First, you need to know that the Chargie app is essential for the stick to work. It is the one commanding the switch to turn on or off, and the one providing feedback when the battery reaches the desired level. If you kill the app, the Chargie stick will act just like a power cable, nothing more.
The system has been designed like this from the very beginning, since you don’t want your phone to not get charged should anything happen to the app.
2. Connect to a Chargie
When you start the app, it will scan for Bluetooth devices. Make sure you’ve accepted the three dialogs at the beginning, they grant the necessary rights for the app to work properly.
Then, just click the Chargie you want to use, wait for the Bluetooth icon to turn green and and pass on to the next step.
If you have more than one Chargie device in the list, a down-pointing animated arrow will appear below them. Just swipe down or click that arrow to see the whole bunch. If not used, the list will collapse to just one item after 10 seconds.
After the charge-mode Chargie is set, the app will automatically connect to it when the phone is plugged in next time. If you own multiple Chargies and the next time you use another one, you have to manually select it again. After that, it will default to the last one used.
3. Set your charge percentage
After you’ve connected, drag the battery-shaped slider to your wish. You will notice that if the current charge percentage is higher than what you set, the red LED on Chargie will turn off, and so will power to your phone.
3.1. How charging works
- below 95%
Chargie fills your battery up to the percentage you chose, waits for it to drop 1% and then restarts charging.
You can charge up to whatever value you wish, and it’s best if you charge from 70 to 85%.
- above 95%
There are days when you know you’ll need the full battery. Just set the threshold to 100% (or above 96%) and Chargie will still do a better job than if you hadn’t used it:
It just goes to 100% and then performs a hysteretic charge. What that means is it lets the phone discharge down to 95% and then recharges again. The discharge normally happens very slowly during the night, since it’s being done with the screen off. This lets the battery cool down to room temperature and doesn’t add stress to it, like a normal charger would by constantly topping it up to 100%.
All of this should keep the battery happy and less stressed that normal, which surely guarantees longer lifespan and a more satisfying overall user experience.
4. How to forget a device
There are times when we want to delete things from our list. While connected to a device, just click the “Connected to xxxx” label below the battery and the app will disconnect/forget that device.
Just go to menu (the three vertical dots in the top right side of the screen) -> Manage Devices.
Click on the red X circle to delete any of the Chargies you connected to in the past. Their name will go back to “chargie”, and you’ll be able to change it whenever you connect to them again.
5. Customize your Chargie’s name
For sure that if you have more than one Chargie, you’ll be needing this. The app knows its devices by their Address (the hexadecimal numbers below the name in the list), but it should also be easy for you to recognize them quickly. That’s why you can just tap “Rename” at the top of the screen and give it a new name. It’s that simple.
6. Yes, it’s in the icons
The three icons are very important to understanding Chargie. They’ve been designed to be intuitive, but just to keep things safe, this is their meaning:
All of their grey variants show the inactive status. Red bulb means Lamp Mode is active but switched on.
7. Download the Chargie App
You can download the Chargie app right from the standard Google Play on your phone by searching “Chargie”, or the link below: