Three years ago, I had no idea what Chargie was going to become – world’s #1 phone battery protection system. I knew the basic principles of charge limiting and the positive outcomes it has on battery health, but at that point in 2019 they were only theoretical, or based on what others had studied.
Now, there are over 27,000 Chargie devices out there and countless testimonials of people using it and telling us (publicly or over email) how Chargie had changed the entire course of their battery life and how it saved them money, time and effort.
For those of you who’ve been using the Chargie app on iOS, you know that there’s a 15-minute delay from the moment you plug it in to the moment the Chargie device actually starts managing the connection. Sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes it’s longer. But that’s the way it was until today.
Generally, this works out just fine – the phone is going to stay connected to the charger for more than that. And it generally works well if you don’t want the app to show up every time you plug your phone.
But today I received an email from Chargie user Dirk in Germany who found out another way of starting the Chargie app by using the automations present in iOS’s Shortcuts app.
I won’t embed any screenshots except for the Shortcuts app because they’d clutter the post a lot. The following guide is pretty straightforward (adapted from Dirk’s email):
– open the Shortcuts app
– go to Automation (in the middle at the bottom)
– click on “+” in the upper right corner
– select “Create Personal Automation”
– scroll down and tap on “Charger”
– “When charger is attached” (left side) should be selected
– press “Next” in the upper right corner
– select “Is Connected”, then Next
– select “Add Action”
– select “Scripting”
– select “Open App”
– tap on the word “App” in the “open app” text field
– select “Chargie – phone charge limiter”
– click on “Next” in the upper right
– deselect “Ask before running”
– click on “Done” in the upper right
This way, every time you plug your phone, the Chargie app gets brought up to the front and the connection is immediate.
Thank you, Dirk Drews (https://dirk-drews.de), for the tip, and hope you have a wonderful time with your Chargie device!
Chargie V1.1.0 for iOS is ready for download in the App Store!
New functionality was introduced and lots of bug fixes.
Revamped Hardware Limiter menu.
Now it has icons and more interactive menus that are pretty self-explanatory. Suggestions are welcome.
Power Injection capability
This new function is something no phone has: you can basically inject a certain amount of energy measured in watt-hours, just like in electric cars. So if you have a battery that you know has 3Wh you can inject 2.5Wh and it will get protected. The function was supported in firmware starting with units made in November.
You can use this to see how much energy goes into your battery. Just use the menu to reset the counter and see how much it gains from 20% to 80%, for example. Then you can use that figure to charge it. This function is still experimental, please report if it’s very useful. Any suggestions are welcome to [email protected] or on the group.
Use this to manually schedule the phone’s charging process. Attention, you have to input the starting time, not the time you want you battery topped up at.
Improved physical connection detection
Some wireless charging pads had big delays in turning on and off, this has been addressed + many other smaller issues reported by users in the past few months.
Again, this project is evolving due to your continuous input. We wholeheartedly receive any constructive ideas and bug reports.
For the past three years, I’ve been preaching to people to not fully charge their phones, or do it as rarely as possible. Well, all this time it seemed obvious to me (and some other battery-obsessed freaks) that you also shouldn’t let your phone discharge to 0, because it also causes harm to the battery (maybe even more than briefly letting it go to full).
One of the best perks modern society has is the instant fulfillment of everything: one-hour home delivery, home office, ultra-fast charging of batteries of devices ranging from smart watches and phones to electric cars.
Electric cars and phones are not much alike, when it comes to battery management. The first have huge battery capacities and don’t ever fully charge nor discharge, have complex management and cooling systems, while the latter are mostly glass slabs with huge processing power and no cooling. What’s even worse is that they’re most of the time covered in a heat-insulating plastic cover. Why is that worse? It’s not for the phone’s aesthetics, obviously, but for the battery.
Aside our phones, most of us have a multitude of battery-powered devices laying around… not really using battery, but plugged in all the time.
After a while, that Bluetooth speaker, smart radio, smart watch, drone, your kids’ LEGO battery pack or even flash light… will not have the same battery it did when it was new. That’s because they’ve been kept plugged in A LOT. Which sucks, if you ask me, because it shouldn’t be like that – you should just plug them and they should stay healthy, since you don’t have to worry when to unplug each and every device you have around your home.
When you start manufacturing with no experience in manufacturing whatsoever, you have to learn from others and invent. And not be afraid to change the design when it makes sense. You want to make things happen, no matter how bad they might come out at first.
There are some people who might object to this point of view, but that’s the way it happens on so many levels, simply because every little thing you do requires experimentation and money, which all take time. And time is the only resource you have, really. Take a look at Tesla and compare their 2007 product with the newest Model 3 (different scales, I know, but the same phenomenon).
On the other hand, when Chargie started growing, other possibilities came along. Like it’s the case with our new resin printer, the Anycubic Mono X.
About resin printing
Resin printing is the culmination of technology advances in 2021, as far as I can see. The fact that it just became affordable is even more wonderful.
Basically, from bottom to top, you just have an UV lamp, a monochrome 4K LCD screen, a resin recipient with a very transparent bottom and an aluminum platform that goes up 0.05mm at a time with each layer. The 4K LCD opens and shuts its pixels according to the current layer’s image (you can compare this to a CT scanner’s image).
The result is that parts come out at hugely higher speed, since it doesn’t matter if you only do one or if you do 80 pieces at a time, the layer’s exposure time is the same (about 2 seconds).
The fun fact is that the parts come out with an outstanding quality. You can extrude text that only has 2mm height, you can do a lot of things you really can’t do with classic FDM printers, with 30 times more speed (only depends on the screen’s size). Your parts don’t bend, don’t melt at 50 degrees Celsius and are not flammable. And you can use a neutral base resin (transparent or opaque white) which you can colour to your liking, and you get translucent or opaque parts. Very neat.
The not to fun fact is that the resin is more expensive than PLA filament, that you have to wash the resulting parts with isopropyl alcohol for 10 minutes, then expose them to sunlight (or a UV lamp) for another couple of minutes on each side, to perform a final curing of the resin. All in all, the entire process is much messier than FDM but again, the resulting pieces’ quality is outstanding.
When things go bad, though, you’ve just lost 80 half-cases and almost half a kilo of resin, which is quite a lot (the one below just happened as I was writing this and the resin from the vat finished, leaving some of the parts incomplete).
Starting out small
At first, Chargie’s cases were made out of heat-extruded PLA at about 200 oC. If you do it slowly, the parts come out very nicely, but you need to go slooooow. Which is not an option for even small-batch production processes, or you need dozens of printers doing the same thing and eating a huge amount of energy. And you can’t have layer heights of just 0.05mm like you do in resin printing, since the layers are really printed one at a time.
The advantage, though, is that you can change your mind whenever you feel like, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on new plastic molds. They DO NOT come cheap (5-figure numbers), and can only be made by specialist engineers, pose very high quality issues when they don’t make them well and you really don’t have any control over their quality until the next batch, thus making the feedback very delayed and so 20th century. On the other hand, 3D-printing, whichever flavour you choose, is very flexible and its quality is all under control, with bearable quirks (I’m talking about FDM, because resin’s quality is already outstanding and can be compared to top-notch plastic casing).
So for a startup in 2021, resin-based 3D printing is the only way out of this issue with the least amount of investment.
Serving the purpose
For Chargie, which is a device that most of the time sits hidden under a bed, casing quality is not functionally important – it has to be there to give the device mechanical sturdiness, but otherwise I thought FDM printing is a good tradeoff between price and quality.
The visual qualities of a product are, on the other hand, the ones that impress most, and I can say it loud now that I’ve never looked back at PLA printing once I started doing resin.
Chargie is now ready for medium volume production. 2021’s chip crisis is another big hit on production from Lighty Electronics to Tesla and Samsung, but that’s a story for another post.
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.
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.
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