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We’re shipping more than just a product

The last hundred of the first thousand Chargie A lot

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!

Ovidiu Sandru

Why and How a 65% charged phone actually makes sense for most people

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.

Happy New Year!

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,

Ovidiu Sandru

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