Bootleg Battery Charger Teardown

Its amazing how cheap some stuff is on eBay these days.

For example, I picked up 3x lithium ion batteries and a charger to suit my Olympus TG-4 camera for $25 Aussie dollars, including free delivery.

I got this charger and 3x batteries (yes, I know, only 1 battery is shown) for about $25. This stuff is just too cheap and nasty.

I have an upcoming camping trip and I wanted to get some spare batteries for the camera.

I didn’t want to buy just 1 battery in case it was dead on arrival so I got 3. The battery charger was a bonus. Olympus don’t supply a proper battery charger when you buy a TG-4, you have to charge the battery in the camera with a USB charger and charge times are pretty slow. Olympus sells an AC powered charger but its about $70 and doesn’t include extra batteries. I was hoping that the new charger would be faster or reasonably good, but I didn’t have high hopes on the quality of the battery charger.

Two screws at the back of the charger were removed, but the plastic halves are ultrasonic welded together. Splitting the ultrasonic weld was very easy though. A bare minimum of plastic has been used and it isn’t very rugged.

It looks pretty crusty.

Yeah, my hopes were dashed. Its pretty crusty inside. Looking closely look at the PCB markings, the device’s protection fuse has been replaced with a 1Ω power resistor too.

Workmanship or any real care is pretty minimal. Mind you, the poor person who had to assemble the board wasn’t given much chance because the pin spacings for the through hole diodes and resistors don’t match the devices.

Maybe I’ll salvage the inductor, transformer and bi-colour LED.

At first I thought that there was no proper battery charging circuitry to prevent the lithium ion battery being overcharged and then I saw an IC soldered to the underside of the board.

An IC soldered to the board. Hopefully this is a lithium ion charging IC.

Soldered to the PCB is an 34063AP manufactured by ON Semi. A quick search reveals that its a generic buck/boost switching regulator. No real battery management IC has been used.

I’m not really keen on using this as to charge the lithium batteries. Also, I’m not comfortable leaving this thing plugged into the AC mains overnight whilst it charges a battery.

I have some lithium ion battery charger ICs leftover from an old project so I’m going to reuse the case and try making my own charger that should be a bit better.

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