How to know the battery's health of you gamepad?

mrmagicm

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Hi All!

I would like to know a way to get the status of the battery of my gamepad.
How can I get this information?
I'm asking for the health of the battery, not the charge, that's not the same thing! Duuuh :D
I would like to know the true health of a battery I bought from china.
 

FAST6191

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If the battery is not yet in the gamepad it would probably be better to hook it up to a battery tester of some merit (there are those that will estimate total capacity, do load testing and more besides to get an idea of things, better ones still will measure temperature to get an idea of things internally but those are normally serious lab grade stuff where capacity and load testing for internal resistances is more available to mere mortals (even if still a bit specialist gear).

If the Wii U has some kind of number of charge cycles or whatever counter internally on an EEPROM or something (haven't heard, but mostly only hear about that if it is used in hacking or it is required to boot) then if it is from China consider anything on it a work of fiction.
 

KleinesSinchen

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If the battery is not yet in the gamepad it would probably be better to hook it up to a battery tester of some merit (there are those that will estimate total capacity, do load testing and more besides to get an idea of things, better ones still will measure temperature to get an idea of things internally but those are normally serious lab grade stuff where capacity and load testing for internal resistances is more available to mere mortals (even if still a bit specialist gear).

If the Wii U has some kind of number of charge cycles or whatever counter internally on an EEPROM or something (haven't heard, but mostly only hear about that if it is used in hacking or it is required to boot) then if it is from China consider anything on it a work of fiction.
Technically fully correct – as always. The only problem is that not everybody has such equipment at home. Buying it just for once isn't economical in my opinion.
===========

Wii U (and the Gamepad battery) lacks – to my knowledge – any kind of energy meter (to say it in marketing language: "smart battery"). The easiest test is simply fully charging the battery and start playing. The original WUP-012 (1500mAh) is supposed to last 3 to 5 hours depending on brightness, rumble and sound. Arguably the opposite of a precise test, just a general estimation if the battery remotely delivers what is printed on.

Good luck and have fun!
 

FAST6191

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Technically fully correct – as always. The only problem is that not everybody has such equipment at home. Buying it just for once isn't economical in my opinion.
===========

Wii U (and the Gamepad battery) lacks – to my knowledge – any kind of energy meter (to say it in marketing language: "smart battery"). The easiest test is simply fully charging the battery and start playing. The original WUP-012 (1500mAh) is supposed to last 3 to 5 hours depending on brightness, rumble and sound. Arguably the opposite of a precise test, just a general estimation if the battery remotely delivers what is printed on.

Good luck and have fun!
Might want to look again if it has been a while; in the last few years some of the basic testers have dropped dramatically in price and there are more than suitable home build type efforts (amazon has one with an 4x8 segment display for under £5 shipped, though I might bump that to a bit higher and go for the ~£10-15 ones that sport LCDs).
If you want it to start doing deep discharge recovery, conditioning of things or super sensitive charge management then you start paying up but having a micro (or even straight embedded chip by the looks of some of those) test across a bunch of loads, or do some time based tests (the curves are reasonably reliable) and spit out a result or enough results for you to draw your own conclusion is nothing drastic and prices match that.
 

ital

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Related:

If you keep the controller on the stand with charger plugged in does that harm the battery long term? Leaving it totally disconnected = uber flat in no time as its constantly pinging the Wii U in standby.
 

FAST6191

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That is ever the fun discussion and someone will probably have to probe something to provide a satisfactory answer.

There are several competing factors in this.

i) Deep discharge. Rechargeable batteries are not all that much different to the bit of zinc, copper and lemon/potato back in school, just that they use a so called half reaction that you can undo easily enough. By drawing too much power (and it will waste power sitting in a drawer, albeit less than what it sounds like the Wii U quiescent current, current you lose sitting in a nominally unpowered state, is) and the half reaction becomes a full reaction which is hard to recover from and never likely to get back to 100% even if you do manage it (which is tricky without quite serious gear that not all devices have as that costs extra to do and theoretically it might never get there/you can sell a new battery/repair service if it does).

ii) Full charge and batteries. So much myth, rules of thumb, misinformation, irrelevant information to modern chemistries and more in this one. You don't just take a 3V rechargeable battery, apply 3V from the wall to it until it is full and move on from there. You have to baby things along a lot of the time, slow sections of certain voltages, certain current (see constant current), limits on currents (fast charge does kill batteries quicker, though it is fast to charge) and more boring stuff you can read about on a battery datasheet or charge controller article somewhere.
Anyway most chemistries will split into three broad areas. Deep discharge which we already covered, normal charge and top up charge. Normal charge is why things go from 20% to maybe 80% in a short time but the last 20% takes an age as that is in the top up range. Top up is also when a bit more damage can happen and things get a bit excited hence why some suggest to store things at 80% or whatever rather than full, albeit that means you charge more often if you are leaving it (the memory effect some older chemistries had is not a thing for lithium). I read conflicting reports on practical tests for what goes with lithium on this one. Storing/keeping between 50% and 80% is probably going to be the safest and if you do decide to play it a few times during that period then doing full charge cycles in general is going to have more of a deleterious effect.

What the Wii U will do on standby is then anybody's guess, though I would predict it goes for full at all points in time or maybe goes for full and then kicks back in when it drops below top up -- Nintendo can sell you a new battery and stops their power hungry tablet display from getting a rep for low battery life.
You also have the notion that you are wasting power by leaving it on the whole time and that can add up to something reasonable, especially if power prices are as much as they are right now and we are measuring in years. It will pale in comparison to leaving an electric fire/electric shower/air conditioner/electric oven... on for a few less minutes over the course of a month or two but hey, and if you add that up for monitors, TVs, computers, random gadgets and more then yeah.

Also say totally disconnected in a discussion like this and people will tend to assume you opened it up and unplugged/snipped a wire as opposed to unpowered and whatever its idle/rest state is.

Finally we are just starting to see custom batteries become a thing to replace old devices with random connectors/sizes so you might even get away with not worrying so much if it does not work in 10 years and you then face what people do today where old official stuff in 99% of cases will be deep discharged owing to sitting in a cold shed for 15 years, salvaging from a previously working device is tricky (also likely to be well used), hoping something is cross compatible or buying something probably dodgy from the far east or going more custom still and converting it to another form factor that is more common. There is a possibility, albeit small, that said replacement in 10 years bumps it from the mild afternoon session and up into the up into higher runtimes as well and you get called the 2035 equivalent of a hipster for sticking with the old battery chemistry.
 

KeinesR

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I make this test, i have sold over 10 wiiu's and always make this, charge to full, set bright level to maximum, and turn of power saving on the settings. Now start mario kart 8 and set volume to the maximun and let it play alone the intro and the demos.

The average is 3hrs aprox in all the cases, maybe some minutes more or less, but 3 hrs. All the wii u gamepad batteries were working 100% well. you can take this as a base.
 

V10lator

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@FAST6191 Great writeup! :) Just a few corrections:
i) Are you sure about that? I never checked but I think it's the exact oppsite: Not sitting in a charging stand draws power as the gamepad constantinuously checks if the Wii U has been turned on. When fully charged in a stand the power for this checks should be taken from the stand, not from the battery. So sitting in a stand while not used for a longer time should be better to prevent deep discharge.

ii) AFAIK all batteries (except maybe cheap china ones) are overprovisioned anway. So when the device shows 100% charge it's really ~80%. Also best capacity for storing batteries for a longer time without beeing used (so out of the gamepad) is 40%. Buy a brand new battery and (actuall don't do this except for reseach purpuses) use it without charging: It should be at around 40%. The manufactureres precharge to this for a reason. ;)
"doing full charge cycles in general is going to have more of a deleterious effect" is new to me. Could you explain this, please?

There's no guess: Lithium charging rule of thumb: Start fast, go slower at around 80% (I love how you already told that in your writeup)... Go slower the more you go to 100%... When you reach 100% do drop-charging (which means to only charge a tiiiiny bit when the battery looses charge even while not used). Wait, you're right: There is a guess: My question from i.
You also have the notion that you are wasting power by leaving it on the whole time and that can add up to something reasonable
The thing is: The gamepad is always on. Again: "the gamepad constantinuously checks if the Wii U has been turned on". The faster charging algorythm below 80% might draw more power than drop charging, so leaving it in the stand might really save power.
 
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mrmagicm

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Could it be possible to create an app to estimate the "Health" of the gamepad battery?
It would say when to replace the batt.
 

FAST6191

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@FAST6191 Great writeup! :) Just a few corrections:
i) Are you sure about that? I never checked but I think it's the exact oppsite: Not sitting in a charging stand draws power as the gamepad constantinuously checks if the Wii U has been turned on. When fully charged in a stand the power for this checks should be taken from the stand, not from the battery. So sitting in a stand while not used for a longer time should be better to prevent deep discharge.

ii) AFAIK all batteries (except maybe cheap china ones) are overprovisioned anway. So when the device shows 100% charge it's really ~80%. Also best capacity for storing batteries for a longer time without beeing used (so out of the gamepad) is 40%. Buy a brand new battery and (actuall don't do this except for reseach purpuses) use it without charging: It should be at around 40%. The manufactureres precharge to this for a reason. ;)
"doing full charge cycles in general is going to have more of a deleterious effect" is new to me. Could you explain this, please?

There's no guess: Lithium charging rule of thumb: Start fast, go slower at around 80% (I love how you already told that in your writeup)... Go slower the more you go to 100%... When you reach 100% do drop-charging (which means to only charge a tiiiiny bit when the battery looses charge even while not used). Wait, you're right: There is a guess: My question from i.

The thing is: The gamepad is always on. Again: "the gamepad constantinuously checks if the Wii U has been turned on". The faster charging algorythm below 80% might draw more power than drop charging, so leaving it in the stand might really save power.

Self discharge is the thing you are concerned about for a battery sitting all by its lonesome (or otherwise unplugged) in a drawer. It will likely pale next to quiescent current (current that is drawn to handle keep alive, onboard clocks, is my master unit nearby, standby LEDs, minor internet checks...) and I don't know what the differences there will be between stand and sitting by itself with battery still in/connected. That said self discharge is still a thing to be concerned about over years of storage.

The full charge thing having a more deleterious effect. We can debate the effects of storage at 80%, 0%, 100%... all day long but for the most part it is not going to matter if there is a sudden burst of "I want to play the Wii U this week" in the middle of that as going through full power cycles (even more so if there is some kind of rapid charging involved that cooks the battery or maybe just one cell in it).

I agree most charge indicators on consumer devices are filthy lies and maybe vaguely in the realm of what reality is but not entirely sure where that was heading.

I don't know what electronics are in the stand that are powered throughout it but I doubt they are going to be measured in nanoamps and thus I was thinking more about the power bill. Likewise if we are still going for serious long term storage then we are back at removing the battery from the wii u tablet or snipping a wire such that it is not in circuit before adding a note in the diary to plug it back in and charge it up however many times a year.
Could it be possible to create an app to estimate the "Health" of the gamepad battery?
It would say when to replace the batt.

Is the battery swollen? Does the battery last an acceptable amount of time for either your purposes or next to what one might expect? If either of those are bad then replace the thing. If you want to track charge cycles (some devices will have a little piece of EEPROM or something onboard to note how many that they have done, can even be the source of "battery dead, please replace" wallet too fat error for tools and laptops) you might get some idea.
About the only tweak you might note is if the charge amount suddenly drops then one of the cells within the battery* is probably going/gone and thus you want to replace it before too terribly long.

*most batteries in normal concentrations and whatnot don't produce a useful voltage so you stick several cells in series to make a useful voltage. Quite often the first in the line will cook itself and die which leaves the apparent voltage to drop very quickly even if every other cell in the line is fine (4 lots of 3.5V is 14V rather than 12V if you assumed 3V and if the cutoff is say 11V you can lose one cell and keep limping along for a little bit). Said laptops and tools are notorious for this, and were often seen to use a standard format of battery called 18650 which means more enterprising types could buy an 18650 (or scavenge one -- recall the rest of the "dead" battery being fine part from earlier) and replace it to have a working battery, give or take the EEPROM stuff mentioned elsewhere declaring it dead and needing to be rewritten (easy enough if you have the gear, also why anything you get from China can be deemed a work of fiction).
 
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