Last December we had a very long stretch of dull days and the tempest didn’t charge at all during that period. Of course the tempest went to the highest power save mode and stopped measuring wind, rain and lightning. In an attempt to prevent this from happening again, I did several experiments, including a very promising reduction of the fastest sampling rates to be no higher than 4 times a minute. Weatherflow probably will come up with better power save settings in the near feature. Another solution is the upcoming power booster from Weatherflow, which basically gives you various options to charge the unit through a wire. As mine is mounted on an acrylic mast, which looks stunning, I didn’t want to add a wire to it.
Yet another solution is to replace the internal battery with a bigger one, and that is what I just did.
This is what arrived yesterday from China.
Four pieces of 2500mAh LTO batteries. (www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001515782825.html) Those are the same types as currently inside the Tempest, but almost twice as big. Not only bigger in capacity but also bigger in size.
In order to replace the original battery, some destructive work has to be done and you will loose your warranty if you do so. Therefore I don’t recommend this solution, but I still went ahead with this modification.
Start with turning the unit off and opening it up by removing the four screws at the bottom.
Next step is to remove the two blue connectors. Be sure to mark them first so you know which one goes where. Do this by first sliding up the black parts. They move vertically up from the board.
Unfortunately they seemed to be glued in place by some coating and are very fragile. As you can be seen in the little rectangle, mine broke during the operation (the left two). They are supposed to look like the right one, and don’t have to come out of the white part completely, just slide them up 2 mm. Luckily the central part which holds the blue connector in place is still functional, so I had no problems using them again. Note the blue connector on the right was stuck in on a slight angle. More on that later.
There is no need to remove the connectors to the solar panels.
Next up is to remove the three hex 2 screws hidden deep inside the three holes. They connect the part with the solar panels to the rest. The antenna simply slides out of its position.
Remove the white bottom from the printed circuit board and use a soldering iron to remove the original battery. Now comes the really destructive part. As you can see there is a kind of white cylinder that partly covers the battery. That is too small for the bigger battery, but it also doesn’t seem to have any function, so use a Dremel or similar to cut the plastic part away. Be generous with what you cut away as a bigger battery is going to need to fit.
(I remove the three screws mentioned earlier to separate the top part of the unit from the bottom. But perhaps you can remove this plastic cylinder with the Dremel without doing that. If you do, it might take some work to get the debris out of it. Its just easier when the parts are separated. While typing this I realized that if you are able to remove this white cylinder without separating the top and bottom, there is no need to remove the blue connector I mentioned earlier. You could try, if you don’t manage to remove the cylinder, you can still separate the parts).
Here is my result seen from the bottom, with the remainder of the plastic cylinder next to it. (it looks smaller and out of focus, because it is further away from the camera). Note in the top left of the unit, the bigger hole is next to plastic mounting point for a screw. If you mount the battery normally it will touch it and you cannot close the unit later on.
Time to solder the new battery in place. Take care about the right polarity. On the original battery the plus side is marked with a big black band over the side of the battery, the replacement has its minus side marked.
The separation between the pins of the bigger battery isn’t the same as for the original. Bend the one that is closest to the positive side, so the battery moves a little to the center, away, from the plastic mounting point for the screw.
It turns out it is slightly to big to be mounted against the pcb, but the pins are long and sturdy enough to keep it floating above it. (but see my remark below the last picture)
All that is left is to reconnect the blue connectors again and push the black parts in place. (I used a piece of tape to keep the wire temporarily in place while doing that. I needed that, because my black parts were broken off. Once in place even the broken connectors stay in place without problem. You might use some hot glue to make sure they do).
Turn it on for testing. The green led should turn on. That was a scary moment as it didn’t do that initially in my case. I didn’t know what could have gone wrong, until I remembered to that initially the blue connector was slightly angled. The coating on it also was at an angle, so when I inserted it straight, the coating probably blocked the contacts. Inserting it again, but at a slight angle, fixed the problem (of course the connector should have been inserted straight in the first place).
Job done, one Tempest ready to take on the next winter.
So I thought. Turns out the pins of the battery aren’t sturdy enough to prevent the battery from rattling against the plastic in windy conditions. So I’ll have to open it up again and insert a bit of foam to solve that.
Still I’m quite happy with the results.