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29 July 2014. DeWalt Drill Fix.

All of us have tools aboard our boats. That comes with the territory.  One of my favorites was gifted to me by Oremae* and it's a DeWalt 12-volt rechargeable drill. I especially appreciate 12 volts as I know that if I had to, I could make it work right off my batteries.

*Many of us out here refer to each other by the names of our boats. Oremae is the Morgan41 belonging to friends of mine.  When you name your boat, try for something that's easy to spell, understandable over the VHF radio and definitely nothing crude. 

Master Baiter is crude and says a lot about the boat's owner. Who in their right mind thinks that's a good name for a fishing boat?!? Sigh.

On the other hand, this is a boat I spotted on it's way to the fishing grounds:

She's nice, and no trashy name. The folks on this Boy Toy have class, or at least very nice taste in their go-fast boats.

Any of us with boats though have need of a drill at some point. A rechargeable makes life easier -- no power cord to deal with. The drill Oremae gave me one came with a Rapid Charger. That's an especially nice upgrade from the standard one because from dead to fully charged takes just an hour. Of course this requires the use of A/C power and fortunately I have an inverter.

In any event the last time I tried to recharge the battery I noticed the light was not coming on. That flashing red light indicates charging and I wasn't sure if it was the light or the charger that wasn't cooperative.

Clue #1: The drill turned about as fast as a turtle walks through molasses in the Artic. 
 

Guts of my DeWalt rapid charger

 

A bit of online exploration told me that one of the DeWalt chargers had been recalled. But not mine.

Since the one I have is broken there's nothing I can do to make it worse at this point. That means I can open it up and see what is in there and possibly fix it. I got out my fancy set of screwdrivers and had at it.

 I took it apart. This is what I found:

At the Green Circle I spotted the attachment points for the battery. It's clearly marked (Red and Yellow) for positive and ground so I knew where to put my multi-meter probes.

And yes, as a matter of fact, you do need a digital multi-meter. They all come with instruction booklets. I know I use mine at least once per week. Because I'm not an expert at this stuff, the bottom of the line least expensive model works a-okay for me.

When I attached my probes to the Red and Yellow tabs there was no power. Thus I knew the charger was not functional. I didn't see any obvious problems and needed a solution.

 


Buying a new drill does not work for a budget cruiser like me. In a world of disposable items, sometimes with a bit of thinking an option will surface. My favorites are free, and the one I came up with was the perfect price. Zero!
 

Determining Polarity

 

I didn't know which side was the positive to on the battery pack for my DeWalt drill.  The multi-meter helped figure that part out. I put the red probe on one side and the black on the other. The number registered as a negative [-11.7] so I switched the red to the other side. Voila: 11.7 without the minus sign.

I've painted a red dot on the Positive side with some nail polish for future reference.


The next thing I got out of my box of tricks is my alligator clips that have a 12-volt male cigarette plug at the business end. What those wires actually are is the part you'd connect to a battery from an ancient battery charger. It's rough, it's not pretty, the wires are icky, but it's free. And it works.

I wasn't sure if my fix would take and so after a couple of hours I checked the voltage for that battery. This is what it showed:


12.71 is fully charged. Actually that's the same level as the batteries on Seaweed
so I'm not so much charging as equalizing with my system.  And that's good enough.

Voila! It worked, and now I can get rid of the old charger base. It's trash. And my drill again works just as it should. I saved the cost of a new charger ($40+ online) and don't need a new drill either. I'd say for the cost of the multi-meter (less than $10) and the cords off a broken auto battery charger... well, I did well today.

And if I can do it, so too can you.

Have you ever had a charging unit fail?
Was it under warranty or did you have to cobble together a solution?

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