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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Change SI batteries

in: Orienteering; General

Nov 16, 2020 10:59 PM # 
Several of our SI boxes need new batteries. How are folks getting their batteries changed? Is there anyone near Cambridge MA that would be willing to do this for us?
Nov 17, 2020 12:10 AM # 
We change our batteries ourselves. You just need a fine tipped soldering iron, some electronics grade silicone adhesive, solder, and a little patience. You can order replacement batteries on-line from various sources such as AT Batt and Battery Junction. Make sure you get the batteries with axial leads. You may want to order some O-ring replacements from Scarborough Orienteering in case you tear one while opening the control. We change them on a rotating schedule every 5 years or when they drop below 3.0V.
Nov 17, 2020 12:50 AM # 
There's a nice how-to online.
Nov 17, 2020 2:31 AM # 
Yeah, I have everything but the patience (time).
I love the rotating schedule idea.
When is your next scheduled replacement date?
How much does it cost for the replacement parts?
Nov 17, 2020 3:01 AM # 
There is a guy with Florida Orienteering who does a great job. Also Eric of the O-Store in Ottawa is the North American repair rep for SI equipment. He brought two of our units back from what I had thought was a watery demise.
Besides changing batteries they will both update the unit's firmware if needed, not a big job in itself but nice to have it done instead of having to get a round tuit.
Nov 17, 2020 12:49 PM # 
If you get the parts or have them sent to me, I can do the soldering for you, and we could do a handoff of the boxes.
Nov 17, 2020 3:06 PM # 
I change 1/4 of them at the end of every season (usually November or December) plus any with low voltage. Occasionally a battery will go low after just two years or so. It's a good time to update firmware if needed as well. Make sure to change the new battery date by using the service mode in SI Config.
Just bought SAFT batteries at AT BATT on sale for $3.99 each (normally near $10). Battery Junction has XENO batteries for $2.85. I've used these as well but prefer the SAFT when I can get them on sale. I still have a supply of O-rings but I think they are $1 each from Scarborough. I use the old one as long as I don't tear it. These are the large O-rings. I've never had to replace a small O-ring.
Nov 17, 2020 3:36 PM # 
We had to replace all of our batteries within 2 years when we tried the Xeno battery, so I suggest sticking to the SAFT. Same happened to others who had tried the X batteries.
Nov 17, 2020 7:10 PM # 
Thank you very much. I purchased this. SAFT LS14250-AX 1/2 AA 3.6V Primary Lithium battery. Axial leads. It looks like sells the same thing for $6.50.

JJ, thanks, in addition to soldering can you do the O ring replacement or whatever else is needed in opening/closing the units? You also need 100% silicone sealant, apparently, "sourced locally".

It looks like I need two O-rings per unit: large & small, for outside & hole. link to for the O rings. I'm getting those.
Nov 17, 2020 8:13 PM # 
Barb: That price is as low as I've seen the SAFT batteries. You probably will not need any of the small O-rings.
Nov 17, 2020 8:34 PM # 
Nov 18, 2020 12:02 PM # 
Yeah, I can do everything needed. The silicone is a local hardware store item.
Nov 18, 2020 5:20 PM # 
OK you are absolutely the best. Will be in touch re timing.
Nov 18, 2020 6:41 PM # 
Hi all, I own the and am the official SPORTident repair shop for the Americas. If you're going to repair the units yourself, definitely only go with SAFT batteries - I've had a few units come to me after home replacements with Xeno batteries, and they don't seem to last as long as the SAFT variety. Also beware of 'special' sales. SAFT batteries have a shelf-life of 10 years, and I once bought some on special, and they turned out to be unused, but 7 years old. Wasn't a bargain after all. Finally, definitely replace the o-rings, you won't get a good seal with the sealant if the o-ring is used. Also, I absolutely HATE having to clean a repair where bathroom silicone was used. It's near impossible to get off the case completely. Use the real equipment, which is Dow Corning 3140 RTV sealant:
Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions. I don't monitor attackpoint.
Nov 18, 2020 6:55 PM # 
PS: SPORTident recommends that battery replacements are done by SPORTident or authorized service depots.
Nov 18, 2020 7:10 PM # 
I ordered a tube of 3140. And Barb knows my qualifications for this sort of work.
Nov 18, 2020 9:08 PM # 
We contacted and were given the video about how to do it ourselves, the information that they sell the supplies, and a note that some O clubs change their own batteries. Nothing about authorized service depots.

Also - do we need a special SPORTIdent gauge or shrink tubes? Both were mentioned in the email and I suppose if I watched the video I would know what they are for.

Thanks for the info erict!
I wonder how to find out how old the batteries are. You must be right that they are likely old. Too late tho, I ordered them.
Nov 18, 2020 10:29 PM # 
Barb - let me know and I can walk you through creation of a status log for all your units - I just did it for our club yesterday - so all still fresh in my mind ;)
Nov 18, 2020 10:35 PM # 
Barb - I have been replacing ours for over 5 years with no problems. I second Valerie's comment on batteries... Stick with SAFT... we had to replace our XENO for premature failure. AtBatt is good, that's what I have been using. Each saft battery has a date code. First two digits is the year and the next 3 is the day of year manufactured. When I install the batteries, I like to make sure you can read it when closed. You do not need the gauge or shrink tubes. The shrink tubes are for the large batteries in BSM7 controls. I have never had to replace the small O-rings, but frequently need to replace the larger ones as the silicone sticks to these too well.
Nov 19, 2020 3:33 AM # 
Does anyone have a source for the shrink tubes for the BSM7 units ?
I've managed without, but it always makes me feel that the job is a little half-baked.
Nov 19, 2020 4:02 AM # 
Nov 19, 2020 5:46 AM # 
Having an authorised battery replacer saying that Sportident recommends getting an authorised repair person to do it is like having an electrician telling you only an electrician can change a light bulb in your house.
Nov 19, 2020 2:14 PM # 
I think the authorized battery replacer is not saying an authorised repair person having to do it, but pretty much saying 'for goodness sake, do it right, because when things don't go the right way and you ask SportIdent how to fix it, then they'll send you to me and then I have to fix the mess....' and then it'll get more expensive - but not as expensive as having to send things to Europe.
erict is the best, with advice and links and information anything SI related, without ever implying it has to be done through the o-store, period.
Nov 20, 2020 9:26 AM # 
Take this with a pinch of salt as I'm mainly ARDF runner:
My countries national SI set used for ARDF, which needs only 7 SI stations per race so our set of 15 BSF8 stations is rotated to reduce tear&wear, survived 7-9 years of usage per SI station prior to getting low power warnings, each station used on 7-10 races/trainings per year.

We have now started to use XENO batteries instead of SAFT (XENO is easily obtained where I live), and immediately a change in behaviour is visible. A low voltage warning is present on around the third of stations with completely new batteries (I checked the LOT). It seems that the batteries have a voltage delay when they are brought back from sleep, as described on .
After waking from a long nap, and then put back to sleep, when activated again within 10-15 minutes the voltage is normal and no voltage warning. So the XENOs do have really different ratings, and probably die faster than the SAFTs.
Nov 20, 2020 3:55 PM # 
My units do not get nearly the use Barb's are getting these days, but in past summers have gotten the use of those who use them for school training. In past summers I easily had 4-5 days a week that I taught at summer school programs, sometimes 2 locations per day. And 1-2 a week during Fall or Spring with schools in session, usually using anywhere between 16 - 24 units. In the winter I have taught at schools in the gym, using activities centered around Go4O games, usually the kind needing 36 controls, thus using all my 42 units, 2 downloads and 2 printers, with groups of kids as large as 30-40. There was thus not much of a chance for rotation in case units fail, but with a very big chance for disappointment for the kids, as one unit failing during the games wrecks the activity, and one can't just easily switch to another activity. My first units that needed battery replacement due to consistently low voltage were 7 years old this past January. A second round is now over 7 years old, showing consistent low voltage and will have to be replaced soon, just so that I do not have to worry once activities start up again once the vaccine is out.
What I am trying to say is that a program like Navigation games, having programs 5 days/week, sometimes with overlapping sessions at different locations, thus having to have multiple sets of units, wear may be a bit higher, regular monitoring of status is needed more often, and a few spare controls to use when some units need battery replacement. I sure would not want to have to fiddle with batteries more often than every 6-7 years per unit :)
Nov 22, 2020 12:49 AM # 
Got the batteries. Manufactured late 2018.
Dec 15, 2020 4:21 PM # 
Sorry, a bit late to the thread, but I too would like to stress the above advice that SAFTs are better suited for SI stations than Xenos or any other brand I tried in the past. Looking at the datasheets of the batteries and then the beeper on the board it becomes clear that the SAFTs are the only battery willing to provide the current spike needed during the punching beep (the beep and flash is by far the highest current peak during operation).

The Xenos may, per datasheet, provide similar or even better capacity (especially the 2/3 AA variant, which does fit the BSx8 box), but their chemistry is unable to provide the peak current. This leads to premature battery warning, shorter useful life, maybe even brownout (software lockup requiring reset) due to voltage drop. Especially for my 40+ BS8-SRR stations, my hopes in the Xenos were badly dashed and I'm back to the SAFTs, even though they're more expensive around here.

Also from bad experience, I can confirm some special shop deals are actually selling off stocks approaching shelf life, don't fall for the "if you buy cheap, you'll end up buying twice" trap.

Last note - the future BSF8-replacement, the BSF9, will not need any silicone sealant due to improved curvature of the rubber ring placement. Using "the wrong silicone" (for example bathroom silicone) is BTW a very bad thing because it releases acid while curing, that acid will then very likely eat away the traces on your boards, probably killing the electronics in the long run. So make sure to use the right stuff.
Mar 2, 2023 5:45 PM # 
Thanks @jSh for excellent advice. In North-America the is the official maintenance shop for SPORTident equipment. If there are any questions, please contact me!
Mar 2, 2023 5:50 PM # 
@Barb - your comment about how old a battery is - the first 5 digits of the battery serial number is the year and day of manufacture. Serial # 19305XXX means it was built on day 305 in 2019.

This discussion thread is closed.