Rebuilding Canon Motor Drive MA Ni-Cd pack

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Tony-S

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My Motor Drive MA Ni-Cd battery pack is no longer functional. Bad batteries, I'm sure. I've been looking around for replacements, but am having trouble finding them. I'm pretty sure they are 1.2V cells (a total of 12 in the pack) and they are soldered in series. The batteries have a slightly smaller diameter than AA batteries, but only 1-1/8" long (including the + pole). Does anyone know of a US supplier of such batteries? I think I'd prefer NiMH instead of Ni-Cd if they're available and if the charger would be compatible.

TIA.
 
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David A. Goldfarb

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I thought of rebuilding mine, but ended up selling it off for parts and bought the regular battery pack, which is a little bulkier than the Ni-Cd pack, but at least the batteries are easily replaceable. I bought it new several years ago from the ill-reputed Cambridge Camera, but at least I could walk in the store, hold the battery pack in my hand, and give them the cash, so there was no risk of the goods going astray. I wouldn't be surprised if they still had some new ones in the original box. They seem to keep stuff warehoused forever, but buyer beware.
 
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Tony-S

Tony-S

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EDIT: Google has been helpful - it looks like these are what I need. The question is whether they'd be ok with the MA battery charger?

OK, a little more investigating. These look most closely like 'N' size batteries (30mm x 12mm). So I guess that's what I'd be looking for.

David - thanks for that info; I believe I'd like to repair this one if possible.
 
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Chan Tran

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You need to measure the size of your batteries carefully, many sizes are almost the same but not quite. I have successfully rebuild the MN-2 pack for the Nikon F3 motor drive. I used NiMH instead of the original NiCad and the pack last over twice as long but it also takes twice as long to charge it with the same old charger.
 
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Tony-S

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I came across a web article that said that if the charger is dedicated to NiCd that it could damage NiMH batteries if you leave them on longer (i.e., trickle charge damages the cells). I'd much prefer NiMH since they have a higher mAh, but I'm concerned about potential damage to the cells. Also, are there alternatives to spot welding them? I wish they could just be soldered.
 

Jon Shiu

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It's also sometimes possible to revive nicad cells by shocking them from a storage battery. I've done it successfully with a 12v battery pack for a portable drill. If you want to try it, I can describe the details.

Jon
 

Dennis S

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I was wondering if anybody has tried to rebuild or replace the motor that runs this drive ? Or is it just something to leave in my photography junk drawer? Yes I know they are sold very cheap. That is why I have 3 of them.
(Actually I have 5 of them 2 yes and 3 not so much ! )
 
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Rol_Lei Nut

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It's also sometimes possible to revive nicad cells by shocking them from a storage battery. I've done it successfully with a 12v battery pack for a portable drill. If you want to try it, I can describe the details.

Jon

There are also special chargers that "recycle/refresh" cells by charging and discharging them repeatedly until their capacity no longer increases.

That involves removing the individual cells in your case.

I have had very good results bringing apparently dead NiCd and NiMh cells back to usable life.
 

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You should be able to solder them. Put them side by side, and solder them together with a thin sheet of metal. Then you bend the thin sheet in half so the cells are end to end instead of side by side. This is how most rc car stick packs and airsoft battery packs are made. If you have enough room you can use copper braid instead.

You can also solder them directly together but it isn't easy. You make a jig that lets the batteries slide up and down but remain perfectly aligned. Tin both batteries. Use a hammerhead soldering iron tip that is shaped like a sledge hammer. Put the tip between the cells, push them together, as soon as the solder melts on both cells pull out the iron and push the cells together as quickly as possible. Upside to this method is that there is less electrical resistance. The downside is that it is difficult to do, as well as undo. Pretty much not worth it for a camera battery pack.
 

John Koehrer

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The link you gave says the cells are "easily solderable"
Shouldn't be that hard to make or buy a different charger, RC markets have dozens of varieties available.
 
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Tony-S

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I had missed that "easy solder" note. I think I'll get them and give it a try. Thanks to all who responded.
 
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Tony-S

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OK, the batteries arrived today, but they sure don't seem to take solder as advertised. Is there something I need to do to the terminals for them to take solder?
 
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Tony-S

Tony-S

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I ended up taking the batteries to Batteries Plus to have the pack built with a spot welder. It's been on the charger for 4 hours but it's not working yet. The normal charge time is 5 hours for the NiCds, so it should take a bit longer for the NiMH batteries that were replaced. I checked the charger and it's putting out 1.28 V. Considering the batteries are 1.2 V, is that to be expected? I'll let it charge overnight, so hopefully it'll work in the morning...
 

Stregone

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Nimh batteries top out at about 1.4v fresh off the charger. Are you using the same charger as the nicd pack? They don't have the same charging characteristics and the charger might charge it wrong. They are pretty similar...but I would definitely not leave the charger unattended.
 
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Tony-S

Tony-S

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Everything is working great. The Charger MA even flickers like it's supposed to when the batteries are fully charged. Of course, I pulled the pack off as soon as the charge was indicated, just to be safe. It took about 10 hours to full charge, which is about twice as long as the NiCd batteries are supposed to take. But since these are 400 mAh NiMH vs. 220 mAh NiCd I should be able to get a lot more use out of them.

Now I need to glue the leather back onto the pack. What's used for that?

Thanks to all for your helpful comments on this.
 
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