RACHEL-Plus Battery Issue category

I apologize for asking these questions again; but we have some confusion in regards to these devices.

  1. The device battery has only been known to have an issue when plugged in and left on overcharging the battery; correct?
  2. We should be able to either charge the device for a controlled time and then unplug it and use it off battery or in the alternative remove the battery and use the device plugged in only.
  3. Removing the battery does not void the warranty and is recommended for the short time solution; is this battery in any way more dangerous then any other battery or removing it and storing it in a cool storage location out of sunlight and depleted any risk?
  4. Is there any current high level time frame on your current two prong solution? or is to early to answer this question?
    Thank you for your time.

I just bought one and the money was refunded (so I guess I am not getting it). But I still want it. Can these run from an external USB power source (including battery)? If so I would be happy to order one again if you could send it without the battery. Plus I want to sell these to customers as island web servers (with our software on them, so I might buy lots).

So far, I personally do not have any reports of issues other than when plugged in and overcharged. That does not mean they do not exist though. The manufacturer currently believes the battery is defective but is seeking 3rd party verification, so I would proceed with immense caution if you choose to use the device in that manner. Basically, no one is sure right now.

Both of these scenarios would seem to reduce the risk we are seeing, but cannot confirm yet.

It is NOT recommended by us. People are doing it yes, but we don’t feel as though we have enough information to recommend that yet. Yes, we believe the battery is defective and more dangerous than a normal battery. We have people suggesting that users unplug the device and draw down the battery so it has no charge when removing or storing the device or battery. We are not experts and cannot confirm this is true. No one thus far has suggested otherwise.

We hope this is a weeks, not months issue. It will obviously be easier for us to support and solve the issue for U.S. based customers or people who still have access to their devices. As many people deploy this device as part of a community service project, safari, vacation, it’s not clear yet how we plan to reach everyone.

@tonywhansen I have to confirm, but I believe we are willing to ship devices without a battery, provided you understand when the issue gets fixed we won’t be working to help get your unit battery operated. Basically, we aren’t trying to grow the problem right now so have decided to cease all sales, if you want to take the device now without battery or warranty, I will ship it.

Please note the important difference here that I have proper safety equipment for identifying a dangerous battery and removing it properly. We still do not recommend users do this on their own with batteries that may already be defective. Units in our stock have never been used and have shown no signs of any battery degradation.

This new report is a good image to focus on. You will see that the black plastic back actually ruptured, leaving pieces of the back and the screws still attached to the body. Pretty violent event to have that happen.

Another good question from a user:

“Is it okay to use the device on battery only (ie. plug it in for charging only, then use it on its battery for actually accessing the content).”

Right now we urge you stop using the RACHEL device completely: don’t charge it, run down the battery, then safely store it. We are working to understand the scope of the problem as quickly as we can, and if we find that there is a way to safely use RACHEL-plus devices, we will let everyone know as soon as possible.

Here’s another one:

“Will intel be honoring the warranty and offering a replacement unit?”

Great question. We’re not sure yet, but we’re working with both Intel and the manufacturer to get an answer.

Now that you have published an updated set of guidelines, are you now saying that it would be ok to travel with the RACHEL server as long as we drain, remove and safely store the batteries first?

A second question… if you answer the first one affirmatively… do you have a copy of your updated guidelines in Spanish (that has been prepared by a Spanish speaker instead of Google Translate) that I could give to the school in Guatemala?

Thanks for your question! If you are planning to use RACHEL-Plus in an area without constant power, then we recommend that you run down the battery first and travel with the device off. If you plan to use RACHEL-Plus with constant and reliable power, then in that case we recommend you remove the battery (instructions here) and safely store it before traveling.

As for a Spanish version of our updated guidelines: that’s a great idea and I’ll contact our Guatemala chapter to ask for a translation that we can share here.

Here’s the Spanish version for the guidelines:

Comunidad RACHEL,

Gracias por su apoyo y comprensión mientras trabajamos en el recién descubierto problema con la batería del RACHEL-Plus. En este momento, las fallas en la batería parecen ser casos aislados en los que el servidor se ha mantenido encendido y conectado a la electricidad con la carga completa. Continuamos buscando fallas en las baterías en lugares con conexiones alternativas, así que por favor hágannos saber inmediatamente si han experimentado fallas en la batería en distintos escenarios (vean señales acá).

De cualquier forma, con indicaciones del fabricante, quien ha involucrado a un tercer partido para pruebas más profundas, estamos actualizando nuestras recomendaciones actuales a las siguientes:

  1. Si tiene electricidad constante y confiable:
    a. Extraiga las baterías del aparato (instrucciones aquí)
    b. Mantenga el aparato en áreas abiertas con buena ventilación y lejos de materiales inflamables.
    c. Apague el aparato cuando no esté en uso, o en intervalos razonables (semanalmente).
    d. Evite movimientos, golpes, o vibraciones cuando esté en funcionamiento.
    e. Encuentre un reciclador certificado de materiales peligrosos para las baterías.

  2. Si no tiene electricidad constante y confiable (hasta ahora no hemos tenido reporte de problemas de baterías en este escenario, sin embargo, también tenemos algunas recomendaciones para este escenario):
    a. Use el aparato exclusivamente con la carga de la batería.
    b. Conéctelo a la electricidad cuando sea necesario, no más de 14 horas a la vez para cargarlo, y monitorear mientras se carga. Temporizadores eléctricos pueden limitar el tiempo de carga.
    c. Evite movimientos, golpes, o vibraciones cuando esté en funcionamiento.
    d. Cuando viaje con el aparato o lo envíe por correo, por favor asegurarse de descargar la batería antes de hacerlo.
    e. Descontinuar su uso y guardarlo en un lugar seguro si la batería se descarga muy rápido (30 minutos o menos), si ve señales de deformación o rajaduras en la cubierta plástica, o si cuando quite la tapa trasera siente que los tornillos están demasiado apretados.

Estas recomendaciones representan la mejor información que tenemos en este momento, mientras seguimos investigado el problema. Estas recomendaciones pueden ser menos o más restrictivas con el tiempo, por favor mantenga estas precauciones con los aparatos.

Continuaremos dando pequeñas actualizaciones y contestando preguntas en nuestro foro http://community.rachelfriends.org

Atentamente,

Jeremy Schwartz

World Possible
Director Ejecutivo

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Any updates on the firmware testing? Or need for battery replacements?

We received the first updated firmware this morning. That firmware does not contain RACHEL’s dependencies. We will be working on this over the next week or two.

Jeremy, you are keeping folks up to date so well and I really appreciate that.

We have a few more partners that are interested in some of the RACHEL Pluses and are looking to have them in place by the end of the year. I’m recommending to him that he should hold off as the RACHEL Plus meets his needs much better than the PI. You think this is feasible and realistic to get these being shipped out again within the next couple months?

Yes, absolutely. I believe this to be a couple more weeks, but then we should have a reliable solution.

Thank you for all you do!

Is there any update on when you will start shipping the Rachel PLUS? I am anxiously awaiting to bring it down to a virtual school in Jacmel Haiti.

Thank You!

We are shipping RACHEL Plus again! If you have an existing RACHEL-Plus, we have released instructions and software on updating the firmware:

Update Firmware on RACHEL-Plus 1.0 (WRTD-303N Model)
Update Firmware on RACHEL-Plus 2.0 (WAPD-235N Model)

This firmware fix was supplied by Gemtek, the hardware manufacturer, and will keep prevent the unit from overcharging the battery if plugged in continuously (24/7 over many months). If the unit is not plugged in continuously then there is no problem that we are aware of. In any case, you should be able to use the device with confidence again.

Hi, I just noticed, as I was reading around, that the v1 link is pointing at the v2 download

Thanks, here is the correct link for v1: Update Firmware on RACHEL-Plus 1.0 (WRTD-303N Model)

Hi Nicole, if you could put me in touch with Ashenafi, would be very grateful. Many thanks,

Hi @Binyam - Ashenafi worked for @billgraff so I think you’ll get connected there. Best,
jeremy