I put my cellphone through the wash . . .

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grant fair
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I put my cellphone through the wash . . .

Post by grant fair » Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:36 pm

and it doesn't work anymore...

This is (was?) a Nokia 3120, which uses a lithium ion battery.

The battery is entirely dead. The cell phone, after drying our several days, shows no voltage on the battery terminals even when it is plugged in to the recharger.

I understand lithium batteries do not mix well with water. There is also all kinds of protective circuitry inside the battery.

Does anyone know what this baptism would do to the battery?

A new battery costs $60 (here in Canada) so I don't want to buy one just to see if it works.

Grant

Robert Reed
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Post by Robert Reed » Sat Apr 08, 2006 9:28 pm

Grant
Are you sure that the phone is completely dry? I have cleaned old dirty electronic gear with lo-pressure water sprays many times, and that includes VHF transmitting and recieving apparatus. It has always worked well. The water per-se does not hurt it--IT IS THE LENGTH OF TIME THE RESIDUAL WATER IS TRAPPED INSIDE OF IT ! The trick here is immediately upon cleaning, give the unit a thourogh shake out and then immeditely proceed to a preheated oven of say 125 to 150 degrees. Let it sit for one hour, then remove and let cool before power up. This has always worked successfully for me. Did your phone go thru a rinse cycle to insure it is totally devoid of soap? If not, you may want to reflush with clear water and dry as described. The water intrusion you have occurred is probably still trapped inside and will be for a long time unless you oven heat it to drive it out.I cant help you with the ill effects your lithium might have suffered, but if after a thorough drying, and still not functioning, you could remove battery again and apply external power to check phone.You may want to remove battery before "ovenizing" as I dont know how much heat a lithium can take. Incidentally, I only paid $30 for my last Nokia. Good luck!

rshayes
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Post by rshayes » Sat Apr 08, 2006 9:55 pm

The "problem" that lithium cell have with water is simple. Metallic lithium reacts with water in the same way that sodium does. It releases heat and hydrogen gas. I doubt if water penetrated the battery seal, because I would expect the results to be noticable and possibly spectacular, such as a swollen battery case that may be discolored from heat.

Outside of the battery, the water, detergent, and any conductive material in the water may have left conductive deposits elsewhere in the phone that would run down the battery or interfere with the phone's operation.

These phones all use surface mount devices with very close spacing between conductors, so it doesn't take much of a deposit to cause problems.

Rinsing with distilled water and drying out might be a last resort.

Dean Huster
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Post by Dean Huster » Sat Apr 08, 2006 10:05 pm

We always routinely washed test and measurement equipment when I worked for Tektronix. The detergent they used was called Kelite. Wash and rinse with a low-pressure spray and then dry in an oven for a couple of days at 150°F.

I'd start out with the drying alone, as the rinse cycle might have rinsed out enough of the detergent. Remove the battery and lieu of the oven, you might just try leaving the phone on a west/south-facing window sill for a week for a slow, low-temp drying cycle. Reinstall the battery, charge and see what happens. I just "fixed" a CPAP (breathing machine for folks with problems with sleep apnea) that had been given an electronic enema (humidifier container was dumped into the air outlet and really messed up machine operation) by using the window sill drying technique for a week.

At Tek, there were some attenuator switches that did better if right after washing, they were doused with isoopropyl alcohol. You might open the phone and try a distilled water rinse. The keyboard will be the most likely problem, as any contaminants at all will goof that up and difficult to rinse out.

Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

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philba
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Post by philba » Sat Apr 08, 2006 10:28 pm

you can make a decent little drying oven with a smallish cardboard box and a 40 W lightbulb. Or get a dimmer and put a 100 W bulb in. Start out low and work up to something fairly warm. You could put a cheap thermometer in it for "feedback". A cheap styrofoam cooler could work as well.

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jwax
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Post by jwax » Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:44 am

From my experience, your phone is dead. Defunct. Deceased. Entered into its "time of greatest quiet". It is no more. Recycling fodder. A waste of time to attempt a revival.

gerty
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Post by gerty » Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:04 pm

Jwax ,don't sugarcoat it, say what you mean... :grin:

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Chris Smith
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Post by Chris Smith » Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:12 pm

Temperature and pressure.

Increase the temperature, or decrease the pressure surrounding the device.

Both work well to evaporate all the water.

Water Boils at room temperature, in a vacuum.

grant fair
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Post by grant fair » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:49 pm

Thanks for all the replies.

As soon as I took the phone from the washing machine, I shook out as much water as I could. Then I put it next to a hair dryer on low. I did this from time to time but did not want to leave it unattended.

I haven't tried it with a good battery, but I know someone who will let me try it with theirs.

If that doesn't work I will probably give it to my friend for parts, although I miight try a rinse with distilled water first. I haven't figured out how to get the case off and will have to do that first. Not much pcb real estate is accesible or at least visible when you just remove the battery cover.

Rogers gave me the phone for nothing. They sell the same model for $240 Canadian! And their price for a replacement battery is $60, but Amazon sells them for $10.00, and Ebay has them for $1!

Wouldn't a vacuum have the potential to damage parts of the phone? (I do have a vacuum pump but no vacuum "container" - I use it as a pump to aerate PCB etchant).

Thanks again, I will keep you posted.

Grant

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jwax
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Post by jwax » Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:56 am

Once wet, you've connected battery voltage to every node in the phone. It's been "electrocuted". Drying after that leaves you a dry dead phone.

:sad:

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haklesup
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Post by haklesup » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:00 pm

I've tried to dry other Nokia Phones in the past. Best I usually get is the phone powering up and displaying a message "Service Phone Now" (or something like that)

I think they put something in the firmware to force you to bring it to the store if it gets wet. Not sure how it detects water. In my case the phones were only dropped in water momentarily.

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Chris Smith
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Post by Chris Smith » Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:45 pm

The absolute vacuum might pop things in side like the display, but a partial vacuum and low heat added in with time will work best.

Drop the Vacuum down about 5psi to 7psi [½ the total vacuum] and add this to a gentle heat of less than 120 degrees over all. Even a vacuum cleaner will suffice.

The boiling point of water decreases the closer you get towards a full vacuum so what this does is speed up the evaporation rate [less pressure to keep it a liquid] while the heat does the same to the water from the other end of the spectrum. And it will clean out those hard to get places where water collects, but wont dry out on its own very successfully. And yes, A distilled pre-bath wont hurt either.

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dr_when
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Post by dr_when » Thu Apr 13, 2006 5:58 am

Once wet, you've connected battery voltage to every node in the phone. It's been "electrocuted". Drying after that leaves you a dry dead phone.

Now that's just stupid.
"Who is John Galt?"

grant fair
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Post by grant fair » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:32 pm

I took the phone in to a Rogers dealer and explained it didn't work.

When they plugged it into a recharger with my battery in the phone, there was no response. However, with a functioning battery the LCD was illuminated (but the usual display was absent).

Since it is apparently still under warranty I left it with them to track down the problem. If that fails I will try heat and vacuum.

I am still wondering why the battery failed completely. It was only in the water about 20 minutes. It was freshly charged and the battery had a 850 ma-hour capacity.

Just now I put 3.6 volts accross two aligator clips and measured the current when they were placed into a glass of the same water I use to wash clothes. Electrode distance was about the same as on the battery. Current was less than half a milliamp.

Grant

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Chris Smith
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Post by Chris Smith » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:42 pm

Soapy water can have more minerals in it, and things like baking soda, [a metal called Sodium] and also traces down stream can short out to cause a bigger multiple draw.

Think of it like many battery terminals, all shorting out at the same time?

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