Whats the secret to opening laptop packs?

Chris Davis

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Aug 11, 2017
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I am working on my 6th laptop pack, and I keep asking my self there has to be a beter way, I have 85 HP packs, left and love the work, it just seams like there is something I am missing.
 

Korishan

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Jan 7, 2017
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twist, twist harder, and twist some more. They will crack open. I also have a large pair of wire snips and a pair of pliers to help out as well. Try not to use a screwdriver or anything metal to stick in and pry with. You can short stuff out without realizing it.

I actually tried to use a dremel tool with the tile grout attachment and cut the outer case. It didn't work very well. the dremel wondered all over the case. I'd like to get a table saw attachment and see if I can use that. Just have the blade above the table about 1/16 (.5mm) of an inch above the table to get a nice score to weaken the case.
 

SimonW

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Aug 26, 2017
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89
Muscle.
Pliers.
Sidecutters.
Gloves.
Swearing/Cursing.

I have found even identical batteries can vary on their difficulty.
HP for example, some only need a twist and then they pop open, then another of the same model number might be glued all the way around and then I need to go feral with pliers and sidecutters.
Interestingly, those packs that seem identical, also often have different brand cells in them.

My theory on the variation (if you choose to accept it, based on experience within my own unrelated industry) is that Manufacturers(HP, Dell etc) will put out a tender for battery packs and various companies bid for the job of assembly. An assembly company wins the bid and then put out their own tender for, say, a million 2400 cells, they then go with the lowest reliable bidder. This month LG might offer the best price on cells. Next month it might be Sanyo.
Then a few months later Dell needs more, repeat the process but this time another assembly company may win the bid, and they use a whole lot of glue, or it's the same assembly company but they have tweaked their assembly line since the last order 6 months ago... and different cells again, Panasonic had the best offer this time, but the same injection molded casing (dies are expensive) and the same label (Dell had 20 million of them printed)... and so on.
Just a theory.
 

Geek

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Aug 15, 2017
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SimonW said:
Muscle.
Pliers.
Sidecutters.
Gloves.
Swearing/Cursing...

Yes definitely swearing and cursing. Personally if I can't open a pack with the twist method, I use a hammer. So far I have only dented one cell. Not all batteries lend themselves to this treatment. If you can misshape the top cover it gives you a vantage point to open it up. However, I would recommend doing this outside. Well I actually wouldn't recommend it to anyone. However spending a lot of time as a kid cracking macadamia nutswith a hammer, I'm rather skilled at opening tough things with delicate insides.
 

watts-on

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May 27, 2017
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179
SimonW said:
Muscle.
Pliers.
Sidecutters.
Gloves.
Swearing/Cursing.

You forgot sticking plasters to stop the red stuff dripping everywhere... :D
 

egam

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Mar 9, 2017
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109
ChrisDavis said:
I am working on my 6th laptop pack, and I keep asking my self there has to be a beter way, I have 85 HP packs, left and love the work, it just seams like there is something I am missing.

A 6 pack of Bud light, the latest tesla show podcast....

Seriously, it is like doing laundry after a while. Its a lot of work. Soon the newness of it all wears off.
When you capacity test the cells, you understand quickly that unless the packs are high capacity packs, the payoff is not there.
I seriously have to consider whether to open lower capacity packs or sell them.

You think about how much extra space, soldering, holders, testing time etc needs to be done and you become really selective about which packs to open. In the future,I will not buy laptop packs unless they originally had 10 watt hours per cell. (60 watt hours per 6 cell pack, or 90 watt hours per 9 cell pack)

New old stock or hoverboard packs etc. can be worth it because almost all of those cells will be good.

My recent results capacity testingof the original packs I harvested 6 months ago are about 30% above 2000 mAH. 40% between 1000-1999 and the other 30% are less than 1000 mah or dead. Of the 30% above 2000 mah, only a few are above 2500 mah.

I hope that ratio improves as I test more recently procuredcells.



If the packs are free, you still need to be selective about what you are harvesting because none of us have unlimited time.

For now you are learning and lower capacity free packs are fine for that. (at least thats what I keep telling myself)
 

DarkRaven

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Sep 2, 2017
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It scales with experience. Six packs isn't really much, when you get more experience you will figure out ways which work better for you. If all of your packs are the same then it helps of course, but experiences with a certain kind of pack also translate to a different kind so every pack helps. Try different approaches and you will see considerable improvements in your efficiency after 20 or 30 packs or so.

I remember when I opened my first pack, it took me what felt like ages. But then I started to think about how they are constructed and once you figured that out it is much easier to find an efficient way to de-construct them :)

The majority of my packs were from Dell and Lenovo. My Dells were glued together and opened easily by giving them a strong twist, the Lenovos were closed mechanically with small noses and latches and could be pried open with the blade of a sturdy knife as a lever by unlocking the latches and then forcing it open.
 

neilmc

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May 22, 2017
Messages
128
This is my favorite tool for extracting cells. Can grab onto a corner of the pack and twist. Can then snip wires and nickle strips with it, plus the same tool is great for levering the strips off the ends.


image_zoxgez.jpg
 

Joost2

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Jun 21, 2017
Messages
119
Use your hair blower and heat the four sides and you can easily open the glued parts.
 

Wattsup

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Feb 19, 2017
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Everyone has their own method.
WEAR GLOVES!
I use side cutters and kind of pinch the plastic near the joins and pry the open. It works for me but whatever works
 

DarkRaven

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Another method, I found that a pipe wrench works very good as well, if you know how the packs are costructed. If you do, then it is very easy to totally squash and destroy the joints of the pack. Again, especially useful if all your packs are the same kind.
 

nautal

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Sep 5, 2017
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To all that have opened 1000's of packs you guys have a better feel for it, however, in my experience here is what I have found:

1. Gloves are great! (thin, tough, better for dexterity)

2. No matter what, you WILL bleed for this project. For me, many times over, plus the occasional hot glue or solder burn.

3. Use pointed, shearing-type cutter for the Nickel strips(think of the way scissor cut versus side cutters come together flat)

4. Stick in vice, use crescent or channel-locks to twist ~120 degrees each way then open.

5. Get a set of plastic prybars they're cheap, work great for getting in between double-sided tape and case.
They are also for many other things in the project, and obviously, non-conductive.
( ebay: Car-Door-Plastic-Trim-Panel-Clip-Lights-Radio-Audio-Removal-Pry-Open-Tool-MU-/162488309608 )

6. Time, it takes alot of time to open and strip, no way around it.

7. Laptop manufacturers Love tape, and silicon glue. You will have plenty of time to think about how and why they use so much of it.

8. I have been thinking of a way to test cells before striping all the tape, glue, and nickel strips off, which will save alot of tedious, time-consuming work.

9. Print out the Cell database sheet in color and hang it on the wall in front of you.
You want to quickly ID, separate, and exclude cells that have low capacity (eg 2000mAh new ) prior to pack disassembly.

10. Plan your size system.
If you plan 100 or 100000 cells, estimate and order enough Chargers, Dischargers (Proper resistors), internal resistance (if your into that kinda thing) testers, plastic mounting holders (4x5), decent 60watt+ soldering iron or bus bar welder, Fuse material, etcordered.

Because, packages from china take 1-2mo. and sometimes get lost and need to be ordered. You don't want to wait for testing equipment to arrive before you, like me, have 20 chargers but only 1 discharger.. :(


Other possible things:
plastidip your sheer tips , that way you can reduce the short circuit potential. Granted the sheer face and tips will be worn down with normal use but other non-contact points would be less likely to touch.


hope that helps :)
 

Terry

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Jul 18, 2017
Messages
58
My preferred method to date, since I sit on my front verandah and pop em, is to take the pack and give it a twist, if it pops, all good, if not, that's when the timber post comes into play. That post has alot of little CNR indentations on it now, and to date, have only bent a cell when trying to use a hammer, thus why the post was commissioned haha
 

SimonW

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Aug 26, 2017
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nautal said:
...
8. ...... test cells before striping all the tape, glue, and nickel strips off, which will save alot of tedious, time-consuming work.
...

So much yes.
Though I did choose toremove the nickel dags. Too muchblood dothflow already, didn't really feel like leaking any more.
 

Erik Smith

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Jul 17, 2017
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Like peter did in his latest video, get in touch with your inner cave man. Smack it on the ground!!
 

DarkRaven

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Sep 2, 2017
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The most important thing though: Don't be an idiot!

I just found that out the hard way, ignoring my own advices I'm giving to people. Now there is a 3cm long cut in my left thumb and blood on the floor. I'm done with processing cells at the moment so I haven't done any for a while but I just found one additional battery. I thought "Oh well, just get this quicky done, how hard can it be?!". Very was the answer. I wasn't wearing gloves (you know, getting them takes longer than opening the pack!) and I was using a knife trying to pry open a pack that I knew was a sturdy pack just because I didn't have pliers or the pipe wrench around (you know, searching for them takes longer than opening the pack!). Found out afterwards that I did actually, I just haven't seen them. Oh well...
 

sunseeker

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Aug 30, 2017
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Oh I praise the day when I saw Peter twisting the packs.. so much faster than having to pry every single one open. I just can't bring myself to smash them on the ground if they don't open right away..

Be careful with older packs with brittle plastic. Prying them open sometimes let shrapnels fly across the room. I have some safety glasses at hand that I use while opening these hard plastic packs.
 
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