Extreme anomaly with iPod Touch battery indicator

Discussion in 'iPod Touch' started by AppleMicrosoft, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a 1st generation iPod Touch running iOS 3.1.3. I never noticed a problem with the battery indicator before. After last night, however, there seemed to be a tremendous (albeit temporary) anomaly with the battery indicator. I googled it, but found that most fluctuations in the battery indicator were random and minor compared to what I saw. Some were due to extreme power draw on the battery. None of what I found matched my rather unusual circumstances.

    Here are the cirumstances. I live in a noisy apartment building, so I repeated play a noise track on the iPod touch to mask out the noise from other dwellings. The iPod touch is docked onto a mini boombox, RCA's RCD175i (http://tinyurl.com/bolurw7), which charges the iPod touch as it plays tracks. I also wear earplugs at night, so I crank the RCD175i's volume to be able to hear the noise track (the iPod touch's volume is set to max). This solution is only partially effective, but that's not central to my description of the problem.

    Last night, I was particularly anxious about getting rest, so I cranked the RCD175i's volume significantly more than usual. I was shocked to find in the morning that the battery indicator showed approximately 20%, even though the charging indicator was showing. I removed the iPod touch and plugged it into the Apple white cable that connects to my laptop's USB, hoping to give it a bit of juice before I took off for the day. Nothing much changed by the time I unplugged the iPod touch to leave. At the end of the day, however, the battery showed a full charge.

    This anomaly does not fit what I found on google because:
    • The power draw was no more than usual
    • It was far greater than the fluctuations I read about
    • It doesn't happen randomly (never happened before)
    • It happened when I docked it on the RCD175i and cranked the volume
    • I have never jailbroken the iPod touch

    If I had to make a wild guess as to the problem, I would say that the RCD175i's docking interface is improperly designed, which messes with the RCD175i's charging calibration. Having the volume set high might cause noise to propagate through the dock to the iPod touch, maybe degrade recharging voltages/currents being fed to the iPod touch, or corrupt feedback signals that control the charging (if any are used). These are all wild guesses because I have no idea how the iPod touch's charging system operates.

    I'd like to ask anyone:
    • for comments on the above speculation and/or solutions
    • for other plausible causes and/or solutions
    • whether they notice a correlation between battery indicator anomalies and docking the iPod touch on 3rd party audio systems
    • whether they use the RCD175i specifically and have the same problem with high volume on the RCD175i
     
  2. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm beginning to notice a pattern. When I plug it in to the laptop USB port or to the boombox iPod dock, the battery charge indicator shows about 20%. I never noticed that before. When I remove the iPod Touch from the connection, after some (yet undetermined) time, it may go back to 100%.

    This seems like a recent behavioural quirk, along with another quirk that seems to have come up at around the same time. Whenever I plug the iPod Touch into the laptop USB port, I get an autoplay window coming up, which I just banish. However, it is strange that this has never happened before this strange turn in behaviour with the iPod Touch.
     
  3. fury

    fury Evangelist
    Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    238
    It sounds like your battery meter calibration is out of whack or the battery itself has degraded less-than-gracefully.

    A few things to note:
    • If you leave it plugged in for several hours (such as overnight), there is a gradual self-discharge that allows the battery to drain to prevent damage to the cells (they don't like holding full voltage for a long time). Normally, it should resume charging once it falls to 90-95%, but if calibration is way out there, it may not be realizing the need to resume charging.
    • That iPod touch is getting to the age where the battery probably only has about 50-60% of its capacity left at best, and this reduction in capacity might manifest itself as a quirky battery indicator.
    • The iPod touch will stop charging if it gets too hot. Check to see if it feels too hot to touch after a long charging session.
    You can try resetting the battery calibration. Do this by first completely draining the iPod touch until it shuts off, and then leaving it in the charger until the lightning bolt icon turns into a plug icon. Preferably an iPod USB charger on a wall outlet (which provides a full 1 A charge), if you have one, since the dock or your laptop may not charge it very fast.

    Does the dock claim to be compatible specifically with the iPod touch?
     
  4. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hello, Fury,

    The problem isn't that the battery loses charge (at least, not apparently). The problem is that when it is charging, the battery charge appears extremely low (less than 20%). When removed from charging, it seems to creep back up to 100% within 10 minutes or less. It then functions without problem thereafter.

    I'm just noticing this repeatable characteristics by today. This depressed charge appears regardless of whether the iPod Touch is connected to the laptop USB or to the boombox dock. The onset of the strange behaviour in the charge indicator was quite abrupt. I've never noticed this oddity before, though I've left it charging overnight both off the laptop and wall plug. It happened after I started cranking the volume of the boombox to which it was docked. It doesn't seem like the gradual degradation of charge that occurs as the battery ages. I'm sure that age-related degradation is also happening, but it seems to be a different problem. Also, the iPod Touch never feels hot.

    I just drained the iPod Touch battery last week (first time ever...maybe that's what brought this on). But I've charged it fully since.

    The boombox claims to be made for the iPod Touch and iPhone (manual at http://www.amazon.com/RCA-RCD175i-Portable-Player-iphone/dp/B002KGXB0I). However, this doesn't mean it was properly designed.

    I will google the resetting and restoring of the iPod Touch tonight.

    Thanks.

    Edit: My bad, the link above is just the product page. Manual at http://www.1800customersupport.com/productdocuments/RCD175_RCA_English_Spanish.pdf
     
  5. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, resetting the iPod Touch to factory default, then restoring everything, didn't change anything. I've added an audio cable to my shopping list. No more of this docking to a 3rd party stereo, which may or may not have implemented the iPod Doc interface properly.
     
  6. fury

    fury Evangelist
    Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    238
    If it does this when connecting to your laptop USB port too, then my guess is the iPod hardware itself is on the way out. Some of the circuitry may have worn out over time to the point where electrons jump to places they're not supposed to go, and trigger random things like a wonky battery display.

    RCA's iPod "certification" on this product is of dubious value, judging by their specs sheet. If they actually went through the whole certification process, them claiming compatibility with "all iPods with 30 pin connector" would have sent Apple through the roof with alarm bells ringing and sirens blaring. Accessory makers are not allowed to say all-encompassing things like that...supposed to list compatibility with only specific devices that have passed certification testing.

    No way of telling whether there's any relation between the dock and the degradation of the iPod, in any case...whatever damage was done is done. Among the millions they've built, they're bound to have a few that start to break down after 3-4 years.
     
  7. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's sad that devices are made to be disposable after 3-4 years. Being an electrical engineer, however, I know that modern integrated circuits degrade, particular static memory and small-scale electronics operating under heat, high currents, and high clock rates. However, this doesn't fall under normal aging. The sudden appearance (and the steady persistence) of battery indicator wonkiness with the first time use of the boombox dock at high volumes strongly indicates that iPod Touch was raped by the boombox. It could be permanent damage or wonked up calibration that might go away with 1 cycle of complete discharge and recharge. Last night, I used an audio patch cable to connect the two, and I don't see the wonkiness associated with using the boombox dock. Hopefully, that doesn't mean the charge sensing system is too wonked up to detect less than full charge. I seem to recall that a night of audio patching to another stereo system would cause some noticeable discharge of the battery, so the complete absence of discharge is a possible indicator of persistent (if not permanent) wonkiness in charge detection.

    Nice spec on the boombox that you found. If your suspicions about the iPod certification or correct, I wonder why RCA would risk misrepresenting the rigor with which they tested. Wouldn't the Apple juggernaut be less than amused?

    I also wonder how prevalent such shady claims are for other stereo equipment with iPod docks. This is a 2-sided question, with one side asking about the oversight that Apple has on vendors claiming to support iPod dock specs, and the other side being how many consumers found their devices to be wonked up by bad iPod docks. I want to get a tower speaker with an iPod dock, but why bother with the dock if it can't be trusted. All that requirement does is to narrow the choices.
     
  8. fury

    fury Evangelist
    Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    238
    I've been on the receiving end of the excruciating scrutiny Apple employs in their certification process. I would respect it more if it were consistent, because I appreciate the need for strict certification to preserve the ecosystem (the lack of quality killed the video game industry in 1983). But Apple's requirements change all the time (sometimes without warning), and worse, don't even seem to apply to the same degree to every company.

    You'd be surprised how many things I find with those Made for iPod logos that would have been nowhere near passing muster at certification if they were my products. It makes me wonder if, for big companies like RCA, there's an "express lane" at Apple. I think many of them are just whizzing through Apple's labs with a much shorter and lax certification pipeline than the small fish have to swim through. And of course, when stuff like that slips through the cracks, it gnaws away at the credibility of the whole system, and hurts the accessory makers that ARE trying to meet the nigh-impossible quality requirements.
     
  9. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why am I not surprised by your impression that bigger players get more latitude. I suspect that any tower speaker I get will be a big name vendor (I'm not too familiar with the audio "ecosystem"), so I better just forget the dock. Hate being a statistic. Unless you make tower speakers? Just wondering.
     
  10. fury

    fury Evangelist
    Gold

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    238
    Sadly, no.

    The only dock I know of that I would personally trust to meet the requirements is Apple's own $50 universal dock. Has a line-out minijack and a charger connector. That's a lot of wires to have to manage, though, and $50 for something that won't really add value (unless you put a lot of value on having that simple single connection point to get power and audio).
     
  11. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, it's much more mussing with wires than my single audio patch cable for $2. Thanks for the view from the trenches, you probably saved many an iPod.
     
  12. AppleMicrosoft

    Bronze

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    0
    The device is frakked. Dwindles to zero charge when docked, reboots, then shows some two-thirds charge (but the "white noise" track is no longer playing).
     

Share This Page