Internet of Things Phone Smart Charger

I pre-ordered one of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones. The ones in the news recently for being an explosion hazard.

I love the new phone – pocket computer really, the way I use it. I wasn’t about to give it up over some silly thing like spontaneous combustion.

I had read that Tesla runs their car batteries between 40%-80% for normal use to maximize the lifetime of their very expensive car batteries. I figured that cell phone batteries would benefit from similar treatment. A bit of research generally confirmed this, with being the most concise write-up. The first half basically demonstrates that you can get the same amount of total power to flow through the battery regardless of how much you charge it – summed over the total life of the power draw in the data tables. The 2nd half is more interesting. It says that high voltage charges and heat shorten the overall lifespan of the battery.

The Note7 is a sealed phone wihtout a replaceable battery. I can’t pull my usual trick of replacing the battery after a year of abusing it.

Heat seams to be the trigger for the phone explosions. So I can make my phone more safe, and make it last longer by managing the top voltage and heat in the battery.

I can do this.

I bought a wireless Qi charger to charge the phone because it charges slower. The fast charger can charge the phone crazy fast, but it gets HOT when it does this. Hot is bad. Thus, slow is good. The wireless charger will also reduce wear on the USB C port. A nice side benefit. No phone explosions while I sleep and burn the house down – this is a good thing.

I bought a Belkin WEMO wifi controlled outlet. It is If-This-Than-That ( capable so I can control it from my phone. There are other smart plugs available that will work, this is simply the one I could find in a store that I could verify would work with IFTTT.

I configured IFTTT to have 2 different actions. One for turning the WeMo on, the other off. I set these up as Maker Channel triggered recipes. There are other triggers that you can use such as email or SMS, but I am a web developer, so web-based triggers are a natural fit for me.

Image of The Rules set up in IFTTT
The Rules set up in IFTTT
Photo of the IFTTT Off rule
The OFF rule in IFTTT. It uses the Maker Chanel for the trigger, which means a web request will trigger this. It turns off the WeMo controlling the wireless phone charger.

I installed Tasker on the phone and configured it to monitor charge state and battery temperature.

I created 3 tasks, one to turn the charger on, and two to turn it off.

photo of Tasker rules
The rules in Tasker to control the phone charging.

The ON trigger looks for the battery to be below 80% charged, and below 35 degrees Celsius. This will make a request to the Maker Chanel URL for ON.

One OFF trigger looks at the battery temperature. 35.1 degrees or higher. The other OFF trigger looks for the battery charge to be 90% or higher. These two both make a web request to the Maker Chanel OFF URL I set up.

So now as the phone battery heats up or gets close to full, the phone tells the charger to turn off. I let the phone have a 10% charge window so I am not toggling the switch and charger on and off all night long.

Tasker with both OFF rules turned on. The phone is both charged to 90% or more as well as running hotter than I would like.
Tasker with both OFF rules turned on. The phone is both charged to 90% or more as well as running hotter than I would like.

I also programed the WeMo to turn itself on a little while before my alarm is set to go off. This is to let the battery be closer to 90% charged rather than 80% charged when I wake up. I haven’t found the right time for this yet. I still need to play with it a bit.

I know there are other ways to make a smart phone charger. This is what I came up with. I will be getting an additional smart plug and building one for at the office so I don’t over-charge my phone when at work. I will try a different brand likely to see if I can come up with a cheaper way.

Sprint Airave Femtocell

I have had Packet8 VOIP for many years now. It predates my cellphone by a year, easy. I haven’t had any trouble with service. I do have a problem with getting spam from the email address I gave them. Actually, I am a tad pissed about it.

My cell phone company called me the beginning of the week trying to ‘give me a free phone’. Yeah, I don’t want to finance a phone for 2 years people. I bought this phone cash money. I would prefer to buy my equipment and pay a fair price for service rather then finance a phone for 2 years. Then, they called me again yesterday, same thing. Well I asked this 2nd dude about the Sprint Femtocell, AIRAVE. He couldn’t tell me anything about it.

Well, I started running the numbers. Katie (whom I shall not blog about) will be moving here in a couple of a months. Her whole family is in Florida, so lots of long distance calls is expected. I can spend $10 less a month and get the same unlimited free long distance out of my house using the AIRAVE instead of the Packet8. We can both use the femtocell at the same time.

A no brainer.

So, I went to pick one up. I drove to the local Sprint store. I waited for 45 minutes in line so people can pay their bills, and ask if they can use the insurance they bought to replace the phone because of a minor scratch on the face (really people, a !@#$%^ scratch?). No AirRave.

Ok. Chris, the salesman, started calling around. Next Closest store, nothing. Closest store after that, not answering the phone (don’t ask me how a phone store doesn’t answer the phone…). Well, anyway, 5 stores away, all the way in Schaumberg, they have one.

I am on my way!

Broken 2007 Ford Escape Fender Skirting caused by road debris
Driving down the road, chatting with CVS trying to get a super bowl party going. He asks what did you just hit? That’s right, I picked up some road debris, and the noise was loud enough that he can hear it over the phone. This is the damage to my trucklet. I just can’t have nice things.

I talk to the guy there. They had 5 of them. From what I heard, all the stores got one months ago, and they all sold them, and never got a restock on the AIRAVEs. This store got 5 restocks, and hadn’t sold a one of them. Odd, eh?

Set up was easy, but they couldn’t do it in the store. The guy had to call in, and tell THAT person how to set this thing up. I guess they don’t sell many of these things.

Total time from walking into a store, to walking out of a store with my new toy. 2 Hours. Sprint, it shouldn’t take this long for me to pay you every month for the privilege of providing your customers with better cell phone signal in my apartment building using my internet bandwidth. Really. 2 hours is ridiculous.

Sprint AiRave Femtocell and Packet8 modem Well, I get it home, take it out of the box. I set it up in a spot where Brother, my cat, won’t mess with it. Plug it into my network, hook up the GPS antenna and stick that in the window, plug it into the wall.

Blinken’ lights. I hate red blinken lights!

It took about half an hour, 45 minutes for the whole thing to turn on to where I can make a call on it after I plugged it in.

I have had it a few days, and I kinda like it. Ok, I really like it.

Signal has improved for most of the apartment. I think I can put the box in a less retarded spot – like not tucked in amongst a bunch of metal and another antenna and improve signal.

I am such a geek, I did a pre & post signal survey.
Room Location | Regular cell strength | Femto Cell Strength
Front Door | 2 | 2-5 — signal strength bounces wildly in this spot.
Dining Room | 2-3 | 3
Kitchen | 2 | 3-4
Living Room | 2 | 3-4
Sliding Glass Door | 4 | 4
Hall | 3 | 5-6
Bathroom | 2 | 4-5
Computer Room | 3 | 6
Bedroom | 3-4 | 5-6

Did you know that cell phones have 6 bars and not 5? No really, my cell phone gets 6 bars of signal in the apartment.

I still have to figure out the quirks yet. It likes to switch over to regular cell service when I stand in front of the garbage can in the kitchen.

I can make a call out, or receive a call in while in range and I get a beep-beep tone to let me know I am using my Femtocell. The phone can automatically switch over to normal cell phone service without any problems. I have yet to have it switch over to the Femtocell during a call.

My mother LOVES it, she says it’s loud and clear. The best phone connection I have had since I quit using real land-lines 5-6 years ago.

So, so far, this Sprint Airave Femtocell is a big win for me.

NOTE this post was finally published on Feb 1st at 12:21AM. It just took me this long to write it all up and get the Youtube video published.

Blogging from my cell phone. Gas pumps. What causes them to slow down to a stop when it gets cold out. I was at a station and had to leave.