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Inspire 1 battery mod: never ending crusade ...

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Since day one it was obvious that Inspire 1 flight time is way too short for serious filmmaking. With TB47 battery and X5 camera payload Inspire could stay airborne for 10-11 minutes, perhaps 15-16 minutes with beefier TB48 battery. Things get even worst with arrival of excellent, but chubby X5R camera ... Sometime between 2015 and 2016 damoncooper pioneered - with heroic persistence and efforts, but successfully - the concept of employing hard wired auxiliary batteries to support weak TB cartridges. He reached solid 25 minutes of flight time with available LiHV packs of certain capacity and discharge rate. Within several months the thread he created on this forum (Battery Mod Info) ballooned to a record 100 pages long behemoth. Unfortunately the main topic and conclusive/valuable information get quickly buried deep under layers and layers of repetitive discussions carried by others. Damoncooper is a legend, gone fishing long ago ...

Meantime the scenario changed drastically, but the main goal remains the same: how to keep old Inspire 1 alive and kicking, having TB47/48 batteries available no more? There's a few ways to do it. By far none, however, is able to bypass the necessary involvement of original "smart" circuitry TB batteries are equipped with. Therefore for now we are at the mercy of these boards and battery tops, recycled from old exhausted ones. Moreover, almost all solutions are of DIY kind, requiring top notch skills. Here's the list of options and alternative solutions for beginning of 2021:

1. Damoncooper way. For those of us lucky enough to have relatively healthy TB47/48 batteries, reinforcing them with hardwired generic packs is still a valid way. The thread mentioned above contains vast and detailed info how to, mostly within first 25 pages.
2. HeliEngadin way. This is easy, assuming the availability of old battery. The company is re-cycling the circuitry and all hardware, replacing depleted cells with new ones. The price seems to be right, but you must ship retired battery to Switzerland.
3. TB47/48S battery cannibalizing. This is the most elegant, but rather desperate way. These batteries are used to power DJI M600 drone and are still available. The pack and housing is identical, but the battery top must be replaced. This involves re-soldering main leads, replacing balancing harness and temp probe, finally swapping data wiring configuration. Tasks not easy for weekend warriors, but doable.

HeliEngadin team is among first to employ the concept of replacing exhausted cells. The exact same replacement cells can be sourced from Chinese merchants, most likely on Aliexpress. The shipment cost to NA, however, is almost killing the whole idea. On the other hand, re-soldering and re-assembling is a mission next to impossible for unskilled person ... Meanwhile some other, equally brave (mad?) nerds are trying to solder different cells of bigger capacity. Cruzroy (
) is another batt modder and tireless crusader who unknowingly tried to replicate damon's approach with rather disappointing results, but recently tested custom China assembled packs of 9000 and even crazy huge 12000mAh capacity. This approach seems to be the most promising in search for long term solution. However, the access to original "smart" circuitry is still required. Moreover, certain telemetry data of old packs (i.e. battery capacity, cycles count) appears to be permanently embedded in memory and can't be reset without proprietary software intervention. It is also unclear if completely dead batteries are indeed locking the "smart" circuitry into non-reversible state of impotence. Sooner or later somebody will find the way to hack the code, but 3rd party circuit boards smart enough to deliver the goods are less likely to happen ...
 
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Are the cells actually the same from TB-48 to 48D to 48S? Firmware/form factor aside, are the cells actually the same and swappable to reclaim packs with a bad cell? Doable?
 
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Has anyone tried emailing DJI Support? I heard they were selling TB48's for the Inspire 1 but may be out at the moment. I also heard they may put in for a run of around 300 more of them for sale here in the US.
 
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Are the cells actually the same from TB-48 to 48D to 48S? Firmware/form factor aside, are the cells actually the same and swappable to reclaim packs with a bad cell? Doable?
Exactly the same and doable, but PITA. On retired battery you must disconnect balancing harness, unsolder main wires from the pack, unlock the top part of plastic battery housing, push/pull the pack out, pry the cells apart and wiggle the temp prob and contact board out. The same must be done with a donor. The whole circuitry of a donor is useless and must be replaced with recycled. Pack housing disassembly is difficult without damaging snap-on joints ... Dangerous and difficult task, but doable ...
 
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February 26/2021 update ... Replacing exhausted cells with exact equivalent is extremely difficult, but doable for skilled hobbyist. What seems to be a mission impossible is to source them. Only a few AliExpress merchants claims availability, but:

1. The cost of shipping is outrageous, up to over 100USD for a set of 12 cells. That's more than the price of cells alone!!!
2. God only knows what you'll receive. My first attempt failed spectacularly, because the shipment contained unmarked cells of unknown specs. Definitely not as advertised! Total charge: 191.04 USD!!!
3. Dispute claim with AliExpress is a nightmare to go thru, because the seller's refund requires shipment back ... That is another 73USD to pay ...

No matter what I will do, I'm hitting this Chinese wall ...
 
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This is design for a firm in Texas that wanted to mount a TL03 gimbal and FLIR Vue on the back of there Inspire 1(s) . I designed so it could be changed to accomadate batteries on sides as well as top. In the pics they will be using a Pixhawk for secondary camera (FLIR RC). If anyone has any idea let me know and possibly I can change.

20210110_153701a.jpg
 

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This is design for a firm in Texas that wanted to mount a TL03 gimbal and FLIR Vue on the back of there Inspire 1(s) . I designed so it could be changed to accomadate batteries on sides as well as top. In the pics they will be using a Pixhawk for secondary camera (FLIR RC). If anyone has any idea let me know and possibly I can change.
1. Inspire 1 is not powerful enough to handle such extra payload. The system will detect extensive power drain and most likely not allow for lift off.
2. COG shift will cause uneven power distribution for front and back motors.

I would consider additional 750 g (including auxiliary batteries) as a reasonably safe payload for Inspire 1, resulting in very short flight time.
 
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This is design for a firm in Texas that wanted to mount a TL03 gimbal and FLIR Vue on the back of there Inspire 1(s) . I designed so it could be changed to accomadate batteries on sides as well as top. In the pics they will be using a Pixhawk for secondary camera (FLIR RC). If anyone has any idea let me know and possibly I can change.

View attachment 30578
i'd like to see any flight videos or reports on this - I have a flir camera that I would like to put on a secondary gimbal but aft weight and flight time have been a big concern. Could aftermarket xoar props/blades make a crucial difference?
 
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I need to get feedback from customer on how it worked. The battery weight was a concern I had. I beleve customer had 4 batteries like the Tesla ones I used. The other weight is not a big problem I have run dual gimbals all the time on my Inspires with the only issue decreased flight time however, I did not use 4 batteries , extra GPS and all the rest of the components. I use EVO SS with GoPro 360 camera on bottom works fine since it is all self contained I have no rear camera control as this design does. (I will post what I find). I agree on payload my EVO SS with GP 360 adds 440g at rear balance is great no issues.

Update : 4/9/21 Maximum weight I have had is 1000g worked fine. By placing battery on top center and DJI camera front with FLIR on Rear CG is fine. My prefered way is simpler I use a EVO SS on rear to hold 2nd camera I can only control for BT range however, that works for setup and eliminate all the other components since it is self contained.
I have used GP Fusion Session and Hero in this configuration . The same will work with FLIR VUE however , you need to power from top battery mount.
 

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Since day one it was obvious that Inspire 1 flight time is way too short for serious filmmaking. With TB47 battery and X5 camera payload Inspire could stay airborne for 10-11 minutes, perhaps 15-16 minutes with beefier TB48 battery. Things get even worst with arrival of excellent, but chubby X5R camera ... Sometime between 2015 and 2016 damoncooper pioneered - with heroic persistence and efforts, but successfully - the concept of employing hard wired auxiliary batteries to support weak TB cartridges. He reached solid 25 minutes of flight time with available LiHV packs of certain capacity and discharge rate. Within several months the thread he created on this forum (Battery Mod Info) ballooned to a record 100 pages long behemoth. Unfortunately the main topic and conclusive/valuable information get quickly buried deep under layers and layers of repetitive discussions carried by others. Damoncooper is a legend, gone fishing long ago ...

Meantime the scenario changed drastically, but the main goal remains the same: how to keep old Inspire 1 alive and kicking, having TB47/48 batteries available no more? There's a few ways to do it. By far none, however, is able to bypass the necessary involvement of original "smart" circuitry TB batteries are equipped with. Therefore for now we are at the mercy of these boards and battery tops, recycled from old exhausted ones. Moreover, almost all solutions are of DIY kind, requiring top notch skills. Here's the list of options and alternative solutions for beginning of 2021:

1. Damoncooper way. For those of us lucky enough to have relatively healthy TB47/48 batteries, reinforcing them with hardwired generic packs is still a valid way. The thread mentioned above contains vast and detailed info how to, mostly within first 25 pages.
2. HeliEngadin way. This is easy, assuming the availability of old battery. The company is re-cycling the circuitry and all hardware, replacing depleted cells with new ones. The price seems to be right, but you must ship retired battery to Switzerland.
3. TB47/48S battery cannibalizing. This is the most elegant, but rather desperate way. These batteries are used to power DJI M600 drone and are still available. The pack and housing is identical, but the battery top must be replaced. This involves re-soldering main leads, replacing balancing harness and temp probe, finally swapping data wiring configuration. Tasks not easy for weekend warriors, but doable.

HeliEngadin team is among first to employ the concept of replacing exhausted cells. The exact same replacement cells can be sourced from Chinese merchants, most likely on Aliexpress. The shipment cost to NA, however, is almost killing the whole idea. On the other hand, re-soldering and re-assembling is a mission next to impossible for unskilled person ... Meanwhile some other, equally brave (mad?) nerds are trying to solder different cells of bigger capacity. Cruzroy (
) is another batt modder and tireless crusader who unknowingly tried to replicate damon's approach with rather disappointing results, but recently tested custom China assembled packs of 9000 and even crazy huge 12000mAh capacity. This approach seems to be the most promising in search for long term solution. However, the access to original "smart" circuitry is still required. Moreover, certain telemetry data of old packs (i.e. battery capacity, cycles count) appears to be permanently embedded in memory and can't be reset without proprietary software intervention. It is also unclear if completely dead batteries are indeed locking the "smart" circuitry into non-reversible state of impotence. Sooner or later somebody will find the way to hack the code, but 3rd party circuit boards smart enough to deliver the goods are less likely to happen ...
Dobmatt -

You mentioned that the mod's were not for the weekend warrior? I am not skilled in any way but am eager to learn. The second thing would be good equipment (soldering dun) Something that gets hot quick and has a fine tip? I will have to go back and read the original posts on the mod for using the Matrice battery and the intelligent top of the Inspire. Thanks for the post.
 
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Dobmatt -

You mentioned that the mod's were not for the weekend warrior? I am not skilled in any way but am eager to learn. The second thing would be good equipment (soldering dun) Something that gets hot quick and has a fine tip? I will have to go back and read the original posts on the mod for using the Matrice battery and the intelligent top of the Inspire. Thanks for the post.
Good luck learning and trying to understand why I used "weekend warrior" expression. Make sure you have good home insurance and wear safety glasses when going thru the battery mod :)...
 

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