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Troubleshooting a Car Adapter Charger

 
 
CDobyns
 
Reply Sat 19 Oct, 2013 08:20 pm
I've got a car adapter charger for use with a GPS unit which seems to be having a problem - and where it doesn't seem to be well . . . charging.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/ca15b4f3-9a0d-43c3-8055-e2d892c8af36_zps057ecb70.jpg

I've tested the cigarette lighter, to be sure that the circuit on that end is actually energized (it is), and I also checked the internal fuse in the adapter (it's intact). The adapter light doesn't illuminate (but it did previously), and clearly the GPS unit is not receiving power. The adapter doesn't really have any moving parts and isn't really very old and has seen only a limited amount of use - so I'm not sure where the problem is.

Candidly, I'm not even sure how to check the output from the adapter using my trusty voltmeter - since I'm not sure where/how you check the voltage output from the mini-USB plug, since there's not exactly any leads at the end of the plug (I know the output is supposed to be around 5v).

Early feedback will undoubtedly include some variation on, " . . . throw the adapter away, and buy another one for $5 . . .". Okay, got it - but I'd still be interested in troubleshooting the existing unit, if nothing else but for the experience obtained.
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 1,670 • Replies: 15
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dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 10:38 am
@CDobyns,
Dob, try the adapter with another device

Your post suggests certain additional q's. For instance, when the adapter is unplugged from the gps, does the light come on and is there a voltage. If not one might suspect a fault in the adapter; if so one might suspect a short in the gps

Quote:
I'm not sure where/how you check the voltage output from the mini-USB plug
Wouldn't you have to gain access to the interior of the gps

Good luck Dob
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 10:51 am
@dalehileman,
Hmm, okay - pretty sure the problem is with the adapter, not the GPS unit . . . although I'm sure there's nothing that's 100 percent a certainty in life (sorry, more a statement of philosophy than one of practicality).

The illuminated (green) light I'm referring to is the "feedback" mechanism for end-users that they were smart enough to build into the adapter unit itself, to tell you that the adapter is receiving (and hopefully transferring) power downstream to a device. So, no - that light is not illuminating (and I'd be willing to bet the equity in my house that it is not burned out . . .).

I can (and have) disassembled the GPS unit in the past, when the Off/On switch failed, and which I was ably to successfully "work around" - which had the unit working fine for the past several years.

Again, I'm pretty sure the adapter is the culprit - with 100 percent certainty - no. But it's a more than a pretty safe bet (I hope I haven't put my house "on-the-line" capriciously . . .).
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 11:00 am
@CDobyns,
Quote:
to tell you that the adapter is receiving (and hopefully transferring) power downstream to a device. So, no - that light is not illuminating
Raises a few more q's to a guy--forgive me Dob--not familiar with the use of such a unit. (a) Did you mean to assert it's not illuminating when not plugged into the gps and (b) Are you sure, for instance, that the light is also supposed to indicate the delivery of power v its mere presence in which case one might suspect an open circuit to the gps. Again, have you tried the device on another appliance of some kind
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 11:34 am
@dalehileman,
Good question (power delivery vs. simply the presence of power), and one I intended to address - but memory is fleeting.

I'm nearly certain that the adapter illuminates in the presence of power - regardless of whether power is being delivered or consumed on the backend. In any event, I have no other devices that accommodate this type of plug, with which to test, by trial-and-error anyway.
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Oct, 2013 05:05 pm
@CDobyns,
Here's an update to this posting - which explains a great deal about the problem with this adapter.

I noted that I checked the cigarette lighter outlet, to ensure that it was energized (which it was), but the adapter didn't seem to work when plugged in.

The failure in my diagnostic process would have been to check the cigarette lighter circuit again after plugging in the adapter. It turns out that something in the adapter must have a short, because when I went back and checked the circuit (by plugging in the cigarette lighter) - nothing. A check of the car's fuse for the lighter circuit showed the fuse to be blown - confirming a problem with the adapter itself. I'm not sure it's worth it to try to troubleshoot the adapter itself, but probably simply look for a replacement adapter.

Unless someone (desperately) wants to take this further, I'm going to mark this one (intellectually) solved.
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 01:33 pm
@CDobyns,
Quote:
not sure it's worth it to try to troubleshoot the adapter itself
When I was a kid we tried to fix anything but today so much is digitized there's not much hope
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 03:11 pm
@dalehileman,
And before it was digitalized, the vital innards were solidly encased in molded plastic.
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 04:02 pm
@roger,
Yea Rog such consolidation is rife. Soon a flat tire will require one to acquire a new car
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 05:05 pm
@dalehileman,
Let me tell you, Dale, if I have a headlight burn out, it's going to take a well qualified mechanic to replace it. It might be so expensive that a new car makes sense.

You probably thought you were kidding, huh?
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 09:14 pm
@roger,
Too expensive to repair a flat tire? Yikes !! Been there, done that.

To my ever-loving (intellectual) curiosity credit, I'm proud to say that (with some difficulty), I actually replaced the back light on the laptop that I'm now using, this past weekend - and the repair is holding just fine (Cost: $13). Guess it shows that if you're willing to try, most things can be fixed - even the digital stuff. My dad (the engineer) used to tell me, "most of this stuff is actually not terribly complicated, because if it was - a refrigerator would cost $15K . . ."). He was a pretty smart guy . . .
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 09:44 pm
@CDobyns,
No, I said headlight. Look under the hood of my '03 Ford Focus and tell me how you would proceed. Do you have to pull the engine first, or not?
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:37 am
@roger,
Quote:
You probably thought you were kidding, huh?
Your report has brightened our outlook

When I inadvertently cut a conductive ribbon in my printer, approaching my digitally expert No. 1 Son in the hope he might know how to replace the part, he instead offered to buy me a new printer, which I'll get for my birthday in a coupla weeks
0 Replies
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 09:40 am
@CDobyns,
Quote:
I actually replaced the back light on the laptop
Cd, my most sincere congrats, not something I'd attempt in spite of my extensive electronic background
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 10:00 am
@CDobyns,
3 things are most likely with the adapter

1. The cord has break somewhere. Usually near an end where it has been bent and a wire has been broken.
2. The fuse - which you already checked
3. The electronics have gone bad.

The pin out for USB is 1 & 4 for power, the two outside pins on the connector
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 03:18 pm
@parados,
Good information (for the next time a car charger adapter goes bad).

And my back light story, was not a mistaken response to the conundrum of changing the headlight on the '03 Ford Focus - but just a general example that electronics and other things can be repaired, if you're not afraid to take stuff apart.

I'm a little askance that changing the headlight on the Ford Focus is the rough equivalent of solving the Gordian Knot - but since I've not looked under the hood of a Ford in close to 35 years now . . . I'll take your word for it that it's [ too ] hard . . .
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