Sunday, September 29, 2013

Replacing the battery in a Boogie Board

The Problem

I really liked my Boogie Board, I may have even bought it at Brookstone.  I was looking at the Brookstone web site, thinking about a bigger one but then something dreadful happened.    After six months the battery died.  So, like any other person who has grown up with coin batteries in his watches, heart rate monitors, flameless candles, etc.  I went looking for the battery slot.  That's when it struck me,  there was no such thing.  So I went to their website to find this disappointing bit of misdirection:

"Never needs batteries"  

That really upset me.  This to me means that it's solar powered, powered by the action of the button itself, or something else.  It does not mean that I will throw the entire thing out when the battery decides to die out on me.  It seems they got the message that companies that misdirect customers to make a sale do not actually believe in the value of their own products.

This has since been changed to:

"3V Non-replaceable"

The manufacturer's idea of this large piece of acrylic is that once the original battery dies you throw the entire thing out.  What?  How does that give with the tag line, below? 

The answer is: it does not.  Not only is the battery soldered in, but they replaced the screws that hold the assembly together with special, stealth screws that look like rivets.  Come on!!!  Seriously??  That pissed me off.   They go through the extra expense of getting magic screws just to foil the user? Ugh! 

The Solution

Here is the complete, step-by-step battery replacement guide.

Tools and supplies

Wherever possible I have listed an example of the tools you would need. With luck you already have most of them. 
  1. A fine flat head screwdriver, approximately 2 mm wide.  If you don't have one, something like this is perfect  or if you must have an exact fitting driver this one. 
  2. A replacement battery, with the appropriate soldering tabs which can be bought from Amazon. The one's you buy at the pharmacy won't work for this. 
  3. Soldering iron, preferably temperature controlled. The one I use
  4. AOYUE 936 Soldering Station or this neat little kit from Aoyue which has everything but the screwdriver. The soldering iron is perfect for those who use it once or twice a year but are sick of the $20 soldering wands. I can't stress enough how much easier it is to use a temperature controlled soldering station than not. 
  5. Desoldering wick or suction device.  I like the push button, spring loaded pump kind myself like this one. 
  6. Lead-free, rosin core solder.  Acid core is for plumbing only! Also, in the 21st century the world is more environmentally conscious.  In the US 98% of car battery lead is recycled, but less than 10% of lead in electronics, so please use lead-free whenever you can.


  • The case is made up of two pieces.
  • The back is one solid piece of acrylic.  The LCD panel is embedded in it. 
  • The top containing the reset button is a solid, narrow piece.
  • Do not try to separate the PCB or the LCD screens.  The replacement can happen with them in situ.


You should use a cloth to protect the face of the board before you begin.  You may also wish to use a pad of paper to lift the body up so it stays parallel to the work surface to free a hand while unscrewing. 
  1. Place Boogie Board face down on top of the towel. Use a pad of paper or similar to lift the body up so it stays parallel to the work surface.
  2. Notice the four silver round rivet looking things.  They are actually screws. They may be hidden by labels.
  3. Fit the largest slotted screwdriver you can comfortably insert until it sits at the bottom of the screw hole.  Yes, it is a screw hole, despite its shape.  Test it by turning it in the hole.  It should just catch the indentations. 
  4. Unscrew all four and save for later. 
  5. Turn Boogie Board over.
  6. Using the stylus that came with the Boogie Board, pry the top from the body from within the stylus holder chamber. 
  7. Desolder the battery terminals at the PCB.  Don't bother attempting to pry the battery tabs from the battery.
  8. Solder your replacement. 
  9. Reverse the assembly steps. 


 Soldering Suggestions

The battery tabs should come loose in 10 seconds or less, closer to 5. If not, try in this order:
  1. Make sure your iron's tip is shiny. Tin it by adding a little solder and then cleaning it on a wet sponge or metal wool pad. Repeat the cleaning often, and tinning only when needed.
  2. It's not about pressure, so much as contact surface, so hold the iron so as much of the flat, shiny part of the end is making contact with the tab and press down evenly and gently. This usually means you have to hold the iron at a low angle to the work surface, instead of at 90 degrees.
  3. Use the right tip. If you have multiple tips, find a tip a little wider. All of the Aoyude irons have replacable tips.  Probably the default is fine for very infrequent use on small items, but with thicker wires and parts you'll get frustrated fast.
  4. Turn up the power a little at a time.
With practice, you'll get a sense for when solder isn't melting fast enough, and realize it's time to clean the tip, or try the other ideas, above.

Say Hello!

Since I posted this page, tens of thousands of viewers have read the instructions, but no one ever says thank you, or says "Hello!" So please leave me a note.

And from me to you: Thank you! 

 More Hacks

  • Replace the included screws with normal, Phillips head screws. 
  • An alternative to a battery may be a 3V solar cell from Amazon but it is untested.  You may need to add a small cap (1-4.7uF at 5V) .

Hope some one finds this useful. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Theta Casanova is dead. Long Live Theta Casanova!

Not soon after the Theta Casanova III HD was released, the Casanova IV [sic] has been announced in a couple of sites I'd never heard of, one of them being here:

It saddens me that this continues to be sold to installers instead of enthusiasts who provide most of the support, but good for Theta for showing steady progress.

I also wonder if sales wouldn't have been better for the Supernova instead.