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Dell's Exploding Laptop Autopsy

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the determining-the-cause-of-aaaughh dept.

141

An anonymous reader writes "Dell has gone to the Consumer Product Safety Commission looking for help determining the cause of death for its exploding laptop. Dell has been blaming the lithium ion battery; the commission seems to have had a few problems with those batteries in the past."

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So there are two cases now? (4, Insightful)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722451)

The Inquirer published a letter to the editor on July 4, purportedly from a second Dell customer (identified only as "Rich S.," an IT administrator from Pittsburgh) who suffered an exploding laptop.
Maybe it is time for Dell to think about issuing a recall before someone gets hurt. Just think if someone was using their laptop near a other flamable/explosive substances when suddenly BOOM!

Re:So there are two cases now? (4, Informative)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722488)

Actually, they already have lists of the affected batteries online. They apply to many manufacturers, and not to some Dell computers. I will try to dig up the link, as this is not at all a direct problem with Dell.


Computer companies make almost none of their own parts, and keeping track of what comes from where must be a nightmare. Dell will change battery type (maybe battery manufacturer as well) and this problem will start going away in new laptops. Hopefully the old ones will have battery recalls for the most dangerous types, but the recall will affect many companies.

Links! (4, Informative)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722526)

For once my local NBC affiliate is really on the ball. They had a story about "exploding laptop batteries" months ago. I can't find the actual story, but here are two related links:

  1. HP laptops burning [nbc10.com]
  2. Cooked Apples [nbc10.com]

Re:Links! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723252)

Not really. Folks here don't seem to read or watch the news. This is actually old news. The other day on Boing Boing (http://www.boingboing.net/2006/07/14/laptop_batte ries_bur.html) there was an article about Batteries and Airplanes:

- UPS has had a DC-8 burn up, emergency landing in Philly with crew barely making it
- FexEx had a pallet of them catch on Fire in Memphis burning the plane
- A Stewardess had to pull an extinguisher on a battery in a overhead bin, and the thing still smoldered after being dropped to the tarmac.
- Several other cases with them smoking or catching fire

It's just being sensationalized due to the pictures/video.

Battery Return Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722795)

Battery Return [dellbatteryprogram.com] has been available for several months.

Re:So there are two cases now? (1, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722944)

Actually it is a direct problem with Dell. It may be a problem with more companies as well, but as a purchaser of Dell I could care less about those.

Blaming the battery is laughable. I guess what Dell is trying to say is that they [Dell] don't add any value to the parts the sell!?

Re:So there are two cases now? (3, Interesting)

Traiklin (901982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723091)

Blaming the battery is laughable. I guess what Dell is trying to say is that they [Dell] don't add any value to the parts the sell!?
and what happens if it is the battery that is to blame? Like the summery says this isn't the first time Lithium Ion batteries have caused problems.

I dislike dell as much as the next guy (mainly I am tired of all prebuilt PC's anymore, they are so locked down and full of useless shit that I can't properly upgrade them) but when something isn't a company's fault then they shouldn't get the blame for it.

I remember cell phones were blowing up in peoples pockets and when they were using them, was it the cell phone makers fault? no cause they said it was the batteries and it was proven to be the batteries, Was it laughable that they were blaming batteries instead of taking the blame for making a phone out of lower value parts?

Re:So there are two cases now? (2, Interesting)

Fishead (658061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723246)

I agree with you 100%. I used to work for a Lithium Ion Manufacturer for 4 years, and have seen first hand cells sponaneously combust. The R&D department is under so much pressure to increase the capacity of the cells, that they sometimes create an unstable product. Our biggest problem (2 years ago) was trying to get the components to not short against eachother when you cram them all into the can. Sure, each cell was x-rayed and inspected twice, but when you get an underpaid operator looking at pictures on a computer screen at the end of their 12 hour shift...

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723996)

I remember cell phones were blowing up [...]they said it was the batteries and it was proven to be the batteries,
IIRC the issue was cheap aftermarket batteries that were outside the control of the phone manufacturer.

Re:So there are two cases now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15724081)

This might be relevant re your search for affected Dell batteries: https://dellbatteryprogram.com/Default.aspx/ [dellbatteryprogram.com]

Re:So there are two cases now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722493)

They were playing Baldur's Gate, obviously: "Tiax does as ye will, but one day BOOM! He rules! Heh heh!"

Re:So there are two cases now? (2, Insightful)

cab15625 (710956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722604)

For example, I know someone who works in the oil industry out in Alberta and drags a laptop around from site to site to help keep track of stats. I don't know how many issues they have with fumes at the rigs, but I can easily believe that an exploding laptop would cause problems.

Re:So there are two cases now? (4, Informative)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722668)

"For example, I know someone who works in the oil industry out in Alberta and drags a laptop around from site to site to help keep track of stats. I don't know how many issues they have with fumes at the rigs, but I can easily believe that an exploding laptop would cause problems."


Those computers are generally ruggidized to MilSpec (military specifications). Instead of using your friendly neighborhood Dell, he is probably using a Toughbook or similar unit. These are designed to operate without actually bringing air inside. There are a lot of rumours of these things actually stopping bullets in Iraq, though I can't seem to find a picture. I imagine that the batteries are just as tough, considering the operating enviroments they are designed for.

Bulletproof Laptop (5, Informative)

SPQR_Julian (967179) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722945)

It took me some creative digging, but I found what you were talkingabout. I remember seeing the article in Popular Mechanics a couple years back when it first came out. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/compute rs/1279251.html [popularmechanics.com]

MOD PARENT UP (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722971)

Wow, and I thought that I was a good researcher! Good searching. That is what I was talking about as far as oil field electronics systems and other rugged and sensative applications.

Re:So there are two cases now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723131)

Nah, most of them have consumer crapbooks. A thinkpad is rare, let alone an actual ruggedized laptop. It's cheaper for them to buy a crappy consumer notebook and replace it on a yearly basis instead of a rugged one every X years.

Re:So there are two cases now? (2, Interesting)

spasm (79260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723405)

"Those computers are generally ruggidized to MilSpec"

..aaah, not so much. I worked in the gold industry in Australia on and off for 10 years, and while you did indeed see the occasional toughbook, it was usually in the hands of that industry's answer to the PHB, busily showing off his uselessly-expensive new toy and never seeing a spec of dust; more rarely in the hands of a geologist in remote exploration camps. Actual production sites (ie places where we actually bogged dirt out of the ground) used the usual consumer crap. I can't imagine the oil game being much different.

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724167)

At least gold doesn't burn for years when your cheap laptop battery blows up next to it. Actually the greater risk with portable electronics, be it a laptop, cell phone or even a walkie-talkie, is not so much the battery or risk of combustion, but the actual electrical contacts.. the reason you can't use your cell phone at the gas pump is because some years ago, one guy's cell phone battery was loose and there were tiny little sparks between the battery's contact surfaces. The phone didn't blow up or anything. Hell, my car stereo's power terminals tend to arc when I pound it really hard.. electricity is a wild beast

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

gripen40k (957933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723713)

Actually, people who do well-site testing here in AB don't need a toughbook, as they run tests far enough away and don't really need to get their 'hands dirty'. Most have a slickline truck (they look like airport firetrucks) that sits off the well and recieves all the data from instruments currently down well. Then all that data gets loaded to a memory stick of some sort, then off to either a laptop or gets put on CD for the wellsite analyst. Most slickline trucks have an outdated PC or laptop that does all the data recieving from the instruments. And this is all assuming that they even HAVE a slickline truck (a new well) as compared to remote (wireless, phoneline, ect.) instrumentation. Besides, for all intents and purposes, there are not going to be ANY hazardous fumes that are in the general area, 'cause if there are, well everyone in the immediate vicinity is as good as dead anyways (well is uncapped because of damaged pipe, ect.). Hope that explains a few things...

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

IdolizingStewie (878683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723776)

I'm currently interning with Schlumberger, an oilfield services company, and while I have seen a few toughbooks, they're being used as servers for remote realtime log viewing. The engineers on hand all have regular old thinkpads. The biggest hazard I've seen to computers on these sites (summertime on Alaska's North Slope) by far is dust. The oil companies are really emphasizing safety these days, trying to fix their rather maligned image. Because of that, you're not going to see fumes unless something is going really wrong. And the laptops are rarely on the rig floor anyway. At worst, they're in the doghouse behind a closed, theoretically airtight door.

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723916)

Unfortunatly for the employees of a nameless major oil company, laptops have been standerized across the workforce. And that means Latitude Laptops on the rigs!

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

GnothiSeauton (983058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723132)

Its a publicity stunt for the upcoming Mi:4 Movie... This message and laptop will self destruct in 45 seconds.

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

tomofumi (831434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723434)

Dell should not sell "laptops" anymore, since it may burn your lap. Should it called "tabletop" or "mini-desktop" again?
Speaking of batteries, mobile phones also prone to battery explosion according to a few old news article, and I don't want to burn my pocket/legs when using those phones...

Re:So there are two cases now? (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723482)

Dell should not sell "laptops" anymore, ...
They don't, they sell "notebooks".

Lithium ion battery? (5, Funny)

yourOneManArmy (986080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722457)

I think you mean lithium ion cannon.

Re:Lithium ion battery? (4, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722509)

A single barrel is a cannon. If it's for example 4 cannons shooting synchronously for increased rate of fire, while retaining the same direction, it's called battery.

Re:Lithium ion battery? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722755)

Coming soon: The Dell Inspiron BFB9000; antiplasma cup not included.

KFG

We beat the British back with Flaming Dells (2, Interesting)

brogdon (65526) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723009)

A good joke, though it's worth noting that the electrical battery (invented in modern times by good ol' Ben Franklin) was named after batteries of cannon [wikipedia.org] . Perhaps Big Ben had even more foresight than we give him credit for. :)

Re:We beat the British back with Flaming Dells (2, Informative)

chgros (690878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723169)

the electrical battery (invented in modern times by good ol' Ben Franklin)
Actually it was invented by Volta [wikipedia.org] . If you read your link more carefully you'll discover that Franklin's batteries were actually banks of capacitors.

No... (4, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722593)

I think you mean lithium ion cannon. ... it's: Dell (TM) Lithium Ion thermal emasculator.

Re:No... (2, Funny)

jrmiller84 (927224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722910)

I think you mean a thermal detonator. "Uta Guta Solo?"

Re:Lithium ion battery? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722603)

You think that's funny, you fucking stupid asshole-licking son of a bitch. Everybody hates you and your miserable attempt at humour. Die, die, die, bitch!

Re:Lithium ion battery? (1)

yourOneManArmy (986080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722649)

You think that's funny, you fucking stupid asshole-licking son of a bitch. Everybody hates you and your miserable attempt at humour. Die, die, die, bitch!

Someone needs a hug and counselling.

Re:Lithium ion battery? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722672)

And someone with the uid of 986080 needs to go kill his god-damned fucktarded self and his entire fucktarded family.

New Dell Slogan (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723099)

They can borrow from Microsoft - "Where are your balls going today?"

They shouldn't have used a Nirvana Lithium battery (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722472)

Because Nirvana liked to destroy their musical instruments at the end of a live set, so maybe the lithium ion battery decided "time to die like Kurt Cobain" and exploded on stage ...

Teh real headline: (0)

TeleoMan (529859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722485)

I read this as "Dell's Exploding Laptop Autopussy." Who's with me?!

Excuses Excuses (0, Flamebait)

VGfort (963346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722490)

That excuse wouldnt have worked if it would of blown up in someones backpack, while in the New York subway

Don't worry about it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722497)

Once the muslims get their hands on you you'll die if you don't bow to allah. Fuck, you think that your right to steal music is a big deal? wait until your first ramadan at gun point.

Re:Don't worry about it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722726)

Whomever rated this troll is nothing but a fucking pig muslim sympathizer. FUCK ALLAH!

Li-Po use in RC (5, Interesting)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722501)

I play with a lot of R/C stuff - planes, helicopters etc. And the warnings about Li-Po batteries are pretty explicit. If you where to crash a plane with a Li-PO you need to set the battery in a fire proof container and keep an eye on it for an hour or so. Also never charge Li-Po un-attended - people have burned down houses because of it.

I suspect the laptop had a hard drop sometime in the not to distant past, got picked up, put on charge and kaboom.

The question is what is the right thing to do? Ban the batteries or make better efforts in consumer education? In the R/C hobby we are smart enough (well the majority anyhow) to treat Li-Pos with respect - but consumer laptops, that's somewhat scary.

http://www.laureanno.com/RC/fire-pics.htm [laureanno.com]

Re:Li-Po use in RC (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722520)

it's not that you are 'smart enough' it's that peoplec are about there hobby, usually to a miniscule scale.

I was surprised to find they where putting these in laptops.
To answer your question, ban them from laptops. No governemtnregulation will be needed because I believe the risk od using these batteries is high then expected and that will cause the laptop manufacturers from producing them, eventually.

And yeah, those batteries can get HOT.

Super happy fun ball (4, Funny)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722534)

Kind of reminds me of an old saturday night live skit....... Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball. Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. Happy Fun Ball contains a liquid core, which if exposed due to rupture should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete. Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs: * Itching * Vertigo * Dizziness * Tingling in extremities * Loss of balance or coordination * Slurred speech * Temporary blindness * Profuse Sweating or * Heart palpitations If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin. When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability. Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space. Happy Fun Ball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. Happy Fun Ball comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (2, Informative)

weeboo0104 (644849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722577)

That's why I still use NiCd's in my RC cars. I wasn't happy with the NiMH's because they were not very tolerent of high temps caused by either changing or discharging.

Although it probabley would have been cool to watch an RC truck roll over and burn during our races.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723886)

If you are having problems with high temperature when charging NIMh batteries then you are using an inappropriate charger. For Fast charging of NiMh the charger should monitor the temp and throttle back accordingly. A normal NiCad charger is not good for NiMh, and older ones were not good for NiCad anyway. See here for more details http://www.powerstream.com/NiMH.htm [powerstream.com]

If high temp when discharging NiMh is a problem then the battery is not suitable for that application. In fact for R/C cars I believe NiCad is best because of their high current delivery. But be sure to have a good modern charger that does not kill the batteries prematurely. Also NiMh does not like to be discharged down below 1 volt per cell so unless your R/C car stops itself at this point it can damage the cells. I guess you don't want your cars to just stop toward the end of a race so again NiCad is better for this application.

As an aside I just pulled the NiCads out of an old TI59 calculator and tried it with NiMh cells. It runs for 10 hours on a charge now instead of the original advertized 5 or more normally 1 hour. Now I just have monitor that 1v per cell thing and power down at that point automatically some how.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (4, Insightful)

asuffield (111848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722783)

And the warnings about Li-Po batteries are pretty explicit. ... In the R/C hobby we are smart enough (well the majority anyhow) to treat Li-Pos with respect - but consumer laptops, that's somewhat scary.


Every consumer laptop comes with a thick book stating that each and every component may catch fire, explode, fail to work, cause the end of the world, kill your dog, or any number of other things, and it's your own damn fault if that happens and the manufacturer is not responsible. This means that nobody pays any attention to the 'safety' warnings, because 99% of them are total nonsense.

Consumer education is impossible until the manufacturers stop crying wolf about everything.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (1)

staticneuron (975073) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723362)

Manufacturers are crying wolf about everything because if they don't and one appears, they will have one hell of a lawsuit on their hands.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724008)

Think about that carefully: if the manufacturer makes a product with a dangerous defect, they are excused from responsibility by producing a long list of all possible classes of defects that they can imagine occurring.

How is that supposed to make any kind of sense? Certainly this is not actually protecting anybody from product defects.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (1)

wildsurf (535389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723525)

Every consumer laptop comes with a thick book stating that each and every component may catch fire, explode, fail to work, cause the end of the world, kill your dog, or any number of other things

The underwater housing for my digital camera warns that improper use can lead to risk of fire. (I had to read it twice.)

It also warns that the housing should not be used as a personal flotation device... I'd like to see the incidents that led to these disclaimers.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723694)

Bah, they print that on everythingn my cheese grater notice says the same thing (as does the one for a 10 x 10 cm waterproof bag).

Scary indeed. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722807)

I didn't even know about this. I am pretty sure a lot of people wouldn't know this either.

Re:Scary indeed. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722953)

Before you listen to any more drivel by 'AntDude [slashdot.org] ', take a look at who you're dealing with: http://pbx.mine.nu/antdude.jpg [pbx.mine.nu] . The abortion in the center is 'AntDude'. I won't even get into discussion about him listing his 'sex' as 'female' on his SHITTY 'blog' (aqfl.net [aqfl.net] ). This faggot has nothing better to do than sit on the internet and spew worthless garbage. He's the new LostCluster [slashdot.org] when it comes to posting utterly worthless tripe. Not to mention his submitted stories! Every single one of his last 10 or so submissions have been tagged as 'lame' or 'slownewsday'. Why does taco even bother posting his shit. Maybe he gets some tiny deformed chinese cock up his taco ass in exchange for some linkspam with google ads? Do the world a favor and never reply to comments from ANTDUDE and mark him as a FOE [slashdot.org] .

Re:Li-Po use in RC (2)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722904)

Also it's worth mentioning that Lithium batteries are susceptible to problems from overcharging and low voltage draw. I've had a Li-po battery almost explode (http://brightpanda.com/images/robots/0/exploded_l i-po_small.jpg), luckily it just ballooned. But this doesn't surprise me at all. The more energy we try to place inside a container for later use on demand the more potentially volatile it becomes. It's hard to get around that.

Re:Li-Po use in RC (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724131)

I have a battery that I haven't used for 6 months.

I didn't over charge it, it wasn't damaged, I just stopped using the phone. I had removed the battery to get at the sim card (for transfer to a new phone) and left it on a shelf. It wasn't in direct sunlight, and the temperature never gets above 25/30 degrees in the room. Yet after 6 months of inactivity, it looks like this. [headru.sh]

The photos don't do the distortion justice, it has ballooned by roughly 50% of its thickness. I'm a little unsure of how to dispose of this thing safely :-/

actually, I've seen the reverse.. (3, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722950)

I work with Lion and Li-Poly batteries at work and in R/C.

I find the RC folks are reckless when it comes to Li batteries. At work, the device that uses the battery has an overvoltage, over temp and undervoltage cutout in hardware in addition to overvoltage, over temp and undervoltage cutouts in software. The battery also has a hardware overcurrent and undervoltage cutout on the cell. This is because the device maker cannot afford to trust the battery and the battery maker cannot afford to trust the device maker, because LIons are just too sensitive to temp, voltage and current.

RC folks meanwhile typically have software undervoltage cutouts but no hardware cutouts on the device. They remove the hardware cutouts on the cell. They use separate chargers that have software overvoltage and overcurrent cutouts and no temp cutouts.

They are many many more times at risk than a consumer device. They get away with it by being careful themselves and because there are 1/100000th as many RC devices as consumer devices.

As to your thing that batteries can blow up after having been in a crash, I don't know where that comes from. Unless the integrity of the pack is compromised, this won't happen. They don't turn into bombs merely by being shaken. If they did, you'd have exploding cell phones everywhere.

Your charger should monitor the temp, current and voltage during charging. If a pack has developed an internal short due to physical damage, it should stop charging. But again, RC chargers seem to be less careful.

(I have an Orbit Microlader. Earlier units were even more primitive!)

Re:actually, I've seen the reverse.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723100)

"As to your thing that batteries can blow up after having been in a crash, I don't know where that comes from. Unless the integrity of the pack is compromised, this won't happen."

How many model airplane crashes can you imagine where this isn't the case?

As to where the statement comes from, it's on the label of every Li-Po battery I own.

Every speed controler I know of has (hardware) undervoltage cut offs. All popular R/C Li-Po chargers have temp sensors.

You say you are into R/C as a hobby?

crashes... (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723381)

"As to your thing that batteries can blow up after having been in a crash, I don't know where that comes from. Unless the integrity of the pack is compromised, this won't happen."

How many model airplane crashes can you imagine where this isn't the case?

I've crased my electric Tiger Moth many times and never had a problem with the pack being physically damaged. And a visual inspection will tell you if the battery has been damaged. Simply shaking the thing up will not turn it into bomb, you'd have to damage it physically.

The speed controller in my Tiger Moth (Castle Creations Pixie, very common) has software undervoltage cut off. It does not have a hardware undervoltage cut off.

I dunno about all popular R/C Li-Po chargers, but the Orbit Microladers are somewhat and to this day do not have temp sensors.

I'm looking at the list of Li-Poly plane chargers at Sheldon's hobbies:
No astroflight model has temp sensors.
(the Dynamite link is busted and goes to Dan's RC stuff)
The E-Flite Celectra models don't have temp sensors.
I can't tell about the Multiplex model MPXM92523.
The MRC models do not have temp sensors.
The Thunder Power models do not have temp sensors.

At Aero Micro, one of the Great Planes chargers has an optional temp sensor.
The Hobbico has an optional temp sensor (that Aero Micro doesn't sell).
The Multiplex LN-5014 doesn't have a temp sensor.
Again, none of the Astro Flights or Thunder Powers have temp sensors.

Do you have counterexamples? I think I did my homework here, and I stand firmly behind what I said.

Even if you do find a couple chargers that have temp sensors, the safety level still pales next to consumer electronics because the packs themselves have no temp sensors or internal protection in them. My coworkers were shocked when I brought a few Li-Poly packs back from Aero Micro and they had no protection circuits. They were shocked it was possible to purchase a cell with no protection circuit. None of our regular suppliers will sell them to us that way!

Re:actually, I've seen the reverse.. (3, Interesting)

Fishead (658061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723335)

"As to your thing that batteries can blow up after having been in a crash, I don't know where that comes from. Unless the integrity of the pack is compromised, this won't happen. They don't turn into bombs merely by being shaken. If they did, you'd have exploding cell phones everywhere."

If the cell dents, there is a possibility that the Anode can short to the Cathode through the thin insulative seperator. This will cause a short that the pack/device has no control over and you get fireworks.

Or, the guts of the cell can shift and press into the bottom and short.

Or (much less likely) if there is some impurity in the mix, it can cause it to shift and puncture the thin seperator.

The cells are actually designed to permanently disconnect inside under certain circumstances to prevent (or at least minimize) crashing airplanes and killing children.

It's the charger stupid.... (5, Interesting)

khb (266593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722504)

That batteries can explode is no secret. Managing the charging correctly is critical ... and a battery which is on the road to exploding has lots of "markers" (fast heat rise, wrong charging profile, etc.).

It seems to me that low margins are the root cause ... for the battery vendor to have QA practices that allow marginal batteries, and for Dell (since they are the ones being fingered, not because I know anything about their practices) to skip additional safety logic beyond whatever minimal standards the battery vendor has specified.

Re:It's the charger stupid.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722523)

Uhh, if you haven't noticed, Dell has been so successful because they're so good at cutting corners.

Severe div by 0 error (2, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722507)

Now you know what happens when you win game# 11982 in FreeCell

Sounds like that joke. (4, Funny)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722508)

This reminds me of an old joke. A redneck wanted to perform a vasectomy and went to the doctor, but the doctor told him to light up a cherry bomb, hold it and count to ten. The redneck didn't understand how this would help, but trusted the doctor, lit up the cherry bomb and started counting. When he got to five, he put the cherry bomb between his legs and resumed counting in the other hand.

This is like that, without all the counting.

Like I used to say working at Dell... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722521)

"Oh oh...must have been a Sanyo (battery)"

And now.... (5, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722525)

it is time for the penguin on top of your Dell to explode!

Re:And now.... (1)

weeboo0104 (644849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722602)

That's just silly! What would a bleedin' penguin be doin' on a Dell? Nesting?

Re:And now.... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722806)

What would a bleedin' penguin be doin' on a Dell?

Must be a French penguin.

KFG

Conspiracy (0, Troll)

jofi (908156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722558)

The battery was obviously made in China and implanted as a plot to overthrow the Japanese government and take back Taiwan.

I'm not a big Dell fan... (5, Insightful)

citking (551907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722582)

...but I do applaud their willingness to at least show a hint of taking responsiblity for these problems. If there is a hint of them refusing to help people affected by this condition I haven't seen it yet, not out of ignorance but for not Googling it.

Today I got a letter in the mail from my old insurance agency who is being sued in a class-action lawsuit regarding discrimination based on credit reports against the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Of course, the class action settlement included the phrase "xxx is admitting no wrongdoing in this case..." Maybe there wasn't any wrongdoing; I don't know. But this damned phrase has become so commonplace it was the first sentence I looked for when opening the letter with the details of the settlement.

For once I'd like to see someone step up and take responsibility. The problem is these people read the same headlines I do every day in which some dumbass can sue for whatever reason they deem applies to them and win millions in a settlement.

We can't have companies exposing themselves to such litigation (excepting that there is no real negligence there) and getting sued into obliion. But just once I want to see a company take the high road and say "Yeah, we fucked up. Sorry. What can we do to make it better?"

Dell gets a smiley face in my daily repoirt card for this.

reminds me of the 'sorry' issue (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722796)

Your post, that is... in a nutshell - if you say sorry, you admit wrondoing, and you open yourself up to litigation.

This blog has a bit of a story about that possibly no longer being the case in british columbia, as well as an organisation whose goal is to do away with the nonsense of sorry == admitting guilt altogether:
http://www.boosman.com/blog/2006/04/apology_legisl ation.html [boosman.com]

Re:I'm not a big Dell fan... (1)

liuyunn (988682) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723264)

That looks suspiciously like a Dell 5100 that I used to own.. I agree that its time to see a company that straight out takes responsibility for some obvious screw up. My old Dell didn't blow up but it was close, anyone owning anything similar would know how the heatsink had a fan that sucked air in from the bottom right of the unit and had NOTORIOUS problems with dust. A new machine was alright, any unsuspecting user would find the heatsink clogging with dust in a few months and the machine would boot up with a temperature of 50 degrees celcius and pretty soon would auto-shutoff from the heat whenever CPU usage was high (5100 even worse than the lower spec 5150). People complained and Dell said well we know its a probme but its YOUR responsibility to clear the dust every week...its like a owning a car that needed its oil changed every week, and besides for a lot of people the dust was unreversable by then.

Re:I'm not a big Dell fan... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723703)

Well, in the past Dell hasn't always been so cool. Dell's laptop Latitude D600 had the harddisk located under the laptop its left palm area. It got hot, VERY hot. Dell never acknowledged this problem although lots of people suffered. See here [josesandoval.com] or just search Google. [google.com]

Re:I'm not a big Dell fan... (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723853)

I'm at the third HDD on mine. The first two lasted less than 6 months each.

Now, when I place my D600 on the desk, I slightly raise its front side (with a thin eraser) so that air can pass under. This 3rd HDD is running strong after more than one year (keeping fingers crossed...)

Serban

Re:I'm not a big Dell fan... (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723915)

When I used this laptop, I ran Linux. If you do as well, I advise using 'hdparm -S5 /dev/hda' and laptop mode [xs4all.nl] . That way, the harddisk spins down and this really cools the harddisk. You can noticeably feel the difference in warmth.

Gamers! (5, Funny)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722608)

Looking for explosive performance?

You may find Dell's new laptop too hot to handle!

It puts you in the middle of the action, with sound effects so real you'll swear you can feel them.

Blazing action so intense it's practically assault and battery!

Plugged in? (5, Interesting)

shabushabu (961717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722623)

I searched TFA but couldnt find the answer to what I believe is a critical question. Was the laptop plugged into an AC outlet when it exploded? If so, even a short could cause an explosion.

On the other hand, if the battery exploded entirely by itself, a major recall is due...

OT: Sci-Fi show on Zombie Parasites (-1, Offtopic)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722662)

Remember the Zombie Parasite threads here a few weeks ago?

Sci-Fi's special Stargate SG-1 True Science repeats tonight [scifi.com] at 1AM Eastern.

Among the items mentioned:
Pig parasites in people
Ant parasites that cause suicidal behavior

We now resume our regularly scheduled thread.

Re:OT: Sci-Fi show on Zombie Parasites (-1, Offtopic)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722742)

If you have "OT: [...]" in your subject line, and you're modded "off topic", isn't it really ON topic? I think that mods should get shocks just for putting Eddy in the spacetime continuum for that.

I'm using a Dell laptop at work right now... (1)

Kawolski (939414) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722811)

...and it looks pretty damn close to the one that exploded.

Anyone have any idea what the exact model is?

Appropriate new Tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15722838)

dellgoboom

They scanned in a picture of Mohammed (0, Flamebait)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722869)

And it went Shahid.

Re:They scanned in a picture of Mohammed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723383)

"and it went Shahid."

Actually, a little Arabic lesson (Shahid means "martyr" as in suicide--or homicide--martyr) makes this very funny, and very much on topic. Politically correct, not so much.

Actually... (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722906)

I'm using a Dell laptop right no[kabooom]

More exploding laptop pictures (0)

KD7LRJ (913216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722924)

A friend of mine sent me a note and some pictures about another Dell D600 which experienced "Venting with Flame." I compiled the pictures on my blog: http://kd7lrj.blogspot.com/2006/07/dell-laptop-bat tery-trouble-at-novell.html/ [blogspot.com] .

I want to see a video.. (0)

elgee (308600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722925)

of the autopsy. Like "Alien Autopsy."

Question, Lithium Ion (2, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722957)

Is this a problem with all lithium ion batteries, or just bad batches with even worse quality control? Is the design itself just prone to failure? I really don't know, just lithium ions are also being touted as the batteries to go to in plug-in hybrids, so this might set back that tech if the design itself is suspect.

Both (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723676)

All Lithium-ion batteries can make a real nasty mess when they go, but as with many batteries, the method of charging, storage, and charge+heat monitoring can cause the battery to become unstable more easily. Putting the battery near other hot components, with an improper charge monitor (overcharging), or in an area than generally leads to overheat can all greatly increase the chance of the battery going boom (not sure how that applies in this case)

Autopsy... (2, Funny)

odie_q (130040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723139)

So another Dell laptop is disecting the exploded one? Or did the editor not reflect over the meaning of 'auto' when phrasing the header?

I'm guessing the first one.

Re:Autopsy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723191)

So in your world, dead people perform autopsies [webster.com] on themselves?

Re:Autopsy... (1)

odie_q (130040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723293)

You didn't read my post, did you?

True analysis (1)

eko33 (982179) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723149)

Well, if you get to the root of the problem all the technica @#%#!@$^@#!BOOOOOM@^#$$

Dude! (1)

MattS423 (987689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723173)

Dude! You blew up a dell!

mod Do3n (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723189)

argued b7 Eric platform for the outstrips

Dell's Exploding Laptop Autopsy (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723306)

This laptop autopsy will self destruct in five seconds...

Windows Genuine Advantage (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723491)

I bet this is a new feature of WGA.

Freaky! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723494)

Its a little distrubing to read about exploding Dell laptops while using MY Dell laptop. My model was specifically listed, but still...

Why so little trolling? (1, Offtopic)

lostngone (855272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723649)

Apple has a battery problem and the trolls and flamers roll out of the wood-works in armies to bash Apple and the Mac. Dell has almost the exact same problem with its laptops and we barely hear a peep out of them. What kind of double standard is that!

What if they Were on a Plane! (2, Insightful)

BrendaEM (871664) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723843)

What if this laptop was on a commercial ailiner, would they be able to put the fire out, being on 10 feet from thousands of gallons of fuel.

What if the laptop were in the baggage compartment? Would the exinguishersput out the fire in time.

How many lithiumn batteries on on planes?

Almost any lithium batter can start on fire if overloaded, or most batteries for that matter--even VRLA/SLA, but Lithium batteries in particular, becasue the lithium burns at a low tempature. Li-polymer batteries are supposed to be safer, but after time the lithuium becomes plated around the electodes.

Re:What if they Were on a Plane! (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724092)

The Navy has a extensive lithium battery safety program. At one time, I think they had a blanket ban on lithium batteries due to a number of fatal accidents.

There is a real concern that lithium batteries shipped as air cargo could cause a fire that would result in loss of the aircraft. See http://www.dot.gov/affairs/faa001.htm [dot.gov] .

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