Archive for October, 2023

Modified Baofeng UV-17 Pro CPS software 1.2.4h

Continuing my series of modified CPS releases, 1.2.4h was released on the web site today. It adds a working picture upload tool and a major redesign of the channel list visual style as well as a number of bugfixes and tidying up of loose ends.

Here is a complete list of new features and changes in 1.2.4h:

  • Restore “Upload startup picture to radio” in the Tools menu, as it has been fixed.
  • Two different Baofeng logo startup pictures have been added – the original one shipped with the radio and an alternative version.
  • The visual style of the channel list has been redesigned to make it easier to use. The specific design elements are:
    • Channels are now highlighted in a 2-color format when selected, instead of all selected channels being highlighted in Moccasin. The new 2-color format will follow the currently selected Windows theme, such as the high contrast theme for the visually impaired.
    • The contrast between alternating rows of channels has been increased.
    • The column header text background is now Light Gray instead of Moccasin.
    • Use the system Sans Serif font throughout the CPS. Previously, the radio bands, channel list, and about box used a variety of harder-to-read fonts.
    • Use the system theme for the scroll bar instead of forcing the scroll bar to always be blue.
    • The QT/DQT values are now centered in their columns.
    • The QT/DQT dropdown menu background colors now correctly match the background color of the channel.
    • An obsolete library is no longer used, saving over 5MB of disk space in the installed CPS.
  • The settings in the Settings toolbar dropdown (COM port number, CPS language, and default Scan Add behavior) are now saved and will be restored whenever the CPS is started. Note: The saved COM port is not shared with the “Upload startup picture to radio” applet. You will need to select the correct COM port each time you upload a startup picture.
  • Correctly preserve the GPS time zone setting when reading / writing the radio and when opening / saving .dat files. Note: .dat files written with CPS versions prior to 1.2.4h have the time zone set to -12.
  • Add “GPS Time Zone” combo box in the Radio Function window to allow configuring the GPS time zone.
  • The first option name in the Radio Function window item “Backlight” has been changed to “Always On”.
  • Tabbing between fields in the Radio Function window now proceeds as expected instead of sometimes jumping between different areas of the window.
  • Items in the Radio Function window are now spaced evenly instead of having variably sized gaps between them.
  • Items in the Radio Function window have been rearranged into more logical groups.
  • Some Radio Function window items have been renamed to more accurately reflect the radio’s menu naming.
  • The ability to configure the radio for Chinese menus / voice has been restored. It was broken in 1.2.4f and 1.2.4g. Note: This refers to the setting in the Radio Function window. The CPS has its own language option, but most CPS messages are English-only. Translation assistance is welcome.
  • A new setting, “Voice Prompts”, has been added to the Radio Function window. Previously, this setting could be changed on the radio but not in the CPS.
  • The Radio Function window item “Send ID Delay” (“PTT-DLY” on the radio’s menu) has been corrected to support the full range of settings supported by the radio (100 ms to 3000 ms in 100 ms increments).
  • The Radio Function window item “Beep” now only allows the “OFF” and “ON” settings provided on the UV-17 Pro GPS radio.
  • The VFO Mode window items “VFO A Step” and “VFO B Step” have had the missing 100KHz setting added.
  • Correct the handling of CSV data with unexpected uppercase / lowercase formatting.
  • Add a “Cancel” button to Paste Error message boxes.
  • Entering a frequency with more than one decimal point in a channel no longer generates multiple “Error in frequency format” error messages.
  • Entering an invalid frequency in a channel no longer deletes the existing channel settings after displaying the error message.
  • The CPS can now be used with Windows “Open with…” dialogs.
  • The setup program offers to optionally associate .dat files with the CPS.
  • Unique error codes are now reported when a communication failure is encountered while reading from or writing to the radio. This should assist in locating places in the communication process that are prone to errors.
  • A bug that caused the program to exit with no message after a new / write sequence has been fixed.
  • A radio communication handshake error no longer causes the program to exit with no message. Instead, a message box requesting the user to report the bug is displayed.
  • An attempt to read from or write to a radio using an incorrect COM port or with a cable that is not completely inserted in the radio is now detected and generates a useful diagnostic message.
  • An attempt to read from or write to a radio with a cable that is not completely inserted in the radio now generates a useful diagnostic message when using certain programming cables. Note: This condition can not be detected on all programming cables. Some cables will report the generic COM port / cable error message.
  • The radio read / write progress bar now properly auto-closes after the user clicks “OK” on an error message.
  • A bug that prevented pasting lines with channel names containing Unicode text has been fixed. Note: The radio only has font characters for English and Chinese. Other characters will be displayed as a blank space.
  • Pasting channel data into apps such as Notepad in older Windows versions no longer pastes as one long line of text.
  • Trailing CR/LF characters are now added to the last line of cut / copied text.
  • The README (this document) is now available from within the CPS via the Help / README for Modified CPS toolbar dropdown.
  • The default channel list (generated when clicking the (Default) button in the Channel Information window) now auto-fills the GMRS/FRS channels instead of factory test channels. Note: This data is provided as an example only – the radio is not type approved to transmit on these channels in the US, and these frequencies may be used for other purposes outside the US.
  • The default value for the Channel Information column “Scan Add” can now be set via the Settings / Default Scan Add behavior dropdown.
  • Various checks for corrupted data have been added when loading a .dat file.
  • Various checks for corrupted data have been added when doing a cut or copy operation.
  • Unused code has been removed from the CPS build.

Brady TLS2200 battery pack rebuild

I have a pair of Brady TLS2200 labelers which are still heavily used. This model was discontinued by Brady in early 2016 and supplies for it are becoming more difficult to find. There is still a good assortment of labels and ribbons available on eBay, but reasonably-priced, functional batteries are another issue entirely.

Brady will still sell you a battery for $119.99 (plus shipping) but as they haven’t sold this printer in over 7 years, it likely that even “new” batteries will not perform as expected.

A company named MTO Battery offers a battery rebuild service for $55. Unless that also includes a prepaid mailer and return shipping, you still have to pay for shipping.

Brady also offered a battery eliminator but it is also discontinued. They’re quite rare on the used market, presumably because most people still using these printers need them because their batteries are bad.

That left me with three alternatives, none particularly appealing. I found that a company named FMA Battery was selling assembled battery cells (only, no case) for the TLS2200 on AliExpress. Unless you’re buying quite a few of them, it will probably be easier to order them from the FMA Battery eBay store. Here is an example listing. In case the listing is gone by the time you read this post, here is a screenshot:

All images are clickable to display a larger version.

You will need the following tools and supplies:

  • One or more TLS2200 battery packs
  • A matching number of new batteries
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Diagonal cutters
  • Single-edge razor blade
  • Blue painter’s tape or equivalent
  • 1/2″ chisel
  • Black silicone adhesive sealant
  • Gel-type cyanoacrylate glue (superglue)
  • (optional) Labels showing the date the battery pack was rebuilt
  • (optional) Marker pen

Some of those are shown in the following picture:

You will need to use the chisel to carefully cut the pack at the seam between the upper and lower halves of the pack. The area to chisel is shown by a green line in the following picture. It continues around the other 3 sides of the battery as well. On the two long edges this is at the location shown in the picture, just below the protruding lip. On the two shorter edges there is a visible seam you can chisel.

You are not trying to split the pack open with a single (or several) chisel strokes, just to crack the halves of the battery. A single light tap repeated along all four edges should be sufficient. When you have finished, stand the battery up so that the shortest piece is on top and tap on one corner with the chisel. The halves should begin to separate and you can use the chisel as a lever to separate them further.

It is important to not apply too much force with the chisel. You can always chisel around the edges again, but recovering from a shattered battery is more difficult.

If you are rebuilding more than one battery pack at a time, it is important to label the two halves of each battery with a unique number using painter’s tape and marker so you know which top goes back on which bottom. The plastic will split unevenly and you won’t be able to properly reassemble the battery if you have mismatched pieces. Note: This picture was taken after the battery case was disassembled, to show the labels on each half. You should apply the labels to each piece before separating the halves.

Once you have the halves separated, you will see the circuit board and batteries:

Lift the battery pack out. The circuit board will come with it since it is not attached. If the batteries don’t come out easily, you may need to lift the circuit board out of the way and then gently use the chisel as a pry bar to lift the batteries up. Do NOT cut into or otherwise damage the batteries – you want the chisel between the bottom of the case and the battery pack. Once you have the circuit board and batteries out, they should look like this:

The bottom half of the case may have remnants of silicone caulk attached. If your battery has these, peel them off with your fingers. Particularly troublesome pieces can be scraped off with the chisel.

Use diagonal cutters to cut the red and black wires connecting the battery to the circuit board, one at a time. Do NOT cut both wires at the same time – this will short-circuit the battery if it has any remaining charge.

There are two types of circuit board. This is the older style:

This is the newer style:

If you are rebuilding more than one battery pack at a time, use the marker and tape to label each circuit board with the same number as the battery halves it was removed from.

The new battery pack will come with a nice shrink wrapper and label:

This needs to be carefully removed before installing the new battery in the pack. Use a single-edge razor blade to cut a slit in the wapper at a point where the wrapper is not contacting the battery. Be very careful to not nick the wrappers of the individual batteries, as their wrappers are a similar color. Peel the wrapper off in a spiral motion, as if you were peeling an orange:

Place a blob of black adhesive sealant on each end of the four bottom battery cells:

Place the cells in the bottom half of the battery case. Slide them so that the side without the wires is close to the edge of the case so you have room for the wires later on. Carefully tuck the wires into the area where the circuit board will eventually go, taking care to not get the ends under the battery pack:

Place the top half of the case on the bottom half. It should have a tight fit along all four sides. Once you have verified that the top is on all the way, use the painter’s tape to tape the battery shut. It is important that the tape be very tight, to make sure that the batteries are pushed as far into the sealant as possible:

Let the battery pack(s) sit for 24 hours to allow time for the sealant to cure, then unwrap the tape that was temporarily holding the battery halves together. If you were using tape to mark which battery half was which, be sure to not remove those labels by accident when removing the rest of the tape.

Using the soldering iron, remove the cut ends of the battery wires from the circuit board and ensure that the holes have been cleaned out:

Cut the battery wires to the appropriate length and solder them to the circuit board. Be sure to work with each wire individually to avoid shorting them together:

Examine the battery pack from the top to make sure that the battery wires are tucked inside the case and not protruding where they would interfere with installation of the upper part of the battery case:

Carefully flip the pack over to confirm that the spring-loaded battery terminals are protruding from the battery pack. You don’t want to have to chisel the pack open again to fix a stuck spring terminal!

After making sure that you have the correct top piece for this battery pack (if you’re rebuilding more than one pack at the same time), run a bead of gel-type cyanoacrylate glue along all four sides of the case. You want most of the glue to be on the area where the case joints cracked during disassembly and not so much along the outer edges:

Place the top piece on the battery pack and squeeze the two halves together, making sure that the halves are fully seated against each other. There will probably be some “squeeze-out” of glue. That’s OK – it means the glue is in contact with both halves of the battery pack. You should remove this excess glue, particularly along the long edges of the battery pack, as this is where the battery retention mechanism works. You can use the cardboard wrapper from the single-edge razor blade or anything else that is convenient to remove the excess glue:

Re-wrap the batttery pack with blue painter’s tape, just as you did while the silicone adhesive was drying. It is important to make this wrap as tight as possible. The glue is the only thing keeping the battery from falling apart during use, so you want as good a connection as possible.

After waiting several hours for the glue to harden, remove the blue painter’s tape. At this time you can also remove any number labels you put on the cases to keep pieces of multiple cases organized.

Install a label indicating when the battery was rebuilt. You can always use the TLS2200 to print this label if you don’t have another labelmaker:

If you have a TLS2200 Quick Charger, place the rebuilt battery pack in it and allow it to fully charge, then press the red refresh button on the charger to perform a drain / recharge cycle. If you don’t have the quick charger, use the standard TLS2200 charger to charge the rebuilt battery pack. It may take several charge / discharge cycles for the battery to reach its full capacity.

I examined the original cells from 5 different TLS2200 batteries. 2 batteries had cells from SAFT, 2 had cells from TETG, and 1 had cells from GP. Of these, only the TETG cells had visible date codes, which indicated they were from 2000 and 2001. The TETG batteries were the only ones that displayed any sort of leakage (the white powsery substance visible on the upper-left and lower-right orange cells). As these cells are over 20 years old at this point, that may just be normal aging: