Introduction: Refurbishing the L172 Printer Charger

The problem:

Zebra L172 Charging cables that have shorted at the end where the cable plugs up to the battery resulting in a Blinking Amber Fault and a nonfunctioning charger.

Step 1: How to Fix It:

  • With a little work and some practice you can effectively refurbish the Zebra L172 Charger so that it can still be used.
  • Refurbishing the charger uses less than $4.00 worth of materials. This saves a lot rather than paying for a new charger.

  • The first couple chargers you try to repair will be a little awkward, but after a few you will be a pro.

  • If you have never done any soldering before, it may help to watch a couple YouTube videos on the subject to give you some background.

Step 2: Gather Tools

Tools include:

1. A Soldering Iron (I like the Chicago Electric model from Harbor Freight Tools ($3.99))

2. A Wire Stripper

3. A Sharp knife

4. A lighter

5. Something to hold the small connector on the end of the cable, I used a small adjustable wrench, but you could use a set of locking pliers or something else

6. A battery to use for testing

Step 3: Gather Materials

  1. ½” – ¼” Heat Shrink Tubing($1.99 for a 3pk at Home Depot. This will fix 3 chargers)
  2. 6 Ga. Butt Connectors ($4.99 for a 2pk at Autozone. This will fix 2 Chargers)
  3. Friction Tape($2.97 at Home Depot this roll will last you a while)
  4. Liquid Electrical Tape($6.98 at Home Depot. This will also last you a while)
  5. Gel Super Glue($5.97 at Home Depot)
  6. Desoldering Braid(I got mine from RadioShack, but Home Depot has it for $2.97)
  7. Rosin Core Solder ($3.97 At Home Depot)

Step 4: Open Up the Cable

  • Use a sharp knife to cut lengthwise along the rubber boot on the end of the cable.
  • Once you remove the boot, you can see in the bottom picture the problem is the wires have come loose.

Step 5: Disconnect the Tip

  • Use the soldering Iron and the desolderingbraid to remove any wires that may still be connected.
  • Also try to remove as much of the old solder as you can.

Step 6: Strip the Insulation Back

  • Use your wire stripper or a knife to strip the outer insulation back about ½”.
  • The butt connector has a notch in the middle, so the insulation won’t go all the way through.
  • When you get done, it should look like the far right picture.

Step 7: Make the Connections

  • Use the Soldering Iron and the Solder to connect the three wires to the three posts on the connector.
  • Start with the Green (Ground) wire in the middle.
  • IMPORTANT: If you are looking at the side with the notch on it with the cable running off to the left, like in the picture, the black (negative) goes on the top and the white (positive) goes on the bottom.

Step 8: Connect the Other Wires

  • Connect the other two wires to their posts.
  • Again, be careful to put the Black and White wires on the right posts or the charger will not work.

Step 9: Test It Out

  • At this point it’s a good idea to test the charger.
  • IMPORTANT: Be careful when you plug it up as there are bare connections. Plug the charger into the battery and then into the wall. I've never been shocked, but you want to be safe
  • If you get a blinking amber light, you are not charging. This could be due to the connections shorting out or not making a good connection. Also, you may have the Black and White wires reversed. (See Step 6).

Step 10: Add Some Insulation

  • If your charger passed the test in step 7, it’s time to insulate the wires to make sure you don’t get a short later.
  • The Liquid Electrical Tape takes a while to dry, so after you’ve painted some on the connections and any exposed metal on the wires, go have a cup of coffee before moving on to the next step.

Step 11: Tape It Up

  • Put a couple turns of friction tape around the wires to protect them and take up a little space in the new housing.
  • Push the end connector in to the housing as far as you can.
  • Put some tape on the back end of the housing also to make sure you have a snug fit once you form the new housing around the cable

Step 12: Heat and Form the Housing

  • Use the lighter to heat up the plastic housing and form a snug fit around the connector and the cable. I like to pinch the sides around the cable on the back flat so it holds the cable still.

Step 13: Glue the Connector In

  • Use a drop of super glue on each side of the Connector to keep it in place

Step 14: Seal It Up

  • Use a length of Heat Shrink Tubing and the lighter to seal up the cable and give it a nice finished look.

Step 15: The Finished Product

  • With a little practice you will find that you can put together a cable that not only functions well, but also is less prone to the bending back and forth that causes the shorting wires with the original rubber boot.

Green Electronics Contest 2016

Participated in the
Green Electronics Contest 2016