Librem 14 Charging Issue

Got my new Librem 14 and am experiencing charging issues:

When plugged in I’m getting coil wine from the laptop. When lids closed.

Charging light on side of laptop shows green when its at 20%.

When checking how long it will take to charge it says estimating… forever

Stumped on this one. Any help would be amazing!

Hi,
this sounds a bit strange. The charge time estimate is more of a guesstimate. More importantly does it charge, i.e. does the charge increase over time? I hope it does! As soon as the power LED is green the charger should be enabled and the percentage should go up. The speed of increase varies a lot depending on the use case. Worst case if you really stress the system at max. power with peripherals attached the percentage may even fall though the charger is connected. But with normal use or best in standby it should increase over time. How long it will take for a full charge then depends on the previously described use (and power budget).

Concerning the regulator noise you are hearing, I am sorry for that, this seems to be a minor regression with the latest EC firmware update we did. We experience some issues with some, few, laptops where the hardware actually breaks, i.e. they will still work from battery but do not accept power input from any charger (barrel or type-C). We did a change in the EC firmware reverting a change that we implemented at the time when we think these issues started. So we wanted to make sure that this change is not the cause. This change reintroduced two problems it seems, a possible sudden power off if the system uses a lot of power but the battery is at low percentage, the other is the regulator noise you are hearing.

Maybe a word on this type of noise. In modern electronics a lot of different voltages are needed. Back in the day the voltage level was +5V DC TTL, simple. But not anymore. To generate all these different voltages so called switching regulators are used. These, very simplified, consist of a regulator controller chip, a MOSFET transistor, a coil and some filter capacitors. The coil is driven using the MOSFET switching transistor at a regulated frequency and eventually under PWM, i.e. very quickly being powered and not powered. The coil contains a small core made of some ferrite alike material, so the coil plus its core get electromagnetically charged, the discharge is then used for powering the circuit behind it. The regulator chip very carefully regulates the frequency/PWM in a way so that the output of the coil matches the desired voltage. So the real current is flowing through the MOSFET and the coil. The MOSFET is a silicon package, very tight. But the coil is a mechanical thing - there is the ferrite core with some windings of some wire around it somehow etc. Depending on the current / energy driving and discharging it the coil is also put under mechanical stress, there are significant magnetic forces now inside it which can cause the material to be pushed apart or pressed together. The result is, even if tiny, a small movement of a mass. When a mass starts to move at a certain frequency also the surrounding atmosphere starts to move - you have a tiny speaker.

So depending on the switching frequency, the PWM and the mechanical stability mostly of the coil you can hear noises, if the frequency or its derivatives are close to the audible spectrum. The sound varies with the frequency and the load on the coil. So under certain circumstances there can be audible noise, it may sound differently in other use cases and may not be audible at all in some more.

That being said, with the last EC firmware change we removed a limit we previously set on the Intel package power consumption - we had assumed this limit might have been too high and went back to the power on reset default. Sadly all that is very badly documented in public Intel documentation (we are talking about so called PL3 and especially PL4 here). With this change we very obviously changed the power consumption of the Intel package which, in some laptops, causes worse regulator noise. Nevertheless we wanted to push this change out quickly in order to avoid more main boards from breaking.

By now we figured out through painful testing and more experiments that this change is likely not the root cause for the failing boards. We have already made a new EC firmware release 1.7 and put new defaults for PL4 back in. We tested the default we have in there now to not detriment performance while still limiting power enough to be safe® for the main boards. This will also reduce the regulator noise again as well as help to prevent many of the “sudden shutdown at low battery charge”.

This regulator / coil noise is really super hard to control, it has to do with a lot of things. We have already implemented what we could to mitigate effects in those spots where we can implement something - e.g. the charge controller for the battery has a special mode that will avoid audible frequencies, which we enabled. Most of the other regulators we have no control over from software. We are also seeing quite some spread between individual devices. Some devices almost do not exhibit this at all, some others are clearly more audible. This also has to do with a certain spread in the mechanical stability, mostly of these coils. These are pretty mechanical components, there are tolerances. We have some hints and ideas for reducing the effect that we are also researching.

So, if you can, please upgrade to EC firmware 1.7 that should help a bit with the noise. And please watch the charging, it shoulg go up when not stressing the laptop and the power LED is green.

Cheers
nicole

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When its plugged in and im working on it the charge percentage holds its value (26%) currently. The odd thing is when using the laptop (on) there’s no coil whine. When i close the laptop lid the coil whine comes back and the computer will charge a little bit over time. I’m only using email currently and coding out scripts, so nothing to crazy that would cause the system to go nuts. To fully charge id have to power off the laptop and then not use it for most of the day to get any charge on the battery.

I’ve updated The EC to the latest firmware and am still having issues with the system. The coil whine doesn’t really bother me, its the charging issue. Haha. Kinda need to use this thing on the go if ya know what i mean.

Thank you for the amazing response too!! haha Love the full details of troubleshooting this issue.

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Thanks! (and while it may be kind of for for you to read, figuring out many of these details is a bit painful and time consuming process… especially for problem that fluctuate or only seldomly occur)

OK, happy it charges which mean no hardware error. But it should charge a bit faster if not under heavy load. This is pretty weird.

Maybe another hint: When the laptop is fully powered off (not suspended) and the charger is not connected, only then the EC will also not be powered, i.e. it will finally reset and also load e.g. battery parameters from the battery again at next power on. On power on we read the battery specification from the battery itself, it reports nominal voltage, charge voltage, charge current etc. (and the state of charge in %). I have not seen this but in case the battery would fail to report the proper charge current a safe default of 1A is applied, which is less than 50% of the regular charge current, i.e. it would take more than double the time to fully charge. A reset of the EC will reread the battery and reinit the charge controller. If this indeed makes a difference please let me know, then we have to look at the battery communication closely again.

Cheers
nicole

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I’ve powered it on and have nothing running and the charging percentage hasn’t moved for awhile… I would think it would being that there’s no load on the CPU.

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You have same behavior like my L14, nothing wrong with L14 it’s just a different charging tactic to completely preserve Battery and PCB life.
If you want fully charged the battery of L14 just do it on sleep mode.

Oh i love my Librem 14, just would love it at least charge to 80% of battery capacity and then it stop. My thing is how long it takes to charge, i travel a lot and sometimes need that battery for when i cant get to a socket to power it.

Believe me I love my L14 too. :smile:

Of course you can stop on 80% if want but it’s not really necessary because Purism is already implementing battery preservation modes.
Examples: stoping on 80% it one mode. like accelerate the charge between 20 to 80 and then slowly down to 100% is second mode of charging. there are more.

The issue i’m having is how extremely slow the charging is… like all day to charge the battery while its off… I can’t use the machine to charge the battery… which… is difficult.

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I know what you talk about so on EC Firmware v1.5 you can see the improvement of charging even if the L14 it ON, but in that firmware version v1.5 there is a bug which the PCB burn and stop working suddenly so i guess that Purism tries to find out the origin of that failure to the point that in EC version 1.7 the charging is very slow but this is only for security to prevent the L14 permanent dying suddenly by a charging error.
You can use the L14 at any moment if DC is plug-in the only different is that that batteries not get charging not matter what percentage of battery it is. I guess that this slow battery charging could be change in the incoming ec version.

So wait this EC version 1.7 fixed the issue with the charger killing the laptop? Hence why the slow charging and times at when it can charge correct?

that is categorically false

I just try to unabstract to user. :wink:
Of course you the master.

May be fixed. But the think is that regular-user are bad experiment with the L14 like Adding a second SSD to Librem 14 then theys kill the L14 then later calling to Purism for a L14 PCB failed so this is not fair to Purism

Because the team reduced the energy entrace, so just budget to keep the L14 ON, not for charging battery on demand so that is why i guess the estimate time for charging is crazy. :rofl:
But nothing to stress to much with e.c v1.7 for extremly low charging, because when the L14 has fully charged you can uses all day then in the night time the L14 charged to full overnite.

To be honest i not using my L14 ATM not because I’m afraid to use it my L14, it’s because i uses the free software X200 computer too, so my L14 is saved for now.

So the battery charged up to 100% . When plugged in, started playing a 4k video and the battery percentage drops… that normal?

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Depends on how fast it drops.

of course, since the charger isn’t going to kick back on until the battery drops below a certain threshold (which is user configurable)

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Of course that does not normal conduct. I not tested EC v1.7 and i am new user for L14 i do not know how the EC it programmed really to charge the battery. if @MrChromebox can explain us should be
nice.

Makes sense to me! Thank you!

SOLUTION: Updated the EC firmware to 1.7. Reset the power to the EC by unplugging all power including the battery from the motherboard. Adjusted the thresholds for charging to better config.

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