Blueye's new charger pack, fueling your batteries faster than ever

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 / Trondheim, Norway

At Blueye, we focus on making our products as robust and user-friendly as possible. The more straightforward to use, the more potential they have for our customers.

Batteries are to be found everywhere in our lives. Laptops, phones, and watches are just common examples. As a counterpart, chargers play a crucial role in keeping our devices ready to be used. Blueye batteries are no exception. We understand how important it is to increase operational time for our underwater drones. Therefore, we have worked hard to release a new charger with increased power and user-friendliness.

What is the USB Type-C connector?

With the introduction of computers and phones, there has been a demand for connectivity among devices. USB (Universal Serial Bus) was introduced to cope with such needs by creating a connector that could provide power and transfer data.

The first USB (1.0) revision started with the USB-A connectors in the 90s. If you look around today, you can still spot many of these around your desk. Over time, other connector types have been designed for different purposes involving mini, micros, and numerous other configurations.

All these connectors had their use, but as technology advances, they need to catch up to their time. Devices need higher data rates and are more power-hungry. A proposed solution: USB Type-C connector.

Blueye Explains Episode 11: The new charging system

The latest USB connector gathers all strengths from its predecessors:

  • Compact and about the same size as the USB micro-B connector.
  • USB Type-C connector has no polarity, so can be plugged both ways.
  • Bidirectional: it can source, sink power or both.
  • Supports USB 3.1/4 with transfer speeds up to 20-40Mbps. It is also backward compatible with the previous USB revisions.
  • Power transfers of up to 100W with different voltage options.
  • Fewer cables are needed, which is good for the environment.

All these benefits translate into the need for only one connector to rule them all. Blueye's primary goal is to create products with premium user-friendliness, and the USB Type C connector aligns with that thought. As a result, we updated our Surface Unit, the controller, and the Blueye charger to USB Type-C.

USB C Blueye charger
USB C Blueye charger

Charging your ROV battery to 80% in just 1 hour

The USB 3.1 standard increased more than just the data rate. It introduced the USB PD 2.0 (Power Delivery) specification. The new feature allows power transfers of up to 100W with different voltage profiles (5V, 9V, 15V, and 20V), which can power laptops and other more powerful devices. The new Blueye charger is no exception. It features a USB Type C connector with PD capabilities up to 75W.

In addition, we have increased the power transfer of the new charger from the main battery connector by 70%. Compared to the previous charger, you can expect to charge the Blueye Smart Battery (96.2Wh) from 0 to 100% in less than two hours. In a use case with two batteries and a runtime of about two hours per dive, there will not be a need to wait for a fully charged battery.

Comparison of old vs new charger
The new charger charges the Blueye smart battery from 10-80% in just under one hour.

If your dives are more demanding, you can expect batteries to be charged from 10 to 80% in about 1h. As shown in the graph, Lithium Ion batteries charge with maximum power up to 80% State of Charge (SoC). When the SoC reaches over 80%, the charge gets more and more expensive in time. Therefore, charging from 80 to 100% takes 35 to 40 minutes.

eMarked cable

The Power Delivery specification (PD 2.0) offers different power levels, but not all cables can support the maximum power rating. Cables able to provide power rates over 60W need to be marked. This means the cable has been designed to transmit up to 100W of power and accommodates electronics embedded in the connectors to indicate to the connected device that it can source or sink the required power. The new Blueye charger needs at least 75W, a power supply rated to over 75W, and an eMarked cable.

Borja working on the charger
Borja Serra working on the charger.

Charge all items with the same power supply

At Blueye, we focus on the complete workflow when operating our underwater drones. The benefits do not stop with our new charger only; they continue with the power supply.

The new power supply is more compact and lighter. It provides two USB Type-C connectors with PD capabilities, rated to 90W and 18W. The first is dedicated to the Blueye charger, while the other is for charging other devices. Two USB Type-A connectors come in addition to charge all other devices needed for diving.

Station keeping
Satechi USB C Power Supply
Auto altitude
Blueye USB C charger kit.

From Blueye, we suggest our customers use the charger kit as follows:

  • 90W USB C PD port: Blueye charger
  • 18W USB C PD port: Phone/Tablet
  • USB A port: Surface Unit
  • USB A port: Controller

With all four connectors, you only need one power supply when traveling, as it can even charge modern laptops and tablets.

Ilustration of Satechi power supply

Ilustration of charging the Blueye ROV.