Teardown Diagnostic of a $100 Lelo Premium Vibrator

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Teardown Diagnostic of a $100 Lelo Premium Vibrator

Postby fruzzetti » January 10th, 2014, 11:20 pm

Howdy folks! Read if you have one -- it'll help you should your device fail.

My wife and I use our Lelo vibrator religiously. It is far superior to cheaper products. We were worried when one night I charged it and found black blotches on the handle the next morning. It must not have overcharge protection? Whatever; it still worked! ... for a couple days :/

I decided to tear it down and figure out what was wrong and maybe fix it. The one-year full replacement warranty is over, but it does have a 10-year 50% replacement cost warranty as well. I wanted to share my experience tearing it down because the process was complicated, though easy with the right tools (
01 - Tools (Custom).jpg

There are four screws, all the same size (Phillips, maybe #0 or #00ish will work), each on the underbelly where the controls are:

Screw #1) There is a screw hidden under the location of the charge port plug. To get the charge port plug out I used the pointy pick. I could have carefully removed it in one piece because it is not barbed, but the plug part had broken off anyway, so I just tore it out.

Screw #2) There is a screw hidden under the metallized plastic retainer ring. I used a Dremel with a fine cutting saw to surgically score it the plastic ring easily; it did not melt and blob up the cut and was tough and retained its shape even after being widened to remove from the case.

Screw #3) Two more are under the textured silicone skin. This was going to be tricky. I did not want to damage it. It was able to stretch back around itself, and I had to pick at some glue underneath it (the pick is so handy for materials like these). But once it grabbed onto itself there was just no moving it. That's what the olive oil was for; because it's silicone, I wouldn't risk using any garage oils. Food oils only. I oiled by napkin only the OUTSIDE all but 1.5cm of the way up so I could grab it with the pick and my finger tips to flip it. Once I flipped it, the skin rolled off easily, exposing each additional point of glue I needed to pick.

Screw #4) I fully inverted the silicone skin and found the last screw. Unfortunately I had already put small cracks in the case before I realized the back cover went past the metallized plastic ring.

Finally it lifted apart to reveal a battery wedged in between whole lot of hot glue that looked like it was placed in a hand-finishing step (
02 - Hot Glue (Custom).jpg
03 - Hot Glue and Burns (Custom).jpg
). The hot glue was an obstacle I puzzled about for a bit. Was it really hand-finished, or had internal heat caused the glue to blob up? I think it was done intentionally for eradicating vibration, because it's done like that all the way up and there's no way the whole thing overheated from something on the local electronics. I could see two screws holding in the PCB which was tucked under this battery.

I tried to remove the battery manually. I made some progress by gently picking the hot glue off the walls of the device; they detach with a satisfying "pop" and then rest back where they were, easy to remove later. I also broke two motor wires. When they popped off, the red one took its whole pad. Would I scrape the PCB to try and get some bare copper to resolder onto? I have never needed to try that.

To remove the hot glue I thought I would need a heat gun, which I don't have, but a 110V 1875W hair dryer did the job no problem on high, by just making slow passes over the whole hot glue nightmare. I was able to remove the huge rectangular prism of glue pretty easily once it became tacky, and was able to reach the third, hidden screw holding the PCB!

I was as impressed with the internals as I had been with the exterior form (Photo #04):

- Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Custom designed, custom-machine-cut PCB with low-profile charging port, pads for programming / debugging (serial port or JTAG?), and four moment buttons on obverse, small epoxied chips and resistors and capacitors and SMB LEDs on the back. Everything is printed really nicely, even labels.
- Extra length on the battery wires
- Extra girth on the motor wires
- Foam-suspended vibrator motors with heavy weights and bearings

I am glad to feel I got what I paid for, because these are a cut above the other guys' stuff.

I was hoping just the lower motor wires could be reconnected and everything would be good (note: this is unlikely, but not imposible). But then I noticed a discoloration (Photo #04) on the 14-pin chip labeled U2 (look at that 5 x 2 configuration!). I noticed how the lowest-left black chip looked a bit discolored. I think it is part of the It must have gotten a fever...

I unscrewed the PCB and removed it, exposing the side up against its half of the case where the controls are. Unfortunately, I must have gotten it wet in there, which seems to have caused a chain reaction by destroying the U2 chip in a hostile way (look at the circular burn mark nearest the large hole, Photo #05) and creating some sort of meltdown. There's some burned trace, too, on a lead from the 'off' button.

I haven't tried fixing it yet, but from the way it looks to me, my only nice way of doing that would be to replace the four buttons with a simple push on-off switch, wired directly to the battery and motors. I would also have to rework the charging port to be a simple wire to the battery, and then make a power cable with bare ends for a Lithium-ion smart charger I have which only has alligator clips on it.

Or, I could take advantage of the warranty, spending half as much for the newest version. Or I could salvage everything that's usable from it and make some other thing, or upgrade a cheapo device to include whatever internals work from this one.

Moral of the story: don't charge yours overnight, and NEVER get it wet!

I will reply to attach the remaining two photos.

Dan (reference me as "fuzz" if you want to feature it?)
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Re: Teardown Diagnostic of a $100 Lelo Premium Vibrator

Postby fruzzetti » January 10th, 2014, 11:23 pm

Photos #04 and #05 attached here.

04 - Hair Dryer and Chip Burns (Custom).jpg

05 - Chip Burns (Custom).jpg
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