Inside a Chipolo Plus

by @edent | # # # # | 6 comments | Read ~1,928 times.

Last week I reviewed the Chipolo Plus. It's a small Bluetooth beacon which you can use as an item tracker - attach it to your keys or wallet and know where they are at all times.

As I said in the review, the only downside is that it has a non-replaceable battery. I'm not sure I want to buy one for £20 and then throw it away after 12 months of use.

A few of you asked how tightly sealed the unit is - so I'm going to take one apart and show you its guts!

Warning!

Opening your Chipolo will almost certainly void your warranty, it will degrade its waterproof rating, and you risk breaking it entirely. Proceed with caution!

Opening it Up

Chipolo in a box

There's a thin seam running around the outside of the Chipolo Plus.

A thin seam running around the outside

A thin screwdriver can get between the cracks.

Using a screwdriver to get in

You'll need to go all the way around the casing in order to get it open. You will almost certainly crack and break the casing.

Cracking the case

Battery

Once the top is off, we can see the battery

The battery is exposed

It's a fairly standard CR2032 - although it is tightly wedged in there. The original Chipolo uses the similar CR2025.

Parts

The plastic casing comes apart very easily from the electronics. We can see the three clips which need to be cracked in order to open the piece.

Taken apart into three pieces

On the underside is a small foil disc which acts as the speaker, there's a button in the middle for interacting with the unit.

Chips

What's powering this unit?
Close up of the chips

The main SoC is the Nordic nRF51822. The smaller chip is the PAM8904 which controls the speaker.

Thoughts

The original Chipolo is a little fragile - but I'm not convinced that making the Plus unit sealed is a good idea. It feels wasteful to have a completely disposable unit.

It is possible to replace the battery, but you have to destroy most of the outer casing in order to do so. A slip of sticky-tape should be enough to seal it back up again - at the cost of aesthetics!

Manufacturers have to become more environmentally responsible when designing these gadgets.

Buy

You can buy a Chipolo using my referral link http://ssqt.co/NEvh for £20 - or £62 for a pack of 4.

6 thoughts on “Inside a Chipolo Plus

  1. Nika says:

    Full disclosure: I work for Chipolo.

    We sealed the casing following the feedback of majority of our users who wanted to have a water- resistant tracker. If a replaceable battery is more important to you than having a water-resistant device, we would advise you to choose Chipolo Classic model.

    The renewal program for Chipolo Plus is designed to be environment-friendly - we will collect used units and recycle them on our expenses. And the user gets to buy a new unit with 50% discount. More: https://chipolo.net/renewal

  2. tech savvy says:

    my chipolo’s were a disappointment. one of two died in three days. I took them back for a full refund.

  3. I agree with the wasteful nature of the non replacable battery.
    I am yet to do it but I want to replace the battery myself.
    The question is whether the Chipolo software will adjust the condition of the battery to new.
    It deems the unit as low battery and needs to be replaced/recycled.
    Will it force the end of life even with a new battery?
    I cringe even suggesting it because Chipolo will probably read this and think " Great idea, make them dead even with a new battery"
    I hope not.

  4. Al says:

    After 6 months chippolo plus gone dead, a lot of advertising, not worth buying

  5. Rob Neal says:

    Perhaps I was lucky. I dropped my keys and the Chipolo Plus fell in half!

    I put it together with a dab of superglue on each side. It continued to work well until the battery ran down.

    I very carefully removed the old battery using needle point pliers to break the spot welds that connected the original 2032. I then placed a 2032 in as a replacement using a conducting glue and when had cured using a very small amount of superglue to provide the mechanical strength, this was applied to the ‘remote’ ends of the contacts. It works!

    Why go to all this trouble.

    ‘Everest was there to climb.’ I had the tools, the glue and the battery; so the cost was about 90p.

    I have a number Chipolo Plus when they have completed their useful life I will be using the ‘renewal scheme’.

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