This is the summary of Gimpy's Life, our very special needs butterfly that was born with only portions of a few feet (not enough to walk right), and non fully functional wings, and lost the round part of one antenna for reasons unknown, not long after emerging from his chrysalis. We didn't know its sex, but we called him gimpy.
We poured our hearts into helping this little bugger survive: we built him little houses where he could enjoy a few flowers, hopefully feed without falling in his food and getting too sticky (that happened several times and tried out best to remove all the sugar glue each time). We tried to help him achieve the best butterfly life that was possible for him.
In the end, he survived 9 days out of 14 or so (expected lifetime), but it was a not an easy life: he was unable to feed himself, so we had to extend his proboscis in food and he was able to slurp then. By the 8th day he probably stopped being able or willing to eat and by the 9th day (July 4th), he would not slurp food or water when we gave him some, so he ended up dying of exhaustion, hunger, or thirst while we tried our best to help him (doing so, was difficult the last few days as he started getting more scared of us, so we were not able to help it feed as much, and we weren't able to check on him as carefully).
1.5 years ago, I got Jennifer a butterfly kit from her birthday from insectlore. You can read about our first experience taking care of caterpilars here. At the time, I should have found their FAQ, which would have made it clear that getting butterflies in november, was not the best idea. We hope they survived after we released them, but the temperatures were borderline.
What they don't warn you about, though, is that you're likely to have to make life and death decisions, and they don't equip you much for them. We only found out later that outside of crushing a dying butterfly, you can also put it in the freezer and it will go to sleep in less than a minute.
The first time, one butterfly came out wrong and was totally mangled. It looked that in his struggle to get out, it also severed body parts and was bleeding. At the time, it was pretty simple (even if not easy), to crush the poor thing so that it didn't have to keep suffering while bleeding to death:
poor thing, you can barely tell that it was supposed to be a butterfly
This time, I got a kit for Jennifer in June, a better time of the year. One caterpillar died in his Chrysalis, 8 of them turned into happy butterflies that we released in our yard. And last one was gimpy. Gimpy had issues getting unstuck when he got out, and after I saw him struggle, I helped him out. Unfortunately in the process, he seemed to have lost portions of his legs that were just too stuck to get out (yes, had I been prepared with the right surgical tools, I might have been able to help better, but either way gimpy didn't have proper control of his wings):
Gimpy looked almost ok, except that butterflies leave their wings closed by default, gimpy could not close them
soon, it was also clear that while he could control both wings, it was not in a balanced way (flight would not be possible)
We left gimpy with the other butterflies in the habitat for the first day (they don't all come out at the same time), but unfortunately we had no idea he couldn't actually feed on his own. As we found out later, he could not really go somewhere on purpose, nor could he extend his proboscis on his own to feed:
Gimpy, Day 2
By the 2nd day, the last butterflies had emerged, so we let them free in our yard, and it was clear that gimpy as not going to be able to live on his own:
we gave him a bit of sun and showed him outside
it was clear that he was not really able to get around though, or even feed, also by then he somehow had lost tip of his right antenna
we finally figured out that we had to manually unroll/extend his proboscis into the food, and this was likely the first time the poor little thing got to eat
jennifer made different foods for him, but his partial legs were so short that it was difficult for him to reach
so she found ways to prop it up
We were worried when we found out that he didn't have full control of his proboscis, the straw that bufferflies can unroll to feed. It could eat through it if we put it in food, and he could move it just a bit, but he did not seem able to unroll it and place it in food on his own. That made it difficult to know if he was hungry as we also found out he would make small motions with his proboscis rolled in the air, and that didn't have to mean it was hungry (actually it was Jennifer's sharp eye that noticed that what looked like a small antenna on the side of its head was actually the proboscis moving, and maybe trying to suck food out of the air).
You can see in this clip that he can move a bit, and his proboscis is curled on the left of the head, moving, but not able to reach any food (unless we put him in there manually). Poor gimpy probably wanted to enjoy that orange, but wasn't able to (we gave him orange juice later):
Gimpy, Day 3-6
we got hime fresh flowers from our yard, even if they died fast. We're hoping he was able to enjoy the smells.
Those were probably Gimpy's best days, despite the challenges due to his infirmities. One problem was that he couldn't walk with purpose given his missing or damaged half legs, and would sometimes end up in the sticky sugar.
Jennifer tried different ways to prop him up to the food
Did I mention how hard Jennifer tried? Here she made him a new little house with recessed floor to fit a cut cup of food
she became a butterfly cook
Jennifer made a mixture of plum and orange from our yard, and sugar water
his sectionned front left leg made it difficult for him to walk, but he did his best
The recessed cup of food that Jennifer had designed was better but gimpy still could fall into it. We also tried another method with a less amount of sticky food (arguably it was still too much in that picture):
he seemed happy being on a flower (when balanced right), and having food brought up (we still had to manually extend the proboscis)
the surface tension of the sugar water was helpful for keeping the proboscis in
You can see gimby eating a bit:
At least twice he even fell upside down (wings first) in the sugary food, so we had to clean him and dry him:
we then helped him dry
We hope he enjoyed the flowers we gave him:
despite his damaged feet, he was able to climb flowers as often as he could, that was exciting
Gimpy, Day 7-8
Unfortunately each time he got scared or excited, he tried to fly and ended up upside down and then couldn't flip back, so we had to help him (actually, during a couple of days he became strong and skilled enough to jump up from upside down and eventually flip back right side up). What upset the poor thing was diverse and hard to know for sure, but the few times that he sensed AC air did not work. Surprisingly putting him in the sun, seemed to upset him too for reasons that are not clear (maybe it was too warm and he couldn't close his wings or regulate temperature).
In this clip Gimpy got upset at the sun and flipped himself over. We soon had to learn that our buttefly just didn't like being in the sun:
To make things harder, we think he eventually got a bit scared of us, as part of what we had to do, to help him, must not always have felt great (like wetting and un-gluing wings stuck with sugar). Obviously at times we must also have done a few things he plain didn't like when we were trying to do our best to help him.
By day 7th, he started flapping his wings and flipping over for more reasons, and it was harder to feed him. Jennifer tried really hard to find solutions, including this new feeder which was a great idea, but did not work out (it was too steep for gimpy who couldn't stand well with its leg stubs):
Jennifer was very observant and noticed that even his broken shorted leg didn't look quite right, and it had gotten glued to the body due to sugar, so she had to help him out. After flipping over out of frustation, Jennifer was able to see the leg stuck to the body's hair, and free it up while Gimpy laid very still.
We didn't know he was turning around like this but eventually Jennifer figured that it was because of the stuck foot:
sorry gimpy, this must have felt uncomfortable, but you really wanted your foot stuck with sugar, to get unstuck
By then poor little thing was looking more beaten up with all the wing flapping, flipping over, one time a wing even got stuck to the cardboard due to sugar and a small corner of the wing was lost:
We tried to find new ways to feed him so that his poor injured feet had a bit of traction and that he wouldn't fall in the food:
Always made sure he had flowers to enjoy:
Unfortunately by mid-day he would get more restless and often looked like he was upset, at us or something else. All we could do was to put a a cover on the box so it got dark to calm him down. This was hard to watch, we were worried that maybe he was in pain or suffering in some way, or maybe he was just upset to see us (ultimately the only communication we got when something was wrong is he would flip over, which is kind of limited). It was upsetting not to know what was wrong and how to help:
So many questions, he didn't seem to be able to move forward much, but was he moving backwards (not a normal thing to do). Was it because it was easier for him to move that way, or because he was afraid of us?
And in the process of all this, he really surprised us by having enough power to hang on to a flower and move it with his wings:
This is where things get sad. Because he seemed scared of us, we gave it more space and didn't try to feed him in the evening when he was more restless and more likely to fall in the food and get all sticky. Because he died 5 days before his expected time, we think he didn't eat when we gave him food in the morning of day 8 (it was easy in the morning as he was still waking up and less likely to be feisty), and we didn't know (he had the proboscis in the food, but we didn't know if he sucked any). He didn't really seem weak during the day, but of course, it's hard to tell for sure.
I put the lid on the box that evening so he didn't get too excited (yes, of course, there was room for air exchange).
Gimpy, Day 9
The next morning, I brought gimpy to his food as he was waking up, and maybe I should have taken a clue that his antenna was dipping in the food.
when I was looking at him, he wasn't doing the suction
Soon after, we found him with one wing arched (maybe due to to dehydration) and the other wing dipped into the food:
Jennifer thought he was dehydrated because his wings we arched, so she misted him and tried to get the sugar out of his wing. In hindsight, we should have tried to give it pure water at that point, even if it was probably already too late:
it was very hard to do, only Jennifer had the eye and precision to do it
By then, we realized that he looked dead. I had already written gimpy off as he hadn't moved at all in a while, but Jennifer said we should take him to the sun, and she was right. We saw a bit of life back in him but it was apparent that he was having his last moments (we wanted him to eat/drink and recover, but that was not to be). We had a small piece of parchment paper between his wings so that they didn't get stuck again:
he wouldn't eat, but he was probably too weak to make the suction to eat by then.
Given his number of infirmities, Jennifer wondered if his proboscis stopped working because it got plugged by sugar or a piece of fruit, but obviously that's kind of hard to check. If it were true somehow, by then it was way too late and Gimpy was too weak to do any suction. Yet, as a last ditch effort, we put his proboscis in water and tried to stimulate it a bit, and Gimpy responded by moving it a few times ever so slightly, but those were clearly his last dying breaths (not that you can see a butterfly breathing):
If you look really really closely, you'll see one of his last signs of life at offset 0:29. We were hopeful he could drink water and perk back up, but it was too far gone unfortunately:
In the end, Gimpy lived 9 days (those butterflies live 14 days on average, so he should have lived a bit longer). It died on the morning of July 4th. In hindsight, it was likely that he didn't feed at all in at least 24H, but it was hard for us to know, because butterflies do not expel waste unless they ate way too much (that happened a couple of times with gimpy when he was eating way too much early on). The other problem was that in the last 3 days, he had gotten what looked like more restless with us, so that he would try to fly and eventually flip upside down when we were too close. As a result, we gave him more space and were not able to observe him as closely (Jennifer before that was checking carefully and knew when he was bigger because he had eaten, or could easily tell when one of his legs or wings got stuck because of sugar).
A bit later, we found that his wings had bent/arched and he hadn't shown any movement in over 30mn, so we said our good-byes. Hopefully his last moments weren't too uncomfortable and we hope we helped him have the best butterfly life that he could in the 9 days that he shared with us.
So, most of you are probably going to at least smile, if not laugh at us, for the amount of time and effort we've spent over those 9 days trying to give this poor little butterfly as good a life as possible. I understand, I probably would have done the same thing too, but given that I'm the one who didn't manage to help him better get unstuck from his cocoon, and probably is at least partially responsible for him missing a leg or two, I've felt responsible for helping the poor little bugger out as much as possible (the wings never fully inflated and the part of antenna missing, is likely another problem that may not be our fault).
We've tried to give it as much of a "proud butterfly life" by showing him outside a few times, first when we released his siblings, including taking him out for lunch with us, until he didn't like the sun and wind. After being back indoors, we make sure he got fruit juice or sugar water, and we moved him around with the sun during the day so that he could enjoy the heat on his wings (he first seems to enjoy that, but soon enough it looked like not, maybe too much of a good thing?). For his last moments, Jennifer also took him back outside to experience the outdoors and the sun one last time.
We learned a lot about butterflies, but we were also left with a lot of questions, including the ones related to his challenges:
We had to learn that he didn't like sun, maybe because he couldn't fold his wings and it was too hot or too drying
There are times, he went backwards, was he scared of us, or was he so unable to walk properly that it was easier to move backwards?
Was he trying to fly just to fly, or was it indeed the only way for him to show that he was upset/scared?
We never found out why he had some control over his proboscis but didn't seem to be able to extend it in food, while being able to use it once it was there
We hope he was able to enjoy the flowers despite missing the part of his feet that can smell, and one part of one antenna
We never were really sure if he liked what we tried to do for him, like getting a floor that's not as tough given that he had to drag his body, but if it was too smooth, he had no grip to move around
More generally we hope he never was in pain or suffering, but it's very possible he had gangrene on his broken legs. Our biggest hope is that the days of life with gave him were worth living and his quality of life was sufficient to make worth it. We also hope we were able to help him achieve the best butterfly life he could have.
Did he die a natural death a few days early, or did he become unable to feed because it had problems with his proboscis (did sugar cause a clog, and we could have gotten gimpy to feed on water after each time it had sugar?) or maybe it did have gangrene and an infection from his half severed feet?
One thing I got a hint of, is how caretakers of people with special needs must feel. We wanted to help gimpy so much, accepted his disabilities, adjusted our hopes and expectations accordingly, and did the best we could to help it. The other butterflies were fun, we released them outside on flowers, they left, and never came back (as expected of course, it's not like they're supposed to be pets). Gimpy had so many problems, but he never gave up: he made us so happy when he succeeded in doing things like climbing a lavender and standing proudly on top, or when we saw him hover while holding and moving the lavender under him. We definitely rooted for him.
Gimpy never gave up, and tried to be the best butterfly it could be despite its physical challenges.
Yes, it would have been a lot easier if he could have fed a few more days and just died peacefully in his sleep, but that wasn't meant to be. Seeing him make his last movements as he died was very hard to watch, but I guess 9 days of life, hopefully at least 6 of them being as good as they could be, is still better than nothing (realistically many people would not have seen him struggle and let him die after birth, or not noticed he wasn't able to feed on his own and let him die of starvation after birth).
Yes, we could have euthanized him if we knew he was not going to make it, but we kept hope that he would surprise us again and pull through. Would you have been ok killing a butterfly that you were not absolutely sure, was already dying?
RIP Gimpy, we hope you'll re-incarnate in a better life, thank you for the teachings you gave us, and sorry for any ways we did not know how to better take care for you (although hopefully we did about as well as anyone could have been reasonably expected to).
After he died, we decided to keep him. I tried to flatten his wings, unstick the ones that were often stuck and pointed wrong, and made him a little home with flowers from our yard:
and him got a home with the other butterflies I inherited from an uncle
(before you ask, I do not support buying butterfly displays, I don't trust that the butterflies died a natural death. That one is over 60 years old and I inherited it from an uncle in France when I was a kid, while I enjoy it, I would never buy one):
I tried to be lighter this time, this is what I had:
3kg Fanny pack
16kg backpack including 2kg water and 1.5kg ursac food
19kg total or 42lbs
Day 1: Drive from the Bay, Quick Stop by Dodge Ridge, and 11.5 miles to Mosquito Heaven Toejam Lake
close to our destination, you could already ride horses
i01*|Dodge Ridge, I went twice with Jennifer, but Arturo hasn't yet
We were at the trailhead ready to go by 11:00, no mosquitoes, everything was fine :)
smiling and happy, not knowing th hell we were going to walk into :)
nearby thunderstorm that we avoided
Eventually we got to Toejam Lake, which looked nice, except for the tens of thousands of mosquitoes that spent the entire time trying to suck all the blood we were carrying:
Arturo said the smoke the fire should have scared them, sadly it made no difference
I got the tent up as quickly as possible, and went to hide in it, the blood thirsty mosquitoes that had apparently just been born, were biting through layers of clothing
Got the tent up as quickly as possible, and went to hide in it
Was that about 50 mosquitoes trying to get through my 2 layers of clothes and get in the tent with me?
they also did their best to try and get inside the tent
and they also tried to eat my pack
Arturo stayed outside, good for him :)
Day 2: 12H / 20 Mile Escape
Honestly, I have no idea how Arturo dealt with the swarms of mosquitoes (and it was really swarms). Once I was outside the tent the next morning, I packed and left as soon as possible as the mosquitoes were just biting through my clothes as soon as I stopped moving:
the river crossings were easy enough, only one was a bit tricky
interesting to see bacteria make oil
We took a few quick breaks in places were the mosquitoes were not as bad:
my new vivoactive 4 has a body battery feature, which seems to say I was running low :)
this was likely the only place without mosquitoes, so we took a break
We had a few lower elevation camps where we considered staying, but by the time we got there, they all had mosquitoes, so we kept going:
Arturo found this nice snake
We eventually got to camp lake, and it, too, had too many mosquitoes, so we pushed on back to the car, almost 12H and 20 miles:
the mosquito net was definitely helpful
Eventually we got back to the trailhead, and by then, a mere 36H later, it was also overrun by mosquitoes. This proved that they literally were hatching as we arrived, bummer:
just shy of 20 miles.
I guess it was a long day :)
the vivoactive 4 did great, despite 12H of GPS tracking, it had 20% battery left
[rigimg:1024:1.5 years ago, I got some caterpillars for Jennifer's BD and they grew into butterflies that were released in the yard, although it was a bit cold in november. We you can read about our first experience taking care of caterpilars here.]
Given that were were not going anywhere for a while, I thought it would be fun to have another batch in nicer warm weather, so I got another set of 10 and this time the caterpillars were already a lot bigger when we got them, which we didn't mind, watching the caterpillars grow slowly was kind of the boring part of the experience for us:
they were fat within a few days
and they went to create a chrysalis quickly
Two of them were not attached right, so we used pins to attach them. One of those 2 never survived (not because of the pin that we carefully put outside of the cocoon):
Not long after, the first butterflies started to emerge with folded wings that got straight once filled with blood:
Butterflies are generally not afraid of us, especially after being just born:
Once all of them were born (there was a 2 day variance), we took them to our yard when it was warm and sunny:
they obviously liked our lantanas
this one already started feeding (you can see its proboscis)
I ended up doing one of the last track days before everything shut down for Covid-19, and I was able to get a spot for one of the first track days after Laguna Seca re-opened. It was with speed ventures, and they nicely allowed me to buy 2 rungroups, so I had a pretty packed day for the single day I went, Sunday.
I was not able to get my racecar back, as it was up for sale, so I had to take the Mclaren.
Unfortunately, McLaren had an issue on my service that week (they were a bit overwhelmed, and I'm sure difficult conditions), and they did not fix an undertightened leaky valve, which forced me to stop twice during the drive there to add air as my tire was getting empty. I arrived there, uncertain that I'd be able to drive.
made it with a bit of air in my tires
with Covid-19, no drivers meeting
everyone had masks and we mostly kept social distancing
a couple of teslas were there, that's dedication
It had been a while since my car saw the track:
as always, the car was wasting my time with alerts when the tires were fine.
that said, one lap my valve failed and I lost almost all my air, barely made it out
turns out all it was, was a valve that was never tightened right
Thanks a lot to BR Racing for helping me with my car when the valve of my tire popped out and I lost almost all my air. Thanks to their help, I was able to get back on track, but by then, my tires had lost their grip, and my brakes had sadly also gotten a lot more worn than they should have.
All in all, it was a bit vexing, I started with 1:39's in the morning with my tire issues and my not remembering the track much, and as the day went by and the track and my tires got slower, I got faster and finished with the same 1:39 until my tires and brakes gave out.
the front sensors melted and went to metal without any warning, as usual
rear brakes were not happy
Oh yeah, and I got a reminder that my Mclaren is not as stable and planted as my racecar, along with cresting a small hill, getting the car light, not having the wheel completely straight, a bit of coolant on the track left by the previous car, and my using too much of the track with differential grip between the track and the runble strip, didn't work out indeed (jump to 11:45):
Although here's a much nicer map, showing the previous Skyline to the Sea hike we did compared to this days's hike:
Planning the hike was a bit interesting because the CA Governor was nice enough to close all state parks, but in a way that someone could mistakenly enter them from another location and realize when exiting that the reason they didn't see anyone at all on the trail (and why it was actually so safe), was that other people were kept away.
nice parking spot next to the trail entrance
oh, not this way
this way ok?
I can see the tow truck saying 'fuck it, I'm not getting paid enough for this one'
castle rock trail camp now reservable, how nice!
beatles were out having orgy sex
we found out that the lizards get ticks and their blood kills the lyme bacteria in them
Great that we got to see Castle Rock this time:
fun without the crowds
Then we got back to skyline. Ooops, you mean we weren't supposed to be here:
Across the street, Indian Rock and other trails not part of the CA park, were open:
The 3.3 mile hike back to the car looked ok, but was very close to skyline and car noise:
lookout tower, and old observation site, now overgrown
slight renovations required
by then, we were getting tired, 15 miles and 7h of hiking already, and we made it back to the car after 7.5h
Ok, it's not "real" wildlife, but it's still fun to see a few animals in your backyard.
Then, we have little lizards everywhere (well, big and small). The small ones are easy to catch :)
grippy claws :)
We've also heard racoons at night, and I was able to snap a couple of pictures. Thankfully they don't seem too bold and too much of a pest like we've heard they can be:
Howeer, what we have quite a bit is lovely possums, we mistakenly caught a few and of course released them:
such a cutie
it wasn't too scared to eat
we got another one the next day, or was it the same?
Ah, but the subject of pests brings us to gophers. Those fuckers have been making swiss cheese out of our lawn. Since repellents don't help, I've been using smokers in their tunnels, and poisnned worms they're supposed to eat. That seems to have helped with the problem, but I think we still have a couple left.
A while ago, I bought a bird feeder because I thought it would be fun in our yard, and sure enough, it was an instant hit. We got to see many interesting bird, including a baby woodpecker probably related to the big woodpecker that's living in our of our trees and making swiss cheese out of it :)
I have many pictures of those birds, but these are hopefully the best:
a junko was feeding the wrong bird, oops
that was a lot of doves
After a while, built aa new mostly squirrel proof bird feeder:
We also got beautiful woodpeckers:
We also got a few wounded birds:
And we also got a few hummingbirds. Those are cool:
Squirrels started by being cute before the bird feeder:
The only problem were the squirrels that started by eating fallen seeds, but eventually went to the source:
they look good when they start
clean the seeds by your doorstep
then they climb
The squirrels really became a problem, so I had to trap them and get rid of them:
I tried to build a defense, but it was pointless
on the plus side, I could capture all the grain the birds were dropping
While I wrote this for my Lenovo Thinkpad P73, this is likely equivally relevant to P53, P72, and P52.
Thinkpad P73 vs P70, not a win all around: only one 2.5" drive instead of 2, and a badly deesigned power system
So, when lenovo came out with the Thinkpad P70, I wasn't very happy because if you had a 90W power supply, it refused to charge from it, at any rate whatsoever. I was not impressed, but eh, at least it would still power the laptop so that its batteries didn't go flat while plugged in.
Well, leave it to lenovo engineers to make things worse the for the P73. The minimum power supply was raised from 135W (170W recommended) to 170W (230W recommended) which is understandable, but lenovo decided to ensure that the laptop will not take any power from any power supply that does not identify itself as 170W or more. This means that even ifit only needs 40W to sustain itself without digging into the batteries, it will completely refuse to use a 90W or even 135W power supply for anything at all, and kill the battery instead. Lenovo, you just plain suck, there is no excuse for this.
P70 vs P73, they look pretty similar
*Update*: it seems if that if you get a cheaper nvidia chip with the P73, it is then configured to accept 135W power supplies as the minimum required. That said, it will still refuse to work with any regular 90W power supply or external battery back, unless you force it with the center pin resistor swap.
While I have no plans to use windows on that machine, I thought I'd just try it out to see how it does on power. This is where I was impressed, windows can idle at less than 10W for more than 11H runtime, while I'm lucky if I can get linux at 15W. This is definitely a place where linux should do better, of course, it's not as if Lenovo put any work into making linux more efficient on their hardware either:
*Update* : with tlp and using the nouveau driver just enough to turn off the nvidia chip, I'm now able to tune the laptop down to 10W, almost matching windows.
See tlp issue 494 for details on how to setup tlp to run in low power mode when power is plugged in.
Another disappointment is that the P73 is mostly the same size and weight than the P70, but it has less room for storage. It has a bunch of empty spaces that aren't used for anything, and it can't use two 2.5" SATA drives anymore, like the P70 could. Worse, the now single 2.5" slot uses a lenovo only ribbon cable that does not ship with the laptop and basically means you cannot even add a 2.5" drive without that special ribbon cable, which isn't in stock yet. Well done... Ah yes, the battery is also not hot swappable, even if it is replaceable (unlike a Mac laptop where everything is sealed shut).
this shows the unobtanium lenovo cable for the now only single drive that fits, along the unused space
Ok, stop complaining, just buy a bunch of 170w or 230W power supplies and move on with your life
those 170W/230W power supplies are huge. They also weigh as much as some small notebooks (!)
I have 12V to 20V car adapters, those won't work anymore
I have external battery packs for extended runtime, and I haven't found a single one that can deliver the amps a P73 tries to needlessly require
Tricking the P70 and P73 into accepting a power supply it wouldn't otherwise use
Lenovo uses the a center pin resistor to know how much power they can draw from the power supply, see: http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Power_Connector .
For the P70, I built this power supply adapter with a resistor bridge to tell the laptop how big it should think the power supply, is:
It's basically a configurable version of this. Yes, lenovo, I thank you for the hours I wasted opening up power supply plugs and replacing the center pin resistors:
Here's how the P73 responds:
- 230W works fine 4.6k
- 170W works ok 1.9k (1.8k also ok)
- 130W rejected 1k
- 90W rejected 550
The rejected power supplies will be used to charge the laptop if it is shutdown, but they will not be used in any way otherwise. On the P70 the laptop would at least use the power supply to keep the laptop alive, and use half battery half external power supply. Not so with the P73, it just ignores it entirely.
This is utter bullshit as I have plenty of 90W power supplies, including 12V car converters, or a 90W external 20V battery pack I can't use anymore.
You can go read my Hacking a thinkpad slim tip adapter to output more than 90W (required to charge a Thinkpad P70) page for details, including this nice battery pack I couldn't use anymore:
*Update* : so, actually with some serious tlp hacking (basically I told it to force battery mode even if a power supply is plugged in), I've managed to throttle the laptop enough, even when plugged in, so that it only uses 20W. At that point, I'm actually able to use my old external battery pack, as well as a 90W power supply, as long as I lie to the laptop and pretend they are 230W power supplies with the resistor trick. In my tests with windows, it was not possible to throttle the laptop enough when plugged in, not to have it overwhelm a smaller power supply (not that 90W is small for a laptop that normally uses 20-30W when it's not charging batteries).
If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll also see a terrible buffer lipo hardware hack I did that allows to use the battery pack with higher amp draws, but it's a bit ridiculous (and bulky).
See tlp issue 494 for details on how to setup tlp to run in low power mode when power is plugged in.
Without the tlp hack or the buffer lipo hack, when I lie to the laptop and tell it is connected to a a bigger power supply, manage power draw with what I run, and disable battery charging in software, but the laptop will still draw the power supply for over 100W when you plug it in for a fraction of a second, and refuse it if the voltage drops.
Obviously this would not be a problem if the laptop simply had a 90W power supply mode where it throttle things down and turned off battery charging. This is mostly what the P70 does.
In the meantme, on top of hacking my power supplies, I also made this for my laptop, it looks silly and makes the thinkpad not look like a professional laptop, but well, that's lenovo's fault:
this takes any power supply and replaces the center tip resistor with a 1.9k one to emulate a 170W power supply
From talking to Lenovo, they don't think that this is really a problem, so since I'm an engineer, I made my own external battery pack, but I otherwise recommend to road warriors to avoid thinkpads from now on, given the backward power design in this one.
Making a Thinkpad P73 compatible external battery pack
I did some testing and confirmed that the laptop is very picky about power supplies. It even rejects a 19.7V 20A power supply I had, because it's 19.8V and not 20V. Same thing for amps, it needs to be able to draw maybe around 5A for a short time to accept the power supply (they sure are putting a lot of effort into making sure the power supply is not under-spec'ed).
Prototype with 150W step up converter which takes my 16V lipo to 20V while delivering enough amps to make the laptop happy:
it works, and the laptop thinks it's connected to a 230W power supply thanks to the center pin resistor.
Here's a quick demo:
Version 2 was to have a way to recharge the battery pack while it's being used. I've used this to use the battery pack as a buffer to absorb peaks from the laptop without tripping an external power supply, including in a car limited to 100W or a plane power supply limited to even less:
this works in theory, but the lipo charger is quite slow and wouldn't keep up for long, but I made a better version shown lower down
Lenovo's P73 airplane mode simply stops using the external power supply and reverts to batteries. Sigh...
Oh yes, let's talk about airplane mode. The lenovo engineers thought of everything: if they detect that the power supply drops a few times in a row, they offer a nice setting which is supposed to make the plane more airplane friendly. How friendly you ask? Well, you could throttle down the CPUs, disable battery charging, do smart stuff like that. Or, if you're lenovo, you can have airplane mode simply refuse to use the power supply altogether. Thank you lenovo, you wrote a feature that saves me the trouble of unplugging an otherwise perfectly good power supply that you refuse to use (to be super clear, my 230W power supply is plugged in and airplane mode just disabled it):
Making a battery pack to act both as buffer for a smaller power supply, and as emergency external power (even power the laptop from 12v)
Anyway, back to the battery pack, I found the ISDT H605 Air lipo charger which is small enough and can charge the lipo at 5A, which should be enough to keep up with the laptop when not doing CPU crazy stuff. This also allows using a 12V power supply or a lower wattage lenovo power supply to recharge the pack while it's in use, or not:
version 1 was a bit bigger than I wanted, 90W power supply shown for scale
here, the 90W power supply is recharging the battery at 2.5A while it's being discharged at 3A on the output side, using the battery as buffer
I made version 3 a bit smaller, with a built in 12V lipo to act as buffer for a smaller power supply. Yes, it's a beautiful piece of art, I know :)
Pushed to the extreme, I can now use my original external battery pack again by having it recharge my lipo+150W step up that can output more amps than the ravpower pack can. Of couse, it's inefficient, the ravpower pack outputs 20V that gets down converted to 12V by the H605 Air lipo charger, which charges the built in 3S lipo in the box, and then gets up converted back to 20V without the amp limitation (the phone used to control the lipo charger also inside the box):
The really cool thing is that by using tlp, it's actually possible to tune the laptop down to very low power use, even when plugged in, something that windows probably can't do:
7.3W with the screen off (and around 10W with wifi off and the screen on low dim) is not bad for a laptop that big
4S Lipo vs 4x 18650 or 26650 batteries
I do have a few lipos laying around, so that's free energy for my laptop if I'm willing to carry them. I have however found that for higher draws, the step up converter doesn't quite keep up at 20V/5A+ with just 12V input (3S), but is fine with 16V input (4S):
That said, as I recently found out that 16650 (or better 26650) batteries are both lighter and smaller. The only thing the lipos do, is offer a better discharge rate, but while that's useful for a high power RC plane motor that can empty the batteries in 10mn, it's not needed for a laptop:
Outside of 26650 batteries, there are other ones like https://www.18650batterystore.com/21700-p/samsung-50e.htm .
26650s are 195 Wh/kg while the lipo I gave was 184Wh/kg. The 3rd battery listed is supposed to be 260Wh/kg which is much nicer, that said, it looks like those samsung batteries are actually smaller than 26650s, lighter, and yet offer the same 5Ah at 3.6V. If so, that's very impressive.
As of this writing, I have however not found 26650 battery holders that hold 26650 protected cells that are a bit longer. This seems to the be only one available, and it's too short to hold the batteries: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074GVPWSH
Lenovo, please make the P73 work like the P70, and fix this airplane mode thing that turns off the external power supply. That's embarrassing...