Jun 06, 2018

FS2001F Portable Reader (aka Cheeseblock) Safety Issue

An FS2001F portable reader used at a Smolt Monitoring Project at Lower Granite Dam exploded approximately two weeks ago. The reader had not been modified and was connected to the original power supply plugged directly into an outlet. The biologist using the reader did not sustain any injuries beyond noise exposure; others heard the blast from a significant distance. The reader was not reading tags properly. When the technician attempted to check the connection of the antenna cable to the reader, it exploded.

Experts inspected the damaged unit and it appears there was a “buildup of pressure” from the corrosion of the larger, original NiMH battery inside the sealed unit. These readers are water resistant with sealed endcaps and a sturdy shockproof case. How this gas combusted is yet to be determined, but the force was sent through the LCD screen shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Damage on the FS2001F portable reader
Figure 1. Damage on the FS2001F portable reader

The FS2001F readers have been in use for several years and nothing like this event has ever been reported before. However, they are operating well beyond their expected lifetime. Batteries in devices such as these are prone to corrosion even in a sealed unit. Figure 2 shows the significant battery corrosion in a seldom-used but functional unit from the PTAGIS office with the end caps removed.

Figure 2. Endcap removed from a FS2001F unit with battery corrosion
Figure 2. Endcap removed from an FS2001F unit with battery corrosion.

Replacing the FS2001F portable readers as soon as possible is strongly recommend. Biomark and Oregon RFID offer new models of portable readers supported by PTAGIS software. For those that continue to use FS2001F readers use them at your own risk.