DIYing A Raspberry Pi Power Bank

Over the last decade or so, battery technology has improved massively. While those lithium cells have enabled thin, powerful smartphones and quadcopters, [patrick] thought it would be a good idea to do something a little simpler. He built a USB power bank with an 18650 cell. While it would be easier to simply buy a USB power bank, that’s not really the point, is it?

This project is the follow-up to one of [patrick]’s earlier projects, a battery backup for the Raspberry Pi. This earlier project used an 14500 cell and an MSP430 microcontroller to shut the Pi down gracefully when the battery was nearing depletion.

While the original project worked well with the low power consumption Pi Model A and Pi Zero, it struggled with UPS duties on the higher power Pi 3. [patrick] upgraded the cell and changed the electronics to provide enough current to keep a high-power Pi on even at 100% CPU load.

The end result is a USB power bank that’s able to keep a Raspberry Pi alive for a few hours and stays relatively cool.

21 thoughts on “DIYing A Raspberry Pi Power Bank

    1. You’d seriously pay for this? Its like $3 of electronics… If toy already have a Pi, you probably are at least somewhat into hobbyist electronics… Buy an 18650 cell holder for a buck off eBay, buy a 4.2v – 5v 1A or 2A USB charging board(not something that’d need some odd micro USB to micro USB cord like the one pictured would need). There ya go. You’ve completed this project(which is seriously nothing new, just talked up like its new to trick people exactly like yourself into thinking they’re buying something they couldn’t get before) and saved tons of money!
      If you want to get more technical, add more batteries, add an actual buck/ boost circuit on some protoboard with a micro USB port to keep it topped up, add a small .36″ LED voltmeter to keep track of cell voltage, add an ammeter to keep track of current, etc. You could probably do all of that for still less than you’ll buy this simple replicant of hundreds of other peoples projects.

      1. Thanks for dissing my hard work. *lol* I must be a complete idiot for having to have spent 2 years to perfect this to the point where it is now. I suggest you try what you write here and see how well it replicates the functionality I provide. For everyone else, I suggest you save yourself a lot of trouble. :)
        I’m glad most people are not like you and are willing to support a small maker. Obviously in the small volumes I do right now I can’t compete with China.

      2. Well anyone into electronics would have noticed you can put jumper pins on the board and not need a micro usb to micro usb cable. The micro usb is for charging. Just saying.

        Also yea, if pay a few bucks for a device such as this in a clean form factor. It’s not the price I would be buying, it’s the product.

  1. An underrated project. Could not recommend more – Raspberry Pi computers do need portability add-ons to make actually useful portable Pi projects, and currently there aren’t too much of the good ones. I hope to change that as well =)

    1. There’s a difference between portability and portable power though. With a case it fits in your pocket. And it has sockets so u can plug a keyboard and monitor wherever u are. The os can run off an sd so u don’t need to carry around a portable HD even. It’s basically THE portable computing unit atm.

      The portable power is basically the problem off the century (remember the Samsung horror few weeks ago with exploding batteries). This is

      1. Well THE portable computing unit would probably be the newest Intel NUC. It’s got an i7 (although I’m not quite sure what you need an i7 for where you couldn’t get a laptop instead )

        1. I’m not usually shooting at my batteries or using them as a hammer, so Li-ion having double the working time is just perfectly safe for me. ;)

          Li-Ion battery short circuit,overcharge,undervoltage EXPERIMENT

  2. these are nice and all but i have been powering my pis off of a 2 series cell pack and battery life is around 2 hours tops. of course im not getting full discharge since the smps drops out if i go below a certain voltage. i plan to go up to a 3 series pack. this will give me full discharge and an additional cell to boot. il have to throw on a safety board to keep from over discharging though.

      1. i guess thats a nice feature for things like servers. i for one am still looking for a portable solution that has some staying power. none of the go to off the shelf solutions seem to cut it.

  3. Good to see more projects like these, since they’re certainly useful. I’m surprised more folks haven’t tackled putting together something to take up the mantel of those PiUPS guys since their project went south. They promised us version 2, then went out of business…

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