If you’re like us, you probably have a box (or more) of wall warts lurking in a closet or on a shelf somewhere. Depending on how long you’ve been collecting cell phones, that box is likely overflowing with 5V chargers: all with different connectors. Bring them back to life by doing what [Martin Melchior] did: chop off the ends and solder on a bunch of USB jacks.
You’ll want to use chargers rated for at least 500mA (if not 1A) for this project, or you may be wasting your time considering how much current devices pull these days. Get your polarity right, solder on a USB jack, and you’re finished. Sure, it’s a no-brainer kind of project, but it can clean out some of your closet and give you a charging station for every room of your home and the office. [Martin] glued the USB jack directly onto the adapters, so there are no tangled cords to worry about. iPhone users will need to do the usual kungfu if you want your Apple device to charge.
Something’s fishy about the above-pictured ultrabook: it’s an Asus Zenbook that [WarriorRocker] hacked to use a MagSafe power connector typically found on Macbooks. Most of us probably consider it standard procedure to poke around inside our desktop’s tower, but it takes some guts to radically alter such a shiny new ultrabook. It seems, however, that the Zenbook’s tiny power plug causes serious frustrations, and [WarriorRocker] was tired of dealing with them.
Using information he found from an article we featured earlier this summer on a MagSafe teardown, [WarriorRocker] hit up the parts drawer for some connectors and got to work. He had to modify the MagSafe’s housing to fit his Zenbook while still holding on to the magnets, but he managed to avoid modifying the ultrabook’s case—the connector is approximately the same size as a USB port. Deciding he could live with just one USB connection, [WarriorRocker] took to the board with a pair of side cutters and neatly carved out space for the MagSafe next to the audio jack. He then soldered it in place and ran wires from the VCC and Ground pins along a the channel where the WiFi antenna is routed, connecting them to the original power jack’s input pins.
[WarriorRocker] regrets that he fell short of his original goal of getting the MagSafe’s protocol working: he instead had to hack on his own adapter. We’re still rather impressed with how well his hack turned out, and it did manage to solve the charging problems. Hit us up in the comments if you can provide some insight into the MagSafe’s otherwise obscure innerworkings.
Here’s a new chip from FTDI which brings a nice little feature to the USB-to-serial converter family: charging detection. That means that it is capable of detecting when a battery charger is connected. What does that actually mean? The top of the datasheet gives you the short version, but let’s look at the investigation [Baoshi] undertook to test the full extent of this particular feature. We agree with him that the listed capability leaves those in the know with a lot of questions:
USB Battery Charger Detection. Allows for USB peripheral devices to detect the presence of a higher power source to enable improved charging.
Obviously the chip will be able to tell when a charger is connected, alerting the device when it’s time to start lapping up the extra milliamps. But what type of chargers will actually trigger the detection circuit? After rigging up the test circuit shown above he ran through several scenarios: connected directly to the PC USB port, via externally powered and non-powered USB hubs, and with multiple wall wart chargers. Full results of the tests are included in the post linked above.
[via Dangerous Prototypes]
Lithium cells outperform Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride in almost every way. But they also need a little bit more babysitting to get the most out of them. That comes in the form of control circuitry that charges them correctly and won’t let them get below a certain voltage threshold during discharge. We enjoyed reading about [Carlos’] Lithium cell salvage efforts as it discusses these concerns.
He wanted to salvage a Lithium power source for his projects. He had the three cell pack from a dead Macbook Pro seen in the upper left, as well as the single blown cell from a digital picture frame shown on the right. The three-pack didn’t monitor each cell individually, so the death of one borked the entire battery. He desoldered them and probed their voltage level to find one that was still usable. To prevent his project from draining the source below the 2.7V mark he scavenged that circuit board from the digital picture frame. A bit of testing and the system is up and running in a different piece of hardware.
Don’t be afraid of this stuff. If you learn the basics it’ll be easy to use these powerful batteries in your projects. For more background check out this charging tutorial.
From time-to-time we’ve been frustrated by the lack of backwards compatibility for Apple accessories. We have a great Monster FM transmitter that used the screen of the original iPod to select a channel. That was a feature we just loved which it never worked with any future hardware. We may not be able to get that back, but perhaps this hack can help us implement the ability to charge newer Apple devices using older accessories.
Seen above is the mounting dock from the iPod Hi-Fi speakers released back in 2006. Apparently the sound out of this set of speakers is just great, but you won’t be able to charge your modern device while it’s playing music. That is unless you’re not afraid to solder on a few simple components and roll in a switching regulator which can source at least one Amp of current. As we’ve seen in the past, Apple uses a couple of voltage dividers to identify modern chargers. These are installed on the D+ and D- lines of the USB connector and are pretty easy to recreate if you know the voltage levels the device is looking for. In this case a 39K, two 51k, and one 75k surface mount resistors are free-formed right next to the connector on the Hi-Fi’s dock PCB. The regulator on the right supplies the juice for charging. It’ll charge modern devices now, and even work with the iPhone five if you use a simple dock connector adapter.
If you’re in search of a flashlight that can stand up to the elements, or simply looking for an easy way to spruce up your pool for those hot summer nights, check out these rechargeable PVC LED lights. Inspired by a post in Make: Magazine featuring Indestructible LED Lanterns, [John Duffy] decided to take the project one step further.
While he liked Make’s iteration of the waterproof lantern, he thought it would be best to permanently seal the lights for maximum durability. Not satisfied with a one-use light, he equipped the PVC lanterns with a single rechargeable AA battery, step-up circuitry to drive the LED, and an inductive charging coil.
His floating, waterproof lights sport a slightly bigger footprint than their predecessors to house the extra electronics, but we think that’s more than a fair trade off considering they can be charged wirelessly.
Place your Digikey/Mouser/Jameco orders now and check out [John’s] how-to video – you just might get some of these built in time for the weekend!
Continue reading “Mini waterproof LED lanterns charge without wires”
People quickly find out that I am a dork, and their next question typically is “why do you own that old as dirt dumb phone?”. Well to be honest, I don’t like phones. After a decade of Palm Pilots and Windows CE devices, I really don’t like touch screens either (fat man fingers and a bad habit of chewing nails does not help). I also do not like that in order to get a fancy PDA with a radio you usually have to sign up for a data plan, or pay for the thing in full.
Now get off my lawn! Seriously though, I really only need my phone to do two things, make phone calls, and send SMS messages. If I had a wishlist the only other things I would like is mass storage for MP3 files, and Bluetooth. Naturally when I started my new day job I found the geek in the department and shortly there after I got asked about my basic LG flip phone.
After a few days of interrogation I jokingly snapped back with “well since you are so worried about it why don’t you give me a better phone!” With a little hinting around and a bribe of a “Swiss Roll” at lunch, I was given an old HTC phone with Windows Mobile 5.
While it is not exactly an iPhone or an Android, it is much more featured than what I had, and it has a mini SD card slot and Bluetooth! The only catch was, he could not find the charger. We did not know if the thing even worked (he had never seen the thing turned on) , or what condition the battery was in.
As a good little hacker I took it anyway, join me after the break to see me get it fired up and save a quite a bit of change in the process.
Continue reading “You Want How Much for a Phone Charger?”