Fail of the Week: Battery Packin’

battery pack fail[NeXT] got himself an IBM ThinkPad TransNote and yeah, we’re pretty jealous. For the uninitiated, the TransNote was IBM’s foray into intelligent note transcription from roughly fifteen years ago. The ThinkPad doesn’t even have to be on to capture your notes because the proprietary pen has 2MB of flash memory. It won an award and everything. Not the pen, the TransNote.

Unfortunately, the battery life is poor in [NeXT]‘s machine. The TransNote was (perhaps) ahead of its time. Since it didn’t last on the market very long, there isn’t a Chinese market for replacement batteries. [NeXT] decided to rebuild the replacement battery pack himself after sending it off with no luck.

The TransNote’s battery pack uses some weird, flat Samsung 103450 cells that are both expensive and rare. [NeXT] eventually found some camera batteries that have a single cell and a charge controller. He had to rearrange the wiring because the tabs were on the same side, but ultimately, they did work. He got the cells together in the right configuration, took steps to prevent shorts, and added the TransNote’s charge controller back into the circuit.

Nothing blew up, and the ThinkPad went through POST just fine. He plugged it in to charge and waited a total of 90 minutes. The charging rate was pretty lousy, though. At 94% charge, the estimated life showed 28 minutes, which is worse than before. What are your thoughts on the outcome and if it were you, what would be the next move?


2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Wednesday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story — or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

Hats with Sunblock Reminders are Easy to Make

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Just about anyone can build this UV index sensing wearable that detects heat rays from the sun and reminds the user to put on sunscreen. There is no soldering required, which makes this a nice beginners projects for those unfamiliar with hooking up electronic sensors.

All that is needed is a FLORA main board, one UV index sensor, a piezo Buzzer, a 500mAh lipoly battery, 2-ply conductive thread, a couple of household tools, and your favorite summer’s hat.

Once the materials have been rounded up, the rest of the process is relatively simple. Threading the FLORA in and place and connecting the Piezo only takes a few minutes. Then the UV sensor is added allowing the hat to start collecting data. A little bit of coding later, and the whole system is ready to be worn out in the sun.

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What’s great about this project is that the hat can be programmed to play a song when it is time to apply more sunscreen. Everyone from beach bums, to sun-bathing beauties, to music festival attendees will be able to find this hat useful. And, it is cheap and easy to make.

The video on the Adafruit tutorial page shows how simple it is to rig up the system.

[Read more...]

Solar MintyBoost

We first wrote about the MintyBoost back in 2006. Today, Adafruit has created a tutorial for making a solar powered MintyBoost. Using a MintyBoost, a solar panel, LiPo battery and a charger, they built on their Solar LiPoly tutorial. They fed the power tap output of the LiPoly charger into the battery input of the MintyBoost to perform the voltage step-up for USB devices. Based on an instructable that used SparkFun parts, this tutorial shows how to use parts that are available from one source. We hear that there will be some evolution of the MintyBoost coming down the line that will including charging capabilities.

A123 LiIon battery pseudo extra


Every so often I have to slap myself in the head. I’m surprised that we haven’t covered these things by now. DeWalt’s been selling a LiIon 36 volt battery pack that’s full of the latest A123 cells. These are the same ones that were used in the Killacycle. (I think they’ve got a new batch of cells now).

A while back, [Jeff] sent in a circuit for using multiple packs, leaving the internal BMS in place. [The link is fixed now]

[Robert] sent in a scooter that’s been designed to run these same cells. The custom fabrication and machine work looks fantastic.

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