Pros and cons of replacing tool batteries with Lithium Polymer

[HammyDude] was tired of buying replacement batteries for his power tools. He had some Lithium Polymer batteries on hand and decided to take one of his dead drills and swap out the dead power pack.

The orange battery pack you see above has a deans connector on it for use with RC vehicles. By opening up the drill housing, [HammyDude] was able to add the mating deans connector. Now the replacement easily plugs into the drill, and it even fits inside the handle body.

This battery is made up of several cells, and an inexpensive charger is capable of topping off each individually for a balanced charge. In the video after the break [HammyDude] points out that the Makita charger applies voltage to all of the cells in series. It’s incapable of balance charging so when one cell dies the battery is toast. We’ve encountered this problem with Makita tools before.

One drawback to take note of in the end of the video: this replacement doesn’t have any low voltage cut-off. Running this battery pack down too low will permanently damage it. There must be a simple circuit that could be added as a safety measure. If you know of one, drop us a tip.

[Read more...]

Makita jobsite radio gets a few extra bells and whistles

[Jose] added several features to a Makita AM/FM jobsite radio, and did such a good job that you can’t tell they weren’t originally part of the design. The original radio has a compartment for a battery pack used with Makita’s line of rechargeable tools, and offers AM/FM radio, as well as auxiliary audio playback via a pair of speakers. [Jose] augmented those speakers by adding a pair of tweeters as well.

Next on his list of features were a couple of power bus add-ons. In the image on the right you can see the results of adding an automotive cigarette lighter to the side of the unit. Opposite this you’ll find a pair of USB ports that are activated by a lighted toggle switch. The ports are part of a USB car charger that is patched into the battery with a flip of that switch.

Finally, there’s a built-in Bluetooth audio receiver that connects to the auxiliary input. As shown in the image on the left, he can now play tunes from his cellphone without the need for a cord. See him showing off the device in the video after the break.

[Read more...]

Automated window curtain hits the road

[Niklas Roy] upgraded his privacy curtain and is taking it on the road. Regular readers will remember the first version that resided in his shop window and used video processing in conjunction with a motor to keep the small bit of curtain in front of any passersby. We’ve embedded the original demo video after the break and it’s not to be missed.

But now he’s decided to make some upgrades to the system because it’s going to be shown as an art display. He looked around for a motor upgrade but found that the best motor at the most reasonable price could be pulled from a Makita power drill. The track itself is modular, making the installation scalable up to ten meters in total length. He even built a clean-looking laptop dock that handles the video processing end of things. But there’s something here for you as well. He’s released all of his source code, schematics, board design, and even the SketchUp files for the motor mounts and other parts. Dig out that old power drill and build one of your own.

[Read more...]

Makita battery pack repair

[Rob] grew tired of his Makita power tool battery packs dying so he figured out how to repair them himself. The video after the break walks us through the process which starts by cracking open the case. Inside there is a controller board and a battery of ten cells. [Rob] has pinpointed these battery failures to just the first cell, which is confirmed by measuring the cell voltages with a multimeter. The first cell in the demonstration battery reads zero volts and needs to be replaced. For some reason he’s got heck of a lot of these cells on hand, at the end of the video he shows off a massive block of them that provides one half of a kilowatt-hour of power.

To complete the resurrection he removed the control circuitry from the integrated PCB. It seems that the microcontroller on the battery’s PCB monitors it and bricks them when it thinks the life of the unit has ended. By hacking a charger he can now balance-charge the altered battery packs and get more use out of them before they hit the landfill.

[Read more...]