Coin cell battery charger

[Jay Kickliter] built his own coin cell battery recharger. This won’t work on the vast majority of coin cells as they are manufactured as disposable parts. But there are rechargeable options out there with model numbers that start with LR instead of CR. In this case he tailored the charging circuit around MCP73832 IC and chose components best suited for charging his 110 mAh LR2450. But we believe all of the LR options out there are rated for 3.6V so altering his design for use with different models should be a breeze.

We’ve been unhappy with the use of disposable coin cell batteries for some time. Sure, in a real-time clock where the cell might last 6-8 years this is not very wasteful. But in an Apple TV remote that gets a lot of use, we hate the choice of a disposable battery. All of our less-hip remotes which use AA or AAA have NiMH rechargeables in them and have used the same pair for year and years. So we’re happy to see this charger project come along.

Now the bad news. We looked around and indeed you can find LR2032; a rechargeable replacement for the CR2032. But the capacity rating falls way flat. The model we looked at boasts only 50 mAh while the disposable CR2032 offers something along the lines of 240 mAh. Hopefully this will change as battery tech evolves.

Camping light retrofitted as a solar recharging station

With grand plans of tenting out for several days at a music festival [Josh] needed a way recharge his portable devices. In the past he’s lugged around a 12V battery with him, but this year he wanted to make things easier. He ended retrofitting a camping light to do the job with the help of the summer sun.

The first step of the project was to source some rechargeable batteries. He toyed with the idea of Li-Ion cells but ended up going with NiMH because the charging is more forgiving and he got them at a great price. Because of the lower operating voltage (1.2V versus Alkaline’s 1.5V) he needed to squeeze two more into the lamp housing. Here you can see that he just managed to get them to fit in the wire-run area down the middle of the case.

Next comes the recharging circuit. He based his design around an ATmega44, using a voltage divider and the ADC to detect when the batteries are topped off. During the day this is connected to an external solar panel and it’s ready to charge his phone when he gets back at night.

Upgrading an old Super Scope


[Brian Knoll] still uses his Super Nintendo with relative frequency, and he just can’t get enough Super Scope action. If you never owned one, the Super Scope can be a ton of fun, but it’s also an incredible battery hog. It eats through AA batteries by the caseful, so [Brian] wanted to make the switch to rechargeable cells. Since NIMH AA batteries just don’t cut it in the Super Scope, he put together a rechargeable solution of his own.

He started off by calculating what sort of battery he would need for 8 hours of game play, then he started work on designing his circuit. The board he built contains both a DC/DC converter to provide the 9V required by the Super Scope, as well as built-in LiPo charger. He had his board made by BatchPCB, and after working through a small production error, he put everything together and gave his revamped scope a shot.

Things worked great, and while he says that he really should have built a low-voltage shutoff into his circuit, he is very happy with the results.

Resurrecting an electric razor

[Salvatore Ventura] likes a close shave from an electric razor, and nothing shaves closer than a new set of blades. After shelling out for some sharp ones, the rechargeable batteries died so he set out to replace them with a couple of double A’s (not the ones pictured above as those are alkaline).

This fix actually increased the original battery life of the razor by about 30%. That’s thanks to a larger capacity than the battery that had come with the razor. But [Salvatore] didn’t get to enjoy the windfall for very long. One morning the charge light was blinking on the razor and it wouldn’t spin up at all. After testing the batteries with a multimeter he found that they had a full charge and figured it was the main board that had gone out.

The real question is, what is that board actually doing? A bit of study led him to the conclusion that it is just a charging circuit, and an on/off switch. He kissed the board goodbye, wired up the AA battery holders directly. Now he jams a paper clip into the recharging jack, shorting the pins to complete the circuit. He could even keep using rechargeables with an external charger if he was careful not to run them too low.

Wireless mouse Li-Poly retrofit with USB charging


It’s no secret that wireless mice can eat through batteries pretty quickly. Rather than keep a fresh supply of AAs on hand at all times, [Phil] decided he would convert his mouse to use a rechargeable lithium polymer battery instead.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a cell phone battery crammed into a mouse to increase capacity, but we think this one has been done quite nicely. [Phil] managed to fit a 2.7 – 4.2v Li-Poly battery in the mouse’s palm rest, where there was a little extra empty space. The battery can be charged from any USB port via a custom-built charging module, which he constructed using a MAX1555 charge controller. Another custom-built circuit resides in the space previously occupied by the AA batteries, which uses an MC340063 DC to DC converter to drop the battery’s voltage down to the 1.25v required by the mouse.

The only part of the build that [Phil] is not pleased with is the power switch on the bottom, but since you rarely see that, we could care less. We think it is quite well done, and with a second version already in the works, we anticipate that it will get even better.

Be sure to check out [Phil’s] video tour of the hack, which you can see below.

Continue reading “Wireless mouse Li-Poly retrofit with USB charging”

Manage your rechargeables at a glance

If you enjoy photography, radio controlled vehicles, or any other activity that requires you to keep multiple sets of rechargeable batteries on hand you know how much of a pain it can be if you get a dead battery mixed in with your charged batteries. This easy approach to managing your batteries while on location does not require fancy electronics, meters or anything else that might pop into mind, but rather simple stickers and storage.

The first set of labels get stuck on the battery, offering a green and red color code along with a number so its easy to keep track of which group of batteries go where and to catalog date / life. The second set of labels gets attached to your storage compartment, when a battery is charged, place it in the box so the positive end is facing the green on the storage label, and when its dead just flip it around.

While this mainly focuses on AA batteries (and even shows you how to make a simple but effective holder out of some elastic band and staples) this idea can be used with just about any type of battery for a quick glance to see where you stand on juice.

Headphones use standard-sized but proprietary rechargeable batteries

Here’s something we haven’t run across before. We’re familiar with proprietary battery shapes (we’re looking at you, digital camera manufacturers), or custom recharge connections (look of death directed toward cellphone manufacturers), but using electrical tricks to force AAA brand loyalty is a new one. It seems that’s exactly what is happening with [OiD’s] wireless headphones which were manufactured by Phillips.

The headphones take AAA sized batteries and can use either disposable or rechargeable varieties. There is a warning label advising that only Phillips brand rechargeables should be used, and sure enough, if you try a different brand the performance suffers both in charging time and in battery life. The original batteries are labelled as Nickel Metal Hydride at 1.2V and 550 mAh, which falls within common specs. But [OiD] noticed that there is an extra conductor in the battery compartment that makes contact with the sides of the battery case. Further inspection reveals that a reverse-biased diode makes contact through this conductor with a portion of the battery which has not been painted. This is not true with other brands, allowing the circuit to distinguish between OEM and replacements.

[OiD] shorted out that connection and immediately saw a performance boost from his replacement batteries. It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on here without a full schematic for the circuit, but we’d love to hear your speculation on this setup in the comments. Is this a low tech version of the identity chips that camera batteries sometimes hide?