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.

[Read more...]

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?

Revive your tired Dremel battery pack

It turns out there’s nothing more than six Nickel Cadmium AA rechargeable batteries inside of that cordless Dremel battery pack. Yep, standard rechargeable AA’s that you can buy most anywhere, and now you can revive that aging battery pack by following [Stuuf's] guide. Since you’re already at it, a few more bucks will yield a real upgrade by using the superior Nickel Metal Hydride batteries which should yield around three times as much use between charging. We totally understand having a battery pack, since the shape of the case is part of the handheld tool, and it should be easy to interchange the battery as one unit. We just wish that the battery pack had been designed to have the AA cells swapped out by the user once they had reached the end of the line.

Do you have other cordless tools in need of a pick-me-up? Check out this Makita battery pack repair hack for a point in the right direction.

[Thanks Bluewraith]

Solar powered WiFi repeater

For all those times you need to broadcast your own access point where there’s no outlet [Larry] shows us how to make a solar-powered hotspot. He started by slapping a solar panel on the lid of a cigar box and attaching it to five rechargeable AA batteries inside. These power the mainboard from a router which is the perfect size to friction fit in the opening. It has been flashed with a copy of DD-WRT, and set to scan for open WiFi connections. When it finds one it connects and rebroadcasts its own WiFi signal to the surrounding area. He leaves it in the back window of his car and uses it to get on the net during lunch.