Parts bin Emergency Lights Deal with Tornado’s Aftermath

Sometimes having a deep inventory of parts in your shop is a pain – the clutter, the dust, the things you can’t rationally justify keeping but still can’t bear to part with. But sometimes the parts bin delivers and lets you cobble together some emergency lighting when a tornado knocks out your power.

It has been hard to avoid discussions of the weird weather in the US this winter. The eastern half of the country has had record warm temperatures, the west has been lashed by storms, and now December tornadoes have ripped through Texas and other parts of the south, with terrible loss of life and wide-ranging property damage. [TheTimmy] was close enough to one massive EF4 tornado to lose power on Saturday night, and after the charm of a candlelight Christmas evening wore off, he headed to the shop. He had a bunch of sealed lead acid batteries from old UPSs and a tangle of 12V LED modules, and with the help of some elastic bands and jumper clips he wired up a bunch of lights for around the house. Safer than candles by a long shot, and more omnidirectional than flashlights to boot.

The power came back before the batteries ran out of juice, so we don’t get to see any hacks for recharging batteries in a grid-down scenario. Still, it’s good to see how a deep parts bin and good mindset can make a positive impact on an uncomfortable situation. We’ve seen similar hacks before, like this hacked cordless tool battery pack or powering a TV with 18650 batteries. Be sure to share your story of epic power-outage hacks in the comments below.

Laptop running on a sealed lead acid battery

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[Viktor’s] laptop needed a new battery; he had the trade off between carrying around a cheap but heavy sealed lead acid (SLA) battery, or buying an expensive but light Li-Ion battery. Figuring his old laptop was pretty heavy already, and having an unused SLA available, re-purposing it for his laptop wouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Using a boost converter he built out of a custom dip MAX668, he is able to output the necessary 5 amps required. An MC 34161 voltage monitor chip is planned for future revisions, but he’s currently running it just fine. Check out some of his other cool hacks on Karosium.

Related: MSI Wind extended battery