The BatBox: Portable Power, Polished And Professional. Plus Smoke!


About the size of a shoebox and stuffed with a compact battery/inverter combo, the BatBox packs a mean wallop at 480Wh. What else was [Bill Porter] supposed to do with his free time? He’s already mailed out electronic wedding invitations and built custom LED centerpieces for the reception. He and his wife [Mara] then made an appearance in a Sunday roundup tying the knot by soldering a circuit together. Surely the LED Tetris Tie would have been in the ceremony had it existed. This time, though, [Bill’s] scrounged up some leftover electronics to put a realistic spin on a Minecraft favorite: the BatBox.

A pair of 18V high energy density batteries connect up to a 12V regulator, stepping them down to drive a 110VAC inverter. The BatBox also supplies 5V USB and 12VDC output for portable devices. Unfortunately, [Bill]’s first inverter turned out to be a low-quality, voltage-spiking traitor; it managed to let the smoke out of his fish tank’s LED bar by roasting the power supply. Undeterred, [Bill] pressed on with a new, higher-quality inverter that sits on an acrylic shelf above the batteries. OpenBeam aluminum extrusion seals up the remainder of the enclosure, completing the BatBox with a frame that looks both appealing and durable.

26 thoughts on “The BatBox: Portable Power, Polished And Professional. Plus Smoke!

  1. you could reconnect the 12 volt plug back to the inverter (if the plug is as cheap as the inverter it may be held together with a screw not a rivet) and amazon would be none the wiser.

    actually maybe good thing you have a $20 paperweight because it would cost just as much in shipping to send it back (you would be very lucky if they would pay the return shipping).

    a good inverter will be heavier because it uses quality parts and will have a beefy transformer and choke coils and heatsinks and the electronics will be rated higher voltages so they can handle the surges.

    1. Oops, forgot to talk about that in my blog post. There are two ‘divisions’ of space inside the box. The inverter and Vreg are in the upper division. That division is open on the backside to expose the inverter panel. Since the inverter has a (powerful) fan internal, it pulls air in from a grill between the outlets, push it out the back meaning the air has to travel over the Vreg, spin around and push along the sides of the inverter to blow out from the same side it entered. I’ve tested this box under full load and until the batteries died and the ventilation worked well.

  2. I killed several WRT54G powercubes with a crappy power inverter back in the day too. As soon as I realized what caused their demise, I never used that power inverter again. Strangely though, other power cubes survived being powered from that inverter, so their must have been something really sensitive in those linksys power cubes. It would suck to fry something expensive though…

    Regarding batteries, you can get some small low-weight high power density LiPo batteries from hobby shops that sell them for R/C cars and aircraft. Even cheaper from Chinese online hobby stores (especially during Black Friday sales, which is when I stock up). I recharge them in explosion-proof and fire-proof recharging bags for extra safety, after Trappy lost most of his equipment from a lithium fire…

  3. Modified sine wave inverters tend to make small power supplies heat up due to the high harmonic content of the signal.

    120VAC house current actually peaks at 170V, so your reading of 150V is actually quite expected, if a bit low actually. It would be best to look at the load current and voltage with an oscilliscope to get the proper picture here.

    I wouldn’t mind a paperweight like that.

    1. The reading was measured by a DMM in RMS mode, so that’s 150V RMS, not peak. So if I was measuring peak on an O-scope, it would have been around 215V. You sure you want it?

        1. Depends on the DMM. I don’t know if my meter is true RMS or not, I believe it is. If it’s just averaging meter it would read a lower voltage value, making the 150Vs even more alarming. If it’s true RMS than it should be accurate. I read 116VAC with a steady load.

          But true, RMS of modified sine wave is more like 0.8 ratio on average, so it would have been 187V peak, not 215V.

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