Charging USB-C Devices Off Of LiPo Battery Packs

When it was introduced in the late 90s, USB was the greatest achievement in all of computing. Gone were the PS/2 connectors for keyboards and mice, ADB ports, parallel ports, game ports, and serial ports. This was a Tower of Babel that would unite all ports under one standard universal bus.

Then more ports were introduced; micro, mini, that weird one that was a mini USB with more connectors off to the side. Then we started using phone chargers as power supplies. The Tower of Babel had crumbled. Now, though, there is a future. USB-C is everything stuffed into one port, and it can supply 100 Watts of power.

Delivering power over a USB-C connector is an interesting engineering challenge, and for his Hackaday Prize entry, [Chris Hamilton] is taking up the task. He’s building a USB-C battery charger, allowing him to charge standard R/C battery packs over USB.

There are two major components of the charger. The first, a Cypress CCG2 USB Power Delivery negotiator, handles all the logic of sending a command to the USB power supply and telling it to open up the pipes. It’s an off-the-shelf part and the implementation is well documented in app notes. The second major component is the battery management circuit built on a TI BQ40z60RHB. This includes the charger control logic and the ability to balance up to four cells. Battery connectors are XT-30, so all your drone battery packs can now be charged by a MacBook.

22 thoughts on “Charging USB-C Devices Off Of LiPo Battery Packs

  1. “Charging USB-C Devices Off Of LiPo Battery Packs”
    And here I though I would see USB-C devices (smartphone?) being charged from LiPo, not the other way.

    Still interesting, but title could be better.

  2. This is amazing.
    A note for confused commenters, USB C is bidirectional, so if properly implemented, power can flow either way.
    I was designing one like this for my electric skateboard, so it could charge my phone rapidly or be charged by the common USB C infrastructure of the future

    1. I mean… I know how USB-C works. It’s possible the battery charger works bi-directionally, too.
      The article’s closing line is just… “so all your drone battery packs can now be charged by a MacBook.”

      Which is directly contrary to the title.

  3. “When it was introduced in the late 90s, USB was the greatest achievement in all of computing. Gone were the PS/2 connectors for keyboards and mice, ADB ports, parallel ports, game ports, and serial ports. This was a Tower of Babel that would unite all ports under one standard universal bus.”

    … did you live in the 90s and use computers? That first sentence is so massively *wrong*, it was buggy, caused crashes, if things worked at all. It’s useful now, that bugs were worked out (which took years, and multiple revisions of Windows, finally Macs signing on), but at the time, it was a horrid, horrible mess. That no one wanted to deal with. Nevermind that it’s also a security risk compared to the old setups.

    The hacks that have improved it have done a great job. Still has limitations, but it works (mostly.)

    1. yep, usb was a disaster for many years… It took over a decade to be reasonable, and two decades to be fully what it originally promised. So it was the opposite of a great improvement…

    2. I totally agree here, I used to hate USB devices with a passion because they had so many bugs. Even when it started performing well , I had so many years of bad experience that it took me time to adjust.

    3. USB only became popular when Apple got rid of the legacy ports and the iMac used USB for everything… Before that USB was mostly ignored and USB peripherals were more expensive, so why buy them?

      My keyboard, A Cherry G80 bought in 1996, is still DIN, with a DIN-PS/2-Adapter. Luckily even modern Mainboards still have one PS/2 port so I can still use it without needing a USB-PS/2-Adapter.

  4. I wanted to clear up an error on this post. “…So all your drone batteries can now be charged by your MacBook”

    If the negotiation is for 100W to charge the lipo the MacBook would refuse to output power. To get this kind of charging ability for your lipo you will have to use a wall plug in with USB C PD

  5. Dunno, so will assume the schematic is substantially incomplete. Not gonna do bi-directional per USB-C spec, and output current switcher does not seem to have correct values for the BQ40z60RHB intended operational frequency. And the design intent of this IC was not intended for the ‘full’ USB-C power control requirements.

    TI has a design example at http://www.ti.com/lit/df/tidre91/tidre91.pdf.

    Methinks our good editors may have been a bit pre-mature in reporting on this project, as it is not fully baked.

  6. just an off-topic question here.
    for one li ion cell there are charger modules where input is 5V and the charger IC provides the required voltage to the cell…
    in case of 1)2s2p 2)3s2p or xsxp, how do you find the supply voltage to the charger board?

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