Wiring Up 100 Car Batteries So You Don’t Have To

We’re willing to bet most Hackaday readers have accidentally spot welded a few electrical contacts together over the years, complete with the surge of adrenaline that comes with the unexpected pops and sparks. It’s a mistake you’ll usually only make once or twice. But where most of us would look back at such mishaps as cautionary experiences, [Styropyro] sees an opportunity.

Armed with 100 car batteries wired in parallel, his recent video sees him pitting an assortment of household objects against the combined might of eighty-five thousand amps. Threaded rods, bolts, and angle iron all produce the sort of lightshow you’d expect, but [Styropyro] quickly discovered that holding larger objects down was more difficult than anticipated. It turns out that the magnetic fields being generated by the incredible amount of current rushing through the system was pulling the terminals apart and breaking the connection. After reinforcing the business end of his rig, he was able to tackle stouter objects such as crowbars and wrenches with explosive results.

A modified log splitter serves as a remotely operated switch.

We found that his remotely operated switch, built out of a hydraulic log splitter, to be a particular highlight of the video — unfortunately he only briefly goes over its construction at the very start. His side experiment, fashioning an sort of manually-operated carbon arc lamp with a pair of thick graphite electrodes and demonstrating is luminous efficacy compared to modern LEDs was an unexpected treat. As was the off-the-shelf domestic circuit breaker that impressed [Styropyro] by refusing to yield even after repeated jolts.

While the showers of sparks and vaporized metal might trigger some sweaty palms among the audience, we’ve seen [Styropyro] handle far scarier contraptions in the past. Though he may come off as devil-may-care in his videos, we figure there’s no way he could have made it this long without blinding or maiming himself if he didn’t know what he was doing.

53 thoughts on “Wiring Up 100 Car Batteries So You Don’t Have To

    1. I grew up in a small town in western Illinois. There was a steel mill that used electric arc furnaces (400 tons) to melt scrap steel. Basically lowering two giant carbon electrodes into a crucible holding the steel. Our house was one mile away. You heard a loud whump sound and the lights dimmed when they started the furnace. I was told that they used 1/2 the power output of a nuclear plant 50 miles away. During the winter when they added cold wet steel to the furnace it produced quite a bang. I worked there after high school. Sadly the company is no more. They used steam locomotives up until 1980. Great fun as a kid standing on the bridge overlooking the main switch yard. They were bought for scrap prices and the good ones were kept for switch yard use and for spare parts.

        1. There’s a youtube video of exactly this that went round recently – guy driving a front loader shovels a bucket full of wet metal into a furnace, followed by a very angry explosion of molten metal. Bad day at the office was had that day.

  1. Looking at the picture, it looks like combination of parallel and series batteries. 5 batteries in series, 10 series batteries in parallel for ~70v, enough amp to jump start a nuclear plant

  2. They’re in series-parallel, anyone with eyeballs can observe. 5S20P so 60V which is way too much for butt-welding. Even 12V is enough. This is not arc welding, there is no constant current inductor etc.

    Weatherford uses the same welding system for “COROD” continuous sucker rod string butt-welding. This is used in the oil patch. It’s basically a truck with the battery bank, drives up on site, and the broken sections of steel rod 20-40mm OD ends get pressed together, shorting the batteries. I faintly recall ~10,000A for 20-30 seconds was considered a good weld.

    Another possible use is creating ball lightning. This was observed in WWII submarines when they switched the DC breakers, big ball floating around… I remember somebody tried to recreate using an old submarine. Not sure of the motor inductance etc. effects as well.

  3. I have a suspicion that he has removed the oil and is using the splitter cylinder as a pneumatic spring to clamp the connections.
    I’m simply basing this thought on the way it moves and sounds, So I could be wrong.

      1. He added spring to clamp the contacts. Operation:
        1. Pull the contacts away using handle
        2. Insert trigger pin
        3. Prepare “firing” plates
        4. Pull trigger pin
        5. If there is something bad happening with batteries and “breakers” are not melting, activate log splitter to split contacts.

      1. He even makes sure to dissuade anyone from copying, and has from time to time made it clear that he takes pains to get things right ahead of time so that he can be a goofball for the camera.

    1. Actually he takes moderate protections but some day will get bitten by an oversight. You know all for the “likes and subscribes!” This is the least offensive of the dangerous acts channels. I know of several pyro channels that show dumb acts as the best way to do certain things. Thereby informing fools on what to do. YT’s reporting system is broken anyway.

  4. I’m ashamed to say I watched this vid all the way thru. Reminded me of experiments in the past using submarine batteries to generate ball lightning (would love to see these batteries used for that kind of investigation).

    1. Substation, or patience. Use what’s available.

      Or series-parallel them into a voltage that mimics a different battery, rig up a BMS that looks like an e-car one, and use an electric car charger.

    1. Open your eyes and you will see a back-to-back line of physics lessons, in real-world demonstrations that the ordinary schools are too badly equipped, both in gear and in courage, to do.

      I for one greatly enjoyed. And, judging from the number of the author’s subscribers, I am not alone.

    1. The real future Darwin Award battery abuser is Tylertube. He connected a *lot* of 9V batteries in serious, giving him thousands of volts at a non-trivial current capacity, then played with them in a very reckless way. Maybe 3 years ago or so? He’s lucky he lived through that video. Styropyro seems to actually have some respect for what he’s doing.

    1. It’s about how magnetism works, which he explains a few seconds later: With magnetism, opposites attract but apparently, the same currents also attract. Combined with the fact that we still don’t really have a clue about what is magnetism.

    2. For anyone wondering what “slur” is being referred to, he calls magnetism “the gayest force field in physics” because he’s about to explain how it’s not always opposite polarities that are attracted to each other. It’s a bit visualizing 2 of the same polarities being attracted to each other in this experiment like how a gay couple is 2 of the same gender.

  5. Reminds me of the -48v dc supplies for telecoms – a room with about that many lead acid batteries wired to give 48v. (Always referred to as -48v supply for some reason i never worked out?) Distribution via copper bars suspended above the bays to the telco rooms. Just don’t drop your screwdriver on the bars… they only found the plastic handle – the metal part had evaporated…

    1. I used to hook servers up to those -48vdc systems! They’re -48v because what would be the “positive” lug on the system if it was floating is bonded to earth ground. Referenced to earth, that is 0v and the “negative” side of the system is -48v.
      Negative voltages only make sense when there’s a reference to something else.
      It’s done this way to mitigate corrosion or electrolysis or something like that.
      I used to like looking at the readouts on the AC to DC rectifiers in the battery rooms, I was impressed by seeing 800A@-50VDC (they’re not quite 48V, since they get float charged, just like a “12V” car battery is actually more like 13.8V). The bus bars and cables running DC power through the data center were all thick.
      Tens of thousands of amps is extremely impressive!

    2. Me too – the official training video was fantastic, after one too many accidents and fires they gave some power guys a whole load of battery racks and locked them in a large fireproof building with cameras and told them to work out all the ways people & equipment could f**k up and then film the results. Cue 30 minutes of fires & explosions and a room full of people determined to keep their fingers out of any and all power equipment!

      Almost as good as the lifting safety video where a very young Graham Norton is crushed to death by a falling load and his manager says “What do I tell his wife?”

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