Many readers will have at some time or another built their own lithium-ion battery packs, whether they are using tiny cells or the huge ones found in automotive packs. A popular choice it to salvage ubiquitous 18650 cylindrical cells, as [limpkin] has with this 48 volt pack. It’s based around an off-the-shelf kit aimed at the e-bike market, but it’s much more than a simple assembly job.
Faced with a hundred salvaged cells of unknown provenance, the first thing to do was ensure that they were all balanced and showed the same voltage. Some might do this the inefficient way by hooking each one up to a charger and a programmable load, but in this case a much more radical route was taken. A huge PCB was designed with sockets for all hundred cells, connected in parallel through individual series resistors. This allowed them to balance to a common voltage before being discharged to a safe voltage for assembly. Their individual ESRs were the measured, and the best performing examples were then spot-welded into the final 13s-6p final pack.
We all use lithium-ion batteries, but how many of us know how they work?