Power Tool Packs Make A Portable Powerhouse

The revolution in portable and cordless appliances has meant that we now own far fewer mains-powered gadgets than we might once have done, but it hasn’t entirely banished the old AC outlet from our lives. Particularly when away from a mains supply it can be especially annoying, but now instead of a generator there’s the option of an inverter. [Thijs Koppen] has made a very neat all-in-one mains power station in a plastic flight case using the ubiquitous and handy standardized Makita power tool packs.

From one perspective this is a simple enough build, because wiring a battery to an inverter isn’t the most difficult of tasks. But he’s designed his own 3D printed Makita battery receptacles which should be of interest to plenty of readers, and with three packs in series he’s sourced an unusual 72 volt inverter to supply mains. The photo of him charging a Tesla with the result is probably more for show than practicality though.

We’ve featured quite a lot of cordless tool battery hacks over the years as their ready availability and quick interchangeability is attractive. If you ever fancy engineering your own mounting, we’ve taken a look at someone doing just that.

Half Power Bank, Half Spot Welder

There was a time when every gizmo on AliExpress also had a big white LED so it could also work as a flashlight, but maybe the power bank is the new flashlight. [Aaron Christophel] has a battery spot welder that costs a not unreasonable 30 euros and can also be used as a novelty power bank. He subjects it to a test and teardown in the video below the break.

First of all, he conducts a few weld tests, and we have to say it seems capable of some reasonable results if its parameters are correctly adjusted. Then the end comes off the extruded aluminium case, and the guts of the device are slid out for a teardown.

The power comes from a pair of Li-Po pouch cells, while on the board, there’s an STM32 clone providing the timing for a set of MOSFETs that do the heavy lifting. There’s a colour display for tweaking the settings. Alongside all this, there’s also a small chip for that power bank functionality. Charging is via USB-C, though, of course, it’s not really proper USB-C but a USB-C socket that expects 5 volts. This is a disappointing trend in cheap electronics that sullys the promise of USB-C.

It seems this spot welder is capable of doing the job, which is pleasing after our previous disappointing look at battery welders.

Continue reading “Half Power Bank, Half Spot Welder”

A 48 Volt Battery Pack With Carefully Balanced Cells

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?

Vehicle-to-Grid Made Easy

As electric cars continue to see increased adoption, one associated technology that was touted long ago that still hasn’t seen widespread adoption is vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-home. Since most cars are parked most of the time, this would allow the cars to perform load-levelling for the grid or even act as emergency generators on an individual basis when needed. While this hasn’t panned out for a variety of reasons, it is still possible to use an EV battery for use off-grid or as part of a grid tie solar system, and now you can do it without needing to disassemble the battery packs at all.

Normally when attempting to use a scrapped EV battery for another use, the cells would be removed from the OEM pack and reorganized to a specific voltage. This build, however, eliminates the need to modify the packs at all. A LilyGO ESP32 is used to convert the CAN bus messages from the battery pack to the Modbus communications protocol used by the inverters, in this case a Fronius Gen24, so the inverter and battery can coordinate energy delivery from one to the other automatically. With the hard part out of the way, the only other requirements are to connect a high voltage DC cable from the battery pack to the inverter.

[Dala], the creator of this project, has taken other steps to ensure safety as well that we’d recommend anyone attempting to recreate this build pays close attention to, as these battery packs contain an extremely large amount of energy. The system itself supports battery packs from Nissan Leafs as well as the Tesla Model 3, which can usually be found for comparably low prices. Building battery energy storage systems to make up for the lack of commercially-available vehicle-to-home systems isn’t the only use for an old EV battery, though. For example, it’s possible to use Leaf batteries to triple the range of other EVs like [Muxsan] did with this Nissan van.

Continue reading “Vehicle-to-Grid Made Easy”

E-Bike Battery Tapped For Off-Grid Laptop Power

If you’ve travelling via bike, you’ll know there’s a certain advantage to packing light. But what if you need to take your beefy desktop-replacement laptop with you on one of these trips? These power hungry machines can’t go far without their chargers (or a place to plug them in), which generally makes them poor traveling companions.

Luckily, [transistor-man] came up with a solution to this particular problem by reusing his e-bike’s battery pack as a mobile power source for his Lenovo laptop. The energy demands of this particular computer are too high for USB-C Power Delivery, and as such, he had to hack up a way to feed it 20 volts DC via its proprietary square power connector. His bike’s battery puts out between 30 and 42 VDC depending on charge, so at least on paper, it should work out fine. Continue reading “E-Bike Battery Tapped For Off-Grid Laptop Power”

Soldering Station Designed Around Batteries

Companies now are looking to secure revenue streams by sneakily locking customers into as many recurring services as possible. Subscription software, OS ecosystems, music streaming, and even food delivery companies all want to lock consumers in to these types of services. Battery-operated power tools are no different as there’s often a cycle of buying tools that fit one’s existing batteries, then buying replacement batteries, ad infinitum. As consumers we might prefer a more open standard but since this is not likely to happen any time soon, at least we can build our own tools that work with our power tool brand of choice like this battery-powered soldering station. Continue reading “Soldering Station Designed Around Batteries”

Hackaday Prize 2022: A Backup Battery Pack

These days, we’re all running around toting smartphones and laptops that could always use a bit more charge. Portable battery packs have become popular, and [Anuradha] has designed one that packs plenty of juice to keep everything humming.

The pack is designed to be charged via solar panels, at 18 V and up to 5 A of current. It’s intended to work with a Maximum Power Point Tracking module to ensure the maximum energy is gained from the sunshine available. For storage, the pack relies on 75 individual 18650 lithium cells, arranged with 3 cells in series, each with 25 in parallel (3s25p). They’re spot welded together for strength and good conductivity. Nominally, the output voltage is on the order of 10-12 V. The included battery management system (BMS) will allow an output current up to 100 A, and the pack can be used with an AC inverter to power regular home appliances.

Overall, it’s a tidy pack that’s more than capable of keeping a few devices charged up for days at a time. If you’re building something similar yourself, though, just be sure to package it well and keep it protected. So many lithium batteries can quickly turn fiery if something goes wrong, so store and use it appropriately! Fear not, however – we’ve got a guide on how to do just that.