Disposable Vape Batteries Turned USB Power Bank

It’s another one of those fun quirks about our increasingly cyberpunk world — instead of cigarette butts littering our streets, you’re more likely to find disposable vaporizers that have run out of juice. Unfortunately, while the relatively harmless paper remnants of a cig would eventually just fall apart when exposed to the elements, these futuristic caltrops are not only potentially explosive thanks to their internal lithium-ion battery but aren’t going anywhere without some human intervention.

So do the environment and your parts bin a favor: pick them up and salvage their internal cells. As [N-Ender_3] shows with this build, it’s cheap and easy to turn the remnants of a few vapes into a useful USB power bank. In this case, the enclosure is 3D printed, which makes it particularly form-fitting, but you could just as easily pack the cells into something else if you’re not a fan of extruded plastic.

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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?