Designing Printed Adapters For Power Tool Batteries

Unless you’re particularly fond of having multiple types of batteries and chargers, you’d do well to make sure all your portable power tools are made by the same company. But what do you do if there’s a tool you really need, but your brand of choice doesn’t offer their own version of it? Rather than having to buy into a whole new tool ecosystem, you might be able to design your own battery adapter.

Note the locking tab that’s been printed separately.

As [Chris Chimienti] explains in the video after the break, the first thing you’ve got to do (beyond making sure the voltages match) is take some careful measurements of the connectors on your batteries and tools. His goal was to adapt a Milwaukee M12 battery to Makita CXT tool, so if you happen to have that same combination of hardware you can just use his STLs. Otherwise, you’ll be spending some quality time with a pair of calipers and a notepad.

Once the interfaces have been designed and printed, they are wired together and mounted to opposite ends of the center support column. In theory you’d be done at this point, but as [Chris] points out, there’s a bit more to it than just wiring up the positive and negative terminals. Many tools use thermistors in the batteries for thermal protection purposes, and when the tool doesn’t get a reading from the sensor, it will likely refuse to work.

His solution to the problem is to “hotwire” the thermistor lead on the battery connector with a standard resistor of the appropriate value. This will get the tool spinning, but obviously there’s no more thermal protection. For most homeowner DIY projects this probably won’t cause a problem, but if you’re a pro who’s really pushing their tools to the limit, this project might not be for you.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen somebody adapt batteries from different brands to work on their tools. It’s a common enough problem once you start building up a workshop, although you could always avoid it by building all your own tools.

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Minature Table Saw Gets The Teeny Jobs Done

Table saws are highly useful tools, but tend to take up a lot of space. They’re usually designed to handle the bigger jobs in a workshop. It doesn’t have to be that way, however, as [KJDOT] demonstrates with a miniature table saw.

It’s a saw that relies on a simple build. The frame is made of plywood, and can be built with just a drill and a hand saw. A brushed motor is used to run the saw, using an off-the-shelf PWM controller and a 24V power supply. A handful of bearings and standard brackets are then used to put it all together, and there’s even a handy adjustable fence to boot. With a 60mm blade fitted, the saw is ready to go.

It’s a build that would be great for anyone regularly working with wood or plastics on the smaller scale. If you like building dollhouses, this could be the tool for you. You might also find the table nibbler to be an enticing proposition. Video after the break.

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The Trouble With Cordless Power Tools

If you grow up around a small engineering business you are likely to gain something of an appreciation for power tools. You’ll see them of all ages, sizes, manufacturers, and technologies. When thinking of the power tools constantly on hand in the workshop of a blacksmith like my dad for instance, I’m instantly seeing a drill and an angle grinder. The drill that most comes to mind is a Makita mains powered hand drill, and given that I remember the day he bought it to replace his clapped-out Wolf in 1976, it has given phenomenal service over four decades and continues to do so.

41 years of hard use, and still going strong.
41 years of hard use, and still going strong…

Of course, the Makita isn’t the only drill in his possession. A variety of others of different sizes and speeds have come and gone over the years, and there is always one at hand for any given task. The other one I’d like to single out is I think the most recent acquisition, a Bosch cordless model he bought several years ago. It’s similar in size and capabilities to the Makita save for its bulky battery pack, and it is a comparably decent quality tool.

So, we have two drills, both of similar size, and both of decent quality. One is from the mid 1970s, the other from the end of the last decade. One is a very useful tool able to drill holes all day, the other is little more than a paperweight. The vintage model from the days of flared trousers is a paperweight, you ask? No, the not-very-old Bosch, because its battery pack has lost its capacity. The inevitable degradation due to aged cell chemistry has left it unable to hold enough charge for more than maybe a minute’s use, and what was once a tool you’d be glad to own is now an ornament.

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Doubling The Capacity Of Power Tool Batteries

YouTube User [Vuaeco] has come up with a novel idea, combining power tool battery packs to double the capacity.

Starting off with two slimline 2.0Ah compact battery packs, [Vuaeco] wanted a larger 4.0Ah rebuilt drill battery pack. These battery packs are different in size so it wasn’t just a case of adding in more cells in empty slots, instead he goes on to show us how to connect the batteries in parallel using some thin nickel strips. Once completed he modifies the battery casing so it fits another stack of batteries. He does this by bolting the top and bottom together with long screws, and insulating the otherwise exposed battery terminals with insulating tape. The final product isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as a real battery pack, but it looks good enough.

There are a few things we might have done differently, for instance providing some hard plastic around the insulation so should the battery get knocked in an awkward position it would still have a hard shell protecting it. Also, instead of combining the batteries together fully charged as the video suggests, we might have done the opposite approach and fully drained them, avoiding unnecessary risks. If you try this, how about giving it a 3D printed case?

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DIY Rotary Tool

[Shashank] has a modest tool collection but is missing a rotary tool. He needed one for a project he was working on but didn’t think that it would get much use after the current project was completed. So instead of buying a rotary tool, he decided to make one to get the job done.

The project started out with a 40mm PVC pipe that would serve a the main body of the tool. Two MDF disks were cut to fit inside the pipe. One was used for mounting an RC vehicle brushless motor and the other was bored out to accept a pair of bearings. The bearings supported a modified pin vise that acts as the chuck for securing rotary tool bits. A 20-amp ESC and a servo tester control the motor’s speed and can get the motor up to 18,000 rpm.

Although this worked for a while, [Shashank] admits it did fall apart after about 20 hours of use. The MDF bearing mounts crumbled, thought to be a result of vibration due to mis-assignment between the motor and pin vise. He suggests using aluminum for the bearing mounts and a flexible coupling to connect the motor to the pin vise. If you’re interested in making your own rotary tool but don’t have any spare motors kicking around,  this 3D printed vacuum-powered rotary tool may be for you.

Turn Cordless Tool Batteries Into USB Chargers

It is the unspoken law of cordless tools – eventually you will have extra batteries lying around from dead tools that are incompatible with your new ones. Some people let them sit in lonesome corners of the garage or basement; others recycle them. [Eggmont] was facing this dilemma with a Makita battery from a broken angle grinder and decided to make a USB charger out of it.

[Eggmont] took the simplistic approach, using an old cigarette lighter-to-USB adapter. First, [Eggmont] removed the battery connector from the bottom of the broken angle grinder. Next, the casing surrounding the cigarette lighter plug was removed so that the adapter’s wires could be soldered to the contacts on the battery connector.  The USB ports were then glued onto the top of the connector. The adapter was rated 9-24V input, so it was fine to use it with the 18V tool battery. Since the battery connector is still removable, the battery can be recharged.

Tool manufacturers are tapping into the market of repurposing old batteries for charging mobile devices. Both DeWalt and Milwaukee Tool have now created their own USB adapters that connect to their batteries. Or, you can purchase the Kickstarter-funded PoweriSite adapter for DeWalt batteries instead. Compared to their cost, [Eggmont’s] project is very economical if you already have the battery at hand – you can find the USB adapter for less than $10 on Amazon.

Upgrading Cordless Drill Batteries To Lithium

Cordless power tool battery replacements are expensive: you can easily spend $100 for a NiCd pack. [henal] decided to skip nickle-based cells and cut out the middleman by converting his old cordless battery packs to inexpensive hobby lithium cells. These batteries appear to be Turnigy 3S 1300mAh’s from Hobbyking, which for around $10 is a great bargain. As we’ve explained before, lithium batteries offer several advantages over NiMH and NiCd cells, but such a high energy density has drawbacks that should be feared and respected, despite some dismissive commenters. Please educate yourself if you’ve never worked with lithium cells.

[henal] gutted his dead battery packs and then proceeded to prepare the lithium replacements by soldering them to the cordless pack’s power connectors. To keep charging simple, he also branched off a deans connector from power and ground. After cutting some holes in the pack for access to the balancing connector and deans connector, [helan] went the extra mile by soldering on a DIN connector to the balancing wires, which he then securely glued to the side of the case.

We’ve featured lithium power tool replacements before, and these Turnigy packs pose the same problem: they don’t appear to have any low voltage cut-off protection. Check out some of the comments for a good solution.