There’s a good chance that if you build something which includes the ability to top up a lithium-ion battery, it’s going to involve the incredibly common TP4056 charger IC. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s a decent enough chip, and there are countless pre-made modules out there that make it extremely easy to implement. But if the chip shortage has taught us anything, it’s that alternatives are always good.
So we’d suggest bookmarking this opensource hardware Li-Ion battery charger design from [Shahar Sery]. The circuit uses the BQ24060 from Texas Instruments, which other than the support for LiFePO4 batteries, doesn’t seem to offer anything too new or exciting compared to the standard TP4056. But that’s not the point — this design is simply offered as a potential alternative to the TP4056, not necessarily an upgrade.
[Shahar] has implemented the design as a 33 mm X 10 mm two-layer PCB, with everything but the input and output connectors mounted to the topside. That would make this board ideal for attaching to your latest project with a dab of hot glue or double-sided tape, as there are no components on the bottom to get pulled off when you inevitably have to do some rework.
The board takes 5 VDC as the input, and charges a single 3.7 V cell (such as an 18650) at up to 1 Amp. Or at least, it can if you add a heatsink or fan — otherwise, the notes seem to indicate that ~0.7 A is about as high as you can go before tripping the thermal protection mode.
Like the boilerplate TP4056 we covered recently, this might seem like little more than a physical manifestation of the typical application circuit from the chip’s datasheet. But we still think there’s value in showing how the information from the datasheet translates into the real-world, especially when it’s released under an open license like this.
Lithium batteries have, nearly single-handedly, ushered in the era of the electric car, as well as battery energy storage of grid power and plenty of other technological advances not possible with older battery chemistries. There’s just one major downside: these lithium cells can be extremely finicky. If you’re adding one to your own project you’ll have to be extremely careful to treat them exactly how they are designed to be treated using something like this boilerplate battery protection circuit created by [DIY GUY Chris].
The circuit is based around the TP4056 integrated circuit, which handles the charging of a single lithium cell — in this design using supplied power from a USB port. The circuit is able to charge a cell based on the cell’s current charge state, temperature, and a model of the cell. It’s also paired with a DW01A chip which protects the cell from various undesirable conditions such as over-current, overcharge, and over-voltage.
The best thing about this design isn’t the design itself, but that [DIY GUY Chris] built the circuit schematic specifically to be easily copied into PCB designs for other projects, which means that lithium batteries can more easily be integrated directly into his other builds. Be sure to check out our primer on how to deal with lithium batteries before trying one of your own designs, though.
One thing you won’t read in reviews of pricey Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones – if you choose them, you’re going to find yourself in a one-sided abusive relationship. A button press or low-battery notification makes the headphones scream at you, ignoring the actual sound volume of what you’re currently listening to. Once they’re discharged, they suddenly emit loud noises, lecture you about how the battery is low, then shut down. Oh, and you can’t use them as they’re charging – if your voicecall lasts longer than expected, you might find yourself being shouted at and forced to fumble around with wires, silently pleading for call participants to wait while you change over to a different headset.
[MisterHW] decided to dig in and figure out how to work around at least some of the shortcomings. Naturally, the “no charge while using” limit looked like low-hanging fruit, and a hefty usability improvement too – plus, he suspected the charge cutoff to be masking noise issues already abundant on these headphones. Some painful disassembly later, he was inspecting the charger IC , the MP2625, responsible for power management. Its signals were connected to the MCU using via-in-pad – and some pads had to be cut in half to disconnect the vias.
However, the laborious pad cutting and subsequent careful soldering didn’t turn out to be fruitful. Even with external control of the output inhibition pins, the shutoff still continued – something affected the circuit, whether it was VBUS detection, some other unnoticed via-connected pins on the charger, or sensing on D+/D-. About to run out of life force for this mod, [MisterHW] added a Qi charging circuit, powering a TP4056 wired in parallel with the MP2625. The mod, dubbed HW-1000XM3, made these headphones all that more reliable and less annoying – charger and MCU none the wiser.
Now, all that’s needed to charge these headphones is to slap a magnetic charger coil onto them, and it doesn’t interfere with voicecalls as much as the screaming and forced shutoffs do. Hopefully, Sony eventually learns to test their headphones by having humans use them – it’s far from the only gripes with this lineup, after all. We also hope that the voice notifications will be conquered eventually – this summer, we’ve seen a hacker firmware mod a Bluetooth speaker to make the sounds more pleasant. If your headphones are based on a relatively popular module, repurposing them might be even easier than that!
Let’s be honest, commercially-available soldering fume extractors are cheap enough that you probably don’t need to build one yourself. But it still makes for a good starter project, especially if you go out of your way to really flex your maker muscles like [Arnov Sharma] did with this tidy build.
All the hallmarks of modern hardware making are on display here — you’ve got the 3D printed enclosure, a motor salvaged from a cheap toy quadcopter, and a custom PCB which uses the ATtiny13 and an AO4406 MOSFET to implement a PWM speed control.
The first press of the button starts the motor off at max speed, but keep pushing it, and the motor’s speed will ramp down until it turns off entirely. There’s even a TP4056 charge controller to top off the internal 18650 cell when the fume extractor is connected to a USB power source.
Despite the fact that we’re rapidly approaching the year 2022, there are still an incredible number of gadgets out there that you’re expected to power with disposable batteries. Sure you can buy rechargeable stand-ins that come in the various shapes and sizes of the traditional alkaline cells, but that’s a stopgap at best. For some, if a new gadget doesn’t feature an internal Li-ion battery and standardized USB charging, it’s a non-starter.
[Danilo Larizza] is one of those people. Bothered by the fact that his Oregon Scientific weather station required a pair of CR2032 coin cells, he set out to replace them with an integrated rechargeable solution. The conversion ending up being easier to implement than he initially expected, and by his calculations, his solution should keep the unit up and running for nearly 40 days before needing to be topped off with a standard USB charger.
The first step was determining how much power it actually took to run the weather station. Although the two CR2032 cells were wired in series, and therefore providing a nominal 6 V, he determined through experimentation with a bench power supply that it would run on as little as 3.2 volts. This coincides nicely with the voltage range for a single 18650 cell, and meant he didn’t need to add a boost converter into the mix. He notes the weather station does flash a “Low Battery” warning most of the time now, but that seems a fair price to pay.
Confident in the knowledge that the weather station could happily run with an 18650 cell connected in place of the original CR2032s, all [Danilo] needed to do was figure out a way to charge the battery up from time to time. To that end, he reached for a common TP4056 module. This handy little board is a great match for 18650 cells, and is so cheap that there’s really no excuse not to have a few of them kicking around your parts bin. You never know when you might need to teach an old gadget new tricks.
We’re truly fortunate to have so many incredible open source projects floating around on the Internet, since there’s almost always some prior art you can lean on. By combining bits and pieces from different projects, you can often save yourself a huge amount of time and effort. It’s just a matter of figuring out how all the pieces fit together, like in this clever mash-up by [bethiboothi] that takes advantage of the fact that the popular TP4056 lithium-ion battery charger module happens to be almost the exact same size of the ESP-01.
While it doesn’t appear that [bethiboothi] is using it currently, the esp_wifi_repeater firmware does have an automatic mesh mode which seems like it would be a fantastic fit for this design. Putting together an impromptu mesh WiFi network with a bunch of cheap battery powered nodes would be an excellent way to get network connectivity at an outdoor hacker camp, assuming the ESP’s CPU can keep up with the demand.
The star of the show is the popular TP4056 lithium-ion charger module. [HorstBaerbel] went with the more common micro USB version, but these boards are also available with USB-C should you want to embrace the future. The module fits nicely inside the original battery compartment while while still leaving room for a 1,000 mAh pouch cell. The 4.2 V output of the fully charged battery is a bit too high for the Game Boy’s liking, so he used the forward voltage drop of a diode to bring it down to a more acceptable 3.5 V.
Naturally this does waste a good deal of energy, especially compared to the DC-DC converters used in commercial offerings like the CleanJuice, but it still delivers a respectable seven hours of runtime. The only issue with this modification seems to be that you’ve got just five minutes to save your progress and shut down when the GBA’s low-battery light goes on; but what’s life without a little excitement?