The powerbank PCB, with all the components on one side, 18650 holder on the other, a MicroUSB cable plugged into the PCB's MicroUSB socket

Open Hardware 5V UPS Improves On Cheap Powerbank Design

Often, we need to power a 5V-craving project of ours on the go. So did [Burgduino], and, unhappy with solutions available, designed their own 5V UPS! It takes a cheap powerbank design and augments it with a few parts vital for its UPS purposes.

You might be tempted to reach for a powerbank when facing such a problem, but most of them have a fatal flaw, and you can’t easily tell a flawed one apart from a functioning one before you buy it. This flaw is lack of load sharing – ability to continue powering the output when a charger is inserted. Most store-bought powerbanks just shut the output off, which precludes a project running 24/7 without powering it down, and can cause adverse consequences when something like a Raspberry Pi is involved.

Understandably, [Burgduino] wasn’t okay with that. Their UPS is based on the TP5400, a combined LiIon charging and boost chip, used a lot in simple powerbanks, but not capable of load sharing. For that, an extra LM66100 chip – an “ideal diode” controller is used. You might scoff at it being a Texas Instruments part, but it does seem to be widely available and only a tad more expensive than the TP5400 itself! The design is open hardware, with PCB files available on EasyEDA and the BOM clearly laid out for easy LCSC ordering.

We the hackers might struggle to keep our portable Pi projects powered, employing supercapacitors and modifying badly designed Chinese boards. However, once we find a proper toolkit for our purposes, battery-powered projects tend to open new frontiers – you might even go beyond your Pi and upgrade your router with an UPS addon! Of course, it’s not always smooth sailing, and sometimes seemingly portability-friendly devices can surprise you with their design quirks.