Batteries have always been a barrier in the evolution and adoption in soft, wearable devices. You wouldn't want the chemicals inside batteries to leak out onto your skin and ideally there wouldn't be a big risk of them bursting into flames either. Stanford engineers have developed a new kind of solid polymer battery that can stretch without breaking and doesn't contain liquid or gel that might seep out and ignite. From Stanford Engineering:
"Until now we haven't had a power source that could stretch and bend the way our bodies do, so that we can design electronics that people can comfortably wear," said chemical engineer Zhenan Bao, who teamed up with materials scientist Yi Cui to develop the device they describe in the Nov. 26 edition of Nature Communications....
The prototype is thumbnail-sized and stores roughly half as much energy, ounce for ounce, as a comparably sized conventional battery. Graduate student David Mackanic said the team is working to increase the stretchable battery's energy density, build larger versions of the device and run future experiments to demonstrate its performance outside the lab. One potential application for such a device would be to power stretchable sensors designed to stick to the skin to monitor heart rate and other vital signs as part of the BodyNet wearable technology being developed in Bao's lab.
More: Decoupling of mechanical properties and ionic conductivity in supramolecular lithium ion conductors (Nature Communications)
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This PulseTech charger, and responsible behavior, has changed my life.
I used to kill the batteries in my cars and motorcycles on an almost annual basis. I would intend to ride the bike more, but it'd be rainy. I would keep telling myself to take the Vanagon out but it was parked behind my daily driver. Sometimes I'd park the daily driver behind the Vanagon and just use it... and suddenly two, three or six months had gone by.
I bought two of these PulseTech chargers and started rotating between three vehicles. Several times I have even resurrected nearly dead batteries and resurrected ones a battery tester showed as 'bad.'
The automatic desulfation feature constantly varies the voltage of the float charge. I believe it works as I am well over 6 years old on both my car batteries and each one still reads 12.8v when I test them. My 44-year-old motorcycle with an 8-year-old battery starts right up on the first press of the button, assuming I remember to turn on the choke.
Desulfation may be snake oil as just keeping the batteries topped up should extend their service life dramatically -- but I am bran-loyal to these chargers.
I put those little charging pigtails on each battery and swap two chargers between my current fleet of three vehicles.
XTREME CHARGE XC100-P - Charge 12V Battery Maintenance Charger Desulfator via Amazon Read the rest
As a method of testing battery output, it seems a bit elaborate, but racing AAs down coiled copper tubes looks like a lot of fun. Mr. Michal:
Duracell, Varta or Energizer, Which Will Be the Best? In this video you'll see two races between aa batteries. Infinite loop and DRAG RACE. How to make the simplest electromagnetic train in the world ? It's very easy. You only need these three parts. 1. copper wire raw 2. battery ( AAA, AA or C ) 3. and two neodymium magnets ( it must be larger in diameter than battery )
I figure as a benchmark, you'd need to immobilize the tube for comparisons to be fair? Say, if you wanted to create a whole YouTube channel dedicated exclusively to well-controlled battery races. Read the rest
When you pay 1,000 bucks for a thing, it'd be nice if it, you know, does what it's supposed to. In the case of a smartphone, that means taking calls, accessing the Internet, taking great photos, downloading apps--the usual. Arguably, none of these abilities baked into our pocket computers is as important as its being able to recharge its internal battery. If the battery don't work, all else don't work. Guess what? There are a number of reports that Apple's new iPhone XS and XS Max have batteries which, in many cases, don't work.
Tech vlogger Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy has the goods on the issue, which he illustrates by using a multitude of new iPhones:
These sorts of issues aren't unique to Apple's iOS devices (remember AntennaGate?) or Android hardware (the display falling off of my Blackberry a few years back was powerful fun). However, when folks are forking over a good chunk of their monthly income to pick up what they believe to be a premium device--and according to the reviews of the iPhone XS and XS Max they are very luxe in the functionality and feels department--it's a reasonable expectation that hardware works right out of the box. Sure, minor glitches are to be expected with a complicated piece of hardware like a smartphone. There's a lot going on inside of them. But something as basic and as important as it not being able to charge under certain circumstances is too huge a quirk to easily forgive. Read the rest
I put a new battery in my 2011 11" MacBook Air. I love the laptop more than I minded the frustration. It will probably be easier for you.
I come from the time where we carried spare laptop batteries with us, and they were instantly swappable. I'd press a small button on the battery to light up some green LEDs to see how much juice was left in a spare. Those days are gone. We have now entered a dark age where batteries are sealed behind obscure pentalobe screws. After 7 years my treasured 11" Air was unable to hold a charge for longer than 75 minutes or so. I was fucked and going to have to open that case.
I love that little 11" laptop. It is the device I carry for creative writing. Small enough to not be a bother, but functional enough computer to do anything I need in a pinch. I did not want to lose this laptop, but the short battery life was killing me. Most of the coffee shops and places I like to work no longer want to offer power outlets to folks drinking one cup of black coffee for 2 hours.
I tried cycling the battery to restore some lost capacity. It did not help. I looked at the iPad Pro with a keyboard. I even looked at the Surface Pro. Then I researched batteries and the replacement looked like it should be no problem.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
I searched the internet's latest iteration of forums, Reddit and Youtube, for info on folks who'd replaced this model battery. Read the rest
Michael Potuck: "Apple’s Amsterdam store has been evacuated and temporarily closed after an iPad battery exploded and released potentially harmful substances into the air. As reported by iCulture, Apple employees secured the iPad and punctured battery in a container of sand after it exploded. Fortunately, there was no fire or smoke, or major injuries. However, three employees who experienced trouble breathing were treated by first responders. Read the rest
Chris "The Crispiest Bacon" Hill made this perfectly-designed chart showing how long different brands of alkaline battery lasted in the same flashlight. The surprise would seem to be the Rite Aid and CVS store brands. [Via Data Is Beautiful] Read the rest
This PowerJive USB Multimeter measures amps, volts and mAh on all my portable devices.
I wanted to know if my 3 year old 10,000 mAh USB powerbank was still holding anything close to 10,000 mAh. This USB multimeter does exactly what I am looking for. The meter sits in-line between your charging source and whatever device you seek to charge. Simply plugging the dongle in turns it on. The device immediately displays volts and charging amps.
To test capacity of a battery first you need to drain it completely. Reset the meter by plugging in the powered side, and then holding in the units only button for a few seconds. The mAh meter will zero out, and you can plug in whatever you want to charge up. When the device reaches 100% charge, the mAh meter will tell you approximately what your capacity is, at that charging rate.
My 3 year old 10,000 mAh powerbank, that has seen several hundred cycles, still has about 82% of its charge.
PowerJive USB Voltage/Amps Power Meter Tester Multimeter, Test speed of chargers, cables, capacity of power banks via Amazon Read the rest
I've always had a good experience with Anker products, so when I saw this 6700 mAh battery on sale for $14, I bought it. I have other batteries with a lot more capacity, but I wanted one that was more compact and lightweight, but still had enough juice to keep my phone alive for a full day of heavy use.
It doesn't include the short Lightning cable shown here. You probably already have a longer Lightning cable, but it you want a short one, Anker sells a 2-pack for $13. Read the rest
A Rice University chemist found that adding asphalt to lithium batteries allowed the battery to go "from zero charge to full charge in five minutes, rather than the typical two hours or more needed with other batteries."
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The Rice lab of chemist James Tour developed anodes comprising porous carbon made from asphalt that showed exceptional stability after more than 500 charge-discharge cycles. A high-current density of 20 milliamps per square centimeter demonstrated the material’s promise for use in rapid charge and discharge devices that require high-power density. The finding is reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.
My cars and bikes have the batteries in hard to reach places. This 10mm battery terminal rachet helps out!
In prepping the Vanagon Westy for a long roadtrip, I found I've killed my house battery. I ordered up a replacement but dreaded getting into the battery box. In a Vanagon, Volkswagen hides the batteries underneath the passenger and drivers seats. Getting at these battery terminals is a comedy of errors and blood. I'd go so far as to say the blood was compulsatory until I got this handy rachet at Harbor Freight.
It is small. It fits where I need it to. It is a rachet, and as such I am not constantly trying to re-seat the fucker while zapping myself against a grounded battery box in a thoughtlessly engineered tight space. At least VW put a cover on the battery box, albiet a conductive metal one. My '78 Audi 5000, the model with occasional self-determination, had a passenger bench burnt with splashed battery acid from another VW/Audi underseat battery adventure.
10mm Side-Terminal Battery Reversible Ratchet Wrench Chrome-Plated via Amazon Read the rest
My old MAKE colleague Collin Cunningham made an entertaining and educational video that explains battery specs: milliamp hours, voltage, chemistry type, etc. I've never opened a 9-volt battery but Collin did, and he shows you what's inside: six little 1.5 batteries wired in series. Collin also makes the music for all his videos. Read the rest
I have just replaced my first set of Envelop AA batteries, ten years after I bought them.
Around 10-12 years ago I was I doing a lot of underwater photography. High capacity, low-static-discharge AA batteries were pretty new, but an absolute must for digital strobes. I'd swap 2 sets of 4 in each one of my UW strobes almost every other dive, as blasting tons of light around the bottom of the sea takes a lot of juice. Sanyo's Eneloop batteries were the only really choice.
Low Self-Discharge batteries are pretty amazing. Not only do Eneloops hold their charge if not used for up to 10 years, but the fact that they discharge while not in use so incredibly slowly means the batteries also stay healthy much, much longer. Whenever one starts to get a bit flakey, I run a refresh cycle on my charger. After a decade, finally, a few have shorted out.
Over time I stopped diving as much, and Panasonic bought Sanyo. My batteries started to be used for everything around the house. I've had them in remote controlled cars, planes, head-sets, remote controls, flash-lights... you name it. These AA's were in constant service for nearly 10 years. Of the 16 I originally purchased, 8 are still in service and charge up to 1988 mAh.
Eneloops are pretty amazing!
Panasonic BK-3MCCA8BA Eneloop AA 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries (Pack of 8) via Amazon Read the rest
KFC's new "Watt a Box" is a meal box with a built-in battery, micro-USB, and lightning cables to charge your smartphone. It's available as a special limited edition "prize" for customers at KFC stores in Delhi and Mumbai. BGR reviewed the Watt a Box. It's a fun marketing gimmick but, no surprise, the battery kinda sucks. They claim it's a 6,100mAh power bank but perhaps a better approach (and name) would have been a Bucket of Batteries. From BGR:
The power bank claims to have a 6,100mAh battery but the claims fell short during our brief test. We put an iPhone 5s to charge, which gained 17 percent battery after charging for half-an-hour. But the downside was that the power bank was drained during this process. We recharged the power bank to 100 percent and tried to charge a Redmi Note 3. But the power bank ran out of juice again with the phone gaining just 7 percent of charge...
KFC is not the only one to toy with such marketing campaigns. Pizza Hut came up with a limited edition box in Hong Kong that converted into a projector for smartphones. McDonald’s had launched a special edition of its Happy Meal boxes in Sweden that could be converted into cardboard VR headsets. Coca Cola too had a similar cardboard VR headset one could make from its 12-pack cartons.
"Hands-on with KFC’s ‘Watt a Box’ that charges your phone while you eat" (via Laughing Squid)
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We're huge fans of portable power gadgets, but this one isn't going in my pocket to help me keep my phone topped up after lunch. Anker's Powerhouse is the size and weight of a concrete construction brick, and at $500 and 120,000mAh, by far their largest power pack yet. It'll charge your laptop 15 times over, power CPAP machines and broadcast video cameras, and double as a bear club should a camping trip go awry. There's multiple USB ports, a 12v car socket and mains power.
Jeff Beck already got one and quite likes it.
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I'm very impressed with this device. It is extremely well-built, functions just as advertised, and is quite good-looking on top of all that. It worked to recharge every phone and tablet I threw at it, in addition to a lot of the smaller electronic items in my home. While the USB ports are not QC compatible, they still delivered a fairly quick charge to my wife's Sony Z3. Besides, if I wanted a faster charge I only needed to plug in a QC car charger into the 12V outlet and I'd be in business.
I had a lot of fun trying the Powerhouse out with a variety of household electronics. It did just fine powering a small stereo, my bedside lamp, and even my 50 inch Sony TV. Higher voltage appliances, like our toaster and blender, or my wife's blow dryer (she was hoping to be able to use it while camping) were too much for the little guy.
This is the first USB battery I've seen with a Lightning input port (instead of a micro USB port). It's got 3600mAh and you can buy it for $(removed) when you use the YCOIWN27 coupon code at checkout. Read the rest