Not long ago, I upgraded the hard drive in my laptop from an 80GB 4200RPM to a 120GB 5200RPM. Not wanting to let my old 2.5" drive go to waste, I bought a rather nice USB enclosure for it.

Ah, but there was a catch. USB ports can only supply a maximum of 500 milliamps. The hard drive will need 550mA, meaning that the use of an AC adapter (or special USB cable) would be necessary under high load conditions.

I HATE those clunky AC wall adapters. I don't see why we should have to deal with them. Why can't we just have a centralized 12 volt power system in our buildings? We have it in all of our cars! That would be much more efficient.

The way this HD enclosure "solves" the power problem is to include a special USB Y-cable that can draw power from two ports. So one port handles power+data while the other just supplies power. This means that sometimes I'd have to give up two ports for one HD (or use an after-market AC adapter.) Not cool.

But I'm not here to complain. I'm here to awesome this problem out of existence. And we do that with some bits from Radio Shack, and, of course, a tin of Altoids.

I got the idea from ladyada's article where she built a 2 x AA battery encased in a smaller Altoids gum tin. While it works and is super portable, it utilizes a power-management system that requires exotic parts (but you can just buy the whole unit minus Altoids from her.) Plus the output current is limited to about 200mA. Nowhere near enough power for what I need.
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JesusG33k3 months ago

Haha I like how you said "You'll first need to eat the Altoids. The candies make poor electronic components. You cannot store the candy in an alternate container. They will attract goblins."

Great one! Thanks for sharing!!!

IanDominic7 months ago
What if I wanna charge the batteries directly? Is there another diagram that needed to be follow or there should be schematic? What are your suggestions?

how many times can this charge

jtsnell11 months ago

Are you dumping 6V between USB GND and VCC?

ronin.ness.712 months ago

I make instructional videos on small game hunting. I get sick of running back to my car to charge my Emerson Go Action Cam I'm going to make two of these one to charge my camera and a back up when I inevatibly loose the first one. ;0

would you be able to make an instructable on how to do this but with 2X 3.7v cell phone batterys?
werd6081 year ago
may you upload a video of the soldering process as this will be my first project with the use of a soldering iron
mkls02 years ago
Do you know why it does not work with a Motorola? I have a Photon 4. Is there a way to make it work with a Motorola?
wiljo946 years ago
where can i get the "Motherboard PCI-mount USB port"?
dcastor wiljo942 years ago
Try to locate an older, dead PC. maybe at thrift stores... Although you may have to talk to them cause electronics that don't work are often thrown out.
can we do this with a AAA batery holder break it like in the picture above and put AA's instead of AAA;s since it would fit
Yes... Just would not last as long.
techturtle22 years ago
Would you not need some sort of voltage regulation if you intended to charge more delicate equipment (like things that will be hurt if overpowered)? In the past I have done things of this kind, but I used a 7805 MOSFET to regulate the power.
Would this be able to output 2A at 5V theoretically (disregarding the plug)? And if so, for how long?
Sitnalta (author)  deactivated-0000006 years ago
Theoretically, this will be able to supply 10 amps for 1 hour, or 2 amps for 5 hours. But there's no way a USB cable would be able to handle 2 amps.
telfon Sitnalta3 years ago
Nope. Since the batteries are connected in series you cannot add the capacities together. One battery can provide (in optimum conditions) 2.5 amps for 1 hour at 1.2 volts. Four batteries connected in parallel can provide 10 amps for 1 hour at 1.2 volts. Four batteries connected in series, as they are in this project can provide 2.5 amps for 1 hour at 4.8 volts.
when its battery charged it have about 1.3 volts so its 5.2 volts
gcrdcn4 years ago
Forget about using the "old" energizer batteries, they will discharge themselves in a week. Get the newer "Pre-charged" ones, Sanyo Eneloop or those called low self-discharge
ARJOON5 years ago
hey don't do it like this it will fry your devices guys. it don't have any regulator and filter. also it woulf be good to have an led
cegu ARJOON4 years ago
How can you use filter on DC. Regulating from 6V down with non NiMh maybe (but as he said, put a diode there, lowers the voltage). But not enough voltage will not harm the device.
Vanila4 years ago
Will this work with the new iPod Touch 4? *I dont want to ruin a relativly new ipod that was bought by the money I earned by working
grimrencher4 years ago
wouldn't the 4xAA's give you 6v power? 1.5v x 4? i thought usbs only could use 5v max
My energizers are 1.2 volt each
elyk03125 years ago
Well, i have a project to look forward to now. I just bought a bluepack iPod backup battery for 10 bucks, but this definitely has more uses than simply charging an ipod. Here's an idea: use something slightly larger than an altiods can, and possible add slots for firewire as well. Btw, very nice and stylish final product.
peterjt5 years ago
hey i have built something like this and if you can get a 4 AA batt pack at like radioshack it will fit with minimal perswasion, then bend back into place, and also unfortunately this design will not charge an ipod touch or newer ipods.
j0n4h5 years ago
 This just seems too good to be true. I thought you had to add resistors to the white and green wires for the iPod to charge?

Does anyone have any info if this charges a 2G iPod Touch?

SLKestrel8 years ago
Hey! awesome, but where can I find that motherboard bracket port or w.e? does it have to be a single port, and will anything (with possibly multiple ports) off of ebay work? thanks a lot-- my computer battery is so weak >.<
 i found mine in a computer and i think it should work with a multiple ports.
can we use a extension cord cuz that haz a usb port
 you can but it holds very little voltage so it will take for ever to charge your ipod. plus its going to be very difficult to find a battery that has such little voltages.
computo5 years ago
hmmmmm........ (thinking...) k... PROBLEM... my ipod died. . . (sob sob, charges it, i think this is why i need this.)
computo5 years ago
Dat Color is Black... LOL                                                                                                Q

Serious note: I like it so far but im having second thoughts about the voltage and amprage... hmmm (dont wanna explode my electronics... im thinking of using it for my ipod touch)
computo5 years ago
i like instructables with jokes... LOL                                                      Q
knektek5 years ago
i have 4 aa 4600mah batteries off ebay for a total of £8 ( yes i do live in the U.K ).
Zem6 years ago
Couldn't you take a 4 AA battery holder, and do the same thing?
oOANOo6 years ago
in German are just peppermint xD
mason01907 years ago
ya cinnamon is good. once i went to a christmas rummage sale and got a cinnamon man. it looked and smelled like cinnamon so CHOMP!!! I soon figured out it was wood.
ouch. lol.
jdmike136 years ago
I gotta old ps2 with usb ports any way i can take parts off that to make this?
ray916mn6 years ago
Great idea! My total cost of parts including the Altoids was under $5. A shortcut to making the battery holder is to get a 4 battery holder, cut it in half and file the two resulting edges down a bit. Glue the two halves in. A lot less gluing, a lot less hassle to get the holder to fit in the tin.
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