Introduction: Simple USB Altoids AA Charger!

Picture of Simple USB Altoids AA Charger!

Today I am going to show you guys how to build a 4x AA charger that works very well on any USB device. I have noticed that it can charge as fast as a wall charger, maybe even faster!
This tutorial is perfect to do if you are a beginner and want to learn how to solder!

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

Here is what you will need, I have included the radio shack part numbers for some parts.

- 4 x AA Battery Holder #: 270-391 ($1)

- 1.2V/2000mAh AA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries #: 23-525 ($20)
You need 4 of these, the part number is for only a 2 pack, you can find them cheaper like $4 for two sometimes.

- AA battery charger ( there are many kinds at radioshack and elsewhere)

- Soldering iron #: 64-2051 ($8)

-USB extension cable ($1)

That's all, lets get started!

Step 2: Putting the Holder In.

Picture of Putting the Holder In.

This part is a little tough to do, the AA battery holder barely fits and it makes the tin stretch out a little. Look at the picture for help.

Put the bottom side in first and then pop in the top

Step 3: Soldering the Wires.

Picture of Soldering the Wires.

First you need to cut the extension cable about where I did and remove the shielding then cut back the wires that aren't black and red.
Now you need to solder the red from the holder to the red on the usb extension cable. Then the black wire to the black on the Extension cable.
Here is a helpful diagram ( I am not good at making these)

Step 4: Your Done!

Picture of Your Done!

After you charged your batteries up put them in and you made your own AA charger that outputs around 5 volts!


trystan929 (author)2014-10-13

where do i find a female cord

bobsquared (author)2014-08-16

Using male and female is so sexist... Just kidding! Great ible really simple others aren't so simple. Have you tested it though?

OzzyManson (author)2012-12-16

how can i get this to work with my itouch? i see a comment talking about connecting something in the female usb port, but can anybody give more detailed info please?

cheezyguy5 (author)OzzyManson2014-05-09

You need to put a 100 ohm resistor between the middle two pins on the USB port, They are the data pins, it makes the device believe it is plugged into a wall charger.

mph121 (author)2011-09-25

instead of getting the a male to a female or whatever if you get the a male to a male( you can use the other end to build another one.

jamerperson (author)mph1212012-08-31

It would have to be a female to female. not a male to male. The part that you put inside the altoid tin needs to be the receiving end of the usb cable.

Wiggin (author)2009-07-30

Is this safe for expensive cell phone equipment? I looks really cool and easy. Almost too cool and easy to be safe ;-)

dabomb1022 (author)Wiggin2009-07-30

It is safe, 4 AA rechargeables equal 5 volts to make sure test it with a multimeter

superken67 (author)dabomb10222009-08-01

I have built a usb charger based on these instructions. I have tried it with both 4 AA and 4 AAAA batteries, but the outcome has been the same. When I connect it to my iPod or Zune, nothing happens. However, when I connect it to a flash drive, the light turns on, so the circuit works but something else is wrong. Do you have any ideas on what I can do? (P.S. it is set up in a series circuit, not parallel). Thanks.

axeman911 (author)superken672012-01-24

What you want to do is connect the middle to pins of the Female usb together, this tricks the ipod into thinking that it is a legite apple charger.

dabomb1022 (author)superken672009-08-08

It's because apple is dumb and wants you to buy their chargers, you can bypass it by searching around for a tutorial. And I guess zunes are the same

Unclefisty (author)dabomb10222010-03-29

I've connected both a Zune and iPod to non OEM chargers and they worked, I have a generic 12v car socket usb charger that works with both.

Padlock (author)Wiggin2009-07-30

It isn't regulated; with alkaline or lithium ultra batteries it would be 6 volts or lower, with NiMh it would be around 4.8. Defiantly not! I would only use this for simple, hard to break stuff. (Say a keyboard light, or fan.)

dabomb1022 (author)Padlock2009-07-30

Wow, you need to buy ni-mh and it is right around 5v which is safe

Padlock (author)dabomb10222009-07-30

NiMh batteries have a nominal voltage of 1.2 volts. 1.2 times 4 = 4.8. But, as NiMh batteries are used, their voltage decreases. That means it's all a guessing game... low voltage can mess up IC's, voltage transducers, and the like. So, it is NOT safe. If this had a step-up and regulator, it would be much, much more safe. The only thing I would trust with this is non-voltage dependent objects (like a keyboard light or fan) and defiantly NOT expensive cell phone equipment.

dabomb1022 (author)Padlock2009-07-31

Ya but for some reason mine are always around 5.3 volts

Padlock (author)dabomb10222009-07-31

I'm guessing that you have the "Ultra" type batteries, which have been specifically engineered to provide power more congruent to that of a AA. I'm just here to point out that it isn't safe for everything, and in fact could be quite destructive on some technologies.

smeezekitty (author)2010-05-07

It would work (new batteries start a 1.6v) but not very long.

8888tx (author)2010-04-23

I've got a slight problem. The as soon as I touch the wires to the batteries it turns whatever im using off,

Andy-K (author)2010-01-08

 Would this work better if you put a 4.8v regulator in it. Between the USB cable and the battery holder. Since my 4 NiMH Batteries are equaling 4.8 volts (4*1.2v) I think this would be safer. Im not sure if Im correct though, Im kind of new to electronics.

dabomb1022 (author)Andy-K2010-01-16

 yes it would

knektek (author)2009-11-18

I can guarantee you that this will not fry ur ipod. as this charger will only output 4.8v. if you want to you can put a 5v regulator in and + and - got to the 2 side pins and a switch will go to the middle and + or - for a switch.

Adum24 (author)2009-10-28

Can u gurantee this wont fry my ipod?

Brad79 (author)2009-08-17

Send power down the data ports the middle ones on the usb . But with these batterys i cant see it charging it for long . The batterys will drain.

pancho del rancho (author)2009-08-07

can we just use normal batterys

No, the voltage is too high

okay im not sure but i got 4.8 so 3 AA wouldnt that be 4.5 and a usb isnt it 5 volts so why wouldnt it work

denry12 (author)2009-07-30

You should at least put a diode there.

dabomb1022 (author)denry122009-07-30

why? rechargeables equal 5 volts

denry12 (author)dabomb10222009-08-06

What if somebody puts in half-discharged batteries that have >5V? 5V won't charge them up fully anyways.

coolsciencetech (author)2009-07-30

cool and simple. might try this...

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