Introduction: Super Lithium Power Cell

Picture of Super Lithium Power Cell

I have a small lithium emergency charger for my cell phone. I carry it in a small pouch with a bunch of assorted charging cables...

It does a decent job in an emergency for my phone. I can add 60-70% charge before it gives out.

Perfect to make sure I get picked up from the bus stop after work.

I tried running a raspberry pi but it only lasted a couple of hours. I needed something bigger.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

I had an old laptop battery with a bunch of 17500 cells in it. The pack was rated at 4400 maH. Internally it had the cells paralleled in threes. As much as I hate having cells in parallel I decided to put six of them in a box. They were factory matched and were really close in voltage now at 4.09 and 4.10 Volts. That would give me 8800 maH. That should run my pi model A all day long.

I stacked and staggered the cells and took a caliper to it. I used a harbor freight plastic caliper just to be safe. I could have made it a flat pack like the laptop but I wanted to be different.

A quick box modeled in OpenScad and I had the start of a power cell. I made a flat lid and then added a slightly smaller box for the electronics.

I had a bunch of 5V boost converters left from another project....

Make sure you have some kind of low voltage shutdown device. either as part of the boost converters or in the cells. Its best to use a good quality charger/protection board too. Look for one with 6 connections. 2 for External DC (charge, usually USB), 2 for Battery, 2 for DC out. If you decide to use the cells directly through a charge connector you have to be careful not to discharge them too deeply or Charge them too quickly. If you are worried fuse each individual cell too.

You could even add a low voltage alarm made for RC use. It will scream at you when its time to recharge.

Many laptop cells don't have protection circuitry built in. Make sure you get good ones... If you're not sure they have protection built in don't use them. if they weren't paralleled from the factory, don't use them. If you have any qualms about working with dangerous stuff close this window NOW!

I made the box pretty small so there's little cushioning if you drop it...

Failure to use common sense will result in FIRE... Ever see those hoverboard or Lipo with an axe videos?

Step 2: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

I used 2 separate USB boost modules held in with some good super glue. I used a little hot glue to stick the cells together too.

I placed .001uF caps across each of the boards input terminals to reduce noise from the switchers. I added a heavy duty fuse holder and power switch for good measure. I also added a power led but soon realized each module had its own power led built in. You can see the top glowing from them. i could disable them to reduce power consumption but its not a priority, about 15-20ma at idle.....

Step 3: Testing

Picture of Testing

A quick test with a usb voltmeter shows 5.1V

With the round fuse holder on top It kind of looks like a tank that escaped from an Atari 2600 game.

Step 4: Charging It Up

Picture of Charging It Up

For charging I added an RC style connector so I could use my RC iMax charger. Make sure you use a Lipo/LiPoly program at 4.2V. Setting the charger to a NiCd Peak program would be devastating.....

I almost used a USB charger module but this way I can tap the power of the cell directly. I really recommend the Adafruit charger protection board. It has USB and barrel plug inputs.

I didn't use one but it's really the way to go. Maybe I'll make a third level to hold one......


hafizan89 (author)2016-05-04

Are those batteries LiPo or Li-ion? Minor differences makes a lot of difference. Li-ion batteries charge up to 4.1v only. Make sure those are correct.

rjkorn (author)hafizan892016-05-04

Every cell has different specifications. There are some that require
4.35 volt cutoff while charging. You need to check the manufacturers
data sheet for the cells you plan to use.

As to the difference
between lithium polymer and lithium ion cell true lithium polymer never
realized commercial production. It was a type of battery that used a
polymer electrolyte rather than a liquid electrolyte.

To further confuse things many metal cased cells use a polymer separator too.

most people know as lithium polymer is really more correctly lithium
ion polymer. Where the polymer designation refers to the polymer or
plastic pouch housing they have. That differs from the metal housings of
cylindrical or prismatic cell.

Lithium ion polymer cells are prevalent in the consumer electronic markets because their plastic housing reduces weight by about 20% for the same capacity metal cells.

Mjtrinihobby (author)rjkorn2016-12-24

Very well said!

rjkorn (author)Mjtrinihobby2016-12-29

Thanks, I'm not sure how that happened.... i guess I had a moment of clarity...

Mjtrinihobby (author)2016-12-24

I love it!

rjkorn (author)Mjtrinihobby2016-12-29

it's amazes me how useful it's been. Not just for emergency phone charging or USB audio dongle use but for simple bench top testing....

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-05-06

Curious where the "Charger Doctor" and the LiPro charger can be had? I've never seen either, and I charge and use a lot of 18650 Li-Ion batteries in flashlight applications, and some other projects as well, inclusing USB applications..

rjkorn (author)John T MacF Mood2016-05-06

Here's the $7 oled one

rjkorn (author)John T MacF Mood2016-05-06

The charger Doctor is an oldie. $5 or so on eBay. Only does voltage and current. Get the upgraded oled one. That does voltage current wattage and a running count on mah used.

rjkorn (author)John T MacF Mood2016-05-06

They are very popular in the RC world. Search fo iMax B6. Available with 12v doc or 120v Ac inputs. Has nimh nicd pb lipo programs. Discharge charge and balancing functions. 1-20 cells capable. Lithium cell taps for true balance charging and a Magnetic Cell temp monitor (sticks great to lithium cells)

rjkorn (author)2016-05-05

BTW, If you have to store Lithium Batteries in your house the best place I've found is in a real Steel Military Ammo Can......

John T MacF Mood (author)rjkorn2016-05-06

Good idea.

I would suggest using electrical tape on each cell to insulate ALL of them so they won't accidentally complete a circuit with rapid discarge via the metal box, you could have a real problem if that happened.

There's a good reason they won't allow air transport of Li-Ion batteries uninsulated. (It's illegal via USPS.) The US Post office isn't supposed to accept them, some shippers lie to them.

rjkorn (author)John T MacF Mood2016-05-06

Good point

I like to wrap each battery in a poly bag first. If you're really paranoid coin wrappers work great for single cells.

You can't see it in in the pics but I place small cardboard squares under the connecting bars across cells. I've seen sparks were pressure and rubbing has caused shorts at the end of a cell

Also have to watch when you hot glue cells together. Use very little glue or you might cause the cell wrapper to melt through. In this application the cells are paralleled so their cases are tied together anyway. Not true when rebuilding a drill battery. In that case I use elmers glue all.....

John T MacF Mood (author)2016-05-06

Great work!

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