LiPo-Powered Arduino

Introduction: LiPo-Powered Arduino

About: A Bay Area native interested in electronics, mechanics, and robotics, and automobiles. Formerly the electronics captain of Team 100 in the FIRST Robotics Competition, I now study Mechanical Engineering at UC …

Let's face it, 9V batteries suck.  They don't last long, they're expensive, and did I mention they don't last long?  I work on and run several electric RC cars, and because of  this I own a lot of Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries.  Nowadays you can get them for pretty decent prices, and if you know how to take care of them (don't ever use them if you don't) they'll last you a long, long time.

While your average pile alkaline 9V has a capacity of about 565mAh and costs somewhere around $2, a budget 2S (7.4V) LiPo pack that costs $9 can have a capacity of 1800mAh, with the bonus of 1,000+ charge cycle capability.

To use my LiPo packs on my Arduino, I made a simple adapter from Deans Ultra (the type of plug I have soldered onto all my LiPos) to the barrel plug that fits into the Arduino.  Make sure that when you use a LiPo for an extended period of time, or any time at all for that matter, always connect it to a low-voltage cutoff (if your LiPo drops below 3.0V per cell, you're pretty much dead in the water).

Now I can run my Arduino away from the wall or computer for long periods of time and for a low cost, and you can, too!

If you think this is a good tip, please vote for this Instructable in the Electronics Tips and Tricks contest!  The vote button is in the top right of this Instructable, right above the title. Thanks!

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    21 Discussions

    0
    jwa.jefford
    jwa.jefford

    1 year ago

    Burned through two Arduinos. Realized I had the right voltage but way too high amperage.
    Power = volts x Amps, therefore I guess I over juiced my arduino.
    Played around a bit until I found something that worked.
    Passed the lipo through a barrel jack into a bread board power module that comes with most arduino kits, then took the 3V out pin from the power module and connected it to the arduino Vin. It ran my servos, motor, and lights that were rated for a higher voltage. I'm guessing all worked because my power was at the right level.
    Note: Did not connect arduino to ground. This caused melted wires.
    Perhaps it got its ground reference from the motor which also used the lipo.

    0
    sinyin
    sinyin

    Question 2 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, can I know where you get the dean/barrel adapter from? I've searched alot of the places but still can't find a compatible one to Arduino. Thank you

    0
    waelz
    waelz

    5 years ago

    Hi, I want to connect the Lipo(7.4v) to Vin (arduino) , and when i connect the USB to power supply or pc, my Lipo battery have to charge , how can i do ? thank you brothers

    0
    xXxOlivierxXx
    xXxOlivierxXx

    Reply 4 years ago

    Theres an instructable that shows how to do that already:

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Small-Format-Arduino-Nano-With-USB-Charging-Circui/

    0
    YousifA14
    YousifA14

    Reply 4 years ago

    Hey did you find an answer for this?

    I am trying to do the same thing and am having issues getting clear answer

    1
    MatthiasD12
    MatthiasD12

    4 years ago

    Is this instructable for the "black magic smoke club"???

    As RC lipo's have a discharge value up to 40-80A it's NEVER a good idea to connect them directly to your arduino. At least use a step down regulator between the lipo and the Arduino to reduce the power.

    1
    ThorL3
    ThorL3

    Reply 4 years ago

    ALL Arduinos that have a barrel jack for power have a step down regulator soldered to the board itself.

    Plugging a lipo into that jack will do no harm, as long as you observe correct polarity.

    Make sure that you don't connect your lipo to the 5v line, as that would let the smoke out.

    0
    JacobS49
    JacobS49

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Plugged my 3s lipo at about 10 volts into my arduino micro. I smelled smoke and unplugged it. Now it seems to be broken as my comuter wont recognize it and the 5v pin isn't outputting power when powered by usb. Any ideas??

    0
    Radioactive_Legos
    Radioactive_Legos

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You could have also plugged it into the wrong pins on the Arduino, I suppose.

    0
    Radioactive_Legos
    Radioactive_Legos

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    According to Arduino.cc, an Arduino Micro (current rev) should have a voltage input range of 6-20V. A 3S LiPo will never exceed this, so either your Arduino has a different voltage range, or you plugged the battery in backwards. Not sure if the Micro has reverse polarity protection like some of the larger models do.

    0
    Radioactive_Legos
    Radioactive_Legos

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    As long as it's within the Arduino's working voltage range it'll work just fine. A 3S LiPo is 12.6V fully charged and 9V fully discharged, so compare this with your Arduino's spec sheet to see if it'll work!

    0
    panchlazaniya

    is the discharge rate of 35c a problem because the arduino can only handle 2 amps.

    0
    tym3k
    tym3k

    5 years ago on Introduction

    How to know when a battery runs low to recharge it? I don't mean when it shuts down but to implement battery percentage in software :)

    Is that possible? Maybe with a battery management chip like the MCP73831?

    great idea! unfortunately that LiPo battery looks really big =/ i'm making a gps for my cat, so the smaller the better and if that means changing the battery every few days, oh well. but hopefully i will be able to find out where he goes without me. if you know of a smaller version of the LiPo, let me know!

    0
    Radioactive_Legos
    Radioactive_Legos

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey there! LiPos come in about any size you can think of. Here's a list of all the 2S LiPos sold by HobbyKing, ranked from lightest to heaviest: http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_listCategoriesAndProducts.asp?idCategory=86&LiPoConfig=2&sortlist=W&CatSortOrder=asc

    0
    retrolefty
    retrolefty

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes in this day and age there makes little sense to use batteries to drive linear regulators. Here is a simple DC/DC switching regulator that could take this Li-po
    battery voltage and regulate it to +5vdc for direct connection to the arduino 5V pin
    or better yet hack a old spare USB cable, lop off the PC end and connect the ground
    and positive wires, connect to regulator output and plug into arduino's USB connector.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/251066005460?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

    Lefty

    0
    davr.org
    davr.org

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Running a 9V battery through a 5V linear regulator (as on the arduino), wastes 44% of the battery power right off the top (4V of that 9V gets turned into heat, which is why the regulator gets so hot). Linear regulators are terrible for running off battery. Their main advantage is they are cheap and provide a very clean output voltage.

    0
    Radioactive_Legos
    Radioactive_Legos

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Good point! The batteries I use here are 7.4V nominal, so the drop is lower. The main purpose of this Instructable is to demonstrate how Lithium Polymer batteries can be integrated into an Arduino project for longer runtime and lower cost in the long run.