The cappuccino mixer is used daily in our family to froth hot milk and make a great cappuccino. This simple type cost 2 or 3 euros at IKEA and uses 2 AA batteries. It works quite well, but I have always been annoyed that it doesn't work well on rechargeable NiHM batteries, probably because they deliver 1.2V instead of the 1.5V of alkaline batteries. The alkaline batteries last a month or so, that's still 24 batteries every year to buy and dispose of. I should add that it's use is well beyond making cappuccino: when we had some cream left over from a dinner recipe, I tried it on cream and it was totally able to make a small portion of fluffy but stiff whipped cream, without the hassle of getting the full-size mixer from the cupboard!
So when one broke, I took it upon me to see if I could somehow make it work on rechargeable batteries. It turned out the solution is very simple, because the motor works great on the 5V from a small USB power bank. It's a 3V motor, but there was no sign of overheating on 5V, it just runs faster and with more power. So much that we have to watch out that the milk doesn't fly all over the room! I guess the motor might die sooner, but it's bee going steady for a month already.
So here's what I did:
- With pliers, I broke away large part of the plasitic housing, leaving just the motot compartment
- and one side of the battery housing.
- With a Swiss army knife, I cut out a rectangular hole to fit a switch.
- I soldered wires from a male USB connector to the motor (with one line interrupted by the switch)
- With cable ties, I attached the power bank to the mixer.
OK, it's a bit bulkier than before, and not particularly pretty, but it's got a second life!