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Cheap Lithium Polymer Battery Packs

In the past, I’ve used RC type LiPo packs for my mobile power requirements, but these tend to be a bit bulky, since they’re designed for very high discharge current capability – powering large motors in models is a heavy job.

I recently came across some Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 battery packs on eBay very cheaply, at £2.95 a piece. For this price I get 6800mAh of capacity at 4.2v, for my 12v requirements, 3 packs must be connected in series, for a total output of 12.6v fully charged.

For an initial pack, I got 9 of these units, to be connected in 3 sets of 3 to make 20Ah total capacity.There are no control electronics built into these batteries – it’s simply a pair of 3400mAh cells connected in parallel through internal polyfuses, and an ID EEPROM for the Tab to identify the battery.
This means I can just bring the cell connections together with the original PCB, without having to mess with the welded cell tabs.

Battery Pack
Battery Pack

Here’s the pack with it’s cell connections finished & a lithium BCM connected. This chemistry requires close control of voltages to remain stable, and with a pack this large, a thermal runaway would be catastrophic.

Cell Links
Cell Links

The OEM battery connector has been removed, and my series-parallel cell connections are soldered on, with extra lead-outs for balancing the pack. This was the most time-consuming part of the build.

If all goes well with the life of this pack for utility use, I’ll be building another 5 of these, for a total capacity of 120Ah. This will be extremely useful for portable use, as the weight is about half that of an equivalent lead-acid.

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DIY SMPS Fan Controller

Now the controllers have arrived, I can rejig the supplies to have proper thermal control on their cooling.

Changes Overview
Changes Overview

Here’s the top off the PSU. The board has been added to the back panel, getting it’s 12v supply from the cable that originally fed the fan directly. Luckily there was just enough length on the temperature probe to fit it to the output rectifier heatsink without modification.

To connect to the standard 4-pin headers on the controller, I’ve spliced on a PC fan extension cable, as these fans spent their previous lives in servers, with odd custom connectors.

Fan Controller
Fan Controller

Here’s the controller itself, the temperature probe is inserted between the main transformer & the rectifier heatsink.
I’ve set the controller to start accelerating the fan at 50°C, with full speed at 70°C.

Full Load Test
Full Load Test

Under a full load test for 1 hour, the fan didn’t even speed up past about 40% of full power. The very high airflow from these fans is doing an excellent job of keeping the supply cool. Previously the entire case was very hot to the touch, now everything is cool & just a hint of warm air exits the vents. As the fan never runs at full speed, the noise isn’t too deafening, and immediately spools back down to minimum power when the load is removed.

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DIY SMPS Cooling

The power supplies I have recently built from surplus Cisco switch boards have started displaying a rather irritating problem – continual load of over 9A causes the supplies to shut down on overheat.

This was partially expected, as the original switches that these supplies came from are cooled by a monster of a centrifugal blower that could give a Dyson a run for it’s money. The problem with these fans is that they’re very loud, draw a lot of power (3-4A) and aren’t small enough to fit into the case I’ve used for the project.

The solution of course, is a bigger fan – I’ve got some Delta AFB0612EHE server fans, these are very powerful axial units, shifting 60CFM at 11,000RPM, with a power draw of 1.12A.
They’re 60mm diameter, so only just fit into the back of the case – although they stick out of the back by 40mm.

Monster Fan
Monster Fan

Here’s the fan, not the beefiest I have, but the beefiest that will fit into the available space.
These will easily take fingers off if they get too close at full speed, so guards will definitely be required.

To reduce the noise (they sound like jet engines at full pelt), I have ordered some PWM controllers that have a temperature sensor onboard, so I can have the fan run at a speed proportional to the PSU temperature. I will probably attach the sensor to the output rectifier heatsink, since that’s got the highest thermal load for it’s size.

More to come when parts arrive!

73s for now 🙂