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dthomasdigital

Check those Batteries!

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Finally got around to checking my preps after the move, didn't think much of it after all I just did a check back in December. Not only did I have a few batteries to replace but one of the lights I use in my medical dispensary was corroded and now I need to replace the light. Lots more to check and I'm sure I'll find more stuff to replace, Murphy's law you know. If it's been a while since you've checked those flashlights now would be a pretty good time.

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Why I've largely switched to Li-ion. I had to use a steel rod and hammer to punch some alkaline batteries out of a ( still lighting up ) Fenix. Then sand paper through the body to clean the corrosion out. Did the same for two other lights belonging to friends.  Greased everything up just to reduce the odds of stuck batteries in the future. While Li-ion cells have their own handling issues, leaking potassium hydroxide isn't one of them. And yes, I often threw away a few lights every year after a summer in the glove box. Vinegar helps with the clean up if you catch the leaking batteries soon enough. Batteries in separate plastic pill bottles and an empty flashlight isn't the worst option either. The keyfob light is plenty to let you load those. 

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Side note, I had set 196 charged LI-ion 18650 cells aside last year to see how they stored ( room temperature, nothing fancy ) Just tested them, 4 had discharged below 3.6 volts, one of them flat, 3 still over 3.35 so useable , 15 were between 3.7 and 3.95 volts ( same 3 batches, I suspect chemistry differences), all the rest 4 volts to 4.1 volts. Not too bad for 1 Kwh of free storage. Dead cell in the recycle box. 3 in the country and western box.  Time to get a tag welder and start making high current packs, had a few melt the wires on snap in packs. For scale , organized as a 16 volt ( peak, nominal 14.4 volt ) pack, those batteries wouldn't be over strained delivering 100 amps.

Li-ion mil spec full charge is 3.9 volts, consumer 4.2 volts, nominal voltage is 3.6 volts and safe full discharge is 3 volts even.

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I like the Panasonic but most are in plain plastic sleeves with no manufacturer markings when I get them. Most of the packs are made with 18650 cells.Some are flat packs ( mostly Apple and a few Dell ) which are glued together in pairs. So far I haven't found a good way to separate those, so they are either made into a 3.7 volt parallel or a 7.4 volt series packs. Some of the Apple packs also glue tin around the cells, best to just avoid those. The after market generic packs are generally easier to open ( grab each end and twist ) the OEM packs are more often glued so the cases need to be cut away. After a couple of packs it gets easy, Just visualize cylinders inside rectangular cases, so you know where there will be open spaces :)  . Cell capacity seems to be more a function of date of manufacture then anything else. The oldest had a full charge in the 1 to 1.5 amp hour range, recent ones tend to be 2 to 2.5 amp hour. There are also variations in chemistry, they all can be charged to 3.9 volts, but the majority ( 90% + ) will take 4.2 volts. Only issue I can see is don't mix types in parallel clusters. As singles or series no issues at all. The cells are all made for welding into packs so don't have that extra millimeter sticking out at the + end. Mostly a non issue but once in awhile a blob of solder is needed to make a flashlight work properly ( use a soldering gun or large wattage iron, and 63-37 alloy so you can be fast and not overheat the battery , have a bucket with cat litter at hand in case , near a outside door would be a good idea too ) never had a problem yet, but better to be prepared ( like I need to say that to this group :P  )  While learning you may damage the plastic sleeves around a few cells. They are just heat shrink tubing so could be changed out if too damaged, also if you start prying at the + end , the outer rim is the - terminal there and often only protected by that thin layer of heat shrink tubing, so you might arc weld your prying tool across the terminal ( the spark can be impressive at least ). A dead short on these, esp. a healthy cell with a full charge makes a randomly timed pyrotechnic device complete with loud bang, sparks, and maybe flames and shrapnel , and a very bad smell. So clear any shorts quickly and take a little care not to make any ( don't use the rim as a fulcrum ). Out of several hundred cells I think I've shorted across maybe 5 , and that was momentary, metal strips nicking the heat shrink while twisting off. The snap and flying sparks let you know.

Hmmm I should take a few of my reject cells and point a video camera at them and apply a short, just to see what happens and how fast. Of course they won't recycle then but in the name of reckless experimentation :D .

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On 29/03/2017 at 3:18 PM, dthomasdigital said:

@Gary_Gough any brand of Li-ion better than others?

I use efest 18650 batteries every day in my vape. I own a dozen of them and cycle through 1 a day- rock solid.

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Just did some digging and the Samsung batteries all look pretty good ( 2 amp hour + ) I have a bunch of older Sony 1 amp hour cells ( from their Fukushima plant ) that are all still holding a charge well, but of course less total storage.

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Insulate them!

I always remember (in my Mil life) having to insulate the batteries we carried. The cold weather would drain the life from them, so it was a matter of dividing up what we were carrying and sleeping with them in our sleeping bags so they were good for the next day / week / fornight on patrol....

Still keep the batteries I have at home insulated as best as practiable.

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1 minute ago, thegouldii said:

Insulate them!

I always remember (in my Mil life) having to insulate the batteries we carried. The cold weather would drain the life from them, so it was a matter of dividing up what we were carrying and sleeping with them in our sleeping bags so they were good for the next day / week / fornight on patrol....

Still keep the batteries I have at home insulated as best as practiable.

Most don't so much discharge as just can't deliver current, but the Li-ion are a special case. They shouldn't be charged when colder then about +5 C as they charge as Lithium metal cells when cold.

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Ps... the old stories about "cement kills batteries" has some truth, but it's because you get stratification in the car batteries if the bottom is colder, and the top of the plates discharge into the bottom, and so the whole battery discharges. A 1 inch piece of styrofoam under the battery fixes that.

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@thegouldii  As you mentioned you were from Australia, perhaps you may indulge my curiosity as to the climactic necessity to insulate batteries from the cold..sleeping with them in your sleeping bag as it were.

I did not see a Scout Swimmer military designation outside of the USMC. My assumption is that You therefore must be an American, and not an Australian, and your experience with cold weather would be from the Northern US.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks

 

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Hi Dan, but yes I am Australian - and yes, we definetely have Cold Climates here in Aust!

Tasmania, Parts of Victoria (Puckapanyl), South Australia (Murray Bridge / Cultana / Woomera) and even Queensland (Canungra) are some of the coldest parts of Australia I've trained in, though outside of Australia even the Higher Mountains of East Timor, and the (High) Ranges of Malaysia - all of those places dipped well below the 0' degree mark, and the batteries played nghtmare with us when exposed.

As for the Scout Swimmer designation, I was an (Australian) Infantry Soldier first, that moved in to the Reconnaissance 'stream' (for the lack of a better word). The Scout Swimmer course was an additional build up or follow on course to our 'Base' Reconnaissance training.

Hope that clears some of what your asking...

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Thanks Gouldii....seemed confusing to me that 'Clearance Diver' designation was only offered through the Australian Navy, and therefore as an occupation a person would associate themselves with the navy rather than the army. As You know, in the military such confusion is not easily accepted by the rank and file, let alone an Advanced Rifleman in a Recon. Plt.

Nevertheless, yes it get's cold enough to snow and ski in Australia and winning medals in every winter olympics since 1998 seems like the Australian thing to do..

cheers

 

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Getting a bit off track from the batteries thread, but the Clearance Diver designation for the Navy types is for those going Underwater (Scuba / Rebreather) whilst I was in the water 'On-Top'.

(I only ever Scuba'd in my pers down time.....  )

:)

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On 05/04/2017 at 1:37 AM, thegouldii said:

Hi Dan, but yes I am Australian - and yes, we definetely have Cold Climates here in Aust!

Tasmania, Parts of Victoria (Puckapanyl), South Australia (Murray Bridge / Cultana / Woomera) and even Queensland (Canungra) are some of the coldest parts of Australia I've trained in, though outside of Australia even the Higher Mountains of East Timor, and the (High) Ranges of Malaysia - all of those places dipped well below the 0' degree mark, and the batteries played nghtmare with us when exposed.

As for the Scout Swimmer designation, I was an (Australian) Infantry Soldier first, that moved in to the Reconnaissance 'stream' (for the lack of a better word). The Scout Swimmer course was an additional build up or follow on course to our 'Base' Reconnaissance training.

Hope that clears some of what your asking...

I had no idea Australia had cold climates!

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I remember my Father telling me in N.Z, as a kid, about how bloody cold they got Soldiering in the Desert in North Africa.

Couldn't get my head around that.. Until I was serving in the desert of Australia. Damn near got emasculated.

So hot during daylight, we had to wear leather gloves so as not to burn our hands when touching metal. Soon learnt not to lay tools down on sand.

Opposite at night. No cloud cover to hold heat in, so was freezing without the snow to play in..:( sometimes with wind just to add to our misery..

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Reminds me of a trick the Romans used to make ice in the desert. Dig a hole, line it with straw, put in a bucket of water and cover it with more straw during the day and uncover it at night. Have 1/2 of the universe as a heat sink.

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On 4/4/2017 at 7:30 AM, thegouldii said:

Insulate them!

I always remember (in my Mil life) having to insulate the batteries we carried. The cold weather would drain the life from them, so it was a matter of dividing up what we were carrying and sleeping with them in our sleeping bags so they were good for the next day / week / fornight on patrol....

Still keep the batteries I have at home insulated as best as practiable.

When I read this first I thought your mother in law must be one tough lady. O.o

Here in our cool temperate (read wet)  climate we don't have major issues with batteries, it's one of the reasons google, paypal etc. are locating here. We don't get the huge temperature swings. Computers don't need air conditioning and in winter they're generally ok too.

How long do vehicle batteries last in different climates? I've just gotten 10 years out of a Varta tractor battery.

 

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On 4/20/2017 at 7:02 AM, Gary_Gough said:

Reminds me of a trick the Romans used to make ice in the desert. Dig a hole, line it with straw, put in a bucket of water and cover it with more straw during the day and uncover it at night. Have 1/2 of the universe as a heat sink.

@Gary_Gough now this has my attention tell me more.

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7 hours ago, dthomasdigital said:

@Gary_Gough now this has my attention tell me more.

Well ... http://www.asterism.org/tutorials/tut37 Radiative Cooling.pdf

Gives it a full set of equations, but the short version is it works well on a calm clear night and not so well ( or at all ) when it's cloudy and windy. I take advantage of it a bit with my house design, with shaded south facing windows here, the windows are a radiative heat loss at night but don't gain very much during late spring and early summer. If you have solar thermal panels, you could probably use the effect to advantage during cooling season too with a bit of active controls. Hmm I should try an experiment , if I put a thermistor into a sealed mason jar and pull a fairly hard vacuum and set it on my roof, I should get a good idea of both radiative gain and loss conditions :)  . Of course to be a fair test, maybe a 1 cm^2 piece of copper and a heating element and a control loop to maintain a temperature and read how much energy is needed to maintain the temperature, so a true watts/meter^2 reading at the temperature you want to dissipate.  That would remove the wind factor which insulated solar collectors should get around too, and just show the radiative results including cloud cover effects.

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NOWHERE near as complete as Mr. Gough, but if you have a relatively hot and relatively dry summer environment,  a "pretty good, quick and dirty" cooling system can be built out of earthenware plant pots, sand and some water. Has kept my beer cool even in humid VA summers. Search your search engine of choice for the term "zeer". An oldie but goodie.

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I got back into chargers and rechargeable batteries back in 2009..i check the ones that I don't use to often. And as for the. Ones I do use often. Their either in my everyday flashlights, or in my lanterns. I made it a habit of dealing out the batteries when ever neccery. 

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