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If you cut a potato in half, stick an electrode into each half and place the two pieces with their cut sides very close to each other but not quite touching, have you made a capacitator?
Did you ever see history portrayed as an old man with a wise brow and pulseless heart, weighing all things in the balance of reason?
Is not rather the genius of history like an eternal, imploring maiden, full of fire, with a burning heart and flaming soul, humanly warm and humanly beautiful?
Maybe this is something well known, and I'm just late to the game: If you have a cordless tool, you are likely on a forced replacement scheme, and you don't know it. About 10 years ago I bought a cordless hedge trimmer, and its worked well. In the winter I bring it inside and store it, battery out, in the basement where it keeps relatively nice and warm. This year, after recharging the battery overnight, I went out yesterday to trim the hedge. The battery (NiCad) ran down after about 5 minutes, so I'm guessing its just not holding a charge any longer. No problem, I'll just go to the vendor, a national chain, and get a new battery, right? Um, no. That particular battery is no longer available. And so far, I've been unable to locate a third party replacement part.
It looks like the battery pack is screwed together, so maybe I can take it apart, and replace the individual cells. Maybe. Its probably soldered together, and I'm not sure I'd trust my soldering skills if I have to solder directly to the replacement cells, if I can even find something suitable.
So, in all likelihood, I'm going to have to bin an otherwise perfectly good hedge trimmer, just because I can't replace the battery pack. That's just wasteful. Not to mention an added cost. I do have an old pair of hedge trimming shears, and I used them to finish the job. Maybe I'll just stick with them. But if I replace the electric trimmer, I'll definitely consider a corded trimmer rather than cordless.
So if you have cordless tools that are a few years old, it might be worth buying a spare battery pack, or two, for the future.
I found that if you don't use them regularly they tend to do crapo.
I did construction for about 30 years and have had many cordless tools and the pricier tools are good quality but the battery is a battery. I've had a Porter-Cable drill motor for 6 years or so, $80, one battery and charger on Amazon and after I retired didn't use it on a regular basis until recently and have had no trouble with it. I've had Dewalt that the battery went bad after a couple of years. So all in all I'd say it's a crap shoot, buy good but don't count on battery being of same quality.
This is why when last year I needed a new strimmer and a chainsaw, I bought petrol / gas powered ones.
Batteries are a PITA: they lose charge when it's cold (so they are flat when you want to use 'em), they don't last well, and replacements are expensive.
Hmm ... maybe it's not just the lack of a suitable charging infrastructure that keeps me driving a diesel car ...
"I have no idea what I did, but I'm taking full credit for it." - ThisOldTony
"Common sense is so rare these days, it should be classified as a super power" - Random T-shirt
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I've got a cordless strimmer and a cordless screwdriver - I have found that as long as I keep the batteries topped up and don't allow them to go completely flat they seem to last well.
My cordless screwdriver is 13 years old.
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
You are correct. It looks like I might be able to get a new battery from OrderTree, but its 64 USD, or about 75 CAD. I can get a brand new, corded, trimmer for CAD 100, so it doesn't seem worth the cost. If I poke around on the original vendor's web site, I can find the battery, marked as "no longer available", with a list price of 40 CAD. So that's quite the markup that OrderTree is asking for.
I have a bunch of Ryobi cordless tools and several batteries. One battery, about 8 years old, finally quit with another about 9 years old following suit shortly afterwards. The more modern batteries seem to be lasting much better, hold more power and work well. I probably have a dozen tools which all take the same batteries and there is a healthy 3rd-party supply of replacements so I am not too worried. I used one or other tool for something fairly often so I suppose refreshing/topping-up like this keeps them going.
- I would love to change the world, but they won’t give me the source code.
After much, much consideration I recently bought cordless lawn gear. A mower with battery and charger and a line-trimmer skin. I could have bought petrol stuff for considerably less than half as much.
Thing is with this stuff, it comes with a 3 year commercial-use warranty on the battery and 5 years on the gear. The battery I got is about 350 bucks but it's just made with 'std' 20A discharge 18650s and a potted management circuit, as long as you don't bust the sleeves of phase-change material that helps manages temps it's a fairly straight-forward operation. The battery has it's own fan too and even discharges itself to storage voltage if not used for about a month..
Perhaps one of the more important aspects of success is as you mention, adequate connectivity between cells. Guess what? You can buy spot-welders intended for doing battery terminals for surprisingly little money. The price of reasonable cells in most any replacement job will in fact, be larger!
But that only matters if you can't find cells that already have solder-tags welded to them. You should be able to solder them without being worried about overheating the cells. I soldered directly to the outside of some 18650s last week with a 75w PWM controlled iron - tags on some NiCads should be a doddle with the help of a soldering third-hand.
NiCad batteries are notorious for failing very early if you don't deplete them almost completely before recharging them. (This does not apply to other technologies, like lead acid or lithium.) Try to run NiCad batteries down to close to zero before recharging them. If, for example, you start recharging them when they still have 80% charge left, they soon lose the 80% capacity that you never use. For this reason I avoid NiCad at all cost.
Also: Cadmium is an extremely toxic carcinogen and I believe these batteries should be banned.
Something that I don't think has been mentioned yet. There is a big difference depending on battery chemistry.
Older cordless tools used NiCd or NiMH chemistry, almost always made up of "sub-C" cells. One clue is that the nameplate voltages are multiples of 1.2V.
They like being stored fully charged or nearly so. As someone else mentioned, they can sometimes be refreshed by a few deep cycles, although they don't like deep cycling as routine. Those battery packs often fail with a single cell in the series string going low or even reverse voltage (and unable to pass useful current).
The good news with these is that, if you can open up the pack, they are quite easy to rebuild with sub-C cells (get the ones with solder tags welded on).
Newer cordless tools, particularly the "impossibly powerful" ones, use some sort of Lithium battery chemistry. Unless you really know what you are doing, or have a friend who does, I'd keep my fingers out of the pack. They are lovely batteries when well kept (balanced, etc) but also fire-prone if abused (or sometimes even just looked at the wrong way). I'm sure some of our RC modeler friends can chime in on this one. Lithiums are generally happiest if stored part-charged.
Not a battery expert by any means, but I've been around the traps.
Software rusts. Simon Stephenson, ca 1994. So does this signature. me, 2012
The mention of computer history and the book, "Soul of a New Machine" made me remember the old days and mini-computers. They were called "mini" because they weren't like the old room-filling mainframes. Most of these were about the size of standard refrigerator. That's the era in computing that I am most fascinated with and one that the details of are mostly unknown to most people today. I especially like how the machines were built. They used what is known as the "bit-slice" design. The CPU usually took an entire two-foot square circuit board and it was built with circuits that were initially just one bit wide and they essentially stacked them together to achieve the word width they wanted. Many of which were 32-bits and, as I recall, DG's was 36. AMD was probably the biggest company making the chips at the time and eventually they came up with 4-bit wide chips. All of this was before microprocessors became useful enough to compete with the bit-slice designs.
An amusing story from the tail end of this era : I worked at a company that had a room full of mini-computers including several VAXes. We were doing a project that controlled the North Shore Pipeline and talked to several RTUs using the Modbus binary protocol. It uses CRC-32 to compute a checksum for every packet and that would bring the VAX 750s to its knees. The CPU usage would spike every time because this was before the table-driven algorithm had been publicized. DEC's answer was to implement the CRC-32 algorithm in firmware. To implement this a new set of microcode on EPROM was installed and the CPU board was re-wired. The local service guy, Ed, came and had to change the wiring on the CPU board which was ALL wire-wrapped. I couldn't believe it. It was NOT a printed circuit board - it was all wire-wrapped. Those modifications made a huge difference and CPU usage was normal afterward. This was in around 1985 or so and it still amazes me.
"They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! Let the rabbits wear glasses! Save our brothers! Can I get an amen?"
Before Ravi falls over in a dead faint, I'll let you in on a small correction. The plural form of "VAX" is "VAXen" .
I worked on several VAX-11/780's back during the 1980's. The 780 would let you load microcode at startup time via an 8" floppy drive attached to the PDP-11 they used as a console/boot device.
Rick York wrote:
the wiring on the CPU board which was ALL wire-wrapped
Reminds me of a project I watched in the same facility during that era. It was a graphics engine, 1024x1024 resolution, with 32 bit planes. Four cabinets of 8 bit planes each, 4 boards per bit plane. Each board was densely populated and looked to be about 24" square. All. Wire. Wrap. I really felt sorry for the poor schmucks installing the nightmare. After months of work they finally got one cabinet to power up successfully and run for a demo. I don't think the Air Force ever accepted the system, however.
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