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Though we suspect many pros already know about this, we wonder how many high-end DIY folks are aware that most of the major manufacturers offer automotive versions of their charging systems. Indeed, if you take the time to do a little Googling, you’ll discover lots of options regardless of the color of your power tools. Read on to take a closer look at four of them.

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Got a bunch of those new nanophosphate lithium ion batteries just listlessly hanging around the garage, and want to have something for them to do when they’re not powering your cordless tools? Slap them in a motorcycle frame and make your own KillaCycle® electric motorcycle like the one pictured above. It will go 0-60 mph in 0.97 seconds, accelerate at 2.89 g, and hit over 174 mph in a quarter-mile. The KillaCycle®’s batteries (1,210 cells weighing 200 pounds and having a capacity of 9.1kWh) drive two DC series motors and provide over 500 horsepower.

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Currently, Amazon is selling the Makita BL1830 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Battery for a reasonable $67.70 with free Super Saver shipping. Makita claims that charging it at any time won’t affect the battery’s performance, and that a “built-in memory chip memorizes the usage history and communicates with the charger to to maximize battery life using 3 Active Controls (Current, Voltage & Thermal).” Sixteen contact terminals keep power fluctuations at bay in high-vibration work environments.

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The Michelin Smart Jumper Cables™ seem to be a great step up from ordinary jumper cables. These 12′ long cables are 8-gauge copper-clad aluminum wires with a control box that automatically adjusts the polarity when the clamps are connected, and prevents sparking or shorting. Basic jumper-cable connection rules still apply: from one side of the control box, connect one clamp to the boosting vehicle’s positive battery terminal and the other to its negative terminal. Then, from the other side of the control box, connect one clamp to the disabled vehicle’s positive battery terminal, and the other to exposed metal on the engine block or vehicle frame. If the control box’s green indicator lights are on, you’re ready to try a jump start. The control box also has built-in surge protection for the vehicles’ computers and electronics. A set of these smart jumper cables costs $34.99.

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What’s the key to modern battery systems? They’re almost all pumped full of the latest battery tech and electronics, so I’m going to go with options. If you can’t buy a wide range of tools — all of which are powered by the same batteries, charged by the same chargers — why buy in? Milwaukee’s aware of this, and I’m sure that’s why they’re adding tons of products to all their new systems, including M12 and this new radio.

Besides the fact that it works with your M12 batteries, though, there’s not a lot new here. It includes an AM/FM radio as well as an AUX port for your iPod/other MP3 player. You do get a weather-sealed compartment to store your player, meaning you might have a chance to keep the dirt and other job-site smeg off it. There’s also a clock.

Street pricing for the tool only (sans batteries, which Milwaukee assumes you already have or you wouldn’t be looking at this product) starts around $80.

M12 Radio [Milwaukee]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

Long time readers will know that we’re a fan of portable, battery-powered jump-start rigs. (Various models have saved our collective asses numerous times, keeping shop projects from leaving us stranded on the side of the road.) But here’s a model we hadn’t considered before: the Duracell DPP-600HD.

Like most similar products, the Duracell consists of a big-ass battery and a couple of jump leads — plus an inverter, integrated charger, and all the electronics necessary to make it go. As you’d expect, the big-ass battery is a sealed lead acid model, in this case rated at 12V/28 Ah. Duracell says that’ll deliver up to 480 W continuously to its four three-prong AC plugs, or a five minute burst of juice at 600 W. Of course, that same power can become an additional 280 cold-cranking amps to help start your ailing ride, or it’ll drive the built-in flashlight and radio for pretty much forever.

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It’s déjà vu all over again: Duracell® originally released batteries with the built-in power gauge back in 1996, but now it’s “new” apparently because the battery is the new Ultra Advanced. As before, you press the two white dots and a bar appears, showing how much power the battery has left. The Ultra Advanced, which “lasts up to 30 percent longer in toys than the previous Ultra Digital,” is available “at a small additional cost to regular CopperTop batteries.”

Have any Toolmongers tried these? Are they worth “a small additional cost?”

[Manufacturer's Site]

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While it probably won’t make the top ten list for 2009, or even the neat-products list for the last decade — those lists are really starting to annoy me, by the way; as if those damn end-of-the-year lists weren’t bad enough, this year we have to put up with the end-of-the-decade lists, also — the Ziotek ZT1153195 Digital Battery Checker looks like a handy device. It’s a single-AAA powered tester that can check a variety of 1.5V batteries: D, C, AA, AAA, N, and button cells. It puts a load on the battery under test (~ 90mA for AAA and N; ~ 190mA for D, C, and AA; and ~ 10mA for button cells), and displays the battery voltage on a “color-coded, liquid crystal display” as a bar graph — “color-coded” here refers to the printing surrounding the display; the display itself is black and white.

This tester will set you back about $9. Is it a worthwhile addition to your electrical tool kit, or are there better alternatives? What do you think?

Ziotek Digital Battery Checker [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Ziotek Digital Battery Checker ZT1153195 [Manufacturer's Site]

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The science behind modern battery developments is enough to make one’s head spin. But it doesn’t take a genius to understand that there’s a limited supply of lithium out there. And some sources suggest that with hybrid and electric cars’ popularity on the rise, that supply might not last as long as we think. Could the auto industry trump tool manufacturers in the race to the last lithium deposits?

Hopefully it won’t matter. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology announced last week that they’ve successfully tested a battery that ditches the metal cathode and toxic anode structure common in current batteries, replacing them with air and oxidized silicon, respectively.

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So you’ve got your AA-battery flashlight (maybe even TM’s #3 favorite; see 11/12/09), or your AA-battery digicam for those shop shots, or a  Minty Boost (TM 7/10/09), or any of the approximately eleventy bazillion things around the house that use AA or AAA batteries, and you’d like to use NiMH rechargeables instead of going through packs of alkalines. The Maha Energy PowerEx MH-C9000 is a charger and analyzer for NiMH and NiCd AA and AAA batteries. Its four independent slots have five modes of operation: charge (at a selected rate), discharge (at a selected rate), cycle (perform discharge/charge up to 12 times), break-in (charge at 0.1C for 16 hours, rest for one hour, discharge at 0.2C, and finally recharge at 0.1C for 16 hours; for new batteries and those stored for more than three months), and refresh & analyze (charge, rest for one hour, discharge, rest, and recharge; for batteries stored more than two weeks but less than three months, or for batteries showing poor performance; the refresh & analyze mode can also be used to select and match battery capacities). The MH-C9000′s digital display shows capacity, voltage, time, and current. The unit has many, many programming options (a bone of contention in some reviews).

The MH-C9000 costs around $50 (and some vendors, like Thomas Distributing, often have sales that include a carrying case or batteries).

MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer [Manufacturer's Site]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

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