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Or, based on the picture, maybe this post should be titled Flashlights In Space! Now I like flashlights as much as — or probably way more than — the average Toolmonger, but the mPower Emergency Illuminator that I recently saw on Gizmodo is a bit much even for me. Porsche Studios designed it, and mPower, a wholly-owned consumer products division of mPhase Technologies, uses its parent company’s AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery technology to produce a two-tubed flashlight with two standard CR123 batteries in one tube, and an unactivated NanoBattery in the other. The NanoBattery side has a minimum 20-year shelf life with no power dissipation until activation. It’s to debut at CES in January, and should be available in March 2010 for a mere $250–$300. For that price you do get a “high power” LED  and an accessory USB connection for charging cell phones and PDAs.

Think there might be something better in the next 20 years?

AlwaysReady Smart Nanobattery [Manufacturer’s Site]

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Maverick of Maverick Solar put the IkePak together to help his son after Hurricane Ike. He did not spend time doing extensive calculations, but just used what was readily available — he runs a solar energy company, so he probably has a few relevant things available — or easily obtained at the local WalMart. The wheeled Igloo cooler holds a marine battery, a 400W inverter, a solar charge controller, an inline fuse for protection, and most of the wiring. It provides enough power for a few CFLs, a small TV, and a cell phone charger. The total cost was ~ $360; the most expensive item was the $175 20W solar panel.

Additional pictures and details are the link below.

IkePak [Maverick Solar]

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Sure you can run a battery charger with a portable generator, but why not cut out the middle man, especially if you’re off the beaten path where you don’t want to haul around a large generator? This would be especially great for charging up an electric trolling motor battery or camper battery when you’re 150 miles from the nearest outlet.

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DeWalt’s done some great things with their cordless tools lately. They just introduced an upgraded lithium-ion battery pack for a new range of tools, but designed the plugs for compatibility with the older generation (which, while clever, isn’t what I’m after here). Most importantly, they’ve built fans into one of their 24V NiCad battery packs as a means of extending life.

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Sony’s new LiFePO4 (olivine-type lithium iron phosphate) batteries have a high power density (1800W/kg), a life span of around 2,000 charge-discharge cycles, an “excellent” shelf life, and can charge to 99% capacity in 30 minutes. Sony first supplied the new batteries in June 2009 for use in power tools, but their capabilities open up many other applications, including electric vehicles.

Patented by the University of Texas’ Dr. John Goodenough in 1996, LiFePO4 has a cell structure that remains stable in temperatures as high as 300°-500° Celsius. The batteries have a nominal cell voltage of 3.2V, a 1.1Ah capacity, and a 20A maximum continuous discharge current — so you don’t want to accidentally short these, or things might get hot in a hurry.

Sony [Manufacturer’s Site]
EE Times [Source]

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The lights are out. The mutated alien horde is coming. You need power for the Tesla cannon. This is when you’re really glad Duracell’s Powerpack DPP-300EP is sitting on the basement shelf. Essentially a small car battery powering a 120V AC inverter and a 250 psi compressor, it can even fill your truck’s tires for a mad dash to the burnt-out supermarket for a scavenging run. Just watch out for the stray dogs.

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So a C battery just croaked, and all you have handy is an AA. With the $3-$4 Ziotek Battery Upsizer kit, you place the AA in the C-sized plastic holder, and you’re back in business (although for a shorter time because AA batteries cannot supply the current available from C batteries: see battery details). Likewise, you can “upsize” an AAA to an AA using the small plastic tube, a C to a D using the large tube, or go all the way from an AAA to a D by nesting all the tubes.

The manufacturer cautions: “Do not use Battery Upsizers in a battery charger. If you use multiple battery upsizers, do not use batteries of different types at once, or new and used batteries together.”

Has anyone used these? Would they be handy in an emergency?

Ziotek Battery Upsizer [Manufacturer’s Site]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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The DeoxIT® Service Kit, $60 from Caig Laboratories, comes in a zip-top bag with a variety of products incorporating their DeoxIT® contact cleaner including sprays, wipes, and brush applicators. Caig claims that DeoxIT® is a “fast-acting, deoxidizing solution that cleans, protects, lubricates, and improves conductivity on all metal connectors and contacts.”

Different versions and sizes of DeoxIT® are available through Amazon and other web sites.

I have used DeoxIT® on many connections including tool battery packs, flashlight batteries, vehicle batteries, vehicle audio and antennas, and computers — and found that it does work. Have you used DeoxIT®, or similar contact cleaners? What’s your opinion of it?

Caig Laboratories [Manufacturer’s Site]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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The loss of power that occurs when you change your vehicle’s battery might reset its systems back to factory state, so you have to drive the damn thing 50 miles to get it running correctly again. Worse yet, you could lose all your radio presets.

Before you disconnect you battery, plug the Auto Memory Saver from EZ-Red into your OBD2 port. It uses the port’s power and ground pins to supply juice to critical systems so they don’t forget their settings. The neon-red coiled cord reaches 8′, has its own inline fuse, and terminates in a cigarette lighter connector. Obviously you’ll need to plug the cable into another power source while the vehicle’s battery is disconnected.

Just in case you don’t know any better, do not use cables of this type to jump-start a vehicle. The best thing that could happen is you’d blow the inline fuse — if the cable has one. Pricing for the Auto Memory saver starts around $15.

Auto Memory Saver [EZ-Red]
Street Pricing [Google]

 

Need something to keep those spare batteries from rattling around? I know — a ZipLock bag works well and is usually waterproof, but this battery caddy will keep things secure and allows easy access for testing the batteries. It’s a convenient holder of the extra batteries for the flashlight(s) (or radios, digital multimeters, cameras, flash units…) in your truck, your toolbox, your bench drawer, your desk drawer, your kitchen “utility” drawer, your backpack, your briefcase, your suitcase, your camping gear, your boat, your travel trailer, your camera bag…

Versions are available for AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, and CR123 batteries in addition to various combinations such as the one pictured above. Prices range from $5 – $14, and colors includes black, orange, and Glow in the Dark!

PowerPax
Via Amazon [What’s This?]