It’s always a thrill to see a new Collin’s Lab on Adafruit. Collin has an impressive ability to teach electronics and other often intimidating technical subjects in a way that’s crystal-clear, approachable, entertaining, and surprisingly informative. I thought I knew the thumbnail history of batteries and the evolution of battery technology, but as with any Collin video, I learned a few things (and had a few chuckles along the way).

Collin doesn’t just run through the battery’s history, from Ben Franklin first applying the term in 1749 to a bank of capacitors he’d wired in series, to the current use of Li-ion and Li-Po formulations. During the course of the video, Collin also builds a simple voltaic pile (the first proper battery) using squares of copper (cathode), zinc (anode), and cardboard soaked in salt water (electrolyte). By building a simple 9-cell pile, he’s able to generate over 6.3 volts and handily light a 5mm blue LED.

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As one of the YouTube commenters said: “This is probably the best, concise history of batteries I’ve ever seen on YouTube.” And all of Collin’s Lab videos are equally good and highly recommended.

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Did you know that, before Collin began working at Adafruit, he was an editor here at Make: and we produced the first incarnation of Collin’s Lab? You can see those videos and find links to Make: Presents, Collin’s earlier video series for Make:, and his Circuit Skills videos here.