If you need to power a quadcopter or small robot, you could buy batteries off-the-shelf, but there may be times that what is available isn’t quite what you need. Perhaps this is a matter of voltage, or power capacity, or maybe what you can find simply doesn’t fit into your electrical enclosure or vehicle. You could, of course, revise how your device is designed to accommodate current battery packs, though something suited especially for your design would be a better option.
That’s the idea behind Micah Toll’s new book, DIY Lithium Batteries. This book, subtitled How To Build Your Own Battery Packs, is full of both background information on the topic and practical advice for actually putting these packs together.
Toll’s background includes both a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Pittsburgh and experience making batteries for his DIY ebike business. In fact, he estimates that he’s made at least a hundred battery packs over his lifetime and over a dozen in 2017 alone.
Putting this experience to good use, his book first goes over how these batteries work and the different types of batteries available. I think page 18, where he points out is that Lithium polymer batteries never really made it out of the lab because of how they are originally built, is especially interesting. What we now refer to as “LiPo” batteries now have a polymer packaging, but don’t use polymer electrolytes as they did when originally invented. This can lead to some confusion or, at the very least, an inaccuracy. Regardless of what they are called, what are referred to as LiPo batteries can be very powerful, and potentially dangerous. A book like this can help you know how to handle the different varieties.
After some background on how cells work, Toll goes over potential sources for battery packs, and different options to put them together. One point of special note is that you really shouldn’t solder these cells together, since you can cause permanent damage.
He further elaborates on how to include different ways to electrically put together these cells to create the proper connections, as well as a physical arrangement that will work for your situation. The book even includes several templates on the back to help you arrange cylindrical battery cells without welding them over and over!
Impressively, Toll not only wrote this book, but produced all of the illustrations throughout it. So if you’re looking for an innovative power source for your next project, perhaps you could check it out
It’s available as both an e-book and paperback. I received a copy of both. I prefer having a physical reference. It’s nice to have actual pages that you can flip through and the option of writing notes in the sidebars of the pages.