Chapter Experiment Programmable Battery Charger

Experiment #1 begins this Experiments with Renewable Energy course with an interesting and practical project; that is, building a programmable battery charger.

Battery chargers have been around ever since rechargeable batteries were invented. So what's so interesting about charging batteries? Actually quite a bit, since battery charging is really a combination of half art and half science, and there seems to be no end to the variety and complexity of battery charging circuits and techniques. The battery charger circuit that you will build in this experiment is no exception. It is yet one more way to charge two standard 1.2-volt AAA-style nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries. However, the unique feature about this particular battery charger design lies in the fact that the Board of Education circuitry and software constantly monitors the battery's charge and discharge profiles using all four channels (ch0 through ch3) of the A/D converter. We'll get into how this happens in Activity #3 - Programming the Battery Charger.

In the real world, rechargeable batteries can be either a convenience or a necessity. For devices like portable radios and flashlights, you have the choice of either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. For these and other similar devices it may be easier to use non-rechargeable batteries because they typically cost less and last longer as compared with their rechargeable equivalents. The choice is yours. However, you do need a rechargeable battery to start the family car day after day. This is a necessity, since running to the battery store every day or two would become very inconvenient and expensive. Your cell phone and battery-operated electric drill also demand rechargeable batteries for the same reasons. Modern buildings, especially hospitals, use rechargeable batteries for immediate backup lighting if the normal AC power fails (because most doctors have trouble operating in the dark...). And if you're wise you will have a UPS, or Uninterruptible Power Supply, to back up your desktop computer in case of a blackout or brownout. Even a temporary loss of 110 VAC power (about 50 milliseconds, or less) can bring your computer to its knees. A UPS is a good idea to keep your computer up and running, since it has a rechargeable battery that is continuously kept at full charge in case this happens.

DIY Battery Repair

DIY Battery Repair

You can now recondition your old batteries at home and bring them back to 100 percent of their working condition. This guide will enable you to revive All NiCd batteries regardless of brand and battery volt. It will give you the required information on how to re-energize and revive your NiCd batteries through the RVD process, charging method and charging guidelines.

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