cordless drill batteries

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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby jrccaim » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:08 am

Mark Allery wrote:I really like the old car battery idea. I occasionally have old 12 volt tractor or landrover batteries which are no longer good for cold weather starting but not poor enough to throw away and could continue to give a level of service for years which might power a cordless drill - I shall be trying this one ! Likewise an old car battery may no longer be any good at 12volts but might give good service at 10.5 volts with a dead cell depends upon the internal resistance-o f the cell. I don't know but I shall try this.

Another point worth noting - check its really the battery that's gone. Sometimes cheap chargers seem to blow up as well so it's worth trying an alternative power source on the battery - a car battery charger should give something into the battery just to test it out if you don't have a handy bench power supply.

If you are planning to buy a new battery for this purpose do not buy a cheap car battery. These are high cycle lifetime batteries with limited deep discharge capacity. They do this by making the cell plates thinner, so a cheap car battery can only be fully discharged a few times before it will become seriously damaged. So called heavy duty batteries - truck, tractor and recreational are designed to be regularly deep discharged, so the same size of battery has a lower starting (cold cranking amps) capacity. The cells plates are much thicker.

cheers

Mark


Very good points, Mark. A couple of additions. The voltage of a car battery is amazingly constant. If you put a voltmeter across an absolutely shot battery, you will get something like 11.9 - 12.0 volts! If you think I have lost my mind, go ahead and try it. A fully charged battery registers 12.6 volts. Not much difference in voltage. If your battery is registering 12.1 volts it needs charging badly. My tractor has taught me quite a lot about batteries! For six volt batts cut all these numbers in half.

If you are going to mess with this stuff, you will need a volt-ohm meter (VOM, we used to call it when I studied engineering, in another life). They are very cheap, USD 10 or so at Radio Shack in the USA. The digital ones are more convenient. But I still stick with my trusty analog. A VOM will also measure current, but you have to be careful with that. It will also act as a continuity meter (make sure there is really an electrical path between A and B). It will even tell you if you have a voltage in the mains outlet. Invaluable gadget. And it tests polarity in DC circuits, so you can distinguish + from -.

I take your point on deep discharge batteries. In fact I made it myself. But on this point I am not quite sure I agree with you. We are drilling holes with the b..y thing, not cranking a tractor (or even a Land Rover :) ). But this point will be settled by experiment. Sooner or later a neglected 12V cordless drill will turn up at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Wasilla for about $5.00. I will buy Sad Sack the Drill and hook him up to a car battery and we will see how many holes I can drill before the battery goes pffft. However, I at least will have to wait until Sad Sack does appear.
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Oddball » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:53 pm

.Very good points, Mark. A couple of additions. The voltage of a car battery is amazingly constant. If you put a voltmeter across an absolutely shot battery, you will get something like 11.9 - 12.0 volts! If you think I have lost my mind, go ahead and try it. A fully charged battery registers 12.6 volts. Not much difference in voltage. If your battery is registering 12.1 volts it needs charging badly. My tractor has taught me quite a lot about batteries! For six volt batts cut all these numbers in half.


That's not really telling you much about the true state of the battery. That is just the surface charge. A load needs to be applied with a discharge tester which would typically give you a reading of 9.6 - 11 volts from a flat battery. Any less than that & the battery has pretty much had it & not likely to hold a charge for very long. :)
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby jrccaim » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:41 am

Oddball wrote:That's not really telling you much about the true state of the battery. That is just the surface charge. A load needs to be applied with a discharge tester which would typically give you a reading of 9.6 - 11 volts from a flat battery. Any less than that & the battery has pretty much had it & not likely to hold a charge for very long. :)


Aboslutely true, but most of us don't own a discharge tester. For those of us who don't, the voltage has to do as a proxy. Sure. The discharge tester is a resistor, basically, which draws current from the battery. Quite a lot of current, in fact. Then it measures the voltage and the needle goes over to red or green or yellow as the case may be. At the risk of being boring (pun unintentional, but it ain't bad) we are trying to drill a hole, not crank a car. The requirements are radically different. A drill is a low-amp creature compared to a car. So we should be able to drill quite a few holes with a battery that won't crank a car reliably.

There is a problem not mentioned so far. The newer drills seem to be 18V jobs. How do we cope with this? Well, you could run the drill at 12V. Overheat likely, and it won't drill quickly. You could run it at 24V with two car batteries in series. Overheat certain. Drill like a fiend, though. As I said before, DC motors will run at any reasonable voltage, although if you put 250V across it you would fry it. You could find a 6V battery somewhere and hook it up to a 12 batt in series. Heavy! They still make 6V batteries. I bought one for my tractor last spring. Mark Alllery could probably tell you where to find one in the UK; he has a lot of old Land Rovers and they used 6V.

I used the word "heavy." One thing is a cordless in the shop. Another is a cordless out on the job, say building my new greenhouse, 100 meters away from the nearest outlet. You will need a means of transporting about 20 Kilos of batteries around your woods. Bodger battery cart designs, anyone? :)
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Mark Allery » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:32 am

jrccaim wrote: we are trying to drill a hole, not crank a car. The requirements are radically different. A drill is a low-amp creature compared to a car. So we should be able to drill quite a few holes with a battery that won't crank a car reliably.


I think my reference to cheap car batteries might have been slightly misunderstood. A car battery is optimised to produce max amps at full capacity (cold cranking amps or CCA rating) and then be recharged immediately many times a day, day after day and never be fully discharged. If you leave the lights on a few times not only will you flatten the battery but you will irrevocably damage it. A drill has a similar current draw to a couple of headlights. Whereas a caravan, tractor etc battery is designed to produce lower max amperage but to be fully discharged time after time - though it still won't thank you for it.

If you have an old car battery which cost you nothing, you lose nothing, but it would still be better to limit the discharge and recharge as often as possible to lengthen the life of the battery. If you are buying a battery with this (and perhaps other things) in mind, then don't be tempted to buy a cheap car battery it might be a false economy.

I like the ideas here because they are making use of otherwise discarded perfectly good tools - all for lack of a poor consumable item, the battery - and then coupling that with another cast off, the old 12V battery which would also be discarded. Though at this stage I've yet to get any real experience of it, though I did power up an old black and decker on a battery yesterday and I have started to dismantle the battery.

Another reason for being keen on looking at this is one that somebody else mentioned (might have been mike) that it's annoying to have to use inverters all the time to charge batteries. In the summer I am often out with the landrover but have limited battery recharge capability - except I have a battery on the landrover already and am thinking of installing another one so that I can continue to post endless posts on the bodgers ask and answer at the same time :-). So if the drill will work on an old battery around the yard it could also be used off the landrover battery in the field (assuming the landrover is close to my work of course).

jrccaim wrote:he has a lot of old Land Rovers and they used 6V.
Sorry Landrovers were never 6 volts. I have one which used to be 24volts. It also used to have 4 wheels :-) But you can get sealed 6v and 12v lead acid batteries from many online suppliers in the uk like screwfix. I find they are not very heavy duty and designed for light loading only. Turns out to be an expensive way of running your drill.

jrccaim wrote:I used the word "heavy." One thing is a cordless in the shop. Another is a cordless out on the job, say building my new greenhouse, 100 meters away from the nearest outlet. You will need a means of transporting about 20 Kilos of batteries around your woods. Bodger battery cart designs, anyone? :)
I've never thought of a landrover as a bodger cart, but hey, whynot! I am concerned to discover what length of cable I can use without losing too much power in it at 12V

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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby SeanHellman » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:48 pm

Just found some useful info-
If you let a battery fall lower than 10.8volts, in other words very flat or almost completely discharged then it will permanently loose some of its capacity, because the acid will start eating the lead.
If you use a battery every day until it is empty, then charge it, it will last between 1.5 and 7 months, and this a brand new battery. The number of charging cycles is between 40 and 200. if you discharge the battery down to 50% you will get 400 charging cycles, if you use 20% capacity then you will get 100 cycles. Use 7% and you will get 3000 cycles.

The self discharging rate for car batteries is very high- eg a new88Ah battery will loose 10 milliamperes. This means if you never charge it it will be empty after 1 year.

So always keep car batteries charged and do it often. If under 10.8 volts then it could be a dud. Do not use all the charge from your battery before charging. You could buy a leisure battery which is far better suited to this type of use
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Billman » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:05 pm

Oddball wrote:
RichardLaw wrote:
This sounds interesting. Is it possible to run various voltage tools from a 12v vehicle battery?


If I can remember back to my college days correctly, then if you assume the average 12v drill battery is say 3 amp it will produce 36 watts of power. Even the smallest 12v car battery will be 40 amps which equates to 480 watts of power, therefore several things could happen. It will turn a lot quicker, if using small drill bits they could break a lot more frequently, if using large bits & it jams then could pull the drill from your hands or rapidly strip the clutch in the drill. The lower the voltage below 12 the quicker it will burn out, conversely above 12 it should last longer but have less power. Basically I would go for the lowest amp car battery you can find, maybe a caravan battery which are designed for low power consumption over a long period of time. Or find ten people to all run power tools off one battery at the same time :roll:


Ignoring the finer points, such as efficiency, a 12 volt drill drawing 3 amps will use 36 watts of energy - but much depends upon the battery capacity as to how quickly it will run down. A 40 amp car battery means you can draw up to 40 amps without damage - but put a spanner across the terminals and the short circuit will draw far more - enough to possibly heat up or even melt the spanner, unsolder the terminals, badly distort or melt the plates, cause it to explode or generally just b*****r it up.... (Don't try this at home)

Using a car battery to power a cordless drill that draws only 3 amps does not mean it will push 40 amps through it - the resistance of the drill determines the current.... Battery power (or capacity) is often measured in amp-hours - a 40 amp-hour battery will have enough power for 40 amps for 1 hour, or 1 amp for 40 hours... So connecting your 12 volt drill to a car battery does not mean it will draw more current, or that you will break drills (you may do this anyway) but generally as it is much larger than your drill battery, it will last far longer before it needs recharging.

As stated elsewhere, to keep a lead-acid battery in good condition there is an optimum voltage at which it should be re-charged, and it should not be run down to a complete discharge - neither should it be kept on charge once fully charged... Some years ago in the Model Engineer magazine a contributor wrote an excellent article on a battery charger he had built for an electric train that automatically measured the voltage, and switched the charger on and off when the train was in store and not being used... No doubt you can now buy such 'intelligent' chargers off the shelf, but I have not looked...

Following the V=I*R rule that was taught in GCSE science, and knowing that the resistance of a power tool is fixed - and that both sides of an equation must balance - as the voltage varies so does the current. If you put a 12 volt battery on a 10 volt drill, it will push more current through it, and it will produce more torque, but it may overheat it and burn it out if used for long periods.... Conversely, running a 14.4 volt drill on a 12 volt battery, means it will be underpowered, by approx 10%, and for an 18 volt drill by about 33%... You takes your chance...

Spare batteries are often availble for good quality drill such as Bosch or Dewalt, but not for 'self- brand' tools, such as Powerbase (as supplied by Homebase in the UK) - and they are often sold with only one battery. I thus have two 14.4 volt drills, one un-used and still in its case and one well worn, with two batteries that will last for only a few minutes (longer if I charge them immediately before use). I have bought some cheap 1.2 volt re-chargeable Ni-MH 'C' cells (about 2800mAhr) from Lidyl in the UK, but as yet not fitted them to see how long they last (but far cheaper than from any other source)... 12 of these will give me my 14.4 power pack - which if my maths is right (12 x2800/1000) will give a total of 33.6Ahr (which must be wrong as Dewalts 18 volt batteries only hold about 2 to 2.5 Ah)

A battery fix is supposedly possible, see eBay or http://www.nicadbatteryfix.com/ - but I am sceptical - unless (as mentioned above) a high voltage is applied to burn off the cadmium whiskers* - but as NiCad cells are being phased out in favour of NiMH (Cadmium is toxic), and this only 'works' for Ni Cad, it may have limited use anyway....

*Yes it is - 12 volt applied across a 1.2 volt cell (see http://www.ehow.com/how_6225853_fix-dewalt-battery.html)...

Warning: The battery may "spark" when it is being zapped. Take the necessary safety precautions to protect yourself, such as protective eyewear and work gloves. The battery can leak acid, catch fire or even explode if mishandled during this process....
Last edited by Billman on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Bob_Fleet » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:43 pm

Billman wrote:but put a spanner across the terminals and the short circuit will draw far more - enough to possibly heat up or even melt the spanner, unsolder the terminals, badly distort or melt the plates, cause it to explode or generally just b*****r it up....

Another event for Mark to put in the BB program?
But how would you judge them?
Distance it throws you or artistic interpretation?
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Billman » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:56 pm

Bob_Fleet wrote:
Billman wrote:but put a spanner across the terminals and the short circuit will draw far more - enough to possibly heat up or even melt the spanner, unsolder the terminals, badly distort or melt the plates, cause it to explode or generally just b*****r it up....

Another event for Mark to put in the BB program?
But how would you judge them?
Distance it throws you or artistic interpretation?


One for the Darwin Awards if you do???? see: http://www.darwinawards.com/ (Make sure it's a heavy duty battery and fully charged before you try it)....
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Mark Allery » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:03 am

Billman - Ah is independant of voltage. So if you put 2800mAh cells in series the battery is still 2800mAh, ie 2.8Ah. I wondered about making a NiMH pack up, good idea I find these cells to be very reliable, though I shall be interested to hear if the Lidl cells can take a good hammering from the drill!

A word of warning from my own experiments this afternoon. All seemed to be going well. Too well in fact. I inadvertantly reconnected the wires in reverse. Which doesn't immediately seem like a big problem, not for the motor anyway but the inside of my drills turns out to contain some form of power device, possibly a regulator (Edit - I have just googled and I can see its a MOSFET running from a pwm circuit hidden probably in the trigger mechanism) and a power diode which don't like being connected in reverse. As billman correctly says a car battery can provide a lot more amps than the original pack - enough to make the connector glow in my case! followed by an audible pop (that was the MOSFET I think) and a very, very warm finger holding the wires to the battery. I was a little more careful with the next drill! Seems to go well - but I need a more permanent and less dangerous connector (and a new MOSFET at least in one of my drills) I think.

cheers

Mark
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Brian Williamson » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:38 am

Mark Allery wrote:the inside of my drills turns out to contain some form of power device, possibly a thyristor and a power diode which don't like being connected in reverse.


Essential information from Mark here, I think. I had an old 12v drill connected up and running yesterday. One way round it worked fine, the other way not at all. Hopefully, since I only had the wires touched on by hand, no damage was done. A friend who was with me tried the same trick on his (battery-pack working) 18v drill. Lots of sparks ensued! It kept on working on the cordless battery afterwards, so hopefully no long term damage was done, but if either had been properly connected to soldered, plugged-in terminals rather than just hand-held wire, the damage might have been more extensive. We'd neither of us twigged the likely presence of thrystors/diodes/daleks or other evils, so be warned.

I doubt that I will find convenient '+' or '-' signs anywhere on the drill or old battery, but presumably there is a convention that the 'flat' end of a battery is always negative and the 'nipple' end is always positive? If so, the polarity of the original battery pack should be easy to work out and thereby identify the terminals on the drill itself.

Brian.
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Billman » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:42 pm

Mark Allery wrote:Billman - Ah is independant of voltage. So if you put 2800mAh cells in series the battery is still 2800mAh, ie 2.8Ah. I wondered about making a NiMH pack up, good idea I find these cells to be very reliable, though I shall be interested to hear if the Lidl cells can take a good hammering from the drill! Mark


Thanks Mark - I had thought of this after I signed off - linking them in series creates a 14.4 volt cell of 2.8 Ah (2800mAh)* - but I guess if I connected them in parallel it would (theoretically) give me a 1.2 (1.5) volt 33 Ah battery....

* In theory as good as a Dewalt 2.6 Ah battery ??????
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Billman » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:47 pm

Brian Williamson wrote:
Mark Allery wrote:the inside of my drills turns out to contain some form of power device, possibly a thyristor and a power diode which don't like being connected in reverse.


I doubt that I will find convenient '+' or '-' signs anywhere on the drill or old battery, but presumably there is a convention that the 'flat' end of a battery is always negative and the 'nipple' end is always positive? If so, the polarity of the original battery pack should be easy to work out and thereby identify the terminals on the drill itself. Brian.


Yes (just look inside any appliance that takes batteries, e.g. an alarm clock or child's toy, and you will see a diagram of a battery with a + and - sign)

Invest in in a test meter - they are now available for under a fiver, and as long as you remember to switch them off the batteries will last for ages (if you don't it costs nearly as much as a new meter to buy new batteries) - if you connect the DC meter the wrong way around the need will try to move to the left (analogue) - just quickly touch the terminals - do not hold on for more than a fraction of a second until you are sure the needle is moving to the right - or the display will be preceded by a - sign (digital)...

Most cordless tools have a variable speed control linked to the switch, and maybe even a soft start option - the motor may not mind which way the current is applied (most DC motors just run backwards, which is what the reversing switch does) - but the control circuitry does... On a cordless the reversing switch is after the trigger in the circuit.... It can be an expensive mistake....
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby jrccaim » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:50 am

Billman wrote:As stated elsewhere, to keep a lead-acid battery in good condition there is an optimum voltage at which it should be re-charged, and it should not be run down to a complete discharge - neither should it be kept on charge once fully charged... Some years ago in the Model Engineer magazine a contributor wrote an excellent article on a battery charger he had built for an electric train that automatically measured the voltage, and switched the charger on and off when the train was in store and not being used... No doubt you can now buy such 'intelligent' chargers off the shelf, but I have not looked...


My 12/6V battery charger, free at a yard sale, has such a feature. It cuts off at full charge. A very useful thing. However, I do not trust any charger and always keep an eye on the amps being delivered. When you start out it will cahrge at around 8 amps; when it goes down to about 1 amp I cut it off. Circuits fail frequently. My initial training was as an electronics engineer. Therefore, I do not trust electronics.

Mark Allery:
I am amazed to hear that Land Rovers were never six volts. I seem to remember a 6V jobby Model II or III about a million years ago, but obviously my memory is at fault. It was the first (and only) Landy I ever drove, a teen-ager at the time. I got totally hooked on it, but that's off-topic.

And the 18V problem. It would be possible to run an 18V drill by connecting two 12V in series and inserting a series resistor. In fact, for those of us who are interested in antique tractors, it is commonplace to replace the old 6V generator/voltage regulator setup by a 12V battery/alternator combo. However, you have to insert a series resistor between coil primary and battery, else you will burn out the coil. (Starter motor will tolerate the overload for the few seconds it takes the engine to catch. I have started my tractor on 12V although I avoid it) . If you know the exact draw of the drill motor, in amps, and you want to knock off 6V from the battery, then Ohm's law to the rescue, it is V=IR . You want V=6, suppose I=3 amps then obviously R=2 ohms. But it has to be a really high-heat dissipation resistor; electronic components will not do it (you will fry them!).

Before I hit the submit button, It occurs to me that you might not have to go out and buy a resistor. An ordinary light bulb might do the trick. As I recall the mains voltage in the UK, on which these things are supposed to run, is 250V. Very well, suppose we have a 100W light bulb. We have W=IV (power=volts x amps.). So your 100W light bulb is drawing 2.5 amps in the UK. Close enough to my assumed 3 amp draw! Canadian and American readers, adjust please; our mains voltage is 120V. So our amperage is less. And this applies only to incandescent light bulbs. Do not attempt to substitute fluorescents!

Billman has another good point: while the DC motors have a rather wide tolerance for voltage/current, the electronic circuitry may (does) not. Right you are, Billman.
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Re: Series 1 Landrovers

Postby Billman » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:47 pm

Early Landrovers often had two 6 volt batteries in series to crank them over (especially diesel models where the higher comression ratio needed greater torque on the starter) - this was also common practice on tractors of the period - my Nuffield DM4 of 1953 vintage has a double battery box, and my late father in law's David Brown D20 c 1950 also (both diesels)..

I believe early (WW2) American Jeeps and British Austin Champs may have been 6 volt, but I guess somone will put us right if I am wrong....
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Re: cordless drill batteries

Postby Mark Allery » Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:15 am

Sorry Billman. The first landrovers, the 80inch, now known as series one were produced in 1948. The 1948 wiring diagram (series 1 user manual) clearly shows a 12 volt battery, positive earth. The first diesel engine was produced in 1957 but not available until 1958 so it just caught the end of series one and was certainly 12 volts though you rarely (even for a series one) see a diesel series one unless its a conversion. I collect series 2 landrovers 1958-1962 and I use them for work (as my blog will testify). My earliest Landrover, an ex-BBC 1960 lwb is 12 volts - I have another 1960, a 1961, 1965 and a 1981 (24volt xffr) and a 1984RR though I have no time for the series 3 and this one is well on its way to becoming a trailer, too much plastic, the gearbox has (had) synchro on all gears, the heater works! and the metal is too thin. These are all the 2.25 petrol engine, the early LR diesels had a bad reputation. The only diesel I have is my 1974 MF135 a perkins 3 cylinder. I can't speak for jeep or champ as I have no knowledge of them.

You may have seen two 6 volt batteries in series, as I believe this was not an uncommon practice when 6volt batteries were widely available. The VW beetle was originally 6volt for example.

In case you are wondering I do have a car as well as the landrovers. It's a 1971 triumph spitfire mkIV :D midlife crisis, what midlife crisis?

I think thats more than enough landrover content for a greenwood forum, and I apologise deeply for my transgression, but I just can't help myself !

cheers

Mark
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