Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Zapping batteries

Among the several projects I had set for myself while at my in-laws during the holiday weekend was to "zap" the NiCd batteries from my two cordless drills.

There are dozens of YouTube videos on how to do this, using everything from a Mig welder to another battery.  My dead batteries were 14.4 volt, and I used a 19.2 volt battery that my father-in-law had laying around doing nothing.

The first thing I had to do was determine the positive and negative contacts on the battery, since they weren't marked.  I used a multi-tester for that (YouTube is your friend on that one, too!)

I took the multitester and checked the voltage being delivered from the dead battery.  It was about 7 volts.

Once that was done I hooked the negative terminals from both batteries together.  Then I put the wire onto the positive terminal of the 19.2 battery, then used the other end an just touched the positive terminal of the dead battery 10 or 12 times.  Each touch was about a half-second each.

I then tested the voltage delivery again, and it was now around 15 volts.  That was a very positive sign.

Then I put it in the charger.  Before when I tried to charge it, the charger told me the battery was faulty.  Now, it began charging.  Another very positive sign.  So I repeated the process on the other three batteries I had and got similar results.  So it really does work.  For how long I don't know, but for a little while at least I don't have to buy new batteries for two otherwise functional drills.

A couple of things I found while doing this project:
  • Don't let the ends of the wires from the source battery touch.  All kinds of heat and smoke will result.  Ask me how I know.
  • Apparently, the source battery has to be of a higher voltage than the dead battery. I did see one video where someone used a car battery for zapping and it seemed to work, but most of the videos said you need a higher voltage.
  • Two of my batteries had two terminals and two of them had four.  As long as you find positive and negative it doesn't seem to matter which ones you use.
  • For the wires, I used some test leads I found, which had alligator clips on the ends and they worked nicely because the terminals on the batteries were blade-types.  If you don't have blade type terminals you will have to get creative with your wiring.  The test leads weren't very heavy duty.  If I were using the welder I probably would have wanted to use heavier wire.
  • One video had some separate wires he connected to the dead batteries terminals rather than touching them with the wires directly connected to the source battery.  Sometimes this will generate sparks and it can damage the terminals, which means you will have some touch-up work to do after zapping. Touching the wires rather than directly touching the battery terminals makes sure this doesn't happen.

Home on the Range: Steampunked - ePostal Match Time

Home on the Range: Steampunked - ePostal Match Time

This looks like fun - I think the kids and I are going to try this one!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Suburban Skunks

So the Mrs. and I went grocery shopping last night about 10pm (our only free time available to do it!), and as I was making a trip through the garage to bring in another armload I noticed movement in the driveway.  Another two steps and it was confirmed - a skunk was waddling up my driveway heading for my side yard.  I quickly grabbed the remainder of the groceries in the trunk, took them inside, and closed the garage door.  He didn't seem interested in coming in the garage, but I didn't want to take any chances of coming out to a trapped skunk in there this morning!

I'm really not liking skunks in my neighborhood, and they are more and more frequent visitors.  The problem is - you can't shoot them to get rid of them.  They don't live in my yard so I can't trap them and take them somewhere else.  They probably smell my compost pile, but they are in other parts of the neighborhood too, so it isn't just me they are attracted to.

They seem to be nocturnal, as my other encounters with them have been at night also.  I guess that's both good and bad, since in the dark you don't really know they are there until you are right on top of them, but you aren't out in the yard much after dark, either, so your chances of an encounter are reduced.

Wish I knew of a repellant.  I would spread it around my yard!