[Guide] A tutorial in "upgrading" your laptop's battery life (without wasting existing battery capacity) - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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[Guide] A tutorial in "upgrading" your laptop's battery life (without wasting existing battery capacity)

 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2014, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Introduction:

This tutorial may help in extending the amount of battery life you get out of your laptop. In this tutorial I will be placing the Lithium Polymer cells in the space where the dvd/cd drive used to be. Various laptops today come with a small capacity battery but still spend valuable space and weight on a dvd/cd drive that you'll barely ever use. If you think you have too little battery life and would be willing to sacrifice your dvd/cd drive for extra battery life this guide may help you.

I say may because this guide isn't for those faint of heart. This tutorial is only for those that meet the skill requirements listed below to avoid dangerous situations.

Warning/Disclaimer
Improper handling of Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer cells may result in fire and possibly worse.

Requirements (skills/knowledge): (Click to show)
Standard knowledge of chemical composition in Lithium batteries.
Knowledge of limitations as listed in the cell specific datasheet characteristics such as overcharge, over discharge etc.
At least a basic understanding of how simple circuits function. (resistors, power sources)
Kirchhoff's voltage law
Requirements (tools/work area): (Click to show)
A room with a bench to work on with good lighting and good ventilation
Variable power supply or a lithium cell charger(you can find those Li chargers on RC model web shops)
Soldering iron
Soldering wick and solder
multimeter (preferably with resistance measurement for easy wire integrity controls)
Screwdrivers flatheads and philips
Pliers
Basic toolset such as a drill and a stripper(for striping wires not that other kind tongue.gif)
Requirements (safety equipment): (Click to show)
Fire extinguisher! (I really advise a CO_2 one since otherwise your laptop will be covered in gunk)
[Advised not needed] a bucket of clean sand
[Advised not needed] Plaster/bandage when you hurt yourself tearing things apart
Scotch tape to prevent open wires from shorting out this is a must really. (other shielding will work very well too)
Requirements (General stuff): (Click to show)
Double sided tape (I use carpet tape it is the very best for the job and cheap)
[Advised not needed] screw terminals
any kind of wire preferably multiple strains so the solder will flow into it nicely.
The laptop you want to upgrade.
A spare laptop battery
Requirements (What you probably have to buy unless you have it already): (Click to show)
Lithium Polymer or Lithium Ion cells (for them to fit you will need thin 2-3mm and compact cells which don't exceed the dimensions of the dvd drive space) (get more than you need in case a cell is defective)



Now that we have all the things we need we can start on this upgrade. Since you have already bought your lithium polymer or lithium ion cells at this point I assume you have done all the research necessary such as finding out how many cells your battery has, what the various terminals on the battery are and how the internal schematic would look like.

All battery laptops are slightly different but deep down most are the same the layout is as follows:
Smart circuit driver board with balancing for each of the individual cells. This Smart circuit has the capacity, the voltage range, the thermistor and many more functions build/programmed into it. Without it the battery wouldn't be able to function and would in fact be very dangerous as the cells used don't have individual protection and fully rely on the battery's smart circuit to keep them safe.

Take out your spare batteries that you plan on tearing apart. Note that tearing them apart correctly is something that requires skill. Here is a blurry picture of 3 of my 4 spare batteries I have for this laptop:

Ignore the dis-assembly warning after all we know what we're doing. I will give safety advice on the battery and how to work/tear it apart safely.
We need to open up the part where the smart circuit is because that is what we want to alter to attach our cells in parallel. While tearing it open make sure you don't bridge connections with the pliers. (shorts can ruin your battery, pliers, fingers and worse can make the batteries leak and vent gas)

You should also make sure that the batteries that are currently in the smart circuit stay connected. And for those thinking that this is crazy yes it is and that is why this tutorial isn't for the faint hearted. The reason however is that the most smart circuits need constant power to keep their settings correct. Since we will already be having the wrong capacity we can't have anything messed up any further. And yes we will be soldering onto this live circuit later on.

Once you have taken apart the material that is blocking you from the smart circuit you should have something like this: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

Before doing anything we will now measure with our multimeter all the potentials until we know exactly how things are wired. Polarity is also very important. (you will understand if you understand Kirchhoff's voltage law)
Once you have done all the measurement and have written down the individual cell voltage, polarity, total voltage and made sure that you understand what is wired to what you can start soldering on the long wires..

At this point you should also start preparing your Lithium polymer(or ion) cells. Since we will be connecting the cells in series and we wouldn't want a huge current flow that will burn our wires we need the voltage on all cells to be equal +/- 0,01V. I actually advise draining the laptop to about 3.9V and then matching your lithium cells to that. (Because most lipos come with voltages between 3.8 and 3.9V thus less time spent on charging them)

Here are some pictures of the charging, measuring and soldering: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)







After making nice strong joints with your soldering iron (note my soldering Iron is the biggest piece of dogturd ever seen) measure them at the end of the wire and strength check them. Gunking them down with some glue is a good idea. Make sure to write down the colours of the various wires as once the battery is place you won't be able to see the board and all you could do is measure them to find out. (noting down the colours will save time and makes sure you connect the right stuff together)

As you can see I have made a drawing too. (note that the + and - are inverted on both sides of the battery series this I did for reference to the battery terminals and doesn't have anything to do with the actual circuit. The positive side is of course the on passing minus -> positive)
As for my colour coding:
5: White
4: Yellow
3: Red
2: Black
1: Green


Now that we have our main battery all wired up you can place it in the battery slot of the laptop. You have to get the wires into the laptops internals if there is no hole to pass them trough(be creative) or cut a hole. Use scotch tape or another isolator on the wires before introducing to the laptops inner components. (also disassemble your laptop so it can be accessed)

Here are some pictures of passing trough the wires and the laptop opened up. I'm using a very standard very common HP laptop and this model is used a lot thus for those that have it is a bit easier to do all this. (note my cells were actually too thick you should have 2.5mm cells for the best results like the ones currently in the Ipad made by LG chem) Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

With everything in place it is time to use the carpet tape on the lithium polymer cells after they are charged to the right voltage. Now what has to be done is connecting the lithium cells in series and connecting the various joints that you have written down. (see drawing)
Connect the joints so that the balancing works for both the laptop cells and yours this way both will be safe.

Here are some pictures of it all coming together: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)


Note I added an additional screw to keep the battery in place. Remember you can no longer swap the battery and if you made it so that you could replace it you would run into the cells no longer being matching voltages. (And that would be a very bad idea trust me this is the best way to do it)


So now that you have it all ready to test it is time to do a few things:
take out this and move the laptop in a safe enviroment: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)


And fire it up!

If the laptop works discharge it completely till the laptop shuts down and measure the voltage on the terminals (which is an average between the internal battery and the new external(though internally housed battery) if everything is connected correctly you should be reading about 3.7V per cell maybe a bit lower if you measure something close to that on all cells then you are good and you can go charge it to full capacity.

But the fun has just started you can now clean up your bench tongue.gif


Charging will take a long time depending on the capacity you have added the fuller the battery the slower the charging process will occur due to it getting closer to the 4.2V thus the flow becomes less. (because the potential difference over the battery and charge becomes smaller)

If you upped the capacity 2.5 times you can expect the charging to take 3-4 times as long. (The fast part will still be fast but the slow part will take as long but needs to charge more capacity)


Now that we are done with everything I will list the pros and cons:

Pros
Never run out of juice again now that you have a lot of battery.
Replaced the DVD drive with something actually useful in this day and age.
Cheaper than additional swappable batteries with 15Wh lipo cells going for 5 dollar a piece.
Laugh at friends claiming their weak little ultrabooks will last longer than your desktop replacement notebook. (only if you have a strong notebook)

Cons
Hard to pass this laptop trough the airport scanner without being asked various questions about what you're doing with that "bomb"
More cells means higher chance of one failing in a distant future
Very slight increase in weight.
No dvd drive (not sure if this is a con tongue.gif )
Takes up a couple of hours to build if you want to do it right and double/triple check everything.

Big cons(which bothered me personally):
Since the smart circuit still only thinks it has 45Wh of capacity it will not get the remaining run time correct and it will overal bug out the battery percentages. (I had it at 100% after 2 hours of use before it started decreasing)

Now here is the Peacekeeper battery test ran with this battery almost fully charged (note I did use the laptop about half an hour before running the bench but the score is still huge. Also note that the capacity was increased from 45Wh to 104Wh and it shows)
9 hours and 42 minutes of peacekeeper on a semi full battery amazing really!
Actually it trumps even most macbooks with this scores and the laptop can be idle for almost twice as long as that 9 hours 42 minutes. Crazy stuff!

http://peacekeeper.futuremark.com/batteryResults.action?key=9ybJ
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-04-2014, 08:40 PM
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I have absolutely no idea how circuitry works but well done to you man. What are the risks of leaks?

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by faraz1729 go_quote.gif
Haha, Liranan, you creep.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-05-2014, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liranan View Post

I have absolutely no idea how circuitry works but well done to you man. What are the risks of leaks?
It is a cell balancing setup so very little. Only if one of the balancing connections break and a cell overcharges there could be a problem. But even if that happens the cells I added have overvoltage protection boards. The cells attached to the balancer are the ones most as risk since the don't have individual protection but if the balancer does it's work it should never overcharge a cell.

So about the same chance or negligibly higher compared to regular battery failure since the part we added has their own protection board for each individual cell.

To explain this without getting into electronics I would go at it like this:
Currently various laptop manufactures use 12 cell setups in either 4S3P or 3S4P. Those are just unprotected cylindrical cells connected to a charger/balancer board.
This picture for example (note the battery symbol is not used here)

All cells in this circuit that are in parallel here will have the same voltage versus whatever reference point you pick. If a cell deviates from the voltage it will be corrected either by the other cells which will drain to equal the other cell or by applying a differential over the cells equal to the desired voltage.
The balancer is also there to ensure all of 3 the cells that are in parallel have the same voltage compared to the other cells in serie.

The 3 cells in parallel should be seen as a single cell with a higher capacity and a higher max current but the same voltage. This new 3 in 1 theoretical cell has to have the same voltage as the other 3 in 1 cells in serie. (The reason why the balancer is needed is because not all cells have the exact same resistance/impedance and thus some will charge more and some will charge less the ratio should be 1:1:1:1 but that isn't the reality thus the balancer fixes this)

Hope the explanation is understandable it is maybe a bit vague if you haven't yet mastered the difference between parallel and series.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 04:54 AM
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I've always been told to never mix battery chemistry. What do you have to say with mixing li-po batteries with li-ion?

This is a very interesting concept and definitely one where it sounds like an excellent way to have a HUGE battery. My laptop last's around 2~3 hours if I'm lucky. Guess that's what I get for some Chinese knockoff battery for $12. I've considered some sub 18650 size li-ion batteries in place of the optical drive wired into the battery, but then the battery becomes irremovable...

Oh I hope better battery tech is around the corner...


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakewalk_S View Post

I've always been told to never mix battery chemistry. What do you have to say with mixing li-po batteries with li-ion?

This is a very interesting concept and definitely one where it sounds like an excellent way to have a HUGE battery. My laptop last's around 2~3 hours if I'm lucky. Guess that's what I get for some Chinese knockoff battery for $12. I've considered some sub 18650 size li-ion batteries in place of the optical drive wired into the battery, but then the battery becomes irremovable...

Oh I hope better battery tech is around the corner...
It is okay to do but you are correct mixing different types of batteries can be dangerous but that is mostly for batteries like NiMH with for example Lithium ion. This is because they have different voltage range in which they work as to not damage them. Mixing lithium ion and lithium polymer from the same capacity in serie however is okay to do and this is because their safe region are the same they both function between 3.0(3.7 is better) and 4.2V. If you run them parallel there is practically no limitation.

You can mix all kinds of batteries in paralell as long as they have matching voltages but I would strongly recommend you don't try that. After all there is no point in doing so since lipo is the highest density you can get.


As for the better battery tech the next big step is a fuel cell along with a hydride if they can get it compact enough even higher energy density would be gasoline(any hydrocarbon really) with some fuel cell but I doubt they will be here anytime soon. (there have been prototypes in the past but gasoline is an abandoned project it seems)
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 01:17 AM
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Just saw this in a sig... This looks amazing, My new laptop already has great battery life but this thing could make it go forever and i've got a traditional DVD slot hmmmm

Click For Awesome (Click to show)
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mad Mule go_quote.gif

Me and my roommates watched a standalone video of a guy demonstrating it on YouTube. I lost it when he started stroking it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen00 go_quote.gif

I like robo-butts and I can not lie, microchips with a great wave line...
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Originally Posted by Tunechi go_quote.gif

I honestly don't think there's any way to explain it without it sounding weird or one's imagination taking a ride.
Quote:
Originally Posted by candy_van go_quote.gif

I can't even remember the last time I grounded myself before handling stuff.
Unless it's the middle of the winter and I'm moonwalking across my carpet in socks before tearing a PC apart I'm not worried about it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liranan go_quote.gif

A laptop is still a PC, albeit a portable one. You can tell how many laptops there are by looking at the 1366*768. Most people don't play...biggrin.gif


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 12:06 AM
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Please be careful with newer cells that use higher voltages like 4.4v.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-25-2015, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanguineDrone View Post

Please be careful with newer cells that use higher voltages like 4.4v.
The charger would only charge them till ~4.25V so no risks. However you would lose a lot of capacity as in the entire area under the curve from 4.4 to 4.25 would be lost and you wouldn't want that. There could still be a problem if the lower limit of those 4.4V cells was above 3.7V it would overdischarge and while this only get's really tiresome for the cells at 3V or less discharging bellow the lower limit would still wear it down significantly.

Do you have a link to those cells they sound interesting.
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