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Laptop Power Brick Plus

Add a little battery capacity to the power brick
  [vote for,

There's a lot of competing pressures on the design of laptop computers. They should be thin, light, powerful and have good battery life. To get thin and light a small battery helps, but the battery life will suffer, or a compromise involving lower power components must be made.

While everyone around the conference table might look on with envy at the sleek object you are typing on, no-one ever looks at the humble power brick. This allows a bit of design wiggle room.

Already I've seen quite a few adapters with USB ports for charging, why not? it's already a switching power supply, adding a 5V out is trivial. Since 5V is ideal for charging Lithium cells, why not throw a nice rectangular Li-Po cells into the design? 13mm extra thickness gets you a Li-Po with ~8000mAh at 1s, or 44% extra charge on a Macbook Pro.

The cell should charge when the adapter is plugged into the mains. When the mains is disconnected the cell can supply the 18-20V to the laptop via a DC-DC step up converter, a single ~90% efficient chip nowadays. In this way the power brick acts as an external battery/power bank.

This power brick can be used to partially de-couple the location/time/mains status of computer charging. The power brick can be left charging in your hotel room while you have a super slim computer to take notes on, then you can pack everything away and your power brick can charge your computer while you whisk yourself to the airport.

I'm aware that laptop power banks do exist, but these are more like UPS modules with inverters creating mains output.

bs0u0155, Jul 17 2019

Zero electricity air con https://www.youtube...watch?v=1Qyb2axBQzQ
Add-on for LPBrick houses [Sgt Teacup, Jul 17 2019]


       This is a good idea!
For some computers (ie. the new one I recently bought...) the power brick plugs in to a USB-C port anyway, so you wouldn't need the 18V conversion. 5V out all the time, whether using the brick as a mains connection or as a battery.
Hmm... had a quick look at the specs; seems to output EITHER 5V or 20V to the USB-C. The computer must talk to the brick & ask for 20V to charge or 5V to run when fully charged. Or something..?
neutrinos_shadow, Jul 17 2019

       In the near future, there'll be African houses built of discarded Laptop Power Bricks, ingeniously re-configured to trickle charge from solar power, providing lights at night, fridge during the day. Presently, the top ends of 2-litre pop bottles arranged in rows on window inserts serve as passive aircon. Together, that's a classic off-grid house, except for the water/sewage. What other HB ideas can we re-purpose?!   

       Obviously, bun for (b)unintentional building material. [+]
Sgt Teacup, Jul 17 2019

       //Hmm... had a quick look at the specs//   

       yeah, USB-C is odd. You can pull 100W, there's even a USB-C soldering iron.
bs0u0155, Jul 17 2019

       The 2l bottle thing is not going to work in anything like the way described. You can't cool air, or anything passively, something else has to heat up, or volume changes, or something changes state. The most effective feature of that "device" is that it's acting as a window shade.
bs0u0155, Jul 17 2019

       There are also (apparently really good) soldering irons for older kinds of USB, too. Only 10 watts or something but everybody who's used one says it's great.
notexactly, Jul 18 2019

       Isn't the design goal to try and to get away from a tethered brick? To walk freely among the power supply patterns.
wjt, Jul 18 2019

       One of the first laptops I used was a Compaq Armada. It had an internal power supply, so you just plugged a kettle lead straight into the back of it. If you needed more battery life, you could pull out the floppy drive and fit an extra battery into the bay.
mitxela, Jul 18 2019

       One of those (a Compaq laptop, at least—I'm guessing from your description that it was an Armada, but I don't think I saw a model name on it) showed up on the free shelf at Protospace and I tried plugging it in. Finding a suitable thing to plug it in with was easier than for most laptops, and the internal power supply seemed quite novel. (It had a C6, taking a C5 cord, not the more common C14 taking a C13 that I understand "kettle lead" to usually refer to, though.) Unfortunately, the screen was broken, so I tried an external monitor, but that didn't work for some reason. That was several months ago, and I think it's still sitting on the table nearby; maybe I should try to do something more with it, or at least put it somewhere more suitable. The monthly clean is tomorrow, so maybe I'll remember to do that then…   

       Years ago, well after the not just titanium but aluminium PowerBook G4s were out, and after I had one, I still wanted a PowerBook G3 with that same feature of being able to substitute an extra battery for a drive. I think it was the Pismo I wanted, but maybe it was the Lombard; I don't remember it very clearly now.   

       When I get around to building laptops, expandable battery is a feature I should remember to consider including.
notexactly, Jul 20 2019

       If capacity goes up, which it does, it is all down to form factor. Games can be played to stop upgrading(making a product better not dumping for new product).
wjt, Jul 21 2019


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