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Smart batteries

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30 years ago technology a put man on the moon. But 30 years on I still have to insert batteries the right way round. The advances are just not filtering through quick enough. I demand: a battery that works whichever way you insert it.
lubbit, May 05 2001

(??) U.S. Patent 5,623,550 http://www.delphion...ils?pn=US05623550__
[egnor, May 05 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       I can see the point about batteries but what has that got to do with travelling to the moon 30 years ago? It's not like they're related in any way. Perhaps you want Apollo CSM fuel cells...
sirrobin, May 05 2001
  

       Still have to hook the fuel cells up correctly. Electricity has a directional aspect by nature. Isn't any way you can just chuck them in and have them work.
StarChaser, May 05 2001
  

       Something like an AA battery only with the +ive terminals at the ends and a -ive in the middle?
st3f, May 05 2001
  

       It's possible to do this already, although you have to make a modification to the device rather than to the battery - you just use a system of diodes, much like the ones in AC->DC converters. There's a reason why this isn't generally done, though - diodes always have a small leakage current which would make the batteries go flat faster than they would otherwise do. The manufacturers assume (correctly, imo) that people would rather their batteries lasted longer than could be put in either way around.
aj, May 05 2001
  

       Actually, you could just redesign the connectors. Make + in the middle and - at the ends. Or shape the battery such that it can't go in the wrong way (square at one end, round at the other, or something). Isn't there a similar idea kicking around here somewhere?
egnor, May 05 2001
  

       That wouldn't be too difficult, but it'd break every battery operated device in the world at once, and I'm sure the batteries would cost lots more.   

       I don't think this is what lubbit had in mind, though...More like what aj said.
StarChaser, May 06 2001
  

       StarChaser: The legacy factor is huge, but the production cost needn't be much higher.   

       waugsqueke: Oh come now. Next you're going to tell me that carefully inspecting batteries to make sure they're put the right way in builds character, or something. Anything which makes our gadgets simpler is a good thing in my book.
egnor, May 07 2001
  

       rods: as has been said so many times before at the 'bakery, questions that start off with "why don't they..." often can be answered with the word "money". why would nokia or motorola want to give up a profitable part of their business to generic battery suppliers, when they can sell you the same thing at a higher price? it's true, you can buy generic batteries for your cell phone, but i have doubts about the reliability of those batteries, especially when the warranty is only good for a few months.   

       a second reason is aesthetics: while the cells inside the case are relatively the same between devices, the case itself has to have a certain "look" that is approved by marketing, human interface engineers, industrial designers, etc.
mihali, May 07 2001
  

       I was going to say the same thing as Mihali...Because batteries are bought from the original manufacturer, they make money from it.   

       I didn't say it would be more expensive to make them, I said the batteries would cost lots more. 'New convinence batteries! Never have to figure out which end of the battery to put in first!'. Not production, marketing.   

       I agree with waugsqueke, anyway...it's not like it's difficult to take five seconds to make sure the pointy bit is in the right direction. Only real utility I see for these are for changing batteries in the dark.
StarChaser, May 07 2001
  

       I think that this could be done mechanically. The battery receptor would have to be engineered so that it could *detect* the pointy end (the pointy end would force a mechanical change in the contacts--sliding them to a different point, perhaps--and changing the polarity).
kalashnikov, May 08 2001
  

       klash - yeah, this is exactly what I had in mind. Batteries have a knob at one end that could push a contact or something and the wiring could be arranged to divert current the right way. It may be a bit fiddly, but then what isn't...   

       sirro - relax - it's meant to be funny. If it isn't then let it die quietly with some dignity.
lubbit, May 08 2001
  

       Shouldn't be too hard mechanically... something like this (let's use a single batery device for this example): three flange-like conductive posts that go along the end of the battery. The middle flange is offset away from the battery by just less than the distance the positive terminal sticks out from the battery. Same set up at the other end of the compartment. The battery is slid between these two sets of posts. The outer pair on either end contact the flat ends of the battery, making a connection with the negative side. The offset flange would only be able to touch the positive terminal, no matter which way the battery was inserted.   

       Does that make sense, or is it all a muddled mess?
PotatoStew, May 08 2001
  

       I think I see it PotatoStew. In my diagram, the | is the positive post, and the i is the negative (think of it as a top-view). The distance between the + and - posts is the width of the positive nob on the battery. This only works if there is no conductivity on the outer ring of the + side of the battery, and there is conductivity on the entire base on the - side.   

       |i i|   

       Right?
globaltourniquet, May 12 2001
  

       I think you've got it, gt. Including the necessary lack of conductivity of the outer ring of the + side, which I'm not sure is actually the case in real life, unfortunately.   

       Here's what a side view of one of the ends of the setup would be like:   

       ..| <-- (-) conductor, touches flat part of battery
| <-- (+) conductor, touches +knob on battery
..| <-- (-) conductor, touches flat part of battery
  

       The positive terminal on the battery fits right in between the negative conductors, touching the positive conductor. On the other end of the battery, the flat negative surface touches the outer conductors, but not the offset positive conductor.
PotatoStew, May 16 2001
  

       Depends on the brand of battery. Some have a cap that covers the whole end of the battery, some have a ring of the outer material, but I think this would do it. And without requiring more expensive batteries, and without making every battery powered thing in the world useless.   

       Would just have to make one side or the other spring-loaded, so it'd push the battery into the contacts.
StarChaser, May 16 2001
  

       From above:   

       // relax - it's meant to be funny. If it isn't then let it die quietly with some dignity //   

       AND THAT sums up much of what the halfbakery is about. Such a challenge to follow that guideline.
normzone, Dec 16 2014
  

       Most of the annos here are about a device that doen't care which way round you insert a standard battery. A few suggest a non-standard battery you can insert into a non-standard holder either way round. But none have grappled with the original problem, to design a new battery that can be inserted either way round into a pre-existing device.   

       Were the 'bakers of 13 years ago really that slack?
pocmloc, Dec 16 2014
  

       Never let a sleeping dog lie.   

       The consumer electronics industry with their abundance of connectors, plugs and cables has shown how it is done: use adapters. If the new battery design with the + conductor in the middle needs a new battery case design, then build the new batteries with a slightly smaller diameter and, for legacy devices, put them in a adapter casing which connects the new design to the legacy device.
Toto Anders, Dec 23 2014
  
      
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