Maker Batteries: Build your own lithium-ion battery packs!
Want to build your own lithium batteries? Now you can build a custom lithium battery of any voltage and capacity to fit your needs!
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Maker Batteries are pre-welded lithium-ion cells in a kit including everything you need to build your own custom lithium batteries! They are designed for makers: people who enjoy the DIY approach and creating things with their own hands. No welders or specialized tools required; all you need is a soldering iron and a few common hand tools!
Because Maker Batteries allow you to build any size lithium battery you want, the options are nearly endless!
Build your own battery for:
- Off-grid energy storage system for your cabin or RV!
- Custom electric bicycle battery to fit your frame!
- Make a battery for your RC drone, plane or car that weighs less and has a higher capacity than the stock battery!
- Build your own mini-Tesla Powerwall (or full size, or even bigger!)
- Make a portable battery bank to power your devices on the go!
- Add a second energy grid to your home powered by renewable energy!
- And so much more! The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
Hi, My name is Micah Toll and I designed Maker Batteries, a patent pending system that allows anyone to build their own lithium batteries. I started building lithium batteries for electric bicycles a few years ago. To do this properly I had to invest in expensive tools including battery spot welders and spend a while building up the skills to use the specialized tools.
I write for a few educational sites, and I began teaching others how to build their own lithium batteries. The problem is that most people that wanted to build their own batteries couldn't follow along with my lessons because they lacked the proper battery building tools, namely a battery spot welder. That's when I decided to design a battery building kit that anyone could use with only basic hand tools found in most toolboxes - no spot welder needed.
Maker Batteries come in three different cell modules, each with their own unique advantages and applications.
The triangular modules are great for creating batteries of unique shapes. This is especially useful for electric bicycle batteries because they often need to fit into odd shaped frames, where shapes like triangles and trapezoids are required.
The straight modules are better for batteries where shape is less important and simple squares are fine. The smaller 3-cell straight modules are great for little drone batteries with big capacities. The larger 6-cell batteries are better for applications that require even larger capacities, like home energy storage or portable power banks.
Maker Batteries currently come in 3 different types of kits designed to build:
1) RC batteries (Drones, RC cars, etc)
2) Electric bicycle batteries
3) Multipurpose high capacity batteries (off-grid energy storage, portable power banks, ebikes, etc)
The kits come with all the necessary parts to build the batteries, including the cells, wires, connectors, conducting nickel strips, protective foam padding, and heat shrink. The drone batteries include a balance connector for charging while all the other kits include a Battery Management System (BMS) to protect and balance the cells during charging as well as protect the entire battery during use.
In addition to the complete kits, there are also rewards that include just the Maker Battery cell modules by themselves without all the other components. That way you can create any sized custom battery that you can dream of!
Maker Battery kits come with all of the materials you need to build your own lithium-ion battery, but you'll still need a few tools to assemble them. Make sure you have the following:
You've likely already got most of these laying around somewhere, but the rest can usually be found at your local hardware store. Support your local economy! If you can't find something locally, these are my go-to sources online for the following harder to find items:
- Soldering iron ($10)
- Good quality 60/40 solder ($7)
- Kapton tape ($3)
- Wire strippers ($8)
- Heat gun ($20)
(Oh and if you're wondering, the chopstick helps with holding down the little conductive nickel strips after you solder them and while you're waiting for the solder to cool and solidify.)
Below are two quick visual overviews of the basic process for assembling a Maker Battery. With your Maker Battery kit you will receive both written instructions and video instructions detailing every step of the assembly process.
Check out how much more energy dense Maker Batteries are than RC lipo batteries. Versus the Turnigy 4s battery, Maker Batteries have nearly twice the capacity in nearly the same size and weight! Of course, the trade off comes in discharge current. Maker Battery modules are limited to 30A maximum continuous discharge, while these RC lipo are capable of more. But if you don't need such high discharge for your application, Maker Batteries can save you lots of volume and weight!
A few notes about safety:
We've all heard stories lately about lithium battery related fires, notably from "hoverboard" toys and Galaxy Note 7 phones. While lithium batteries can be dangerous, it is important to understand what has caused these fires, and the steps that have been taken to ensure this doesn't happen with Maker Batteries.
First of all, the number of lithium battery fires in these defective products was statistically tiny, occurring in less than 1 out of 100,000 cases. Even so, the cause of the fires was due to poor design that could have been avoided. Hoverboard toys used the cheapest Chinese battery cells available. In rare cases these poorly made cells could more easily experience a short circuit, often when being overcharged, and result in a fire. In stark contrast, Maker Batteries use only the highest quality lithium cells available. These cells are made in Japan by Panasonic and are actually the same exact 18650B cells used by Telsa in their electric vehicles.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery fires occurred for a different reason. While research is still being performed, the general consensus right now is that the phone was improperly designed and applied too much pressure to the soft-shelled battery pouch inside the phone, squeezing it and causing a short circuit which in rare cases led to a fire. Maker Batteries use only metal encased, reinforced shell 18650 lithium battery cells that are specifically designed to be stronger and resist physical damage. This was a conscious design choice to ensure that Maker Batteries are as safe as possible.
Even further, Maker Batteries incorporate multiple safety features on three different levels, as shown below:
There are a million different ways to charge a battery, from solar panels to smart balance chargers to simple wall chargers and everything in between. For this reason, Maker Battery kits don't come with a charger. Instead, you can choose any type of charger you'd like.
Most people like to use a simple wall charger, and I recommend supporting your local economy and buying from a dealer in your country. I'm mostly familiar with US vendors but I've had good experiences with some international vendors as well, so I'll list some resources here:
For 36V, 48V and 52V chargers in the USA, I recommend Luna Cycle in California. If you're closer to Asia, such as Europe or Australia, EM3EV makes great quality chargers too. If you're prepared to spend a pretty penny, the Cycle Satiator by Grin Technology in Canada is a great smart charger that can charge just about any battery to any voltage you specify. Luna and EM3EV also carry the Cycle Satiator, so depending on where you live you might get better shipping by shopping around. All three of the above companies sell chargers that can charge your battery to a level below 100%, which can more than double the number of cycles you'll receive from your battery.
Electric Rider in Texas has you covered for a 24V charger. They have 12V chargers as well, but you'll need to request that they set the voltage for Li-ion (12.6V) because otherwise it will come already set for lithium iron phosphate batteries (14.6V).
For all of the above chargers, to determine if the charger is compatible with your battery, just confirm the output voltage with the vendor and check that it is a constant current, constant voltage (CC-CV) charger.
12V (3 cells in series) = 12.6V charge voltage
24V (7 cells in series) = 29.4V charge voltage
36V (10 cells in series) = 42.0V charge voltage
48V (13 cells in series) = 54.6V charge voltage
52V (14 cells in series) = 58.8V charge voltage
All the battery kits (except for the RC battery kits) come with a 2.5mm DC charger connector pre-soldered to the BMS as well as the male end of the connector to add to your charger. If your charger has the option of arriving with a 2.5mm DC connector, that will save you the effort of adding the including connector to your charger.
For RC batteries, you'll need a balance charger. My go-to charger is the iMax B6 charger. I got mine here. With a balance board you can charge multiple batteries at once.
If you're setting up off-grid power or just supplementing your home with renewable energy, you've got multiple great options. Consider an inexpensive 400W wind turbine or one of the best deals I've seen on 100W solar panels. Either option would be a great way to charge your home energy battery or DIY powerwall with green, renewable energy.
If you are building yourself a mini DIY powerwall, home energy storage battery or portable powerbank, you'll need an inverter. An inverter converts your lower DC voltage (the voltage straight from your battery) into higher voltage AC (what you have in your wall outlets).
If you are building a larger battery, between 24V-48V and/or you are planning to run higher power devices, you'll want a bigger inverter that can handle more power. You could go with a medium power inverter like this 600W model, or get something even bigger like a 1,500W inverter or 2,500W inverter with customizable input and output voltage.
The PIP-HS series inverters with built in charge controllers are really top-of-the-line quality, though they've got a top-of-the-line price too.
Maker Battery kits are designed to be easy to use - but they aren't for everyone. In order to use Maker Batteries safely you need to be able to solder. You should be pretty decent at it. You don't have to be an expert, but this isn't the project to learn how to solder on.
You should also have a basic understanding of electronics, at least enough to know the difference between series/parallel connections, etc. Maker Battery instructional videos will of course teach you everything you need to know about assembling batteries, but it is useful to have some basic electronics background. You don't need to be an engineer though or have any formal education in electronics.
If you are the type of person who calls a friend over to assemble your Ikea furniture, this project is likely not for you. However, if you're the friend that everyone keeps calling to help them make stuff, then this project has your name on it!
If you're already a DIY pro and don't need a full battery kit, you can pick up the Maker Battery modules in sets of five. Simply add however many multiples of the cost of five modules to your pledge.
You'll need to find your own parts, like wires, BMS, etc. Here are a few places where I get my own DIY components for my personal projects. Hopefully these links will be helpful to you.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge on the horizon now remains production. I have been working to set up the Maker Battery factory but lack the required funds to begin large scale production of units. With your help in supporting Maker Batteries, full scale production can begin by the end of the year!
I am quite experienced at running Kickstarter campaigns with all four of my previous campaigns succeeding, most reaching 4x-5x their funding goal. If you want to see some of my previously crowdfunded work from my successful Kickstarter campaigns, check out www.UltimateEbikeEbook.com to see the book I wrote teaching everyone how to build their own DIY electric bicycles.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)