Monday, February 4, 2013

W5: Primary and Secondary Batteries

Inserting my two dollars into the Biblio-mat this week resulted in a deceivingly thin vintage textbook on everything one would need to know about batteries, circa 1945.

Profusely illustrated indeed.
Containing 168 pages of in-depth information, Primary and Storage Batteries by E. S. Lincoln is profusely illustrated, up-to-date, accurate, and authoritative. It had to be, it was written on the cover. This book would have been immensely useful if it had come out of the machine a week before when our trivia team missed a question based on electricity and lost the night by a single point. Then again, perhaps the cosmos enjoy rubbing in failures caused by lapses in high school science knowledge. 

Detailed schematics to build a Keepalite.
Primary and Storage Batteries reads surprisingly well for a textbook. Riddled with black and white photographs of antique batteries and illustrations explaining the virtues of various circuit connections, the information is spread out and easily digestible. Interesting enough, not much has actually changed in the world of batteries. Sixty years ago they used the same AA, C, and D type cells. It was still an informative book, though, with the two main things I learned being:

1) There are two classes of batteries - the Primary type that works through the concumption of chemical reactions and the Secondary type that stores and recalls electrical charges.

2) Eveready was once a well respected brand of portable power before it became the shitty discount red batteries that fathers used to buy at Radio Shack for Christmas toys.

With steps on how to refill chemical reaction batteries with different kinds of acid and diagrams to make your own storage batteries out of nickel plates and glass jars, the book comes across at times as a crude Instructables with a tinge of Anarchist Cookbook. Filled with a rebel spirit and a false sense of electrical DIY knowledge, it inspired me to attempt a battery change on my Sonicare electric toothbrush that died two weeks ago.

This is what I imagine a cyborg shank to look like.
With some prying, cutting, three bandaids, and two hours of un-soldering and re-soldering, I had successfully replaced the proprietary battery that looks suspiciously like a label-less double A with an actual Eneloop double A. It now works better than new. However, Primary and Storage Batteries didn't quite cover lithium-ion or magnetic charging compatibility so I may be brushing my teeth with a ticking shrapnel bomb. I should probably get a new toothbrush.

Book rating: 6/10 (not super enlightening but it has the old book smell)

Random quote: "Dry or in solution, it will burn or injure the skin, eyes and clothing. In case of accident, flush affected part freely with water, apply antidotes prescribed on label of soda can"


  1. This is a great project Vincent! I look forward to following along.

  2. Thanks! Hopefully this lil experiment will inspire people to check out more random books.