vb.net barcode scanner programming ALL ABOUT BATTERIES AND ROBOT POWER SUPPLIES in Software

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198 ALL ABOUT BATTERIES AND ROBOT POWER SUPPLIES
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Battery 1
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Battery 2
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A. Parallel connection -- 2X current
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B. Series connection -- 2X voltage FIGURE 15.5 Wiring batteries to increase ratings. a. Parallel connection increases current; b. Series connection increases voltage.
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voltage level. The rejuvenated battery lasts about 20 to 30 percent as long as it did during its initial use. Most well-built zinc batteries can be rejuvenated two or three times before they are completely depleted. Rechargeable batteries should be periodically recharged whether they need it or not. Batteries not in regular use should be recharged every two to four months, more frequently for NiMH batteries. Always observe polarity when recharging batteries. Inserting the cells backward in the recharger will destroy the batteries and possibly damage the recharger. You can purchase ready-made battery chargers for the kind of battery you are using or build your own. The task of building your own is fairly easy because several manufacturers make specialized integrated circuits just for recharging batteries. These ICs provide all the necessary voltage and current protective mechanisms to ensure that the battery is properly charged. For example, you can use the Unitrode UC/2906 and UC/3906 from Texas Instruments to build an affordable charger for sealed lead-acid and gelled electrolyte batteries. Similarly, the MAX712 from Maxim lets you construct a flexible fast recharger for NiMH batteries. These and other specialty ICs are not always widely available, so you may
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NI-CAD DISADVANTAGES 199
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need to check several sources before you find them. However, the search is well worth the time because of the cost and construction advantages these chips can provide.
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Ni-Cad Disadvantages
Despite their numerous advantages, Ni-Cad batteries have a few peculiarities you ll want to consider when designing your robot power system. The most annoying problem is the memory effect we discussed earlier in this chapter. Not all battery experts agree that Ni-Cads still suffer from this problem, but most anyone who has tried to use Ni-Cads has experienced it in one form or another. For various reasons we won t get into, the discharge curve of Ni-Cad batteries is sometimes altered. The net effect is that the battery won t last as long on a full charge as it should. This so-called memory effect can be altered in two ways:
I The dangerous way. Short the battery until it s dead. Recharge it as usual. Some batter-
ies may be permanently damaged by this technique.
I The safe way. Use the battery in a low-current circuit, like a flashlight, until it is dead.
Recharge the battery as usual. You must repeat this process a few times until the memory effect is gone. The best way to combat memory effect is to avoid it in the first place. Always fully discharge Ni-Cad batteries before charging them. If you don t have a flashlight handy, build yourself a discharge circuit using a battery holder and a flashlight bulb. The bulb acts as a discharge indicator. When it goes out, the batteries are fully discharged. The other disadvantage is that the polarity of Ni-Cads can change positive becomes negative and vice versa under certain circumstances. Polarity reversal is common if the battery is left discharged for too long or if it is discharged below 75 or 80 percent capacity. Excessive discharging can occur if one or more cells in a battery pack wears out. The adjacent cells must work overtime to compensate, and discharge themselves too fast and too far. You can test for polarity reversal by hooking the battery to a volt-ohm meter (remove it from the pack if necessary). If you get a negative reading when the leads are connected properly, the polarity of the cell is reversed. You can sometimes correct polarity reversal by fully charging the battery (connecting it in the recharger in reverse), then shorting it out. Repeat the process a couple of times if necessary. There is about a fifty-fifty chance that the battery will survive this. The alternative is to throw the battery out, so you actually stand to lose very little.
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