Earlier this year we looked at a project aiming to create an open-hardware iron-air battery, partly as an experiment and partly to give makers more flexibility in how they power their creations. For those who don't fancy mixing urea and hydrochloric acid in their kitchens, though, Micah Toll has launched a Kickstarter project for self-assembly battery packs.
Dubbed Maker Batteries, Micah's kits take common Panasonic 18650 lithium ion battery cells and spot-weld them in triangular or straight configurations. Spot welding is the trickiest part of combining cells into batteries: you can't solder to the top of a lithium ion cell, which means you need specialist equipment like Jack Davies' laser-cut spot welder. Micah's kits remove the need for owning a spot welder, while still allowing the combination of cells into custom shape and capacity batteries.
Each kit, available in a variety of capacities, comes with groups of cells, connecting strips, an optional battery management system for balanced charging, and the foam and heatshrink material required to put everything together. Backers will still need to provide their own tools - a soldering iron for the wiring, hot glue to provide structural rigidity, tape, and a heat gun for the heatshrink - with Micah promising that assembly is quick and easy.
If you're planning a build which needs considerable power - such as an off-grid long-term sensor system or autonomous electric vehicle - Micah's campaign, which is aiming to raise $10,000 to fund production, is live now on Kickstarter.
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.