My external battery experiment

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
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Ok, so I wanted an external battery for my MBA. I just could not stand the thought of 3-4 hours of use with no option for an extra battery. So I started looking around the net for ideas. Amazing as it is to me, there really are few options, and the ones that are there, are expensive as heck. So I now have this setup and plan to do some testing. So I got one of these:

http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/reviews/18779.aspx
off ebay for $75 (my first lower model {upb70} for $20 was a rip off since the guy had worn the thing out, and it basically did not charge)

and one of these (from China) for just the magsafe connector:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110423202494&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT#ht_3261wt_1145

And now I have a full external battery solution. The UPB90 is a really nice unit. Slim (slips right in a laptop case), light and has a really nice OLED display that shows the charge (in % or battery grafic), discharge rate (in watts, hours till dead or %) and has auto settings for voltage, or just set it from 15v-20v. Since I got it today, I have been running my MBA (set at 15v) off it for 3 hours so far (using wifi, bluetooth and brightness at about 75%), and the display says I still have about 2 hours of charge left (at current discharge rate). Of course, when this external pack is done, I still have the internal MBA battery charge (it has stayed at 100% while plugged into thsi battery).

So far, for about $100, I have a nice external battery solution for the MBA. I will try to upload some pictures and final run time tomorrow.
 

musicpenguy

macrumors 68000
Oct 29, 2006
1,575
558
Sweet - would love to see the setup and what other people are doing for external batteries
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
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Just a slight update: My final runtime was right at 6.5 hours on just the external battery. I ran it for 3 hours, stopped for an hour, then ran it for 3.5 more hours before the external battery display showed it was depleted.

One important detail I left out on my first post, the external battery does not come with a charger. It is designed to be charged with your laptop charger. It comes with many different male/female adapter sets so you can charge the external battery while having the laptop connected. In the case of the MBA, of course there is not a magsafe adapter set, so my aftermarket magsafe connector was needed. I happen to have a spare universal laptop charger laying around, so it was a perfect way to charge this battery. It fully charges the external battery in 3.5 hours.

Tonight I might post some pictures. One nice thing about this battery (unlike others) is that it is thin and about the same size as the MBA, so it makes a nice tray that keeps the air vents on the MBA unobstructed when sitting on my recliner arm (or other soft surfaces). Plus it has 2 USB ports for charging MP3/cell phones. Great unit to slip into a laptop bag for travel.

One thing I don't like, is the connector cord. It is a bit of a tangle. It is pretty long and with my magsafe cable, even longer. I might modify the cable to make it shorter and less cumbersome. It also has 2 connectors (output to laptop and input to charge, which makes it more bulky). But for about $100 total ($75 for battery, $25 for the modified magsafe cord), it is hard to beat.
 

MacModMachine

macrumors 68020
Apr 3, 2009
2,248
131
Canada
im working on my own external battery, i will have it done in a few weeks.

i designed the whole battery myself.
 

t4cgirl

macrumors member
Feb 22, 2008
33
0
I've been working and traveling with a batterygeek battery for more than a year. It seems to supply on the order of 6-9 hours of power. If you want to work all day untethered, it's definitely possible!
 

1rottenapple

macrumors 68020
Apr 21, 2004
2,320
578
what the? I wish I found out about this and not spent my 230 for the hypermac. this (you solution) seems to be the best.
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
0
what the? I wish I found out about this and not spent my 230 for the hypermac. this (you solution) seems to be the best.
Thanks, but I would not say mine is the best solution, but it is a really nice solution for me. And as MacModMachine pointed out, APC discontinued there external laptop batteries. But this one (the UPB) can be had on ebay for much less then the original $250 (as I mentioned, mine was $75). I must say, the digital display is both handy and gorgeous. I have found it is almost accurate to the minute on the remaining runtime. I got home late tonight, so no pictures to post yet, but maybe tomorrow.
 

smeagol222

macrumors newbie
Oct 26, 2009
2
0
older macbook pro

would this work also with an older macbook pro i have the 2.2GHz (T7500) Intel Core 2 Duo Merom (pretty sure - all silver keyboard etc)

ive got a loooong flight ahead (nearly 30hrs) and wouldnt mind a battery lasting longer than a couple hours. no power onboard unfortunately .... grrr


any help would be greatly appreciated!!

thanks!
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
0
would this work also with an older macbook pro i have the 2.2GHz (T7500) Intel Core 2 Duo Merom (pretty sure - all silver keyboard etc)

ive got a loooong flight ahead (nearly 30hrs) and wouldnt mind a battery lasting longer than a couple hours. no power onboard unfortunately .... grrr


any help would be greatly appreciated!!

thanks!
I do not know what the voltage requirements are for your older macbook, but as long as it takes between 15-20 volts, I am sure it would work. I do not know how long it would run, but I would have to think at least 3 hours plus your internal battery.
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
0
I agree; now if only they still make the APC version. Or something like it.
Amazing to me that they do not. With the MBA being thin and light, you woudl expect someone would have come out with a custom solution by now. What I really like about the APC unit is the digital display. It is very nice to know EXACTLY how much time you have left, right down to the minute.
 

smeagol222

macrumors newbie
Oct 26, 2009
2
0
re: older macbook

thanks for the replies!

ya i saw all the hypermac, batterygeek and a few others be they are VEEERY expensive

need the CHEAPest solution possible- i suppose it just a matter of getting the right voltage (portable power battery- any kind--cheapest) and the right 'something-to-magsafe-connector' as you've done above

so as long as the voltage is correct it and i get a converter plug i shouldnt damage my laptop at all right?


thanks
 

atsiang

macrumors newbie
Sep 23, 2008
12
0
Hopefully someone can help me. I purchased an APC 70 but can't figure out how to connect the Macbook charger to charge the APC battery. I bought the magsafe connector from ebay and I have a way to connect the APC battery to the macbook but don't know how to connect the Macbook charger to the APC battery to charge it up.

Thanks

Alfred
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
0
Hopefully someone can help me. I purchased an APC 70 but can't figure out how to connect the Macbook charger to charge the APC battery. I bought the magsafe connector from ebay and I have a way to connect the APC battery to the macbook but don't know how to connect the Macbook charger to the APC battery to charge it up.

Thanks

Alfred
This is a tough one. In order to use the macbook charger, you would need to either have a female magsafe adapter to hook it up, or modify the cord with a standard plug that will plug into one of the adapters that came with your APC like in the attached picture. In my case, I use a universal laptop charger to charge the APC unit.
 

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atsiang

macrumors newbie
Sep 23, 2008
12
0
This is a tough one. In order to use the macbook charger, you would need to either have a female magsafe adapter to hook it up, or modify the cord with a standard plug that will plug into one of the adapters that came with your APC like in the attached picture. In my case, I use a universal laptop charger to charge the APC unit.
Thanks for your response. I think I'll go with the universal laptop charger option. Which universal charger do you recommend? There are so many options out there.
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
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Thanks for your response. I think I'll go with the universal laptop charger option. Which universal charger do you recommend? There are so many options out there.
I really can't recommend any one specific. But I will recommend this, make sure whatever one you choose, has a selectable output voltage. For example, if you are using 15v as output on your battery pack, set the charger to 15v as well. I say this because my universal charger automatically puts out 19v, so I have to change the setting in my APC to match or it won't charge. Then I have to remember to change the setting back to 15v to use with the MBA. If y0u find one you can set to 15v, you can always just plug and charge, or plug and use external pack without changing settings. I use the ReTrak from Emerge Technologies, only because I got it for $15 at a local discount store (and the cord retract into reels for easy storage, thus the name).
 

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Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
4,850
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London, UK
Gadgetman, random question: In your hunts for the necessary cables etc did you happen to find anything like a MacBook to MacBook Air magsafe adapter?

I really wish Apple would make 85W adapters with the MBA magsafe connector. I'd like to buy a couple of extra adapters that would work with both the other half's MBA and my MBP so that we don't have to move them around all the time.
 

iGrant

macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2006
542
0
Ridgeway
Hey,

This is nice, I am going to consider doing this . . . I love the battery life I have in my Macbook Air (about 1.5 hours and still have 58% battery left), but would love to have an externally long battery as well :cool:

-iGrant
 

Gadgetman99

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 1, 2009
164
0
Gadgetman, random question: In your hunts for the necessary cables etc did you happen to find anything like a MacBook to MacBook Air magsafe adapter?

I really wish Apple would make 85W adapters with the MBA magsafe connector. I'd like to buy a couple of extra adapters that would work with both the other half's MBA and my MBP so that we don't have to move them around all the time.
Spanky, no. but it looks like this magsafe extension would accomplish what you want. Just connect your 85w brick to this cable to convert to MBA magsafe. I think this is what you mean?

http://mikegyver.com/Store/parts/

scroll down to magsafe extension:

I would suggest you email them to be sure it will work before ordering, given the high price.
 

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Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
4,850
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London, UK
Spanky, no. but it looks like this magsafe extension would accomplish what you want. Just connect your 85w brick to this cable to convert to MBA magsafe. I think this is what you mean?

http://mikegyver.com/Store/parts/

scroll down to magsafe extension:

I would suggest you email them to be sure it will work before ordering, given the high price.
I just stumbled across that myself too. Ouch!! $120 for what looks like a dodgy soldering job.

I just noticed on the Apple Store that the new 60W MacBook's charger also has a 90 degree angle so maybe Apple will release an 85W version at some point. If not then 60W could be all right. I can charge my MBP with 60W ok, it just takes a bit longer. 45W for a MBP would be pushing it though so this may be a happy medium.