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Author Topic: How much battery power can I put into a USB plasma ball?  (Read 4919 times)
maduncle
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« on: November 04, 2010, 12:51:16 pm »

I bought a cheap USB powered plasma ball that has a battery compartment for 4xAAA batteries.

The plasma effect is 'pathetic' to say the least - I may in fact have a dud. It barely flickers on either USB or battery power.

Has anyone experimeted with powering one of these in a portable unit (backpack or gun build?)

And can I give it more volts for more flash?

I need one to run for a few hours as part of my MonoGoggleBracer costume build.
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akumabito
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2010, 08:20:32 pm »

Most battery-powered thingies can handle quite a bit of variation in voltage.. I had a cheapy electric airsoft gun that originally worked on 4 aaa cells, then I cut out some pieces from the grip and fitted a 9V battery - no problems.. then I gutted the fake laser pod and fitted another 9V battery - still worked fine! (similar to this proect: http://unconventional-airsoft.com/2003/11/16/upgrading-an-ebb-to-death/)

I very much doubt you'd break anything by hooking it up to a 9V battery.. go for it!
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Satanic Mechanic
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2010, 09:31:26 pm »

I think you might have a dud plasma ball, the gas leaked out.  Are the batteries new?  Before hooking up a 9 volt battery, take a look at the PCB and check to see if there is a voltage regulator.

To answer your question, the USB2 spec shows that 500mA is the max current.


SM
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maduncle
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2010, 10:23:29 am »

So I hooked up a 9 volt battery today and got a lot more out of the plasma ball, should be good for one evening's partying on New Years Eve.

Might try two batteries together just to see if it can map up a little more...

Thanks for the advice folks.
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heavyporker
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2011, 10:28:25 pm »

We need an update on this!!! Ragghhhrrr!!! More power! The Engines can handle it!


Maduncle, do you have a "before" picture of this thing on batteries/USB? How much did it improve after you upped the voltage? Do you have a picture of this "after"? How did it handle then? Did you have to destroy the 4xAAA battery compartment in order to hook up the 9v battery?
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maduncle
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2011, 10:47:15 pm »


I ended up running 2 x 9volt batteries combined to give it enough power for one evening's entertainment as part of my New Years Eve costume.

After that - the batteries were flat.

The 2 x 9volt set up certainly improved the appearance of the plasma ball for the period it was on.

And nothing blew up.

(Damn).
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heavyporker
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 12:30:47 am »

Hm. Interesting. So 4 AAA batteries at 1.5v is 6 volts, so going to a 9 volt made sense, I guess, but still, where did the confidence to use TWO 9v batteries come from? I know you joke about the blowing-up, but were you concerned when you first tried the double-9vs?
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maduncle
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 01:25:53 am »

Hm. Interesting. So 4 AAA batteries at 1.5v is 6 volts, so going to a 9 volt made sense, I guess, but still, where did the confidence to use TWO 9v batteries come from? I know you joke about the blowing-up, but were you concerned when you first tried the double-9vs?

I was wearing goggles.
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heavyporker
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2011, 05:50:59 am »

I was wearing goggles.


 Ah, the courage of the tinkerer! Carry on, then.
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Otto Von Pifka
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goggles? they're here somewhere.....


« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 07:54:51 am »

did you go in series or parallel? in series you would add the + terminal of one battery to the - of the other so the voltage would double to 18volts. parallel would add the + to + and - to - which would leave the voltage at 9volts but double the capacity and theoretically the running time.
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maduncle
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2011, 11:16:28 am »

Sorry forgot to specify - in parallel, the flying leads with the 9v connectors on them had their common red wires twisted together and their common black wires twisted together and then the twisted pairs connected to their respective flying wires coming off the circuit board to where the old batteries were housed.

I did try one 9v battery first and it was okay - when I added the second one in parallel it did get much stronger in both brightness and activity.

I might try series next time and see what 18v does to a plasma ball.

Or I might buy a variable voltage transformer for further experimentation...
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heavyporker
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2011, 04:21:07 am »

Hm. I see, I can understand why the difference would be very significant.

 Hmmmm.

 Mr. Maduncle, may I recommend that you acquire reinforced goggles before you venture upon this experiment?
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maduncle
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2011, 04:57:57 am »

Hm. I see, I can understand why the difference would be very significant.

 Hmmmm.

 Mr. Maduncle, may I recommend that you acquire reinforced goggles before you venture upon this experiment?

I was thinking of putting one of my 1/2" thick glass bell jars over the experiment as protection too.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2011, 11:34:13 am »

Or I might buy a variable voltage transformer for further experimentation...
I could give you a circuit for a variable voltage regulator if you want, it's really simple and much cheaper than some fancy shop-bought variable transformer! The only other thing you'd need is a DC power source that supplies about 2 volts more than you want the max output to be from the regulator.
P.S. a DC power supply is also easy to make; transformer -> diode bridge -> capacitor. [russian accent] DC is cake piece, ya. [/russian accent]
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maduncle
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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2011, 11:45:10 am »


Thanks JingleJoe - it is probably project number 47 on the list right now, but I will get around to stress testing plasma balls one of these days...
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elShoggotho
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2011, 11:29:52 pm »

E blocks are notoriously weak in pure mAh. For stuff that has to run longer, I prefer 6xAA compartments that hook to the E block connector.
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wrenchhead
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« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2011, 10:49:01 am »

Curious what the reaction would be if you ran it in Series rather than parallel... and if it didn't blow up, for added time and whatnot, you could even go so far as to run 4 of them, in both series and parallel (most of our larger trucks in the army run this way... Humvees run two 12v batteries in series, but pretty much everything else has four 12v batteries, running series/parallel).

-Jake
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maduncle
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2011, 12:27:27 pm »

Curious what the reaction would be if you ran it in Series rather than parallel... and if it didn't blow up, for added time and whatnot, you could even go so far as to run 4 of them, in both series and parallel (most of our larger trucks in the army run this way... Humvees run two 12v batteries in series, but pretty much everything else has four 12v batteries, running series/parallel).

-Jake

Well that could be fun.

What would four batteries wired in series and parallel look like in a circuit diagram?

I might try that.
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wrenchhead
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2011, 02:36:18 pm »

Curious what the reaction would be if you ran it in Series rather than parallel... and if it didn't blow up, for added time and whatnot, you could even go so far as to run 4 of them, in both series and parallel (most of our larger trucks in the army run this way... Humvees run two 12v batteries in series, but pretty much everything else has four 12v batteries, running series/parallel).

-Jake


Well that could be fun.

What would four batteries wired in series and parallel look like in a circuit diagram?

I might try that.


It would look something like the 4th picture on this page minus one pair of batteries...

Let me know how it turns out!

-Jake
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maduncle
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« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2011, 04:09:31 am »

Curious what the reaction would be if you ran it in Series rather than parallel... and if it didn't blow up, for added time and whatnot, you could even go so far as to run 4 of them, in both series and parallel (most of our larger trucks in the army run this way... Humvees run two 12v batteries in series, but pretty much everything else has four 12v batteries, running series/parallel).

-Jake


Well that could be fun.

What would four batteries wired in series and parallel look like in a circuit diagram?

I might try that.


It would look something like the 4th picture on this page minus one pair of batteries...

Let me know how it turns out!

-Jake


Thanks Jake - once I move house and get my new workshop set up in June I will see if I can blow it up!
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