DVD Player External Li-Ion Pack: A Pleasant Surprise!

A friend mentioned a sale at Overstock.com (likely gone by now) that offered an Initial RB-270 9 V, 5.4 Ah lithium-ion battery pack, with a built-in charger, for $16. The pack was intended to keep a DVD player alive for long enough to avoid back-seat mayhem on long trips (for those toting undisciplined brats, anyway), but I saw it as a plug-in replacement for the NiMH AA-cell packs I’ve been using with the HTs on our bikes.

The NiMH cells have been a major disappointment, as described there and there and there, with barely 1.5 Ah of capacity from nominal 2.4 Ah cells.

Much to my surprise, all three of the Li-Ion packs delivered pretty nearly their advertised ratings. I varied the discharge level, but they’re all quite close…

Initial External Li-Ion packs
Initial External Li-Ion packs

It looks like the packs include an internal regulator and over-discharge monitor, as the voltage is bar-flat right up to the point where it drops to zero. I’m mildly surprised at the regulator; I’d expect that they’d just deliver whatever the cells were producing, rather than waste any energy in the regulator.

Notice that the 200 mA rate produced a lower total capacity than the 1 A rate. I’m guessing that’s power lost in the regulator over the protracted run time; 4.9 Ah at 200 mA added up to nearly a day of testing, far over the “up to six hours play per charge” rating.

Let’s see: 5.4 Ah @ 6 hours makes the nominal load about 900 mA. So it delivered maybe 4.8 Ah at 1 A. Not what’s claimed, but much closer than those Tenergy NiMH cells.

Next steps:

  1. Butcher the nice coily-cord cables to add Powerpole connectors that will click right into the bike radios
  2. Take one apart to see what bypassing the regulator would entail