© Brooke Clarke 2007
State Of Charge
Radio Shack 22-080 Household
TS-183 Mil Dry Battery Tester
PSM-13 belt carry Mil Radio
TS-4403 LiSO4 Mil Radio
TS-23 BA-1574/U Mercury
EVB ESR/Low Ohms Meter
HP 4328A Milliohm Meter
Battery Impedance Meter
There are a number of reasons why
you might want to test the capacity of a battery. For
household type batteries it's good to know if it's the battery
that has died or the device holding the battery. When
working with rechargeable batteries it's good to know the state of
charge, i.e. what's the capacity.
I've found a number of cases lately where the Radio Shack battery
tester shows in the middle of the green, yet the battery is not
powering the device.
State of Charge
These testers estimate the remaining
life of a battery. For Carbon Zinc and to a lesser extent
Alkaline this can be done by measuring the battery voltage while a
light load is applied. If the proper load is chosen for a
given battery capacity the loaded battery voltage works well as an
indicator of remaining life. The idea is to determine the
state of charge using as little of the batteries capacity as
HP 66311A Mobil Communications DC
This test instrument was specifically designed to measure the
power consumed by battery operated devices, like cell phones,
and to measure the associated battery and battery charger.
Radio Shack 22-080 Hand Held
Aug 2007 -
Added test jack table
TS-183 web page so that the Radio Shack load resistors could be
compared to the TS-183 load resistors. The Radio Shack
tester showed a 9 volt battery as good yet the battery would not
work in the Stamps.com postal scale. The TS-183B showed the
resistor as bad after abut 5 to 10 seconds. There's a 100%
difference in the load resistors for this voltage. Need to
check the others.
In addition to the test leads this battery tester also has metal
contacts for a 9 volt battery on the front panel, the negative
contact and be used on the bottom of AA, C, D battery and the red
lead to make testing easier. On the right side is a slot for
button cells and part of the front panel can be depressed to make
contact to them. For most common batteries I have used this
tester, but now am no longer as confident in it's abilities.
|1.5v 1 ma
N 50 ma
& C & D 150 ma
Since the above Radio Shack tester does not
work very well I've been on the lookout for an improved
tester. ZTS makes a number of handheld battery testers and
the Mini-MBT (Multiple Battery Tester) is what got. They
have a utility and a design patent.
Apparatus and method for testing remaining capacity of a battery,
Nov 23, 2004, ZTS, 702/63
; 320/125; 320/136; 702/64;
uses voltage at end of resistor load
Battery Tester - packaging for the 6823274.
When a battery is connected it's immediately under load and after
a few seconds the loaded voltage is read. The capacity is
based on the loaded voltage at the end of the test
time. The patent has data on the load resistance for 8
different battery types as well as capacity information in 20%
steps for 3 & 6 Volt versions of the CR123 photo battery and
for the 1.5 volt alkaline terminal.
The four battery types that the MBT will test are:
AAA, C, D, N
I checked the same battery that the Radio Shack tester showed in
the green and this tester either shows it as bad or on the second
try it failed to start the test, meaning it's dead.
Also checked some CR123 cells that have been here for years.
They test at different levels. I haven't made any controlled
discharge tests to see how accurate this tester is, but at a first
look I like it.
The Mini tester uses a
socketed 18 pin micro controller without a seperate MUX IC and
without an external crystal. The circuit board is soldered
to the positive and negative battery terminals and so can not
easily be removed. There's a 4 post 0.1" header for testing
the unit, but it's between the PCB and back cover so is not
accessible after the front cover is removed.
Instead of using a switch like on the Radio Shack tester, this one
uses 4 different positive battery terminals and a common negative
test lead. There's a groove around the tester to hold the
lead and a pocket for the short probe body on the left side not
shown in the photo. The On button is on the right side.
There are two lower priced ($30) models this one (Mini-MBT) and
the MINI-MBT9R. The difference is that on this one the lower
left terminal is for the CR123 Li-MnO2 primary battery and on the
other one it's for a Rechargeable 9 volt battery. I
specifically wanted to try the CR123 battery test since I use
these in some of my products (5BA
works the same way.
You pick the test jack to match the battery instead of using
switches. The load is permanently associated with the
jacks. For example on the TS-183 jacks 1, 2, 3, & 4 are
for single cell batteries and 1.40 V is the 80%
indicator. Jack 3 is for a "D" Zinc Carbon battery and
uses a 6 Ohm load. The ZTS tester is using a 9.1 Ohm for
alkaline cells with a 80% voltage of 1.41 V. ZTS could
eliminate the whole relay circuit and thus lower the cost of the
tester since one of the connections to the cell under test is by
the probe. That's to say whoever is testing the battery has
to hold the probe on the cell If there was a socket
holding the cell then the relay has some merit, but in this case
it's not likely someone will "forget" and keep holding the probe
on the cell for an extra hour or more.
There are some aspects that could be improved.
- Using a post for the battery positive terminal seems to be
upside down. Either use a socket for the positive
terminal or make the post for a negative terminal. It's
not as bad as balancing a pin on the point of another pin, but
not that far different.
- The display is at the top so when you are holding a battery
upside-down on one of the posts with one hand and holding the
probe with your other hand the display is somewhere behind
your hands. Better to place the display at the
bottom. If you turn the unit upside down then the
display reads backwards and the labels are all upside down,
and you need to be left handed, but it still a better way to
use the stock tester.
- The On button seems to get activated whenever the unit is
handled. Maybe put it on the top narrow face where you
don't normally hold the tester.
- The word Pulse" does not seem to have anything to do with
how it works. The load resistor is always connected to
the test terminal so the battery sees the load as soon as the
circuit is compleated. When powered up the tester scans
all the terminals and when it finds on with a voltage starts a
timer. At the end of the time (always 3 seconds?) it
reads the loaded battery voltage. So there's no pulse
involved. Then, after making the measurement the relay
opens the load resistor to keep from draining the
battery. Maybe this is what they mean by pulse?
These are nit picks. This is be far the best battery tester
They make more expensive testers
that can test a longer list of batteries.
Runs on 4 AA batteries.
|3.6 V Lithium-Ion
|1.5V Button Cell
|1.2 V NiMH
|1.5 V AA Lithium
|3V Lithium Button
|6 V 28 Series
|1.5 V Alkaline
|12 V Alkaline
|9 Volt Alkaline
Army dry battery tester. Works
by measuring loaded voltage.
The set can be carried on a belt and
tests radio batteries, Vietnam era. Uses high current load
to activate Magnesium batteries.
Method and apparatus for determining the
state-of-charge of batteries particularly Lithium batteries,
; 320/149; 320/150; 320/162; 340/636.15
Uses pulse loading and voltages
measured at various times in relation to the load pulse as well as
temperature correction. Capacity depends on manufacturer as
well as model.
Tests the BA-1574/U Mercury
battery used in the SDU-5/E
Survival Strobe Light and the flash rate of the strobe.
BT-2 - Tests BA-1568/U as used in the PRC-90 Survival Beacon
Radio and others, BA-1113/U used on the URC-64 Survival Radio,
the K308A battery used on the RT-10
Survival Radio, and the BA-1574/U used on the SDU-5/E
Emergency Survival Strobe
The idea is to drop a AA battery with the + end up on
a reasonable hard surface.
This may work for other Alkaline cells?
A good battery will make a thud sound, no bounces and may stand
A bad battery will sound metalic, bounce and fall over.
Test a AA battery, Easiest Way For Any Battery Fast, Easy!
The comment about testing with a volt meter is wrong. A
no load test does not mean anything.
For a meter test to mean something the battery needs to be
loaded. See the TS-183.
Even load testing does not work well on modern batteries.
The idea here is to drain the
battery using a known load until it's voltage is down to the end
voltage and record the delivered Amp hours, or better delivered
Watt hours. Note that when the battery starts the test it's
voltage is highere than at the end where the voltage is the pre
assigned ending voltage. So the early amp hours are at a
higher voltage than the ending amp hours. The early Watt
hours are higher than the ending Watt hours. So reporting
the run time using a load resistor or constant current source is
not as accurate as reporting the delivered Watt hours.
The results for a given battery will be different as a function of
A fixed resistor is the load. The load current decreases as
the battery voltage goes down.
Filament Flashlight Bulb
The resistance of the bulb changes in a non linear way with the
battery voltage. The bulb gets dimmer as the battery voltage
gets lower. How dim does the bulb need to get to say the
battery is dead? Kind of a fuzzy feely thing maybe not the
best capacity test method.
When a constant current load is used the delivered Watt hours are
directly proportional to run time. This is the most constant
Switching Mode Power Supplies, like used in most modern battery
powered devices consume what's pretty close to a constant power in
Watts. This means at higher battery voltages they draw
smaller currents than when fed lower battery voltages. This
is the oppsite of the resistor load.
Amrel EL1132 Electronic Load
This is an electronic load that can
be set to look like a constant resistance or constant voltage
load. By using a computer to control the load and read back
the battery voltage and current almost any test sequence can be
accomplished. There is a low voltage limitation of 2.5
This is a handy gadget that not
only measures voltage and current but also has an internal clock
so that it can count coulombs. This allows displaying Amp
Hours and Watt Hours. It's a natural to have power
pole connectors on the input and output. A battery might
be the input and a motor might be the output, or a battery
charger might be the input and a battery on the output.
For measuring voltages below maybe 4 volts an external power
supply is needed. There's a 3 male pin connector next to
the SOURCE wires where an external battery can be connected to
power the Watt's Up when testing below 4 Volts.
Up Coulomb counter
battery connected to allow working with voltages below
With test leads shorted there's a reading ov 0.05
Org : gnd, Red:+9 drawing 5 ma Brn: Reset when
cable at PowerWerx
Ni-Cad, Ni-MH or Li chemistry
charger discharger with LCD readout of parameters. Does
Intended for Ni-MH AA or AAA
cells. Only tests single cells, not packs. Four
independent channels and can do different things to each
Multipurpose Charger Discharger
Cycler for a number of chemistries with plenty of
adjustments. One battery at a time. Can do packs.
SM8124 (20R) Battery Impedance Meter
I let the smoke out of my ESR-Cap meter when trying to measure
the internal resistance of some 7.2 Volt RC batteries, so found
this unit from eBay seller hkwisefield
(eBay search for Internal
Battery Resistance Tester).
The top switch is Off-Ohms-Volts and the bottom switch is
100V/200mOhms-20V/2 Ohms- 2V/20 Ohms.
There are two wires to each test probe (i.e. Kelvin
connections) to cancel test lead resistance.
The test signal is about 1 kHz at more than 1 VAC.
By using an AC test signal the meter can use AC coupling for the
resistance measurement keeping DC out of the test circuitry.
The AC test signal also has the advantage of not being
influenced by voltages caused by thermal differences at metal
To replace the 9V battery peal the rubber case from the top
side just enough to get to the battery compartment.
PS this meter is also called "20R" and there is a very similar
meter called SM8124 that's for measuring UVA and UVB light.
For a practical application see testing RC Car 7.2 Volt battery
sticks for Maximum Current by
measuring battery resistance.
EVB ESR/Low Ohms
You can use one of the
hand held capacitance ESR meters
to measure the resistance of individual cells and of battery
packs. But first a couple of modifications need to be done.
(1) The two large protection diodes need to be removed from the
PCB. They are located near where the banana jacks are wired.
(2) A SPST normally open push button switch is added near the tip of
one of the test leads and in series with the lead. Across the
switch place a 470 ohm resistor. When the probes are first
connected to a live battery the 470 Ohm series resistor pre charges
the internal non polarized blocking caps without hitting them with a
really fast rise time pulse, thus tending to protect the internal
To make a measurement first do the
- push both probe tips onto a good conductor (like on a PCB) [do
not touch the sides of the probes together since you will not
get as good a connection, same for when actually testing, use
- press the SPST probe switch and while holding it press the
meter cal button.
Then to make a measurement:
- press both probe tips onto the contact points to be measured,
then, press the probe tip SPST button to make the measurement.
The meter I'm using from EVB
Portugal, is the same circuit designed by Bob Parker
and sold by Dick Smith
in Australia as a kit. I saw mention
of battery testing at Hints for techs
using Bob Parker's ESR meter(kit)..
. and an email from
Bob suggested the switch and resistor to reduce the likelihood of
damage to the meter.
I'll be using it to test the battery
for my 5590BA Battery Adapter.
I haven't tested the 4328A on a
battery but it's my recollection that it's rated for up to 150
The ESR-Cap meter can easily
measure internal resistance. See the example table of data
New for me Oct. 2007 are the "Ready
to Use" rechargeable batteries. Sanyo eneloop brand in AA
Ni-MH format. Capacity of 1.9 to 2.0 AH. Testing
capacity can be typically done in less than 24 hours, but shelf
life may take months or years. See the eneloop Ready To Use
web page for the test plan.
causes most rechargable batteries to loose charge just sitting.
This is the current a battery can
source when a load of 10 milli Ohms is applied for 200 milli
seconds. So far the only mechanical relay I've found that
can handle 40 Amps (needed for "D", "F" and No. 6 dry cell
a contact resistance will below 10 milli Ohms is the one
used in car starter motor circuits typically rated for 400
Amps. Solid state devices have way too much
resistance. A method of getting the required load is to
connect just under two feet of 14 AWG copper wire across the
terminals. The problem is only connecting it for 200
milliseconds and then disconnecting. If left connected
longer serious problems with the battery or load may occur.
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