April 27, 2009

REVIEW: Convert AA Batteries to C or D

'D' Size Adapter for Two 'AA' Batteries These days it seems every kids toy available (and plenty of big kid toys) takes batteries of one sort or another. Rechargeable AA's make a great alternative to disposable alkaline batteries, but what do you do about C and D size batteries?

There are NiMH batteries built to the C and D sizes (as well as 9 volt), however they tend to be expensive and require a specialized charger. You need to be careful as well with capacity, the rechargeable C and D sizes are often times the same capacity as a AA battery. Surprisingly, the Energizer system of falls into this unglamorous category.

Instead, I recommend using adapters that allow your AA batteries to fit in the battery compartment of your C or D powered device.
How is this possible?

All three battery sizes produce 1.5 volts in their disposable form (rechargeable batteries come rated at 1.2 volts). The 'AA' size is smaller in both length and diameter, so an adapter just has to fill in the extra space to fit the electrical terminals.

AA's in 'D' Size Adapter
These Soshine C-size and D-size battery adapters from dealextreme.com perform exactly that function, and for a good price.

The D size adapters allows the use of 2 AA batteries at a time. This doubles the available capacity allowing less frequent battery changes.
The negative terminal end is a hinged door with a snap tight latch.
The latch takes a good amount of effort to open. In fact, those with weak fingernails probably need to use a screwdriver to avoid winding up with a broken nail.
The hinge too seems to be quite strong. Sometimes with hinged plastic I fret continually that it will break, not so with these. Overall I've been very happy with the quality of these adapters.

I have been similarly happy with the C size adapters, although I have not used them nearly as much as the D's.
Instead of being hinged at the end like the D's, the C's are hinged along the length of the adapter. This hinge is of similar high quality as the D adapter. The latch is much easier to open, but still does a good job locking the case around the battery.
'C' Size Adapter for one 'AA' Battery
I heartily recommend either battery adapter as a great companion gadget for your rechargeable AA batteries. There are other brands out there and I've tried a few of them, but the combination of features, especially on the D size adapter is unmatched.

April 22, 2009

TIP: Save Some Cash, Save the Earth

Do you have stuff lying around you don't need anymore? Have you kept it around because it wasn't "worth" anything, yet it is too good to throw out? Then you are a perfect candidate to join Freecycle!

Freecycle is

. . . a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving
(& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and
keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Freecycle uses e-mail groups to notify members in their local area of items available from other members. Those that are interested reply to the poster. Generally, the first person to respond to the post is given first priority to pick up the item. Nothing is bartered or bought, every exchange is completely free with no strings attached.

My wife has been a 'Freecycler' for a couple years now and has not only picked up a number of items for the house and kids, but has also used it to give away a number of items we no longer needed. Among the acquisitions, a printer/copier/scanner that needed ink, a kids art easel, kids clothes and many other items. We have given away a vacuum cleaner, infant formula coupons, and dried flowers among others.

The exchange is generally made with the giver leaving the item on their doorstep for a specific range of time. The receipient is given the address in a private e-mail (and directions if necessary but most people look it up on mapquest or google maps). Unfortunately, there does seem to be a higher than desired no-show rate, so if you decide to get involved, please be considerate and pick up the items you request.

Each freecycle network has it's own flavor. Some are very active, such as those in Connecticut, others are less so. Either way, it is worth checking out

April 10, 2009

INFO: Harbor Freight On-Line Coupon Tracking

Harbor Freight has continual sale and coupon deals going on. Unfortunately, it is hard to know what a 'good' price is on an item. This database tracks the weekly online coupons. Using the search function, a desired product ID code can be checked verses the database to see what the best price is.

April 1, 2009

REPAIR: Kids Electric Toothbrush

They just don't make things like they used to, do they? My daughter received an electric toothbrush for her birthday. In a matter of days, the screw holding the battery cover on had ripped through the thin plastic, leaving the battery unable to maintain contact with the terminals.

I considered pouring an epoxy replacement and re-drilling the hole. But the time involved and low likelihood of success left me wanting an easier solution.

I again made use of plastic package material in the repair. I first cut a small piece of packaging material to fit the bottom of the brush. Drilling a small hole to allow the screw to engage the threads in the toothbrush creates a very simple washer. It is a crude, but effective fix.

The toothbrush doesn't stand flat anymore, and it doesn't look the best, but it works and that's all that matters.