Experiment 2: Let’s Abuse a Battery!

Chapter Experiment 2: Let’s Abuse a Battery!

Make Electronics Book Learning by Discovery
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Make Electronics Book Learning by Discovery

  • Experiencing Electricity9Experiment 2: Let’s Abuse a Battery!CleanupandRecyclingYour battery should not have been damaged or significantly discharged by this experiment. You’ll be able to use it again. Remember to switch off your meter before putting it away.Experiment 2: Let’s Abuse a Battery!To get a better feeling for electrical power, you’re going to do what most books tell you not to do. You’re going to short out a battery. A short circuit is a direct connection between the two sides of a power source. Short CircuitsShort circuits can be dangerous. Do not short out a power outlet in your home: there’ll be a loud bang, a bright flash, and the wire or tool that you use will be par-tially melted, while flying particles of melted metal can burn you or blind you. If you short out a car battery, the flow of current is so huge that the battery might even explode, drenching you in acid (Figure 1-30). Lithium batteries are also dangerous. Never short-circuit a lithium battery: it can catch fire and burn you (Figure 1-31). Use only an alkaline battery in this experiment, and only a single AA cell (Figure 1-32). You should also wear safety glasses in case you happen to have a defective battery.You will need:• 1.5-volt AA battery• Single-battery carrier• 3-amp fuse • Safety glasses (regular eyeglasses or sunglasses will do)ProcedureUse an alkaline battery. Do not use any kind of rechargeable battery.Put the battery into a battery holder that’s designed for a single battery and has two thin insulated wires emerging from it, as shown in Figure 1-32. Do not use any other kind of battery holder.Use an alligator clip to connect the bare ends of the wires, as shown in Figure 1-32. There will be no spark, because you are using only 1.5 volts. Wait one minute, and you’ll find that the wires are getting hot. Wait another minute, and the battery, too, will be hot.Figure 1-30. Anyone who has dropped an adjustable wrench across the bare termi-nals of a car battery will tell you that short circuits can be dramatic at a “mere” 12 volts, if the battery is big enough.Figure 1-31. The low internal resistance of lithium batteries (which are often used in laptop computers) allows high currents to flow, with unexpected results. Never fool around with lithium batteries!Figure 1-32. Shorting out an alkaline bat-tery can be safe if you follow the directions precisely. Even so, the battery is liable to become too hot to touch comfortably. Don’t try this with any type of recharge-able battery.