©2019 Robotics for COMPLETE Beginners

01 Batteries

 

Electronics, Robotics, Mechatronics...

All titles we use to describe the same thing.

What is it all on the most basic, fundamental level ?

In this battery there exists potential.

 

That potential has been divided into two relatively equal halves.

Batteries come in many shapes and sizes but their layout is generally all similar and easy to interpret. 

Here is the schematic symbol for a battery. 

 

The one on the left is one battery the one on the right is a series of 3 batteries, think of a stack of batteries. 

The longer end is the positive side, imagine cutting it into two pieces so you can form a plus sign.

A smaller version of a battery is a capacitor which has several uses which we will cover later in in this series.

 

Batteries can contain paste, liquid, and even solid materials. There  may be batteries within batteries.

 

You may have seen this from a battery cut open containing a stack of small button cell batteries.

Disposable batteries are called primary batteries. Rechargeable batteries are called secondary batteries.

Within each battery is an anode and cathode, male and female.

 

The (male) anode discharges from the inside out and the (female) cathode discharges from the outside in.

 

Zero gender identity politics involved as there is no other possibility for current to flow without the 2.

 

Think of your window.

 

When you first open that window there is a whoosh of air due to the differing potentials. 

 

If we put a pinwheel in the middle we are able to use that flow of air to spin the wheel, we can put the flow to good use!

We tap into this electricity through the connection of the positive and negative terminals (see above). The negative terminal is connected to the positive anode and the positive terminal to the negative cathode.

 

This may seem very confusing, just remember: it takes 2 to tango.

 

Instead of thinking of them as opposites, think of them as complimentary to each other, much like your wall outlet and the plug you put into it.

We will just use the terms positive and negative throughout this series to keep things simple.

When these two potentials are allowed to seek each other, as they naturally do, their movement toward each other creates a violent spiral of current flowing through each other.

 

Imagine the flow from each end pushing off of the other, like a helix of a stack of men and a stack of women pulling themselves past each other by grabbing each others' shoulders and pushing with their feet on the shoulders to get to the next partner. It sounds weird because its amazing.

 

That’s all you need to remember. Don’t worry about electrons, etc. because that only confuses the topic and there are disagreements with what is really happening anyway.

When you bridge the connection between the two halves with a large enough tube (wire) they rush through each other so quickly that your battery can catch fire, explode or discharge all of its potential. Your battery is then considered to be "dead" or shorted out.

 

Rechargeable batteries have lower internal resistance and are therefore more dangerous.

 

When working with electronics and powering your project with something significant like a lithium ion battery, make sure to use a fuse to protect from accidents as the fuse melts with a voltage and current surge, severing the connection between the two positive and negative terminals.

For our beginning projects this won't be necessary.

Batteries and electricity are not politically correct, they are brutally honest.

The potential, the pressure, the power is what we call voltage and measure in volts, V.

The flow, like a river, we call current which is measured in amps, A.

We will cover calculations later in this series.

We take advantage of this voltage and current to perform work just like we did in the past with water wheels which were attached to water mills.

 

These water mills ground flour for baking, wood for paper making, crushing ore and other materials to create useful and essential products.

That is what all of this is about. Performing work, moving physical objects with the power of electricity.

With this abundantly available power, we can create tools, machines, flip switches, calculate complex equations, create algorithms, drill into the Earth, move tons, establish buildings, and explore the unknown.

We set the stage for this power with batteries. Most of which can now be recharged, and now billions of dollars are being invested in a new type of safer, more powerful, long lasting battery.

A solid state battery.

The basic concepts of electricity fuel the technology which will improve at the rate of our imagination and is at the heart of every electronic, every robot, and every machine.

Batteries can be connected in series which adds the total voltage but the current remains the same.

If connected in parallel, the amperage is added together but the voltage remains the same as if only one battery existed.

 

Pretty interesting huh?

To make things simple think of batteries in series as lacking enough hoses to let the water through so pressure builds up.

Batteries connected in parallel have twice as many hoses so the flow is increased but the pressure does not build up.

Electricity is the power source in Nature and can be contained and used according to our will.

It's what powers your sensory input, reactions in your muscle movement, and keeps your heart pumping and mind turning.

 

We can even measure the voltage and current in labs.

Incredible stuff!

You will need to power your projects with a usb programmer which can provide 5V of power to your microcontroller AVR chips.

 

You will also want to power your projects with a separate battery source when finalizing them and is necessary later on for powering things like servos successfully.

Pop Quiz

1. What is electricity?

2. What does a battery do?

3. What effects does a series of batteries have?

4. What effects does a a few batteries connected in parellel have?

5.  What is the schematic for a battery?

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Get my favorite books on programming AVR chips I use.

Equip yourself with the most dependable, no hassle, quality usb programmer I use daily.

Make sure you have a basic kit. Arduino is fine, it contains the removable AVR 328p chip we will use.

 

I started with something very similar.

Summary

You now know the fundamentals of a battery and the foundation of all electronics, robotics, and mechatronics which is electricity.

You now know how we can store that electricity and how we can use it to perform work.

With this knowledge you can make incredible things.

Know the battery, know your power, put it to work.

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