Toolcraft: Getting Recharged Up

http://images.video.msn.com/flash/soapbox1_1.swf
Video: Toolcraft #1: Getting Recharged Up
In the video, I keep mentioning "Eveready" but the actual brand I am using is "Energizer."  Sorry about that.  As far as I know, Eveready batteries are not rechargeable and there is no relationship to Energizer Holdings.  It took me this long to notice, and it is painful to fix the video, though it would be appropriate for me to do that at some point.  OK, I will fix it.  I don’t want to abuse anyone’s brand.  I’ll issue a patch.  Heh.

I finally switched over to using rechargeable batteries where my greatest use of disposable batteries has been in the past:
  

  • AA batteries in camera speed-lights and computer mice
  • AAA batteries (now) in computer mice

Other units already have custom batteries and special rechargers or recharge via USB 2.0 ports:
  

  • digital cameras
  • digital camcorders
  • cellular telephones
  • laptop computers (don’t forget those)
  • MP3 players
  • LED flashlight radios with hand-crank recharging

For AA and AAA rechargeable batteries, I have the following tips:
  

  • After purchasing sets of rechargeable batteries (usually in groups of four), label the batteries so that the sets are kept and used together.  Do not break up or combine sets after they have been used.  (via the Strobist, David Hobby).  I use a CD-marking pen, but a Sharpie permanent marker should also work.  My scheme goes A1 .. A4, B1 .. B4, …, E1 .. E4, .. Z1 .. Zm, AA1 .. AAn and so on.  (I don’t expect to get beyond Z but you never know.)
      
  • Check to see if the the packaging of new battery sets can be used as a convenient reclosable container for batteries that are ready for use, standing by outside of the charger and your speedlight or other application.  I notice that my Energizer battery packs come that way.  I didn’t notice soon enough so I don’t have enough containers for all of my batteries.  I’ll end up putting them in freezer bags when carried in luggage.
      
  • Use NiMH batteries whenever possible.  The latest ones do not fatigue, and they hold their charge longer well when not in use, and they cannot be over-charged.  [update 2008-01-03: According to an account on Wikipedia, it is possible to over-charge NiMH batteries.  So using chargers that shut off when the batteries are fully charged, and that are designed for NiMH batteries.  It is also important for more-recent rechargeable batteries that they not be fully discharged.  This is an area that I must obtain more accurate information about.]
       
  • Battery chargers usually come with sets of batteries and may be offered as special low-price deals.  The most compact and fastest recharging unit I have is a Power2000 XP-375, one that seems quite popular with photographers, along with the Power2000 1.25V 2700mAh NiMH AA batteries.
     
  • Also worth considering are the low-voltage Energizer chargers which convert either pair of slots between AA and AAA.  My latest unit takes a painfully long time to charge a full set of AA batteries (8 hours or longer), but is otherwise very handy around the office.  I probably wouldn’t take it on the road, so I have to remember to take a charged backup set of AAAs along if I intend to be using my presentation mouse.
      
  • When choosing chargers, notice where the plug connection is and consider how it will be used in available outlets, on power-strips, and folded in for transport.  The large Energizer unit is narrow enough at the top that it will fit on the lower corner of a 4-way outlet.  The compact Power2000 folding plug is offset into the top right corner of the rear, so it fits nicely in the lower-right corner of my most-convenient outlet plate, coincidentally the unused one that is reserved for other chargers and my vacuum cleaner too.

[update 2007-12-28-20:46Z I did issue a patch after taking down the original version.  That was tedious, but easier than reshooting the thing, which was done very spontaneously in the first place.  I also have some problems getting the video frame completely on the page and I had to fiddle with the table width to get it.]

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