Gear Junkie: Lithium Drill Battery Adaptor

So, I hang out with a bunch of gear junkies. This means every problem has some unique solution – sometimes with a little MacGyvering included. In this case, this is a solution just looking for problems to solve.. .and it’s quite effective.

While either cleaning his garage, or working on his truck, my friend Tom showed me an adaptor he had for his DeWalt drill batteries. This particular adaptor had to USB jacks on top, and seated atop one of the 12-20V lithium batteries that DeWalt battery power tools use. What was interesting was the fact that he said he went a week without needing to plug his phone in to charge, with just a couple batteries and this adaptor.

This seems like a good item to have tucked away for trips… so off to Ebay i went.

As it turned out, there are a LOT of knock-off options out there, much cheaper than the name brand version. After a little poking around, I also stumbled on a version with a 12V port – which is apparently used for DeWalt’s heated coat. Well, I don’t have (and don’t plan to buy) a heated coat… BUT… having a 12V battery at my disposal is something that comes in handy once in a while. Even as a backpack item for hamfests to test things to make sure they power on before buying them. This seemed like a neat thing to have…so I dropped $20 on one

The product I purchased also included a power cable with coaxial DC power connectors on both ends, so I could use this adaptor to power devices that normally use a “wall wart” power adaptor.

The first use I got for this little tool was for my antenna analyzer while checking out some antenna modifications on my car in the driveway. Because of its infrequent use, I don’t particularly care to leave batteries in my MFJ-259. They tend to corrode over time, and damage the unit. This is a great solution to that problem.

let’s face it – this is not a major engineering breakthrough – it’s a voltage regulator for the battery pack. That being said, it WILL drain your battery if you leave it connected, even with no load.

In August 2020, Iowa was hit by major storm – a “derecho” – and Linn County was completely without power for a couple days. This thing shined – I loaned it (And a couple batteries) to several different people, just to keep phones charged. The 12V port can even be used to power or charge other things, when needed. At this point, I was a complete believer, and recommended anyone with Dewalt Tools look into these. It is notable that I’ve seen these for Makita, DeWalt, Milwaukee, Hercules, and many others.

So the question from that is “why bother with this, when you can get power packs just as cheap?” – I have had those specific USB chargers, and they’re nice – but I have a habit of not charging them. My drill on the other hand, always has at least one or two well charged batteries. This means in a pinch, I’m much more likely to have a full battery (or even a half battery) on hand.

More recently, I’ve also found this battery to work in a pinch to power my miniwhip active VLF/LF/HF receive antenna – and likely with a bit less power supply noise than using a wall wart.

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