Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Power Toys

Ask Slashdot: What Interesting Things Can I Power With an External USB Battery? 133

New submitter expert464 writes: I just purchased an external USB battery for the main purpose of charging smartphones. I've also thought of using it to power a USB lamp and charge a bluetooth speaker. What other things am I missing that would be useful and/or interesting to power when not near an electrical outlet?
Have a question for Slashdot's readers? Take a look at other recent questions first to see if someone else has had a similar question. And if not, ask away! The more details and context you include, the more likely your question will be selected.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: What Interesting Things Can I Power With an External USB Battery?

Comments Filter:
  • Of course... (Score:2, Informative)

    recharge your vape

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by ganjadude ( 952775 )
      or get the MVP vape and your vape becomes the external charger - [].

      I love this thing
      • Just picked up a USB battery with a solar panel on one side...

        I will vape after the fall of society, just have to figure out which warehouse has the juice in it

  • by WorldWarPi ( 3969251 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:23PM (#49806271)
    Low-power amateur radio is always fun, especially backpacking where portable power is nice.
    • by Vrallis ( 33290 )

      That does remind me...I should try to find a USB power cable for my Yaesu FT-60R....

  • Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Informative)

    by wikes82 ( 940042 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:27PM (#49806293) Homepage
    I use mine to power my raspberry pi sometime
    • I use one to provide reliable power to one always-on Raspberry Pi2. Had to test a selection of chargers, and not all work for pass-thru (often undervolt).

      • I use this, for the pi: []

        get a 12v SLA battery (as you'd find in a computer UPS box) and that sits on one set of leads. your 14-18v filtered dc goes into thee main non-battery input, and you get one 'logic OR' output.

        now, its either the battery voltage (12) or the input module voltage (could be 18v). so, I then pass that ups module output into a dc/dc to bring it down to a clean and reliable 5v for the pi: []

        this ensures you always always get 5v

        • by redelm ( 54142 )

          Yes, this will work but is a bit big. Just using a lipstick USB (18650 sized) is a very small, neat box.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Pi uses a microusb connector for power, so now you can make your tiny computer a portable one.

  • Picture Frame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gunslnger ( 3865015 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:27PM (#49806297)
    I use mine to power a digital picture frame so I could actually hang it or place some place that having a cord to it would look bad.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:27PM (#49806299)

    ...there are USB powered vibrators.

    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      Surprised that there is only one post pointing this out. Non-crap manufacturers typically make them rechargeable, as opposed to filling landfills with used alkaline cells.

      What, why are you looking at me like that?


      (it says "submit" on the button. yes, oh yes.)

  • by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:29PM (#49806309)

    You could look into LED decoration. For example, BlinkyTape [] - a LED strip with an attached Arduino-compatible controller.

    It can be just decoration, or you can use it for light painting.

    Of course, you can build your own LED-based contraption.

  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:37PM (#49806347)

    A vagal nerve stimulator.

  • Quadcopter (Score:3, Informative)

    by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:45PM (#49806383)
    I bought one specifically for recharging my Estes ProtoX micro quadcopter. []
  • by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:50PM (#49806413)
    Well, with the magic of Google I've got:
    A one can fridge: []
    Something that looks like the Borg got you: []
    This I really like for the voltage detection: []
    And this is along the same lines: []
    • You wouldn't happen to know if that 4V max screwdriver is powered by an 18650 would you? if so I might consider buying one

    • KlearGear is a terrible, horrible, no-good bunch of a$$holes. They used to have a clause in their customer agreement "allowing" them to bill customers $3,500 if they left a bad review. They billed some customers that wrote a nastygram on ripoffreport. When the customers (understandably) ignored the bogus bill (the bogus clause didn't even exist when the customers made their purchase), it was sent to collections and dutifully reported on the customer's credit report.

      When the customers sued, KlearGear igno

      • Good to know. I'll have to get my USB fridge someplace else. Google can probably help with that but it's a bummer KlearGear shows so high in search results...
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I've been wanting a good single-item fridge for years, but good ones are very hard to come by. The USB ones are useless, far too underpowered to cool anything. The plug in ones tend to be much larger, not really suitable for a desk.

      • Given that it's almost certainly peltier-based, and you can draw 2.5W off of USB, I wouldn't expect it to work very well. Perhaps if it's well insulated, you could keep a cold beverage cool, but I wouldn't expect it to be able to cool off something that's already warm.

  • I dunno, maybe you could power things that need external batteries?

  • by Brianwa ( 692565 ) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {aw-nairb}> on Saturday May 30, 2015 @05:57PM (#49806457)
    The CX-10 nano quadcopter can be charged from one of those. The whole kit is small enough to fit in your pocket, which is pretty cool.
  • I've been looking into this myself since hurricane season is coming up. It's not easy to find this stuff, because a search that includes USB finds a lot of things.

    On Amazon, I have found flashlights, lanterns, weather radios, and FRS radios. Sometimes you have to read the detailed description of the item to find that it can be charged from usb..


    • Honestly, if you're thinking of solutions for hurricanes where you might be without power for longer than the portable batteries will last ... see if you can't find a hand-crank generator or something.

      This [] looks interesting, but other than the google search for "hand crank generator" I know nothing about it.

      A bunch of years ago my family spent a week without power after a major storm. A few weeks after that my father had a Honda generator wired directly into the house so they could keep the fridge running

      • by FrankN ( 856136 )

        After living for several days without power after hurricane Ike, I found that all I needed was water, a camp stove, some light, and anything edible that did not require more cooking than add (hot) water. Plenty of that in the grocery store if you don't like the backpacking type of freeze dried food.

        Only needed light when I needed to find something at night, so I used very little power after sunset. I treated it like a backpacking trip with much more comfortable spots to sit and sleep.

        I had a crank up rad

  • Handy if windy
  • it didn't kill homer. []

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @06:21PM (#49806563) Homepage

    Hey everyone, I just bought a bottle that I can attach to my bike so I can drink water while I'm riding my bike. What other drinkable liquids can I put in it?

    Also I just bought some AAA batteries for my TV remote. What else can I put them in?

  • An Ice Shaver. Snow Cones while camping for the win.
  • I'm using one to power an Arduino project. All the parts you need for a battery supply are there, charger, voltage converter, battery cell, connectors. You can't make one for the price of one you can buy.

  • A Raspberry Pi powered, sound-sensitive disco suit: [] Code: []
  • buy two (Score:5, Funny)

    by ozduo ( 2043408 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @07:10PM (#49806779)
    Then use one to charge the other!
  • Anything that takes power by USB, even a Raspberry Pi.

    From a more practical standpoint, handheld game consoles. I regularly power my 3DS XL from a USB battery pack (you can buy USB to 3DS cables), and I believe the Vita uses USB natively.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Saturday May 30, 2015 @07:48PM (#49806925) Homepage

    What other things am I missing that would be useful and/or interesting to power when not near an electrical outlet?

    Well, your phone, your tablet, your GPS, your portable speakers, your music player. You know, anything you own which can be charged via USB.

    I've got 2x5000 mAh, and 2x6000 mAh batteries I keep charged around the house and when I travel. They all have 1A and 2.1A outputs, as well as built in LED flashlights. Which means I can keep most of my stuff charged until I get where I'm going. Or I can charge them where I'm sitting instead of being chained to a wall charger. (And I've got a 4-port USB wall charger as well as a 3-port USB wall charger which will do 120/240V 50/60Hz.)

    They've handy and convenient, but do you actually need to ask "what things that charge from USB can I charge from USB"?

    If it charges from USB, and you own it ... ta da!

    Years ago I decided that except for very specific things (like my camera), I won't own anything which doesn't charge with standard USB. From there, a couple of cables, a couple of batteries, and a couple of wall chargers and you can keep stuff always charged.

    Once you toss proprietary cables, or anything which can't charge by USB ... you find it's a lot easier to pack what you need.

    My travel electronics bag is now capable of operating everything I need from any electrical source by reusing the same USB cables. It really cuts down on the crap and clutter.

  • I think the best use for this would be to power a USB Pet Rock [].

  • I had to do sound at an outdoor event with limited power so I brought my Earforce X11 headphones and they require USB power amplification to play anything at all at any volume level. So I brought my lithium polymer, solar powered, 4000+ mAH battery pack that weighs like 1 oz to power it the whole time. They're about $23 on ebay from Opteka by the way and they're one of the hottest items sold in my computer repair shop. They do take 16 hours to recharge using just sunlight though.
  • I have a rechargeable battery bank, a bank that uses 4xAA drycells, and a few 12v-powered usb sources. The drycell one stays in my globebox with some AAs, as it can be "recharged" on short notice with a trip to any store. The rechargeable one is in my center console, to be grabbed if I need to recharge my phone. That one also has a simple little bright white LED light on it and makes a nice impromptu flashlight. (IMHO every battery bank should have this feature, look for it if you are shopping around, it

    • I can get AA batteries for free in practically unlimited quantities. What's the best USB charging device based on them?
      • by v1 ( 525388 )

        there are a lot of them for sale, they're very cheap. [] is the first one I spotted. They usually run on four AA. That one even has a light in it, that's a feature mine doesn't. (but hey, mine was free)

        • It's $4, it's practically free. Just wondered if one had any special features. I get them in batches of eight, so I have lots to play with...
  • runs for over three hours

  • []

          You can do what used to be a simple project for an 8-year-old, take it to a "makerfaire" or some other such nonsense, and be hailed a modern genius among the nitwits thus gathered!

  • This is consumerism at its top: first buy, second look for an usage.

    • >This is consumerism at its top: first buy, second look for an usage.

      I think you misread the post. It's actually "buy for first purpose, look for secondary usage".

      What's wrong with that?

  • I use a battery eliminator [] with my GoPro Hero 3+ Black, together with an external (11500 mAh) battery pack []. The combo will power the GoPro for far longer than the (maximum supported) 64GB microSD card has video capacity []. Perfect for long cross-country flights that exceed the ~1.5-2 hours of internal battery capacity [] (the internal battery is 1150-1200 mAh, so the 11500 mAh external is good for about 18 hours of video recording; a 64GB microSD card can hold about 7 hours of video).

  • If your car won't start, you could use a bi-directional cigarette USB adapter to jump start your car.

  • I use the 12v output from my Anker Astro Pro2 portable charger to power a Terasic Cyclone V GX FPGA development kit while I'm on train journeys. I do occasionally get funny looks from the train conductor. I haven't tried this on an aeroplane yet.

    I bought the Anker Pro2 specifically because it has a 12v output in addition to the usual 5v USB port. Very handy.

    Anyway, these battery packs are perfect for powering Arduinos and other small development/hobby boards.

  • I'm a big fan (pun fully intended) of having air circulating, and since I live in Hurricane Central, which also experiences frequent power black-outs from thunderstorms (Florida Plunder & Loot isn't the most efficient or reliable power company on this rock). I use my USB battery pack, to operate my USB-powered fan. I'd rather sit in the dark and be cool, than sit in the dark and sweat.
  • Put a plug on one of the old and useless USB printer cables that we all have a million of, and use it to run your router and/or modem during a blackout.

    Tie it to a solar panel to use as an emergency energy source in a blackout: Charge the battery during the day, charge the phone from the battery at night.

    Power some crappy USB-operated speakers in when outside in the garden, as even crappy speakers are better than phone speakers and most of the inexpensive rechargable Bluetooth stuff is even worse.

    Use it as

interlard - vt., to intersperse; diversify -- Webster's New World Dictionary Of The American Language