SparkFun 5V/1A LiPo Charger/Booster Hookup Guide

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Contributors: MTaylor
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Introduction

The SparkFun 5V/1A LiPo Charger/Booster is a no nonsense circuit for generating an amp from a lipo, at 5 volts. It’s low cost, has a simple booster circuit realizing the PAM2401 IC, and includes protection diodes so you can run multiple cells in series for extra kick. When a booster curcuit is in operation, it draws more current the lower the input voltage, so it’s possible to violate the C rating of the battery. This circuit doesn’t care, nor do I. If you’re looking to coddle your LiPos, try the excellent Battery Babysitter. But if you need charge delivered somewhere NOW, this is the product for you.

SparkFun LiPo Charger/Booster - 5V/1A

SparkFun LiPo Charger/Booster - 5V/1A

PRT-14411
$14.95

This guide shows how to use 1x charger/booster with 1x lipo to make a pack, and how to connect several packs together for greater current or voltage.

LiPo Charger/Booster

Required Materials

A Battery

You’ll need a battery for each charger/booster you have. While really any LiPo will work, smaller batteries are easy to overload and don’t supply much charge. It is recommended to use 1Ah batteries and larger, with the form factor most suited to our 1Ah cell.

Lithium Ion Battery - 2Ah

Lithium Ion Battery - 2Ah

PRT-13855
$12.95
3
Lithium Ion Battery - 1Ah

Lithium Ion Battery - 1Ah

PRT-13813
$9.95
6
Lithium Ion Battery - 850mAh

Lithium Ion Battery - 850mAh

PRT-13854
$9.95
2
Lithium Ion Battery - 6Ah

Lithium Ion Battery - 6Ah

PRT-13856
$29.95
5

Recommended batteries for the 5V/1A charger booster.

A Load

Any development board that runs from a USB supply is a great thing to power with the charger/booster. It provides a stable 5 volts, and can feed power hungry boards. Take a look in the microcontrollers product category, anything with a 5V input may need mobile power.

Tip: Many development boards regulate 5V USB power down to 3.3V for logic supply. This 3.3V rail often has a pin that can be used, giving you 5V and 3.3V to work with.

A Charger

Any old micro-B charger should do the trick, the circuit will consume up to 500mA so a computer’s USB port is not recommended. You can even use the power pins to charge from a generic bench supply.

Here’s some sources that can be used to connect to the on board micro-B USB connector:

Wall Adapter Power Supply - 5.1V DC 2.5A (USB Micro-B)

Wall Adapter Power Supply - 5.1V DC 2.5A (USB Micro-B)

TOL-13831
$7.95
15
Wall Adapter Power Supply - 5V DC 2A (USB Micro-B)

Wall Adapter Power Supply - 5V DC 2A (USB Micro-B)

TOL-12890
$5.95
16

With the addition of a micro-B cable, the following USB supplies will work:

USB Wall Charger - 5V, 1A (Black)

USB Wall Charger - 5V, 1A (Black)

TOL-11456
$3.95
2

USB Wall Charger - 5V, 1A (White)

TOL-14042
Retired

Or if you’re in the market for a larger generic supply, try these:

Power Supply - 80W DC Switching Mode

Power Supply - 80W DC Switching Mode

TOL-09291
$259.95
1
Mean Well Switching Power Supply - 5VDC, 20A

Mean Well Switching Power Supply - 5VDC, 20A

TOL-14098
$25.95

Required Tools

You’ll have to attach your load somehow! Make sure you’ve got a few tools on hand.

Suggested Reading

If you aren’t familiar with the following concepts, we recommend checking out these tutorials before continuing.

How to Solder: Through-Hole Soldering

This tutorial covers everything you need to know about through-hole soldering.

Battery Technologies

The basics behind the batteries used in portable electronic devices: LiPo, NiMH, coin cells, and alkaline.

Working with Wire

How to strip, crimp, and work with wire.

Electric Power

An overview of electric power, the rate of energy transfer. We'll talk definition of power, watts, equations, and power ratings. 1.21 gigawatts of tutorial fun!

What is a Battery?

An overview of the inner workings of a battery and how it was invented.