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Just because you’re not the DIY type doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a good set of tool around. You never know when you’ll need to tighten a screw, assemble furniture, or take care of any other minor issues around your home. But you do know that these things crop up from time to time.

Instead of calling your in-laws to borrow a tool set for the umpteenth time, why not invest in some decent tools for those occasional projects? This is a great time to start building your collection. Amazon’s Deals of the Day feature a Black and Decker Drill Set for just $59.99. This drill/driver set comes with an impact drill and usually costs $100. We’ve never seen it drop so low in price, but this 40% discount will only be good for one day.

What you’ll love

This drill set, from a trusted brand, is absolutely perfect for the casual user. It’s powerful while being lightweight enough that you can use it comfortably. The drill has 11 different positions to tackle any project without stripping your screws, and the impact driver has an above average torque that is more than enough to handle most projects.

Plus, this set features the same interchangeable 20V batteries as many of Black and Decker’s other power tools. If you own (or plan to buy) other tools in this family, you’ll be able to swap out batteries between tools, making it easier to always have at least one charged and ready to go. This drill/driver set comes with the battery and a charger, as well as a double-ended driver bit and an impact driver.
our Product Black & Decker LB20 20V 2.0Ah Lithium Battery Only $29.99
 

In response to multiple viewer questions that we’ve recently received, specifically asking about long-term performance and power levels of cordless impact wrenches — we decided to run the 2+ year old Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2763 Brushless 1/2″ High-Torque Impact Wrench against a brand new version of the same model.

Looking at them side-by-side, the are identical except for dirt, grease, and a rubber protective boot (on the older version). Other than that, these are clones of each other — both being the tried & true 2763. This is “one of” the most powerful cordless impact wrenches on the market, and is designed to be a complete replacement for your pneumatic impact.

Here are the specs on the 2763 :

  • Brushless Motor
  • 1/2″ Drive
  • “Hogring” / Friction Ring Anvil
  • 18v
  • M18 FUEL
  • 2 Speed/Power Modes
  • LED Light
  • Variable Speed Trigger
  • 10″ High
  • 9″ Long
  • 3″ Wide
  • 7lbs 8.5oz (with 5.0XC Battery)
  • 7lbs 14oz (with Battery & Boot)

The battery is on a slide-rail system like all the other M18 tools. Pressing in on both red tabs on the front of the battery & pulling forward will release it. Then, just slide a charged pack in the same way — once you hear the “click”, it is locked in & ready to go. If you need to check the status of the battery, simply press in on the button on the front & a range of LEDs will light up showing you the current charge.

Just above the trigger is a LED light. This is activated any time you press in on the trigger & also features a time delay. By barely pressing in on the trigger, the anvil wont turn — but the LED lights up. This will allow you to easily align the socket in a low light situation (such as changing a tire on the side of the road) & doubles as a flashlight. Also, since it is directly above the trigger — it aims the light right where you need it.


Unlike corded impact wrenches which typically are one speed (full on or full off), the 2763 has a variable speed trigger. So, if you would like to apply max power — pull it in fully. Or, if you need to “feather” it as you would with a pneumatic impact, you can do that also. Once you release the trigger, the electric brake stops the anvil almost instantly.

The 2763 has two different speed/power modes, which will allow you to use it in many situations where a single-speed (or simply variable speed) impact would not be safe to use. As with any powerful tool, it is easy to “overdo it” & when you are dealing with automotive repairs — a 2-second accident can quickly turn into an expensive all-day repair. By having two modes (low torque/low rpm & high torque/high rpm), Milwaukee was able to let you quickly switch between them & pick the right one for what you are working on.

Zipping off lugnuts or suspension bolts? Mode # 2 has a max range of over 1,000 ft-lbs reverse & over 800 ft-lbs forward — removing tough nuts/bolts extremely quickly.

Running on lugnuts of small fasteners? Mode # 1 has a max range of 100 ft-lbs to prevent accidental damage (i.e. – stretched bolts, stripped threads, etc).

Aside from the operation, the real intent of this review is to prove what the torque specs are — specifically when looking at a new impact VS one that is over 2yrs old. During that timeframe, the used 2763 has been loaned out to mechanics, seen extensive use here in the shop, and went through a wide range of torque testing many times. We have easily ran 4.0ah & 5.0ah batteries completely down with it between 100-200 times. However, it has always felt strong and we have not noticed any power loss.

To test the torque, we are using two different Skidmore Wilhelm units. These are one of the only ways to “prove” torque accurately, consistently, and repeatedly. One Skidmore is set up with a LH thread nut/bolt for reverse torque testing. The other is set up with a RH thread nut/bolt for forward torque testing.

For our side-by-side torque test, we decided to run these in the Mode #2 “High Torque” setting. (Previously we did test the Mode #1, and at max that mode will produce roughly 100 ft-lbs of torque). For the purposes of proving or disproving actual power loss, the higher numbers will be easier to read.

Starting out we ran the reverse torque test. Each impact was given 3 runs @ 15 seconds. We alternated impacts & batteries between each run, and changed out the lubrication on the back of the nut, the threads, and the washer face with a fresh coat of R-0050 Test Bolt Lube to ensure accurate results. Also, we used a brand new impact socket (Sunex #264) for the testing. After the reverse torque test, we switched to the second Skidmore for the forward torque test.

The results of the torque tests were averaged over 3 runs on each impact :

(New / Unused) 2763

  • Mode # 2 (High Torque)
  • Reverse Working Torque = 1,019 ft-lbs
  • Forward Working Torque = 855 ft-lbs

(2yr Old Used) 2763

  • Mode # 2 (High Torque)
  • Reverse Working Torque = 1,019 ft-lbs
  • Forward Working Torque = 855 ft-lbs

Shockingly, the older version beat the new impact in both torque tests! Running them side-by-side, we did not “feel” a difference in power levels, but after adding up the numbers it is clear — the M18 FUEL has suffered no power loss over the last two years!

This is very important — especially considering that pneumatic impact wrenches tend to be the strongest when new & continually drop in power/performance over time as they get dirty internally and wear out (eventually needing to be rebuilt). The 2763, even with a large amount of heavy use, performs as-good or better than a brand new model!

Like any Milwaukee cordless power tool, the 2763 carries a 5yr warranty against manufacturer defects (and the battery/charger carries a 3yr warranty). If you have any issues with them during that time-frame, contact Milwaukee & they will fix them for you free of charge!

If you are considering a cordless impact wrench, absolutely look at the Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2763 — you will not be disappointed!

If you grow up around a small engineering business you are likely to gain something of an appreciation for power tools. You’ll see them of all ages, sizes, manufacturers, and technologies. When thinking of the power tools constantly on hand in the workshop of a blacksmith like my dad for instance, I’m instantly seeing a drill and an angle grinder. The drill that most comes to mind is a Makita mains powered hand drill, and given that I remember the day he bought it to replace his clapped-out Wolf in 1976, it has given phenomenal service over four decades and continues to do so.

41 years of hard use, and still going strong…

Of course, the Makita isn’t the only drill in his possession. A variety of others of different sizes and speeds have come and gone over the years, and there is always one at hand for any given task. The other one I’d like to single out is I think the most recent acquisition, a Bosch cordless model he bought several years ago. It’s similar in size and capabilities to the Makita save for its bulky battery pack, and it is a comparably decent quality tool.

So, we have two drills, both of similar size, and both of decent quality. One is from the mid 1970s, the other from the end of the last decade. One is a very useful tool able to drill holes all day, the other is little more than a paperweight. The vintage model from the days of flared trousers is a paperweight, you ask? No, the not-very-old Bosch, because its battery pack has lost its capacity. The inevitable degradation due to aged cell chemistry has left it unable to hold enough charge for more than maybe a minute’s use, and what was once a tool you’d be glad to own is now an ornament.

… Not so many years of light use, can’t say the same.

Naturally, this will not be unfamiliar to most Hackaday readers. We’ve all been offered a pile of dead cordless tools over the years, and as writers we’ve covered quite a few inventive hacks using them. They’re a useful source of motors and sometimes even speed controllers, even if you don’t want to use them as tools.

Comparing the Makita and the Bosch as exemplars of the two strands of power tool ownership, I have though to admit an unease over the rise of cordless tools, and a dislike of the marketing that surrounds them. In converting their customers to cordless tools, the manufacturers have found a way to get them to buy the same tool from them every five years or so when there is nothing wrong with their previous tool, simply because its battery pack has reached the end of its lifetime. Battery pack form factors change with each successive generation of tools, so the customer can not merely buy a new battery pack and move on. Great for the manufacturers, awful for the consumers.

Meanwhile of course, the marketing machine is in full swing pushing the convenience of cordless tools. Amazingly this often concentrates on those problematic batteries themselves, for example where this is being written the manufacturer of those lime-green power tools has a commercial promoting a range of tools that all have the same battery. The idea presumably being that after five years you won’t simply have to replace your drill due to a dead battery, you’ll have to replace all your tools!

“You might as well take that lot away with you Kevin, I’ll have to replace them all in a few years anyway!”.

Of course, a full-on rant against power tool built-in obsolescence is of little use though without some kind of solution. If we’re to identify a problem then we should also provide some way out of it, at least a way that works for we hardware hackers and makers if not for the wider public.

The most obvious way to avoid cordless tool obsolescence is to not buy a cordless tool in the first place. Think carefully, how often do you use a power tool away from a mains socket? Really how often, not just hypothetically. The chances are it won’t be that often, if at all, and buying an extension cord with your electric drill will be a lot cheaper than buying a replacement drill in five years time. And then there are the unexpected benefits, you forget just how lightweight a power tool is when it doesn’t have a battery pack strapped to its handle. Buy a tool with a cord, and like my dad with his Makita, you might still be using it in four decades from now.

REPAIR

But let’s say you have a cordless tool, and its battery is failing. Can you fix the battery? Of course you can. You are Hackaday readers, you’ll all be aware that inside almost all cordless tool batteries you’ll find a set of standard off-the-shelf cells wired together, C or D cells in the case of NiCd or NiMh packs, and maybe 18650 cells for LiIon. If you can defeat the efforts of your tool manufacturer to discourage battery pack dismantling, you can have them out on your bench, and replace them.

This is a rather nicely built tab welder we recently featured.

Of course, there is a snag to replacing cells in a pack. This isn’t like the spring-loaded battery compartment in your radio, each cell will have spot-welded metal strip conductors linking it to its neighbour, and you’ll have to come up with a way of replicating that. If you’re lucky you’ll find solderable batteries, otherwise you’ll have to consider a battery welder. But if you can overcome that hurdle, you should at least be able to replace your cells without breaking the bank.

You will be unlikely to find a tool with a NiCd battery for sale new these days, but there are still huge numbers of older ones with dead packs to be found often at next-to-no outlay. It’s not the safest of exploits, but it is possible to rejuvenate dead NiCd cells with the application of short bursts of high current. The theory goes that metal crystals grow in the cell and short it out, and the high current blows these metal crystals and brings the cell back to life. There are tales of this being performed with hefty bench power supplies, car batteries, and arc welders, though you may wish to research carefully before you give it a try.

Finally, who needs cells? If you have a suitably powerful low voltage supply, why not run your tool directly from it and forget about the battery pack? Of course, you lose the ability to run it as a cordless tool, but if it came to you at very little cost than that should present very little hardship. Try a modified PC power supply if it’s a 12 V tool, or a lead-acid pack if it isn’t.

So we’ve got past my rant about the iniquity of the built-in obsolescence of cordless power tools, and identified several ways that we as resourceful Hackaday readers can benefit from the cast-offs of others whose batteries have reached the end of their lives. It doesn’t change my personal view that I’d always still buy a tool with a cord by choice, but at least there are ways forward for those stuck with failing cordless tools. Do you share my feelings on this topic?

 

Procter & Gamble is splitting off its Duracell battery unit after owning it for 10 years.


Procter & Gamble is splitting off the Duracell battery business.

The company said it is acting to boost its share price and to reduce the number of shares outstanding. It hopes to give shares of a new stand-alone Duracell to its shareholders late next year, but said it will look at other options, including a possible sale of the company.

P&G (PG) bought Duracell as part of its $57 billion purchase of Gillette in 2005, the largest acquisition in the company’s history. But P&G, whose household products also include Tide laundry detergent and Pampers diapers, has said it is interested in trimming the number of brands it offers consumers.

In August, it said it would dump 90 of its smaller, less popular brands, leaving it with a portfolio of 70 to 80 brands. But those brands being dumped are all much smaller than Duracell.

Related: Breaking up is the latest Wall Street craze

Duracell is the market leader in battery sales ahead of Energizer (ENR).

The market for disposable batteries is seen as shrinking long term. Many devices that use batteries are designed to use less energy, such as LED flashlights. And other products that used to be major users of disposable batteries, such as transistor radios or portable tape players, have been replaced in the market by devices that user rechargable, longer-life batteries.

Duracell is a maker of rechargable batteries as well. But its sales depend mostly on disposable ones.

Other companies have been announcing spin-offs of various units in an effort to boost share value. Other such deals in the works include eBay’s (EBAY, Tech30) plans to spin off its PayPal electronic payments unit, and HP (HPQ, Tech30) splitting its PC and printer business from its unit that provides software and services to corporate customers.

 

Never dead again: Boost your smartphone battery life—whether it’s an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry—with these easy tips.

BY DAMON BERES When you throw out your disposable AAs because your remote stopped working, they actually still had about 80% of their power remaining.
A new $2.50 battery sleeve called the Batteriser, coming to Amazon this fall, promises to extend the life of your batteries up to eight times longer by drawing out their remaining power — which you were about to throw in the garbage. The tiny, 0.1 millimeter-thick stainless steel Batteriser sleeve features an incredibly small circuit board, built to tap into the battery’s remaining energy.
AA batteries start off with 1.5 volts of energy, but the voltage goes down as the batteries are used up. Once the batteries dip below 1.35 volts, they appear to be dead, even though they still have a lot of juice left.
It’s akin to a tube of toothpaste, according to Batteriser founder Bob Roohparvar, who is a computer science professor at California State University.
“If you just squeeze from the top, you’re only going to get so much out of the tube,” Roohparvar said.
For example, a typical AA battery will stop working after 240 minutes of use powering a remote control, 95 minutes powering portable speakers, or just 38 minutes powering an RC toy. Roohparvar claims that the Batteriser can get 1,185 minutes out of a remote (5 times more energy), 570 minutes out of portable speakers (6x) or 355 minutes out of an RC toy (9x).
Batteriser can continue to deliver a 1.5 volt charge from batteries that have actually discharged down to 0.6 volts.
Roohparvar says he hopes to shake up the $14 billion disposable battery market. There are 5.4 billion battery-operated devices in the wild, and 15 billion disposable batteries are bought every year around the world. A typical U.S. home has 28 battery-operated devices inside.
The Batteriser will come in AA, AAA, C and D-cell varieties and sell for less than $10 for a pack of four. At that price, Roohparvar, the technology “pays for itself” after just one purchase — a typical AA battery costs $2.50, and the Batteriser makes one battery last as long as eight.
He said it’s a cheaper solution than rechargeable batteries. And those rechargeable batteries are typically made of lithium, which isn’t compatible with many battery-powered products.
“The Batteriser is giving you lithium performance at alkaline price,” Roohparvar said.
After an Indiegogo campaign in July for early-adopters, Roohparvar says the Batteriser will begin selling on Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) in the fall. He also said that he has been talking to executives at Wal-Mart (WMT) about selling the battery sleeves in the future.
Though Roohparvar says that his patents would prevent the battery manufacturers from simply adding the Batteriser technology into their batteries, he said he would be open to licensing the technology down the road. He also said that Batteriser could one day partner with a Duracell or an Energizer and sell the batteries and Batterisers as a single package.

Ever get frustrated because your cell phone battery seems to drain super quick? Researchers are coming up with a solution for that.
BY SAM BENSON SMITH  Smartphones have afforded us frills. The pocket staple of basically every person in 2017 has more computing power than a spacecraft and more space than 88,888 floppy disks (if that isn’t enough space for you, try out this iPhone hack to clear up some more). However, smartphones do fall short in a department which the bulky Nokias of old still rule supreme: battery life.
Some may say the solution to a top right red bar staring you down constantly may be further innovation in battery technology. But there is another way, and it involves throwing the battery out the window entirely.
A group of researchers from the University of Washington are using Soviet-era technology to make this sans-cell cell a reality. The cell phone uses radio waves which are transmitted from a separate base to power the unit instead of a standard battery.

The functionality of the phone is pretty limited; it can transmit audio and receive audio, but can’t do so simultaneously. It’s a technology which has practical applications when the phone is strictly being used as a phone—don’t expect to find Space Invader pre-loaded on this model. (But did you know that your current iPhone keyboard has a hidden mouse?!)
The hardware itself looks more like the innards of a computer than a standard smartphone, but the pared-down design allows it to function on the least-required energy possible.
For this phone, data overages are a thing of the past. Until this is made available to the public, however, this is your best bet if you’re trying to cut down on data costs.

France is joining a growing movement to force the extinction of vehicles that run on fossil fuels, saying on Thursday that it would aim to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040.
The target is less ambitious than ones set by countries like Norway and India. Still, coming from a major car-producing country, France’s declaration gave additional momentum to efforts to fight climate change and urban smog by promoting the use of electric cars.
The timing of the announcement was also significant, a day after the automaker Volvo said it would phase out the internal combustion engine, and during a visit to Europe by President Trump. The announcement by Nicolas Hulot, the French environment minister, was an expression of European leaders’ determination to pursue an environmental agenda despite Mr. Trump’s repudiation of the Paris agreement on climate change.
“It’s a very difficult objective,” Mr. Hulot said Thursday. “But the solutions are there.”
The plan to phase out gasoline and diesel cars is part of a broader effort by France to limit global warming, which Mr. Hulot outlined Thursday. The country will also stop issuing new oil and gas exploration permits this year, and stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022, he said.
Mr. Hulot’s statement was the latest sign that the century-long reign of the internal combustion engine may be slowly coming to an end.
On Wednesday, Volvo said that all of its new models beginning in 2019 would be either battery-powered cars or hybrids that combined electric motors with diesel or gasoline engines.
The company, based in Sweden, said it will not introduce any new designs powered solely by conventional internal combustion engines — a first for a major carmaker. Mr. Hulot referred to Volvo’s announcement during his remarks in Paris on Thursday.
There was no immediate reaction to the government’s statement from France’s two major carmakers, Renault and the PSA Group, which makes Peugeot and Citroën cars.
Renault began selling battery-powered cars in 2011, and was among the first major carmakers to do so.
While electric cars still only amount to a sliver of the market, sales have been growing fast. Renault sold 17,000 of its battery powered Zoe compact cars in the first six months of 2017, almost as many as in all of 2016.
France faced some criticism that its plan was not ambitious enough. Norway plans to sell only electric cars starting in 2025, and India plans to do so in 2030.
Since cars usually last about 15 years, France’s target means that gasoline and diesel cars would be on the road until 2055. That is too long to meet France’s own climate change goals, said Greg Archer, director of clean vehicles at Transport & Environment, an advocacy group in Brussels.
But Mr. Archer added that France’s move “is absolutely the right direction to be taking.”
Such an expression of government resolve can prompt companies to devote more resources to developing electric vehicles, and encourage investors to put money into clean transportation start-ups. France’s move could also put pressure on Germany and other European countries to promote electric vehicles.
Mr. Archer said, though, that it was essential for France to follow up with incentives and regulations that encouraged the use of electric cars. Mr. Hulot gave no specifics about how the government planned to meet its target.
The German government originally planned to put one million electric vehicles on the country’s roads by 2020, but has admitted it will fall far short of that goal. The government was slow to offer financial incentives and build public charging stations.
“It’s great to have a vision,” Mr. Archer said. “We have to now see the policies put in place to deliver on that vision.