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EXPERIMENTING WITH RECHARGEABLE BATTERY OPTIONS FOR SURVIVING A LONG TERM POWER OUTAGE WITH ATARI LYNX


Video 61

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DISPATCHES FROM THE LAB
Monday, March 4, 2024

 

:nintendo_professor_hector:  Hi and welcome to Lance’s Laboratory! This is the sixth entry of what will be my personal Blog, sharing small slices of life with you from around the Twin Cities and from within my Lab. For those who are new to Atari I/O let me introduce myself: My name is Lance Ringquist, I’m from Minnesota, and I am the world's oldest surviving Atari dealer. You may have heard of me before as Video 61 Atari Sales which I have consistently operated since 1983 and I have been at it now for over 40 years!

Have you ever wondered what you might do if there were to be a long term power outage? I would miss my video games. So I thought for this Blog post I would experiment a little with my Atari Lynx and rechargeable batteries, and see what we find.

 

Things to Think About:

  • Power outages in severe weather
  • Hurricanes
  • Snow storms
  • Black and brown outs
  • Heatwaves
  • Natural disasters
  • Taking your Atari Lynx on a camping trip or RV

 

First off, I know the Lynx is a battery hog. Those double "AA's" do not last long, and won’t be enough to get you through a long term power outage. What can be done? Let's step into my lab and explore some options:

  • Atari Lynx Battery Pack
  • "AA" Rechargeable Batteries in the Lynx
  • "D" Rechargeable Batteries + Atari Lynx Battery Pack
  • Using Solar Power to Recharge Batteries
  • Light Weight Batteries


 

The Official Atari Lynx Battery Pack, and Third Party Battery Packs

One survival option for a long term power outage is the official Atari Lynx Battery Pack. It comes with a shoulder strap and is large enough to hold six "D" sized batteries, and makes you look like the Terminator when it's strapped to your side. It will keep you electrified long enough to get you through a road trip, or a couple of nights without power, but when loaded with six big batteries it gets pretty heavy. Eventually though, that too will exhaust your batteries.

There was the NAKI Power Pak, a third-party rechargeable battery option that clipped onto the Lynx and added quite a bit of weight hanging off the back. There was also the Best Electronics battery pack - but the batteries for both of those products are long past their date, and no longer will hold a charge.

 

 

 

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"There might be other aftermarket battery packs out there, I just am unaware of them if there are. Pairing the Atari Lynx Battery Pack with rechargeable NIHM batteries is the way to go."

@Video 61 

 

 

 

TEST 1: "D" Size Rechargeable Batteries + Atari Lynx Battery Pack

Now let’s try playing out this scenario of a long term power outage and see how much life we can squeeze out of the Lynx. What would happen if the power outage lasted so long that it exceeded the life of the "D" size batteries? The Atari Lynx Battery Pack takes six “D” batteries and can power your Lynx for several hours, but even they eventually will run out. We can stock up on extra “D” cell batteries, but that gets expensive and heavy to bring with you, especially if you're evacuating a storm.

I decided to try something different, so I went out and bought rechargeable NIHM batteries. They may cost a bit more at first, but you can recharge them over and over again, giving your Lynx nearly unlimited power and saving money over time. I found that the NIHM batteries are much lighter, so the Battery Pack is not so heavy and burdensome. This is an excellent option that lets you pair original Atari hardware with the ability to recharge your power, and not keep burning through batteries and hard-earned bucks.

 

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I should also mention that the Atari Lynx Battery Pack was a good Jack Tramiel product. It’s heavy duty and well designed, with a metal knob and screw mechanism helping contain the weight of six "D" batteries and competently holding it all together. Pairing the Atari Lynx Battery Pack with rechargeable NIHM batteries is one good option to consider, especially in a long term power outage. It's nice knowing you have a portable power pack ready to go.

 

TEST 2: "AA" Size Rechargeable Batteries + Atari Lynx

Let’s experiment with another option: When I purchased the batteries, I also got "AA" rechargeable batteries to power the Lynx the “regular” way, with 6 "AA" size batteries in the Lynx itself.

So what kind of life can I get, and how will the "AA" batteries compare with the "D" batteries? I used by own Lynx to test this out, leaving it to run using my Blue Lightning demo dealer cartridge that is looped with the game playing in attract mode, and timing how long the different sizes of batteries and power options lasted before the Lynx ran out of juice.

The "AA" size rechargeable batteries went 3.5 hours. The "D" size batteries in the Atari Lynx Battery Pack went almost 8.5 hours. The Lynx only quit working once the batteries were exhausted. After both sizes of batteries were exhausted, I used my handy little battery tester ($6 at Menards) to see how worn down they were:

 

large.BatterySet.jpg.31543cf0706fd96f173

 

Here’s where it gets weird: Both sizes did exactly the same thing.

Of the six "D" size batteries, two were worn down almost exhausted. Another two were close to exhaustion, but still were usable. The last two were still almost fully charged. Yet that was not enough battery life to sustain play. It’s weird how the batteries were used up on the Lynx.

These same results were replicated exactly with the “AA” size batteries on the Atari Lynx.

 

 

 

large.profiles_circle_lance.gif

"The "AA" size rechargeable batteries went 3.5 hours. The "D" size batteries in the Atari Lynx Battery Pack went almost 8.5 hours. The Lynx only quit working once the batteries were exhausted."

@Video 61 

 

 

 

No Sun Visor Required

So if the lights go out, and you have exhausted your battery life, get this: a solar powered battery recharger. These may be helpful if you live in areas with hurricanes or extreme weather, where you could be without power for several days after the storm and would enjoy a break playing games on your Lynx. They can also be handy on road trips or if bringing your Lynx along camping trips where you're away from electricity for extended periods of time. The solar battery charger I'm using can charge "D" / "C" / "AA" / and "AAA" size batteries.

Using the solar battery charger, it took about four hours in the sunlight to recharge eight batteries: four "D" sized, and four "AA" size. One idea would be to have a solar battery charger recharging one set of batteries, while you continue to play video games on your Lynx with another set of rechargeables. This would be like doing laundry and knowing you still have clothes to wear while the rest of the laundry is in the wash. It's a good idea for rechargeable batteries too, especially if you're waiting on the sun to do your charging for you.

 

large.SolarBatteryCharger.jpg.4bd271e67f

 

Also, a solar battery charger could be very handy to keep in the house for use in inclement weather or a natural disaster. It's not just the hurricane or the snowstorm, it's the week after when the sun comes out and there's still no power until the crews are able to restore it. Using the sun to charge batteries in a long term power outage has benefits beyond just keeping your video games playing.

For now, I'm going to keep experimenting. Later on, once all the batteries are recharged, I will test our different options again to see how good and deep the battery charge is using solar. Will the batteries last as long using the solar powered battery charger as they do with the regular battery charger, or will solar end up giving the batteries a weaker charge? Let’s see how these different power options perform in the long term, and I’ll report back here with my findings.

 

Thanks for reading,

- Lance  :nintendo_professor_hector:

 

Please visit me online for more at www.atarisales.com

Edited by Video 61

11 Comments


Recommended Comments

Few things...

Changing out the original LCD with one of the newer IPS kits apparently will extend the life of the batteries since the newer LCDs consume much less power than the original screens. Especially since the high voltage is disabled as part of those LCD upgrades.

There is a charging kit you can get to install into the Lynx II console that is specifically designed for using NiMH batteries in the lynx. Essentially the system always runs off batteries in this modification and the standard AC port now becomes the charge port. I've not done or offered this as a service due to the fact that the modification kills being able to use AC power by itself on the Lynx afterwards. But, it is an option.

One interesting thing to test would be to try finding and installing a LiON pak into the external Lynx battery pack to replace the D cells. With enough watt hours on the cell you might get quite a bit of gameplay from such a setup when combined with an LCD upgrade.

 

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I guess it depends on your scenario.  My first thought was a small solar panel kit that charges up batteries.  The second thought was that the Lynx eats batteries.  So, would probably emulate the Lynx on something more versatile like the Dingoo 320 or PSP - both of which have TV out for projector use.

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This is all good advice. One thing to add: People who want to use batteries might want to take the batteries out of their Lynxes and Battery Packs. This is so that people can prevent energy from sapping out of the batteries. I don't know if this applies to NiMH or other rechargeable batteries, but it applies to alkaline batteries. At least, that's my experience. It also prevents battery leakage. I just thought I would add that in there. Thanks.

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Very good ideas Lance! The solar charger is a good idea. Weird about the uneven battery discharge though. 🤔

I don't vape, but I have some rechargeable vape batteries I planned on doing something with years ago, those could be used in a series with a circuit to run a Lynx I think. They are 5v each so they would work nicely I think with a custom barrel connector to slide into the Lynx. 

Charging, could also be done with a crank charger. One of those could be built with junk drawer stuff. Geared DC motor, voltage regulator, capacitors, etc.

During Hurricane Floyd in 2003 I think it was, I had my Sega Genesis Nomad and its battery pack. That lasted me well enough to play Sonic 3 for a while. 😄

 

Edited by Jinroh
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Cool ideas!  I have solar panels on my house and a 25 KW generator should there be power loss (like during hurricanes) that can run my entire house.  I never considered, however, getting rechargeable batteries or a solar charger for those batteries.  I'm going to look into that.  I saw some chargers on Amazon that run for about $100.  Those look nothing like what you have posted here, though. 

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On 3/11/2024 at 9:44 PM, TrekMD said:

So, this is the one I found on Amazon.  The price is high because it is not just the charger.  It comes with 8AA/8AAA/4C/4D/2 9V rechargeable batteries!  Here's the link to it:  Tenergy T9688 LCD AA/AAA/C/D/9V NiMH/NiCd Battery Charger + Premium 26-Cell NiMH Rechargeable Batteries

 

jktDvtX.jpg

hi Trekmd,

 

 

awesome price for sure. nice find!!!

 

lance

www.atarisales.com

 

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On 4/4/2024 at 2:46 PM, DegasElite said:

I wonder how good the old Naki battery packs for the Atari Lynx work. They have been around for decades and it would be interesting to see if one would still work. 

hi,

 

most likely dead.

 

lance

www.atarisales.com

 

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