Next I wanted to try it while doing occasional recharges with the external batteries. The full iPod charging cycle is 3 hours, but you can get an 85% charge in the first hour, so I decided to do that. Also I didn't like the idea of running the battery down every time so I decided that once the battery got down to one bar I would start recharging. This isn't real scientific because the iPod battery meter isn't that accurate. However, while it is common for the iPod to show itself only about half charged after getting an ample charge, after 10 minutes or so the battery meter gives a much more realistic reading. While still playing music I would recharge for one hour.
The bottom line is I was able to get 27.7 hours of music. I think I could get substantially more time than that using higher capacity NiMH batteries (mine are 1500 milli-amp hour and pretty old). I also think that if I ran the iPod down to no bars I could get at least another hour from each of the 6 run cycles (5 charges cycles in between) and as much as 2 hours if I ran the battery all the way down. So that's 6-12 more hours. Of course maybe the one-hour recharges wouldn't be as effective if I started with a battery that was more depleted (either it would take more power to get the batteries up to 85% or you just wouldn't reach 85% in an hour). Still, 27.7 hours is more than 3 times as much life from the iPod without running it all the way down.
After charging the external batteries I got a reading of 10.9 volts without any load. I didn't run the test continuously, so I usually wound up running the iPod and then charging it at the end of the day and turning it off until the next day. With NiMH batteries I don't think the results would be that different from a continuous test, unlike if I were using alkaline batteries which recover charge when they have a chance to rest.
After each charge the battery indicator would read 4 bars, but would usually drop down to the 3 bars within an hour. It would run at 3 bars for a couple of hours and then at 2 bars for a couple of more hours. When I noticed it was down to one bar I would recharge it.
During the fifth charge the voltage had gone done to 8.7 volts under load and eventually started having problems and causing static in the music and the the charge indicator got erratic (moved very slowly). At that point I measured only 7.8 volts (meaning the minimum to charge a 3G iPod is at least 7.1 volts, though less will work for minis and 4G iPods). So the last charge was only about 30 minutes before I unplugged the charger. Still I got a few more hours of playing after I disconnected it.
Time shown below is the time between charges. Each charge was one hour (except the last one) so there was 4.5 hours of charging time during which I was playing music. Unfortunately I changed how I measured the voltage part way through the test. So I go from measuring before or after the charge to measuring while the charging is taking place. To be really accurate I think you'd have to measure the voltage under load at a certain point in the charge cycle, like say 15 minutes into it. At some point the trickle charge starts which causes less load on the battery.
|Charge||Runtime||Battery pack voltage|
|Initial||4.8 hours||10.9 volts fully charged without load|
|1st charge (1.0 hour)||4.3 hours||10.4 volts without load|
|2nd charge (1.0 hour)||3.9 hours||10.15 volts under load|
|3rd charge (1.0 hour)||4.6 hours||9.5 volts under load|
|4th charge (1.0 hour)||3.5 hours||9.2 volts under load|
|5th charge (0.5 hours)||2.1 hours||8.75-7.8 volts under load|
Anyway here are the results of the second test. The first voltage number is taken at the battery pack (not after the PowerPod) and the second is the lowest I saw during charging. This test took place over four days so the iPod was off (asleep, it never had to be rebooted) all night and while I was at work for part of the time and even when the iPod is asleep it using some power. The total was 27.7 hours (exactly what I got last time). I was surprised how similar the results were, though maybe I shouldn't have been since I was using the same set of batteries, same iPod, and same songs.
|Charge||Runtime||Battery pack voltage|
|Initial||4:48||11.1 volts without load|
|1st charge 1:03||4:34||10.35|
|2nd charge 0:55||3:10||9.78|
|3rd charge 1:00||3:35||9.63 - 9.50|
|4th charge 1:05||3:05||9.50 - 9.13|
|5th charge 0:35||3:50||9.22 - 7.68|