NiCad Batteries Charger

NiCAD batteries have a capacity specification called milliamp-hours. This value called "C" is a measure of how much total current they can provide in one hour. Milliamp-hours is another way to express the energy contained in the battery. To recharge a NiCAD battery conservatively, it is common practice to pump a current of 0.1 C into the anode or positive terminal for about 12 hours. Therefore, if you had a D-size NiCAD with a capacity of 4000mAh, you would want to charge it at 400mA for about 12 hours. Another advantage of this charging technique is that it is gentle on batteries and doesn't cause them to lose capacity as quickly as the fast charge techniques.

The output current of this battery charger circuit is controlled by the summation of the bandgap reference diode and the base-emitter junction of the PNP transistor. The PNP transistor provides negative feedback to the gate of the MOSFET. As noted in the schematic, the batteries being charged can have a total of 12V which is equivalent to about 8 NiCAD's in series. The output current is determined by the value of R1 which is determined by:


The power dissipation of R1 will equal:


Be sure to provide pleanty of heatsink for Q1 and choose an appropriately sized resistor for R1. The following table summarizes some of the resistor current combinations that are possible:
Iout Resistor Value Resistor Power
100mA 33 ohms 1 watt
500mA 6.2 ohms 2 watt
1Amp 3.3 ohms 5 watt

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