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Description: Is there anything an Arduino can’t do? Well, for one, most of them can’t be powered directly from a 3.7V LiPo battery; much less charge and monitor that battery. The SparkFun LiPower Shield takes care of this by combining the functionality of two of our favorite battery power boards: the Power Cell and the Fuel Gauge.

The LiPower Shield allows you to connect a 3.7V single cell Lithium polymer battery which it will boost up to 5V and connect to the Arduino board’s 5V pin. The on-board MAX17043G+U IC is connected to the I2C lines (A4 and A5) so that your project can monitor it’s own power supply. The configurable alert interrupt pin on the MAX17043G+U IC is broken out to D2 which will activate when the LiPo gets to 32% or lower.

The charging circuit is configured to charge the LiPo at 100mA but by adding a resistor to the supplied through-holes you can boost this to 500mA. There is a mini-USB port on the shield which allows you to charge the battery from a USB power source or you can supply a separate regulated 5V source on the “charge” header.


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Customer Comments

  • Anyone else having trouble with the charging amperage calculation for the MCP73831T? The data sheet and the SparkFun schematic both say it’s calculated as: I = 1000V / R where: I = charging current in milliampere R = programming resistor in kOhms

    What is V? Without V the formula works: 100u = 1000 / 10kOhm

    According to the data sheet V appears to be Input voltage. Unfortunately, when including V in the formula, everything breaks: 100u =/= 1000 x 5v / 10kOhm

    Anyone know what I’m missing?

    • Yeah, lots of confusing units in that equation. ‘V’ is just the units of that 1000 value – voltage. And remember R is the program resistor’s value in kiloohms (kΩ), and the result of the equation is the charge current in miliamps (mA). So a 10kΩ resistor sets the charge current to 1000 / 10 or 100mA.

      If you add an external resistor to the board, it’ll be in parallel with the 10kΩ already on there. An example provided in the schematic shows that a 2.5kΩ added to the board will set the charge current to about 500mA: 1000 / (10k || 2.5k) = 1000 / 2k = 500mA.

      • Oh my God! Thank you for explaining it so nicely! I was going crazy trying to figure out what the V represented. =D

        I was trying to figure out how build something like this and SparkFun to the rescue. And, of course, it’s backordered. LOL!

  • One of the problems I’ve run into in the past was that the charge controller would “shut down” after several hours on USB power, and in a situation where the unit was plugged in for several weeks, the user would get a nasty surprise when she tried to use the unit on battery that the battery was dead.

    I think from my reading of 4.8 in the MCP73831 that this is NOT the case for this device, but I’d like someone (SF?) to verify this.

    I’m toying with the idea of having a LiPo battery to provide “battery backup” for an IoT type “gadget” that normally would be powered by a USB wall wart, so this becomes an issue.

  • Mini-USB? What kind of monster are you? Hasn’t the world moved almost 100% to micro-USB for charging?

    • They pretty much have, which is why everyone is using all of their micro-USB cables, but has all their Mini-USB cables laying around unused! Honestly I don’t think we thought about changing it on the revision and our Mini-USB connectors are a lot more secure.

      • I’m in the same boat! Don’t want to have a bunch of cables lying around. How hard is it to change the connector? - or - will the board take a charge current from the Arduino VIN

        • A MicroB USB connector is not going to have the same footprint, so you will probably have a tough time swapping the connector out. Looking at the schematic it does not look like you can charge the board from the Vin pin which is probably because the charger needs 5V and the Arduino board should have more than 5V on the Vin line. We are getting more and more microB products, but MiniB will still be around for a bit.

  • The above description says the “alert interrupt pin on the MAX17043G+U IC is broken out to D3” pin; however the schematic says it goes to the D2 pin.

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