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.
A word of warning - If you’re trying to connect the shield to an Arduino, make sure that the shield is not powered as you connect them. Connecting the device while powered seems to blow out the boost regulator on the board, causing an irreparable failure.
This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.
Skill Level: Rookie - The number of pins increases, and you will have to determine polarity of components and some of the components might be a bit trickier or close together. You might need solder wick or flux.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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The functionality and capability of this board is good, and a good buy. At first I had a problem with the board not outputing any power to the rest of the system. That was fixed by Bobby at Sparkfun. Now I have a problem with the battery I got, a 3.7V, 850 mAh LiPo unit. It will not accept a charge. I believe it is damaged, either from charging from the new battery shield, or from the old one. It sits at 3.28V and does not charge to any higher voltage. This is about a battery that was connected to this board. Sparkfun has been very helpful and responsive on issues to this point.