Battery Amnesia Reconditions Old PowerBook Batteries

This is rather unusual for us – two different Low End Mac staffers reviewing the same software. But what Battery Amnesia does can be so incredible that you might not believe just one of us. (Note that Lithium-ion batteries, which Apple has used since the PowerBook 3400c in 1997, are not susceptible to the memory effect, so Battery Amnesia cannot recondition them.)

PowerBook 165cJeremy Kezer’s Battery Amnesia ($10) is a utility no PowerBook 1xx owner should be without, especially if you got the PowerBook used with a questionable battery. I’ve recently come into possession of a PowerBook 180 and 165c for free, thanks to generous donations, and neither one had a stellar battery. The 180 got about 15 minutes of battery life, while the 165c got a little under a minute. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled.

Battery Amnesia just happened to be on the 180’s hard disk, so I fired it up to see what sort of a program it was. The splash screen told me all I needed to know – it’s for deep-discharging NiCad or NiMH batteries to eliminate the “memory effect” that so commonly plagues these older rechargeables.

Battery Amnesia display

After giving the 180’s battery about five full discharge cycles with Battery Amnesia, I took battery life from 15 minutes to nearly 80 minutes. When I started working on the battery I got with the 165c, I went from less than a minute to three minutes then to five minutes in the first three cycles. After bleeding off further voltage using a spare LED connected to the terminals, I swapped machines and again recharged both batteries. After that charging cycle, I was able to get about 20 minutes of life out of the battery that came with the 165c. I expect to be able to increase this to at least 30 minutes by cycling the battery one or two more times.

The program recommends running a discharge about once a month; I would say that those of you trying to resuscitate an old NiCad battery might want to run it several times until you don’t see a significant (less than ten percent) increase in battery life, and thereafter use it as often as weekly.

As soon as I find out if Jeremy is still publishing this little gem, he’s getting my $10, because this was certainly far better than buying two new batteries for these machines.

 – Chris Lawson

About a year-and-a-half ago, my wife bought an indigo iBook to replace her trusty old PowerBook 150, which began gathering dust and getting shuffled from place to place.

PowerBook 150Earlier this week, one of our writers said he was looking for an older PowerBook, so I mentioned the old PB 150 – complete with 24 MB RAM and a 120 MB hard drive. Then I dug it out of the closet to wipe personal files and see what shape the battery was in.

It was dead, which meant spending about 20 minutes trying to locate an AC adapter for the old machine. That done, I began to charge the ATI battery (originally rated at 5 hours if I recall correctly). My wife said it hadn’t been holding a long charge when she stopped using it.

We’ve been charging the battery and draining it with Battery Amnesia for a couple days now. The first drain, from an 85% charge, lasted 48 minutes. The next, 75. The next, 115. The next, 135. The best so far, 155 minutes.

We’re doing it yet again as I write this, but we’ve taken a completely drained battery that was holding less than one hour’s worth of charge and pushed it past the 2-1/2 hour mark. That’s easily worth a $10 shareware fee (I’ve been a registered user for years) – and a lot less expensive than buying a replacement battery if you can simply recondition the one you already have.

 – Dan Knight

…and for OS X Users

  • XBattery 1.0.1 for OS X from Jeremy Kezer’s site. Kezer says it works on any PowerBook, iBook, or MacBook running OS X 10.1 or later. It does not recondition batteries, but it provides a lot of data. $15 shareware.

Keywords: #batteryamnesia #reconditionbattery #nicadbattery #nimnbattery

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