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Hey Milwaukee - how about a compact M12 charger / power source?!


Brewer

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Hi everyone, just got inspired to join up and comment as Milwaukee finally answered one of my oldest prayers - now to work on the other one ;0)

 

Punchline first: what would be AWESOME would be a USB power source that doubled as a compact 'travel' charger, just by plugging in a wall adaptor or cigarette lighter lead.

 

Now background: I'm on the tools by trade but I'm also a farmer, camper and volunteer emergency responder. I was watching the M12 system for a couple of years before I bought in, and I've now got a small fleet of M12 tools and batteries.

 

One thing I have wanted since the start was a decent M12 LED flashlight with an on-board charge level indicator. Bolting out of the door to deal with something is that much simpler if you can quickly confirm that your flashlight has a couple of hours in it and If not, grab an extra pack and swap it over in seconds, no disassembly required. I never understood how high-end flashlights were so popular with their fiddly battery swaps or limited runtime between placing the whole tool on charge. So finally my wish was answered with the new aluminium light.

 

Now when I'm suddenly called away I'll grab a couple of charged compact M12 batteries, the USB power source as backup for my phone (better than any proprietary 'power bank' system) and the new LED light - but the charger is seriously bulky. Not too much of a problem on a building site, but if you are getting on a plane (or into a fully-crewed truck) luggage needs to be tight and it's too tempting to leave it behind and hope that it won't be needed. A small plug pack and lead would be much more packable, even if it takes all night to charge a single battery it would keep me in business over a multi-day operation.

 

Are you listening Milwaukee product devs?! :P

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Quite the interesting couple of jobs you get yourself involved in, as well as a little different perspective than we're used to reading about. It's not every day we get to read about first responders point of view on cordless tools!
Welcome aboard!
I think I see what you're getting at, it would be great if you could use the USB power source as a charger then, it's only little bigger than the battery and would take up very little room, I like it

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

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11 hours ago, Bremon said:

Can't imagine a charger getting much smaller than the current M12-only. It's even smaller than the Dewalt chargers which are also quite small. Would definitely be nice though, might be a slow Dewalt style charge speed though. 

 

As a "plug into the wall and insert your batteries" type of charger, you're probably right. However, it would be entirely possible to come up with some hardware inside of the power source that would let it take in power from the USB port in addition to discharging power. This is how external batteries for phones work and they certainly don't have to have a large box attached to them. Done correctly, you could then charge your M12 batteries from any USB power source in your car or from a phone type charger, both of which are very compact and easy to find anywhere. 

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They could make one quite small but it would have limitations. They can make an AC/DC charger small but if you're plugging it into the wall you probably want a stable base to plug into, I imagine there's a lot of open air in that charger. The thing is it's a limited market, the majority of users are going to have a plug. What they COULD do is adapt their current power source to also accept 2.1A USB charging, then you have the square DC PSU we have for our phones or a computer to plug into to charge. It would make it a little bit bigger but not by much.

 

I might take one of my m18 chargers apart and take pics while describing the components and show how it can be made smaller but I don't know if I'll have time this weekend. Could be interesting for you guys.

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Ryobi have a small charger for their 18v system, it's probably even smaller than the Milwaukee 'power source' device. This is the form factor I'm talking about, no 'base' required:

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Charging *FROM* USB isn't something I had considered, but it is an interesting idea. It would mean incorporating a DC-DC converter (but then you'd probably need to do that anyway if you wanted to run it from 12v). No idea of the cost / size / heat implications of that...

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7 hours ago, Brewer said:

Ryobi have a small charger for their 18v system, it's probably even smaller than the Milwaukee 'power source' device. This is the form factor I'm talking about, no 'base' required:

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Charging *FROM* USB isn't something I had considered, but it is an interesting idea. It would mean incorporating a DC-DC converter (but then you'd probably need to do that anyway if you wanted to run it from 12v). No idea of the cost / size / heat implications of that...

 

Notice the Ryobi has an external power supply also, that's a space saver for sure. That external power supply is going to be simple but it will save the space of the transformer(which is the largest component) and rectification. That will work better than USB charging because USB charging would need voltage multiplier circuit and would be limited to 2.1A, that's before you get into the charging electronics. I guess that would be better in thinking about it, they use the USB power source but add a plug for an external PSU. I imagine they could get it done without making the power source much larger.

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A compact charger to go with more compact m12 Fuel tools would seriously be an awesome addition...it's been what, 4 years since the m12 Fuel's first gen? I'd say that's enough time to start providing some updates since the drill's the length of most current 18v drills...

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4 hours ago, aabee said:

A compact charger to go with more compact m12 Fuel tools would seriously be an awesome addition...it's been what, 4 years since the m12 Fuel's first gen? I'd say that's enough time to start providing some updates since the drill's the length of most current 18v drills...

No kidding.  It came up in another thread that the M18 fuel is 1/4" shorter than the M12 fuel

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12 hours ago, jeffmcmillan said:

No kidding.  It came up in another thread that the M18 fuel is 1/4" shorter than the M12 fuel

I honestly think Milwaukee sort of painted themselves into a corner with their focus on power while completely overlooking the benefits of compact sizes. It's all well and good to have the most powerful 12v platform, especially if you decide you only want to invest in one battery system...but with tools becoming more compact by the day, the size of the m12 drill makes it more irrelevant if you already own a more powerful *and* shorter drill. Now, if they come out with another drill in the platform that's more compact, they'll likely have to sacrifice some power, which will really look bad since second generations are almost always more powerful than the first.

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On September 5, 2016 at 5:52 AM, Brewer said:

Ryobi have a small charger for their 18v system, it's probably even smaller than the Milwaukee 'power source' device. This is the form factor I'm talking about, no 'base' required:

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Charging *FROM* USB isn't something I had considered, but it is an interesting idea. It would mean incorporating a DC-DC converter (but then you'd probably need to do that anyway if you wanted to run it from 12v). No idea of the cost / size / heat implications of that...

I've actually got one of these chargers. I can say from experience that it is really, really slow. It can take two days to charge up a 4.0 battery pack. Maybe Milwaukee doesn't want to put out a produce that takes that long to charge. 

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