Monthly Archives: February 2012

C size batteries

When is the last time anyone was required to fit a device with C sized batteries?  I can’t think of one application. Seems like the folks that give us updated versions of electronics and software, rendering the current version obsolete, may have been working off an old model.  The C battery was a test case.

Try to get a child’s toy working without a fistful of AA.  Some of these things take upwards of six or more.  I would think that 6 AA would equal at least 2 C size. Or two 9 volt  (the square one with the ill fitting snap connectors).  When have you ever seen something take two 9 volt’s? They must not work in series.  In fact, the trusty old 9 volt has always had limited functionality, powering only smoke detectors and garage door openers.  In a past life, I may have had a transistor radio that accommodated a 9 volt battery.

It figures that the only battery that stacks neatly into a drawer is the one least used.
Admittedly, D and C sized batteries are bulky, heavy and cumbersome.  So why not phase them out completely?  If my digital camera can be outdated in two years (according to the curators of Electronics Expo), then why can’t we remit these dinosaurs of power storage to the electronic dump heap?

But, no.  They are still out there, hanging on the Walmart pegboard with all of the other batteries.  And that right there is what I call Vulcan Mind-meld Marketing.  You walk by the battery display and say to yourself – ‘Hmm, not sure if I have any C batteries left.  Maybe I should pick up a pack or two, just in case.’  You shell out the 8 or 10 bucks willingly and pat yourself on the back for thinking on your feet.  Then you get home and find that you have three unopened packages left over from 1997 and absolutely no use for any of them.  But you’ll hang on to them, just in case.  After all, you paid good money for them.  Problem is, that’s the same thing you said in 1997.  And that is exactly what Marketing wants you to say.  I even have an equation made up to explain this Jedi mind trick.

X = $$
(it all equates to dollars)

And where the hell are the A sized batteries?  Or B for that matter?  Skipped over to add to the confusion, along with E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L and M.

Which brings me to N.  The N size battery is like a AA cut in half.  It is for photo equipment and some telephone handsets.  Because, as we all know, new equipment requires a new means of power.

What, a standard battery to power the new strobe light?  Not on your life Mr. Engineer.  Design a new power source, different from the rest.  Most of all, make it non-compatible with the others and don’t even think of making it rechargeable.  Distribute it in limited numbers and make damn sure they cost more.  That’s why you engineers answer to Marketing.

When Olivia was a baby, she had a mailbox toy with a plastic bumble bee collared to it.  When you move the bumble bee it would go ‘Sproing! Sproing! Bzzzzz Bzzzz….’  It requires 4 AA’s just to make two sounds.  Wait until Bill Gates hears about this.  And just who was the brain-trust that thought to make an oversize bumble bee a plaything for toddlers?

Of course, like most things, as size gets smaller, the number/letter designation gets larger;  like wire gauge, shot size and drill bits.  Case in point; wrist watch and hearing aid batteries.  Maybe the designation is longer so that when you attach a label, you can find them easier.

Long, long ago, it behooved the smart Boy Scout to have a spare set of batteries.  They weighed about two pounds, but if someone asked if you had any extra batteries, one size fit all.  Try that today.

“Bird, got any extra batteries?”

“What do you need? D for the old flashlight, AA for the diskman, AAA for the remote control, N for the flash on your camera, 3956A-2 for your watch, 342!$%@5BC5 for your hearing aid, 9 volt for your garage door opener or the monster 9 volt dry cell with the springy things coming out of the top for a science project?”

…blank stare…
“C, for this old cassette recorder I found in the attic”


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