If sacrificing the portability of a small device is outweighed by the inconvenience of having to feed it a constant supply of replaceable batteries, a clever adapter has popped up on Kickstarter that converts a battery-powered device to USB power, and it’s as easy to use as popping in a fresh pair of AAs.
It’s much cheaper to ship a small device with a slot for a couple of replaceable batteries instead of including a built-in rechargeable one, but that just passes those costs onto the consumer to bear later—forcing them to either stockpile disposable batteries or opt for more expensive rechargeables. The ReVolt adapter provides a third alternative.
The adapter is the same size as a AAA battery, but it can use a set of plastic housings to increase its size so that it works just as well in portable devices that rely on larger AA, C, or D-sized batteries.
The ReVolt’s design means upgrading a device to use USB power is as easy as popping the adapter into its existing battery slots, winding the attached ribbon cable to the length you need it to be, and then replacing the battery door which should still close just fine given how thin the cable is. If a device has multiple battery slots, the rest are filled with “dummy” batteries that have simple wiring inside to complete the overall power circuit, but it seems like ReVolt maxes out at devices that use four batteries.
One potential drawback of the ReVolt’s design is that the cable coming out of the faux battery doesn’t itself end in a USB connector for directly connecting it to a wall wart or a portable charger. It instead terminates with an angle adapter (that can be attached to a device using an adhesive mount) that requires an additional USB cable (included) to connect to the actual power source. Proprietary charging cables are never ideal, but the design actually allows multiple ReVolt battery adapters to be daisy-chained so several devices can draw power from a single USB port.
The creators of the ReVolt have included other useful features like glowing LEDs on the adapter itself so you can easily tell when it’s drawing the power it needs, as well as a built-in chip that pulses power during “low current draw” so that a connected power bank doesn’t go into power-saving mode when using devices that barely sip power.
The cheapest way to pre-order the ReVolt is with a pledge of around $35 which gets you the USB power cable, a single AAA adapter battery, a single AAA dummy battery, and the extra housings to make them compatible with devices that use AAs. The pricing goes up from there for larger sets or six-volt versions of the ReVolt for devices that require more power. Delivery is expected as early as next month, but with an ongoing worldwide pandemic, shipping delays, and chip shortages, now is the time to be especially cautious about crowdfunded products. There’s no reason to believe the creators of the ReVolt won’t deliver, but it’s best to be ready and extra patient for unexpected manufacturing and shipping delays.