My Dad showed me how to do this, when I was a boy. Take a
flash light bulb (PR-4 is good, the old screw in 112 is
better, more close to the proper voltage). Then, take about
six or seven inch long piece of #10 or #12 solid wire. Wrap
one end of the wire around the bulb. Curve the rest of the
wire, so it looks like a letter C, or G.
Touch one end of the battery to the lead spot, on the bulb.
Touch the other end of the wire to the other end of the
battery. If the bulb lights, the battery is OK. Works for
AAAA through D cells. Have to bend the wire a bit, for
After using this for a while, you can also roughly guess the
battery state. New, used, weak, dead. By how bright the
On Thu, 19 Mar 2009 08:39:35 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"
Note that this kind of tester was required back in those days because
old carbon zinc batteries required a load to be properly tested.
Their open circuit voltage was misleading. However, with alkaline
batteries, you can get a pretty good idea of their state by looking at
the open circuit voltage. Your method works with either situation,
though. (I didn't see the OP's original question, so this response
may have nothing to do with it. Your response just brought back
memories of letting the batteries rest a while so I could get a few
more minutes of listening out of my transistor radio while sleeping
out in the back yard on a summer night).
Yeah reminds one of those testers that looked like a pair of calipers
with a flashlight bulb mounted at the junction. The arms were kinda
curved; the storekeeper would touch each end of the 'calipers' to a
battery and tell you you needed to buy a new one.
Different voltage bulbs could be screwed in; but it was generally used
for testing single 1.5 volt cells.
If I recall a D cell (in the UK called a U2, long before the musical
group or the spy plane) cost in the late 1950s about sixpence. And one
needed two of them to power the mandatory little red light on back of
the bicycle to get through one winter to and from work!
Here's an even older test method I got from a regular army old time
communications sergeant back in 1940: if you need to check the
batteries in your EE8A field telephone, wet your finger and place it
on the bottom of the battery, then touch your tongue to the center
electrode. A good battery will give you an 'electrolytic' taste which
will quickly let you know which batteries to pitch and which can be
used. No tools needed, works every time, even with artillery shells
whoofing overhead. It's a bit much for cells over 6 V or so, not
recommended for 9V. I doubt if many of today's squeamish citizens will
have nerve enough to try it, but this is just for the record and
people with a git 'er done attitude.
If you stick a 98 volt B battery to your forehead,
there is a bit of a sting and your vision starts
flashing rapidly. ERK, there's nothing wrong with me.
ERK, there's nothing wrong with me. ERK, there's
So you remember those B batteris too, 'eh?
How about those 225 volt (?) dry cell batteries which were used in pairs
to make 550 volts for the early still camera strobe flashes circa 1950
You could get a nice jolt out of them.
I had a Graflex strobe 4 that used them. I was shooting
2 & 1/4 by 2 & 3/4 film at the time, but that was 35
years ago. Those batteries were fun because I could
freak people out by inserting test leads into the battery
and striking a fairly long arc. I've become lazy now
and have succumbed to cheap digital cameras.
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