Supercapacitor Contest!

What can you do with a lot of supercapacitors? This is no idle question. I picked up a bag of 100 on eBay. These are sweet: Cooper PowerStor Series A carbon aerogel capactitors with ultra-low resistance. Specifications: 2.5 V, 1.5 F, with nominal equivalent series resistance of 60 milliohms at 1 kHz. I recently saw these at Digi-Key for $9.60 each. These aren’t the wimpy memory backup caps that aren’t rated for enough current to drive an LED. These are power caps, meant for high current charge and discharge.

Obviously, these are meant for great things. It only leaves one question: What great things should I do with them? To help answer that, I’m holding a contest: Come up with the best use for a pile of supercaps, and you’ll get ten of them to play with.

Here are the details:
Enter by posting a good idea for a supercapacitor project. Your suggestion doesn’t have to use all of the caps, or even most of them– something that uses only one might be a perfectly good suggestion. Enter as often as you like. You can post your entry as a comment here or E-mail your entry. You have until July 31, 2006, midnight PDT. (If you post anonymously, you might want to leave some contact information as well so that I can contact the winner.)

The winner will be judged by the EMSL staff. Points will be awarded for originality, cleverness and geek appeal. The prize for the best entry is a set of ten supercapacitors, sent by mail. You could possibly interpret the prize value to approach $100! If there are enough good entries, five caps each will be sent to the two runners up.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Rechargeable LED throwies!
  • Storage element for bike headlight generator.
  • Fast recharge radio control battery for electric model planes, to enable mid-air refueling!

The contest begins… Now!

[Update: Contest has ended. The winners were announced here]

51 thoughts on “Supercapacitor Contest!

    1. christian: no offense, but if you just want to make a curtain out of capacitors, I’ll find you some much more varied (colorful, sizes, ratings, etc) ones to use. Supercaps are "special" in that they are rated to hold an extremely large charge in a relatively compact space. If you tried to get the equivalent size in an electrolytic capacitor, it’d be approx the size of a toaster.

      I have always wanted to see if they could be used in a BEAM-style circuit: charge up during the day and discharge slowly during the night. Maybe this is a little roving thing that doesn’t depend on sunlight at night. Definitely sign me up for the 10, and thanks in advance.

      1. Sorry, just getting the hang of your site – the previous BEAM comment/posting was mine. Thought I was logged in. :(

    2. make an EMP gun to destroy unwanted electronics. either old equipment, or that guy who plays his stereo too loud.

      or a door knob taser… yeah… that’d be funny.

      -not affliated with any soul collection agencys

      -maybe i outta set up an acct…. lots of cool things here… may the gods bless the Firefox Sumbler..

  1. Make Christmas tree ornaments out of supercapacitors. You might want to
    use them to power an LED or two on the inside of the ornament…

  2. 90 Super capacitors ( presumably you gave away 10 of them ) =
    135 F, pretty impressive, but I like the serial configuration better

    90*2.5 = 225V at 16.67mF = 421.875 Joules.

    So, were you to string them up in series, charge all of them, you’d have quite the "ESD tester". Hook it up to an LED and see what happens. Want to get back at that op-amp thats been giving you trouble? Tired of your peers who are sucking up your bandwidth (disconnect own computer first) ?

    Or you could just pop them into a wall outlet and have them explode spectacularly.

    Sorry, all my ideas have to do with death and destruction.
    Safety / Legality not guarenteed.

  3. I emailed you this but I just figured out how to reply, Wire them all up to the nessacary voltage and place them in your trunk of your car so that if your battery dies you have a quick restart so you can at least get going.

    Another one:
    Just wire them up for portabal appliances such as a xbox or computer

  4. Make a coil gun. I made one my senior year in high school using a bunch of capacitors from disposable cameras (we went around to the local stores and they would give us large boxes filled with spent disposable cameras). We ended up using some 300 capacitors (each was around 330 micro Farads) and a set of capacitors from an old defibrillator. We wrapped a bunch of wire around a PVC tube, placed a magnet inside, charged the bank, then fired it. Wow.

  5. Tiny, tandem-rotor helicopters that zoom straight up in the air! With bright LED for nighttime use.

    1. well just uhh…"presumeing you have played the rts command & conquor 95 trought c&c red alert…make a tesla coil….or just put them up on an old 6v battery and run small appliences off it with a wall socket =p it will juice it =-p

  6. Inductively-charged bubble-bath mood lights! (um, embedded in crystal clear epoxy or something ;)

    yeah, molded into shapes! Cute blue-LED clouds, amber suns, emerald leaves, a school of multicolored fishes / sea life (with Glowing Innards)

    1. Unless I missed it, I didn’t see anyone suggest just charging them up…then you just toss one to a "friend" to catch…great party.

      Of course, once everyone catches on, you’ll have to rig them up as dual-tip darts to get the same effect.

    1. These caps can’t be used to build a Tesla coil. Caps in a Tesla coil must charge to over 20kV, these caps are only rated for 2.5V Even if you connected all 100 together it wouldnt work. These also can’t be used to shock anyone or anything. Charged to 2.5 volts isnt enough to do any damage to anything.

      These caps are probable best used like a battery. Maybe in some sort of solar powered device.

      I’m sure someone can come up with some good ideas!

  7. Make several electronic grasshoppers. Attach some solar cells (from cheap calculators maybe) and buzzers, to make them recharge at day and chirp at night! Then seal them in epoxy to make them waterproof.

    1. That’s an interesting idea. We actually have been making some solar circuits
      that are sealed in epoxy (to make them waterproof); do you know of any
      waterproof buzzers that could work in a system like that? If we took
      regular speakers and dipped them in epoxy, they certainly wouldn’t work
      any more.

      Windell H. Oskay

      1. Unfortunately, no. Maybe you could try buzzers (or however they should be called) used in watches? They may work while sealed in epoxy…

  8. You can use a charged capaciter and connect it to a pager motor with a small fan attached. This will cause the lightweight aircraft to hover arround the room.


  9. Get two cheap & blunt Samurai swords, take apart. Build bank of these caps into handles, +ve to blade and -ve to cable out bottom (and vice-versa for blade 2), attach sword handles with power cable, so its a big open circuit until sword blades hit.

    Now you have electric swords. Fight in the dark for sparking action!

  10. Piezo plates. Whether the vibration is dampened is another matter. You could leave a hole/tube/chamber on the front side and maybe silicone seal. The plate hardly cares for moisture. Actually, they’re used in cold mist generators (ultrasonic humidifiers).

  11. actually they can be used to power a timer timer circuit to drive a voltage multiplier

  12. a quick charge mp3 player would be ausome. caps in bowth charger, and the player for power.

    would need to limit the current but 2 would make 5v wich would be perfect.

  13. make a storage unit to store solar energy by daylight. use that stored energy to run a low power led light in you home so you can save the energy of one or more lights overnight in your home and reduce your energy use. save $$$$$$

  14. Make a very fast rechargeable drill. Swap out the big heavy nicd batteries in a drill and use caps in series and parallel. Just a quick thought. It would be a lot more usable then leds, or a watered down BB gun. I can elaborate more if you want.

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