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Powering my xbox with batteries

  1. Mar 9, 2012 #1
    I need to do a project for my electricity/magnetism class, and I thought about making several copper/zinc batteries to power my xbox360. Suppose I get huge strips of copper and zinc and put them in a fish tank full of salt water. How many volts do you think I could get out of this? Is there a practical way to get 120V by putting together several of these?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2012 #2


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    Welcome to PhysicsForums!

    First off, what level of class is this (middle school, high school, university)?

    A standard copper-zinc cell creates about 1.1 V:

    As you're probably learning, or about to learn, in order to get higher voltages, you'd need to put them in series:

    However, that 120 V coming out of your wall isn't DC, but rather, AC. Since the XBox (and most electronics) don't actually run off of AC, the usually have power adapters that provide DC output. In the case of the XBox or XBox 360, that's only 12V DC. However, it requires a great deal of current--over 10 A (it's left as an exercise to the reader to understand this paragraph!)

    Long story short, it's probably more instructive and significantly easier to pursue a different project. For instance, an old-school Baghdad battery:

    Bonus points for linking this into Archimedes! But please refrain from dancing naked in the streets... :wink:
  4. Mar 9, 2012 #3
    University, it's a fun extra credit thing. I failed to realize that it's AC coming out of the wall :/ I'll look into those baghdad batteries though.

    Thanks for the info!
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  5. Mar 9, 2012 #4
    I was looking at my 360 power adapter a couple nights ago since my friend laughed at how big it was. That thing was capable of almost 200W. I doubt you can find a battery that will last very long to run that.
  6. Mar 9, 2012 #5


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    I'm just curious; what attracted you to a university course that teaches electricity/magnetism?
  7. Mar 9, 2012 #6
    It's physics. general physics II
  8. Mar 9, 2012 #7


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    Magnetic attraction, maybe? :wink:
  9. Mar 9, 2012 #8


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    Now that others have put the kibosh on that idea, consider alternatives. Something that operates from those small flat watch batteries, maybe? Perhaps get a cheap calculator and make a couple of wet cells to equal the voltage you measure of the calculator cell. The current it needs will be tiny, so your homemade cells should be able to power it (for a while, at least).

    Can use a can of coke, where the can already furnishes one of the metals in contact with the acidic solution. (I thought the inside of drink cans was thinly painted with a plastic to minimize the drink dissolving metal, but apparently it is not a perfect coating, or something...)
  10. Mar 10, 2012 #9
    Yeah I guess I'll have to scale it down. It's not as impressive as if I would have powered up the 360 to play a couple seconds of halo, but something like that works too.
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