Powering the Pandaboard using Batteries

As my project uses the Pandaboard as a controller for a robotic system it is necessary that it be fully battery-powered. The Kinect is supplied with power directly from the Roomba’s battery, which, with the iRobot Create, is easily accessible via an output in the cargo bay which can provide 12V battery power.

The Pandaboard however runs on a 5V supply and, as it’s not designed to be run on batteries, can take very high current peaks (e.g. when the CPU is under heavy load). The Roomba’s output does not supply the required current for this, and would likely not supply a stable enough supply either.

I therefore needed a separate battery for the Pandaboard, for which I bought a 10,000 mAh, 5V 3A  USB Battery Pack (designed for charging phones when away from a power source) for £26 from Amazon. As a standard USB port cannot supply the required current it was also necessary to buy a USB-A to mini USB-B Y-Cable (designed for supplying power to external hard drives) for £2 from Amazon. This allows the power to be drawn from both the ports the battery has, up to a maximum of 3A (according to the battery’s specification), well in excess of what the Pandaboard will need.

The Pandaboard with external battery supply, connected via a Y-Cable.

The Pandaboard with external battery supply, connected via a Y-Cable.

The resulting setup can be seen in the picture above. I have not tested the full life of the battery, but it has lasted 5 hours without going below 50%.
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