BA-5590/U Family

Brooke Clarke, N6GCE

5590BA Battery Adapter is on web page 5590BA
5590BA Version 2  more information
Paper design of a plug made from a custom machined shell-insert but using standard pins and a military size 12 shell clamp.  No epoxy needed.  Commercial pin extraction tool can be used to disassemble for reuse.  Not economically viable.  New approach based on a Printed Circuit Board Oct 2007.

Radios & Batteries
Extra Top Contacts
System Management Buss
Li-Ion Rechargeable
    BB-2590 Maintenance
    B-2590 Cell Capacity,
    Ultralife BB-2590 family,
    Bren-Tronics BTnnnnn family
Pinouts & Fuse
     Battery Table
What is a "12 Volt" Battery
How to Compare the capacity of different Batteries?
Battery Adapter
Battery Eliminator
Replacement Versions
    M-25 Fuel Cell
State of Charge
Battery Boxes
    SINCGARS man pack CY-8523
Lithium Chemistries used for batteries
BB-2590 Inside
BB-3590 Inside
Where Used
BA-5590 Style Conectors
Other Mil Rechargable batteries
Unknown 5590 size battery adapter


Primary (Non rechargeable)

The BA series batteries are primary (not rechargeable).  The BA-5590 is a Li-SO2 chemistry battery with possibly the longest shelf life for a primary battery (maybe 20+ years). 
The BB series  batteries are secondary (rechargeable).  There have been lead acid (BB-490), Ni-Cad (BB-590), Ni-MH ( BB-390) versions, but the current one is Li-Ion and based on 18650 (Wiki) cylindrical cells like used in laptop computers (a very high volume application) and because of that high volume also used in the Tesla-S (Wiki) electric automobile.

Note that reserve batteries, where the electrolyte is kept seperate have infinite shelf life.  They are used in sonobuoys, artillery shells, etc.

Two "12" Volt batteries each with 7.5 AH capacity.  LiSO2 chemistry. Although there were some developmental versions with a fuel gauge either the gauge did not work or the cost adder was too high.  The military is still purchasing the BA-5590 without the fuel gauge.  I wrote "12" Volts because that's how the battery is commonly called, but it has two strings of 5 LiSO2 cells and each cell is 3.0 Volts for an actual output of 15 Volts.

The Army buys about 350,000 BA-5590 per year at a cost of about $100 each (includes $30 each for disposal).  There is a strong motivation to find a replacement and fuel cells, micro turbines and whatever else will supply the energy with equal or better numbers for weight and dollars are being sought, but so far there has been no winner.

The SO2 is pressurized to about 3 atmospheres (45 PSI) to make it a liquid so that it can act as the electrolyte.  There is a pressure relief valve that will open around 350 PSI and stay open.  When the battery "vents" SO2 gas will escape and this is a hazardous situation.

Note that because of it's very long shelf life the BA-5590 would be great to have in storage as an emergency backup battery.

Power Source Comment
Spec Spec Sheet Nom Volts Terminals Nom Wt Ht
BA-5590B/U excellent
shelf life
Li-SO2 MIL-PRF-49471 MIL-PRF-49471/3 12 or 24
SC-C-179492 2.25 lbs, 1.03 kg 5.0 in 4.4 in 2.45 in 170
no common

15 or 30

3.85 lb, 1.75 kg

12V only
non standard outline
6135-01-613-1464 Zn-Air


for bat charging
non standard outline

12 or 24

6.2 lb, 2.7 kg
Once activated the BA-81xx zinc-air batteries have a relativity short run time and so are mainly being used to recharge the BB-2590.  Another reason for that is the BA-81xx batteries are NOT in the 5590 form factor and so need some type of adapter to power something.
In most cases this is done with an adapter that somehow looks similar to a BA-5590 battery, but could be done using a custom "Y" cable with a male plug for the ratio, a short cable to the BA-81xx battery and a short cable with a female connector just like the one on the radio.  That way the "Y" cable could be inserted between any existing cable and the radio.  If a regular two ended cable is installed between the radio and battery then any of the radio functions that require use of the radio connector would not be possible.

Battery Supplies Ran Dangerously Low in Iraq -

BA-5590 NSNs

DEADLINED Batteries (Venting Problems)
6665-99-760-9742, manufactured by BALLARD Contract DAAB07-90-C-C024
6665-99-760-9742, manufactured by CROMPTON ETERNACELL LTD  Contract DAAB07-91-C-4014
 6135-01-036-3495, manufactured by SAFT AMERICA Contract DAAB07-88-C-C045 & DAAB07-90-C-C020
6135-01-435-3097, manufactured by SAFT AMERICA Contract DAAB07-90-C-C020

Secondary (Rechargeable)

Radios vs. Battery Use

It looks like modern radios use the two halfs of the battery wired in series to provide 30 Volts.  This way when two batteries are used in parallel there are two benefits:
Each Battery
Batteries Combined
Current Amp
RT 1523E < 1.5 A
RF-3090 and PRC-117
PRC-104 HF
   Rx < 200 ma  (180 ma)
Tx < 3.5 Amp (2.9 A)
PRC-113 dual band VHF/UHF
MXF-707 series
Motorola URC and LST
HST-4 series

Extra Top Contacts

The BA-5590 and earlier batteries in this family only had the 6-pin socket.

BA-55990 or BB-xx90 series battery top contacts

Note pins 1 & 3 tied together and sticker "Enter Last Date Charged".
all BA-versions
early BB-390, BB-490, BB-590
BA-55990 or BB-xx90 series battery top contacts Thermistors for temperature (introduced with BB-390 Ni-MH)
works with the center (6) pin.
BB-390 shown in photo at left.

Measure 9k7 and 9k7 to center (6) pin.
BA-55990 or BB-xx90 series battery top contacts Charge Enable(SW) contact added from prior batteries, works with the center (6) pin.
The Vehicle Mounted Battery Charger measures 7.4k from the center pin to the enable contact.
The MRC-82A measures open circuit.

Temp contacts measure 411 and 411 Ohms to center (6) pin.

Note resistor shown between pin 6 and the SW top contact for charge enable), but
nothing needed to charge, just may need to increase voltage.  I can change one side
but not both in series with a 60 Volt power supply.   After a few minutes charging one
side I can not charge both in series.
33.6 VOC, 300 mA SC, voltage with battery connected climbing from 30.2.

At a 3 amp charge it will take about 5 hours for each of the 5 SOC bars.

The problem with charging both sides in series is that when one side is full it opens the circuit and the other side will not get any more change.
UBI-2590 (UBBL02)
BA-55990 or BB-xx90 series battery top contacts 5 additional State Of Charge pins.  SMBus (Wiki)

Temp contacts measure short and short to center (6) pin.
The 5 top contacts just to the left of the SOC are top to bottom:
Clock (pins 1 & 4 i.e. the A battery) (pin 1 data/clock gnd)
Data (Pins 1 & 4)
Charge Enable (same as SW)
Clock (pins 2 & 5 i.e. the B battery) (pin 2 data/clock gnd)
Data (pins 2 & 5)
Notice SOC showing full charge

The Ultralife UCH0057
Charger has a SBS ver 1.1 interface & a calibrate function

UBI-2590 (UBBL10/B)

System Management Buss (SMB)

Scroll up to "8" see the top of a Ultralife battery with the SMB contact pins, or scroll down to the BrenTronics BT-2590 table for photos of them.
The TI EV2300 should allow investigating the data on the SMB pins.  I've got one and some cables, but need to make some sort of test plug with pogo pins.  Maybe when I get a round-TUIT.
A key question is:  Can I just look at the data on the 1-4 set of pins and ignore the 2-5 pins?  That would eliminate the need for a voltage translation circuit since the "ground" for the 1-4 data pins is about 16.8 Volts different than for the 2-5 set of pins.

The Ultralife UCH0057 charger includes SMB functions.  But it does NOT have a USB interface that would allow a computer to see the real data, so for now the TI EV2300 seems to be the most powerful way to look at and change SMB data, but that requires a connector.  I asked for a quote on the connector but did not receive an answer.


The BB-2590 is made using 18650 cylindrical cells and as of 2016 is the most popular of the 5590 family of batteries.  Note the 18650 cell may be the highest volume production Li-Ion battery, first because of it's use in laptop computers and second, because of it's use in Tesla cars.  When you amortize the high cost of the BB-2590 over all the recharge cycles and compare to the as delivered cost of the primary BA-5590 the BB-2590 is a good deal.

The BB-3590 is functionally the same except it makes use of "pillow" type Li-Poly cells.  these offer higher Wattt-hours per pound, since the pillow material is lighter than metal and because there are no air gaps like with cylindrical cells.  See the inside of a BB-3590 below.

BB-2590 Maintenance

Li-Ion charging involves two main phases, first constant current bulk charging followed by constant voltage topping up.  A CC/CV lab DC power supply can easily do this.  Unlike lead acid batteries that can use a trickle charge to maintain their charge Li-Ion batteries need a different method of maintaining their charge.  But how that's done depends on the goal.  (A pre-charge phase can be added).  Note the value of the constant voltage needs to be precise and matched to the chemical soup of a particular manufacturer and model battery.

If the goal is to have a fully charged battery ready for use in the field then a charger that tops up the battery once a day would be good.  But that means that the battery voltage will always be at it's highest value.  The problem with that is the life of a Li-Ion battery is proportional to the Voltage * Time * Temperature.  This all relates to Coulomb Efficiency as described in the video.
Life = k * Voltage * Time * Temperature
So it would be good to keep the battery and charger in a cool place.

If the goal is to store a new battery while waiting for use then it should not be fully charged but rather at something like 30% of full charge, i.e. to lower the terminal voltage thus increasing life.  Refrigerated storage would be far superior to storage in a hot warehouse.

BB-2590 Cell Capacity

Typically use 4 cells per "12 Volt" battery where each cell is made up of three each 18650 cells in parallel.  Total of 24 each 18650 cells.
So Watt House divided by 24 = WH per cell.  Example: 207 WH / 24 = 8.625.
WH / 3.4V (discharged voltage) = Amp hours, Example 8.625 / 3.4 = 2.537 Ah or 2,537 mAh.
Example 2: 294 WH/2590 -> 12.25 WH/cell -> 3600 mAh /cell
As of Aug 2016 the highest realistic capacity cells are 3600 mAh.  But there are plenty of cells labeled as 5000 mAh, but the capacity is more like 1000 or less mAh.
See: BB-2590 Inside

Ultralife BB-2590 family:

See Extra Top Contacts above for some Ultralife batteries.

Amps/5 sec
Amps/5 sec
Test Results
one side


6140-01-554-2347 14.4
yes 6.66Ah, 100.2 Wh (1A load)
4.8Ah, 70.9Wh (2A, 14.4V)
6.6Ah, 96.6Wh (2A, 13.6V)
6140-01-640-8702 17.4

Note 1; Voltages are 12 and 24 rather than 15 and 30.

UBBL10/B (UK version of -10)

Ultralife Patents  

Bren-Tronics BTnnnnn family:

Model NSN
Amps/5 sec
Amps/5 sec
SMBUS Test Results
one side
6140-01-490-4316 15.0
225 ?
6.75Ah, 102 Wh (1A load)1
5.97Ah, 89.6Wh (2A load)
6.87 Ah, 104.4 Wh (1A load)
6.17 Ah,  92.86Wh (2A load)
BT-70791CG 6140-01-490-4316

Note 1: After discharging two Bren-Tronics batteries and putting them on the CH0004 2-bay charger they both showed as "90% Charged".
Pressing Discharge switched the 3 sides (one battery has a bad side) to "Discharge".
The ending voltages were 15.something Volts.  i.e. some recovery from the 14.4 Volts used to end discharge.

                    BT-70791BK1 Battery

                    BT-70791BK1 Battery
This battery manufactured July 2012 arrived Sep 2016,
ie. a little over 4 years old new in the box.
But there are no state of charge indicators on, it's totally dead.
This may be one of a small number of BB-2590 battery versions
require the Charge Enable Top contact in order to charge.

But when placed in the BTC-70870-1 or PP-8498 SPC both of which
make use of three of the top contacts (including the charge enable contact), but none of them would recognize the battery so no attempt was made to charge it.

The warranty info says two years, so out of warranty.

The shelf life on these seems to be very short compared to the BA-5590 which will probably sit on a shelf for 20 years while maintaining 80% of it's charge, but it's a primary battery.

Still, I'm disappointed in the shelf life of a new BB-2590 that's this short.

Bren-Tronics Patents
5625273 Battery safety device, Bren-Tronics Inc., Apr 29, 1997, 320/136, 320/DIG.13- protects from: excessive heat generation, voltage reversal and short circuit
6242893 Lithium-ion and lithium polymer battery recharging, Bren-Tronics, Inc., Jun 5, 2001, 320/135, 320/136 - resistor used to sense current not MOSFET (TI: BQ2058)
8961225 Flexible water-tight seal for a movable component, Bren-Tronics Inc., Feb 24, 2015,  439/587, 277/650, 285/349, 277/616, 285/351, 277/608, 277/603, 285/368, 277/609 - a stack of O-ring : Flat washer : O-ring seals between connector and battery box.

Pin Outs & Fuse

Primary Battery

Primary batteries use a plastic shell socket SC-C-179492
There are 3 socket wiring configurations:

Secondary Battery

Secondary batteries use a metal shell socket SC-C-179495.

Note that pin-3 is used only on secondary batteries as a charge return.  So, if a radio uses pin-1 as it's ground pin it does not matter if it's a primary or secondary battery.  But if a charger uses pin 3 instead of pin 1 as the charging return then the charger will not attempt to charge a primary battery.
But it seems this was some type of secret and later batteries no longer followed the convention, but that does not mean it can not came back.
There are 3 socket wiring configurations:

Battery Table

AH series
Watt hr

1- & 4+
2- & 5+
3 & 6 nc
 7.5 AH
@ 0.5 A
2.25 A SB
BB-390 NiMH 1,3- & 4+ 2- & 5+ 6 termistor4 cntr tap 3.6 AH 2
@ 0.72 A
none main
NiMH 1,3- & 4+ 2- & 5+ 6 termistor4 cntr tap 4.9 AH
@ 0.72 A
BB-490 SLA 1,3- & 4+ 2- & 5+ 6 nc 1.8 AH
@ 0.35 A
 none obsolete
1- & 3,4+
2- & 5+
6 nc
 2.2 AH
@ 0.5 A

1- & 4+
2- & 5+
33 & 6 nc
12 AH
@ 2A
2 A max

1- & 4+
2- & 5+
3 & 6 nc
11.3 AH
@ 2 A
2 A max

 1- & 4+ 2- & 5+
3 & 6 nc
6.2 AH
@ 0.4 A
? 24 cells
1,3- & 4+
2- & 5+

6 nc
0.45 AH
@ 0.5 A
~1/2 size
Note1  Some radios, like the PRC-104, pull more that 2.25 Amps, so a single BA-5590 will not work becasue of it's internal fuse, maybe that's why the battery box holds 2 each BA-5590 batteries..  Note that the BB-390 and BB-590 do not have a fuse to limit the current.
Note 2 When the BB-390 is used in the PRC-104, or other radios that pull a lot of current, the AH capacity will be much lower than the stated capacity at a lower current.
Note3 Pin 3 is jumpered to pin 1 when the battery is rechargable.  This way the radio knows NOT to try and charge a primary battery that would explode.
Note4 The BB-390 has two thermistors that are used to sense the temperature of the A and B sides.  Socket pin 6 (center) is that common connection for these and there are 2 other connections that are not part of the socket, but rather are on the top surface of the battery.  The BB-390 also has 2 gas gauges.  There are different version letters and each has more watt hour capacity.  The "B" version may also have an improved gas gauge.
Note5 The charging profile for a Li-Ion battery is very different from a Ni-Cad or Ni-MH battery and so a different charger is needed.  There may be an upgrade for the PP-8444 to handle Li-Ion batteries.  There also might be some special socket wiring to identify the Li-Ion chemistry to the charger would know which profile to use.  In the future I think (today is 27 Aug 2004) there will be a digital bus between the battery and load/charger as is now used for laptop Li-Ion batteries.
Note6  Video1, video2 showing BA-2590 catch fire when shot by an M 16 and all the cells catch fire due to overheating.  Would make a good incendiary device.  Also shows the 18650 cylindrical Li-Ion cell spouting fire when squeezed or punctured. 

WARNING - the fully charged voltage of the BB-2590 is 16.4 volts per side or 32.8 volts for a series connection.  A fresh BA-5590 is right on 15 volts per side or 30 volts for a series connection.  This higher voltage can cause problems for some equipment that was not designed to take it such as the Javlin system and the SINCGARS RT-1523A & RT-1523D (EGTN version). Li-Ion batteries have a very low internal resistance and so this voltage does not drop when a load is applied like would happen with alkaline cells and the equipment must be able to take the extra high input voltage.

What is a 12 Volt Battery?

Many radios are made to operate from the common automotive "12 Volt" electrical system.  Some voltages found are: So if a radio, or other electrical equipment, is going to work with the automotive electrical system it needs to be able to accomodate a voltage range of 10 to 15 volts.  For military vehicles that use "24 Volt" systems the range would be 20 to 30 Volts.

If a battery manufacturer was going to make a battery for a radio that was designed to work on a "12 Volt" automotive system they could make the terminal voltage very close to 12 Volts, but since the radio can work with 15 Volts a much better choice would be to make a 15 Volt battery.  This is the Case with the BA-5590.  They could have used 4 each 3 Volt LiSO2 cells for 12.0 Volts, but used 5 each 3 Volt cells for 15.0 Volts.  Some after market battery manufacturers don't seem to understand this and actually made a 12.0 Volt battery, I don't think it was used much.

Note that for radios where the battery voltage is used directly for audio or R.F. power amplifiers the power available is proportional to the square of the battery voltage.  So at 15 Volts the power is 2.25 more than at 10 Volts.

How to Compare the capacity of different Batteries?

Amp Hours
When comparing batteries with the same terminal voltage the "Ampere Hour" rating is a convient tool. Amp Hours (AH) makes it easy to convert from the radios current draw into operation time.  For example a battery rated at 7.5 AH with a terminal voltage of 30 Volts will power a radio that draws 1 Amp for 7.5 Hours.  If the battery is made up of a single series string of cells then the AH rating of the string is the same as the AH rating of one of the cells.
Capacity depends on load current
That example is not quite true.  Most batteries are rated at C/20 (lead acid) or C/10 (most rechargeable types).  So a lead acid battery rated for 7.5 AH will supply 375 ma for 20 hours.  Or a Ni-MH battery rated 7.5 AH will supply 750 ma for 10 hours.  Note that the capacity decreases if the current is increased so a Ni-MH battery rated 7.5 AH loaded at 1.5 amps may only run for 3 hours, not the 5 hours the AH rating might suggest.  This works the other way, if the load is less than the C/10 rate the capacity will be greater than the rated value.  This is why battery makers publish discharge curves.
Watt Hours
Now suppose that you want to compare batteries that have different terminal voltages.  For example you could use 10 AA cells in my 68BA battery adapter or 12 AA cells.  They are both in a series string so both have 1.3 AH capacity.  But since the voltages are different you can not say that the radio will have the same talk time.  One way to look at this is to use Watt Hours (W = Volts * Amps).
The 10 AA battery has a terminal voltage of 12.0 Volts (NMH cells) and the 12 AA battery has a terminal voltage of 14.4 Volts.  So the 10 cell battery has 15.6 WH and the 12 cell has 18.7 WH.  Since the radio will stop working when the battery voltage goes below some threshold you can see that the higher voltage battery will last longer, all other things being equal.
DC-DC Converters
A DC-DC converter (Switching Mode Power Supply) can be thought of as a transformer for DC.  The power delivered to the input must be slightly greater than the power delivered to the load (Efficiency is not 100%).  So if the output voltage is twice the input voltage the input current will be a little more than twice the load current.

When a battery feeds a load using a DC-DC converter the Watt Hour method can be applied to the battery that drives the converter and the efficiency applied to show the output.  For example a DC-DC converter might run from 16 each 1.5 Volt cells and supply 13.6 Volts.
If they were Alkaline "C" cells then they would contain 8.35 AH per cell so the Watt Hours = 1.5 Volts * 16 cells * 8.35 AH = about 200.4 WH.  If the efficiency of the DC-DC converter is 90% then the capacity in terms of the output would be about 180.2 WH.  This is more than the capacity of the BA-5590.

When a radio uses an internal DC-DC converter the load on the battery is different than a conventinal load.  In this case as the battery voltage goes down the current draw goes up, not  down like with a resistive load.  Since the life of a given battery in watt hours increases as the current drawn decreases, higher voltage batteries will last longer than lower voltage batteries with the same watt hour rating.

Battery Adapter

27 Aug 2004 - waiting for the sockets to arrive so they can be designed into the bracket that goes into the adapter.

    The Lithium Polymer batteries need to have a protection circuit to pervent over voltage during charge or under voltage during discharge.  This needs to be done for each cell for best results, rather than on the whole stack of cells.  Many of the ICs used for this prupose are designed to be linked with a microcontroller that has a number of functions, such as:
The Smart Battery System (SBS) - defines the digital bus used for these battery specific communications.  The following standards are more general.

The System Management Bus (SMB) - is a general Intel based bus for computer internal low speed communications, and is used for battery management.

The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) - ACPI establishes industry-standard interfaces for OS-directed configuration and power management on laptops, desktops, and servers.

The current SINCGARS radios have a coulomb counting gas gauge built into the radio designed to work with the BA-5590, but it will not be correct if any other battery is used.  Note that the BB-390 is now up to the BB-390B version that has more capacity than the plain BB-390, so a battery type menu option in the radio will not work.  But what might work is a Watt Hour capacity that's a user input.  That would handle both the variatin in battery capacity and would handle the case of a battery being removed and later reinstalled (if the battery was marked with it's remaining capacity).

What's needed is a way for primary batteries to tell the radio their capacity in a way that adds very little cost, i.e. it does not make economic sense to put gas gauges or SBS chips in primary batteries and then throw them away.  Although a reusable SBS type module might make sense for primary batteries.  Rechargeable batteries need to have the SBS interface for both the radio and the charger.  I've heard that in volume the cost of a gas guage may come down enugh that it would work on a BA-5590 type battery.

Example:  A BB-2590X s/n 1 is being used and is pulled from the radio and put on a charger.  BB-2590X s/n 2 is put on the radio and used for some time.  Now BB-2590X is put back into the radio.  When each battery is installed and thereafter the remaining talk time will be known.
July 2004 - The AA version of the adapter is passing load testing and a pair of them powers the PRC-104.  It appears possible to also use Lithium polymer cells for about twice the watt hours of the "AA" battery version.  Gel cells are another possible energy source.  The sheet metal shop is working on the box quote.

12 June 04 - It turns out that the "C" cell load testing on 11 Sep 2003 was misleading since the battery holder springs got very hot and melted the plastic holder.  Some measurements and calculations show that the steel springs used to hold the individual batteries have way too much resistance for high current use.  Working on lower resistance contact method.

11 Sep 2003 - Load testing of 4.5 AH "C" cells shows that with a 3 Amp current the terminal voltage drops from 10.5 Volt to 8.5 Volts for freshly charged batteries.  This means that a passive battery adapter holding 16 each "C" cells can only put out 17 Volts with a 3 Amp load (a PRC-104 transmitting is a 3 Amp load).  So a Switching Mode Power Supply (SMPS) is needed to boost the output up to 24 Volts.  Note the the output power is amps times volts, so a 30 Volt @ 3 amp supply is a 90 Watt source, but a 24 Volt @ 3 Amp source is a 72 Watt source. 

The 8 4.5 AH "C" cells ran for 5 hours with a load that was 200 ma for 9 minutes then 3 Amps for 1 minute, repeated until the battery voltage for the 8 cells dropped below 8.0 Volts.  The battery supplied 14.4 AH.  The discharge curve was flat, meaning that if the SMPS can use voltages slightly below 8.0 (maybe 0.9 Volts/cell * 8 cells = 7.2 V.) more energy can be taken from the "C" cells giving a longer run time.

This version of the battery adapter was being designed to use 16 "C" cells and supply 24 Volts at up to 3 amps.  8 cells have a total resistance of about 0.7 Ohms, but some of this may be due to a poor quality plastic battery holder used for the test.

Battery Eliminator

Batt Eliminator

This battery eliminator runs from the 115 VAC line and fits into the USM-481 suitcase packaged crypto cable test set.
Has on-off switch, fuse and pilot light.
The power cord comes out the large face and so it would not work in most radio type battery boxes.  It would work for radios that only use a single BA-5590, like maybe a SINCGARS.

The 5590BA Battery Adapter can be used as a connector to make your own battery eliminator.  Connection is easy since there are Power Pole connectors on the inside of the 5590BA.


Eagle-Picher - Energy Products Corp. - BA-5590/U -, click on: departments, scroll down to EPEnergy Products, applications then you will see: Lithium Sulfur Dioxide: Cells & Batteries,   Lithium Manganese Dioxide: Cells & Batteries, Lithium Ion Cells
Part Number
Cell Dimensions (mm)
Wt (gr) 
33.0 dia x 55.0

US Patent 4,610,370 - Pressure release vent

The LS-3355 "D" cell used in the BA-5590 is rated up to 4 Amps.
The BA-5590/U is also rated at 4.0 Amps.

McDowell Research Corporation - makes a number of rechargable versions of the BA-5590
Battery Lists -
MRC-390 - Nickel Metal-Hydride 12/24 V Rechargable battery (BB-390)
MRC-490(V1) -  Sealed Lead-Acid Rechargable 12/24 V Battery (BB-490)
MRC-590/U  Nickel Cadmium Rechargable 12/24 V Battery (BB-590)
MRC-690 -  Sealed Lead-Acid Rechargable 14/28 V Battery (BB-690)
MRC-2590 - Lithium Ion Rechargable14.4/28.4 V BATTERY
Power Conversion Inc. - 1995 contract -> Hawker Powersource, Inc. only lead acid batteries on their web site

Saft Batteries - (EAC Saft web page ) - Li-SO2 : LiSO2, G cell series - BA-5590 2 * 7.6 AH @ House of Batteries $104 each commercial, $133 military /U version -

Cell type   construction         Open            Nominal    Voltage    Rated    Maximum      Weight    Safety            NATO
                                           circuit            voltage    cut-off     capacity  dimensions                   features          stock
                                           voltage number
BA 5590/U  5 LO 26 SX-2  14.7 V          14.0 V      10.0 V       7.5 Ah  127x111.8x62   1020 g    2.25 A fuse  6135-01-036-3495
 (2 sets of                           29.5 V          28.0 V      20.0 V     15.0 Ah         mm
Ultralife Batteries, Inc. - (Battery Power Ad) - Special/Military - BB-X590 Li-Ion rechargable -
UBI-2590 (BB-2590) Li

Electrochem Battery Division (formerly Battery Engineering Inc. (BEI)) -

Golden Season - Singapore

Replacement Versions


BB-390 is the Ni-MH version;  Most likely 10 cells with an open circuit voltage of 13.6 when freshly charged per battery. It's rated for 4.8 AH so at 13.6 Volts per side you have 27.2 V * 4.8 AH = 130 Watt Hours.  The maximum voltage for two sides connected is series is 32.8 Volts.  The final voltage for discharge testing is 10 Volts per side.  Has a State Of Charge indicator built-in.  Also has temperature sensing thermistors so charger can see temp rise when Ni-MH cells get hot at end of charge.  Note the thermistors are not needed on the Ni-Cad BB-590 becasue that battery chemistry does not get hot like the Ni-MH chemistry.

I have heard that the BB-390 uses AA size cells with two strings of 10 each making up one battery (20 AA per battery) or 40 Ah total.

Discharge Rate Table
Note 1 - I stopped at 5 Amps even though the output voltage still had not decreased to 20.0 Volts where most radios cut off.  5 amps at 23 Volts is a 115 Watt load and I'm not comfortable pulling more power than that.  Next is a run time test using the PRC-104 cycle.  Run time was 12.4 hours not that much more than the 5590BA at 8 hours.


BB-490/U is a lead acid version.  Although these are available on the surplus market it's almost certain that one or more cells are dead.


BB-590 is the NiCad version  Rated at 2.2 AH.  Final voltage is 20 Volts for the two sides connected in series.  Uses 20 each CsD  size cells so the capacity is 27.2 Volts * 2.2 AH = 59.8 Watt Hours.

The actual Watt Hours for the BB-390 and BB-590 will exceed the specification at room temperature and when the number of charge - discharge cycles is low.  They should meet the specification under all specification conditions.

9 May 2004 - WARNING
I was charging a BB-590 according to the instructions on the cover (actually I was at 350 ma instead of 360 ma) and after less than an hour the battery exploded!  The cover (that has the instructions) blew off and landed about 10 feet from the battery!  My left ear was ringing for awhile.  The battery was not hot immediately after this.  There is an outward "dent" in the cover and there is a black area between two of the cells.  The fifth cell up from negative terminal 2 is shorted.  NSN 6140-01-063-3918, DAAB07-84-D-H309, mfr date 0885

It's my understanding from Saft that when a Ni-Cad is over charged it generates oxygen and hydrogen.  Normally these gasses are adsorbed by the negative plate, but in an old battery the gases might vent and then any spark would cause an explosion.

Radio Recon

BC-778(A) - battery adapter for BA-5590 that uses 16 each CR123 photo batteries for each 12 V section
Note: 16 * 3.0 V = 48 V, so some series parallel connection, not all in series.
Each side has two strings of 4 cells (12.0 Volts) connected in parallel.  This was a mistake, i.e. "12.0 V" (the dead voltage of a BA-5590)  they should have used 5 cells in each series string for 15.0 V, but then there may not have been enough volume?
Electric Fuel - developing a zinc-air version - see above

Pem Fuel Cell System Replacement for BA-5590 Battery - proposal

Micro Turbine Engines for Soldier Power -
MIT - Micro Engines -

Tectonica Australia - miniature diesel generator "Generette"

UltraCell - Menthonol to Hydrogen Fuel Cell 
LG chemicals -
'Biofuel Cell' -

BB-2590 Inside

There are a number of versions made by different companies.
The number of extra top contacts may be 3 or 8.

Some photos showing the inside of a Bren-tronics 24V  6,2 Amp Hour at 2A load BB-2590 battery. 
There is group of 10 TO-220 packages which are IRF 4905 HexFets attached to a couple of heat sinks.
The highest pin count chip (28 pins) is the Powersmart -  PS401 Accuron single chip battery manager.
Powersmart seems to be out of business, but Microchip offers the PS501 which seems to be very similar.
The battery management chip was made by Microchip (it has their logo) and the PS401 was their first generation battery management chip.  The PS501 is a similar chip aimed at Ni-xx chemistry battery packs.
Maybe Microchip quit making these chips because TI it very big in this business?
BB-2590 Opened
There are 24 each 18650 LiIon cells.  They are strapped into groups of 3 parallel cells and 4 of these groups are connected in series to form a "12 Volt" battery.  There are two each "12 Volt" batteries in each BB-2590.
BB-2590 Open PCB

On the other side F201 = 1.5 Ohms,
but F101 = 0.1 Ohms.  This might be a problem
depending on how much current F201 carries.

The 4 black ICs may be resettable fuses
with a trip point of 103 C.
Marked:  N2 TAM
250V 1A
TP 1030C
BB-2590 Battery seperated from PCB
BB-2590 Battery Pack Removed with Voltages
Note: Dead group of 3 cells.

BB-3590 Inside

The BB-3590 uses Li-poly "pillow" cells instead of the Li-Ion 18650 cylindrical cells used in the BB-2590.  This results in a higher capacity and better energy density battery since the pillows are sized for the battery and there's no gaps like with the cylindrical cells.
Battery Rechargeable BB-3590/U with SMBus
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Sealed, 29.6 V, 8 AH at 2A, 239 Wh
P/n: 800002-0801P0004   NSN: 6140-01-571-5794

Made using 8 each Li-poly pillow type cells.    
The battery between pins 2 & 5 may be OK, but there is no connection between pins 1 & 4 and a high current carrying wire is open.
Maybe there was a short in the load applied to the battery or maybe the center cell failed (it tests bad) and the other cells test the same (probably OK).  A lot of black and it smells.

BB-3590 Battery
                  inside after failure

M-25 Fuel Cell

Combines DuPont's direct methanol technology with Smart Fuel Cell's commercially proven fuel-cell systems.
SFC Winner of Wearable Power Prize!  -

State of Charge

It is difficult to determine the State of Charge for batteries that have the LiSO2 chemistry.  This is because the voltage vs. SOC curve is very flat as a result of the internal resistance being low and constant vs. SOC.  Conventional SOC meters that measure the loaded terminal voltage do not work on LiSO2 batteries.

The Chemtronics LS (Lithium diSulfide) series testers are specifically made to test LiSO2 batteries, but are not available.
The Chemtronics LS 91 is an example of this type of tester.
The TS-4403/U  6625-01-359-5771 can be used to test either the BA-5590/U or BA-5598/U (most likely the LS-91)
and the TS-4403A/U 6625-01-370-8278 tests the BA-5588/U, BA-5590/U, & BA-5598/U.      (most likely the LS-94)

Note that adding a "gas gauge" to the battery works fairly well, but at a high price since it's thrown out.  Adding a "gas gauge" to an equipment will work OK, but fails when the batteries are turned in for reissue, which is what's being done now as a cost saving measure that is saving huge amounts of money.

An idea would be to have a new class of battery that had a "socket" that would hold a SOC "gas gauge".  The outline of the combined battery and SOC meter would be the same as the current version of the battery, but he SOC meter could be removed from a dead battery and installed on a fresh battery.  The SOC meter would need a way to reset that was easy to do and would not reset if the SOC meter was removed and reinstalled on the same battery.  It may be possible to use the same SOC meter on a variety of batteries with some provision to set key parameters (this is the case for the gas gauges that TI now makes and could be enhanced if a microcontroller was part of the SOC meter.

SOC methods that are not suitable as a field Li battery tester


All batteries are energy storage devices.  The energy may get released in unintended ways causing a safety problem.

Since there are safety issues with LiSO2 batteries, CECOM has a document (TB-7) on battery box design.  This spec covers the violent explosion of a single cell but not a Lithium explosion like would happen if you try and charge a primary battery.  I don't know why they did not make note of the pin 3 wiring as a preventive measure.
Equipment should cutoff at 2 volts per cell to prevent over discharge.
After long high temperature storage the reverse leakage current of the charge protection diode may be high enough to cause a battery to explode.
The SINCGARS CY-8523 battery box was built In Accordance With (IAW) TB-7 and will handle the violent explosion of a single cell.

Battery Safety Reference Guide  - Good info!

Video showing BA-2590 catch fire when shot by an M 16 and all the cells catch fire due to overheating.  Would make a good incendiary device.  Also shows the 18650 cylindrical Li-Ion cell spouting fire when squeezed or punctured.

Lipo Sack - Video showing Li-Poly batteries catching fire & exploding, then in a safety sack

Once Lithium cells (either primary or secondary) catch fire they will ignite adjacent cells untill they all have burned up.
Flamability Assesment of Bulk-Packed, Rechargable Lithium-Ion Cells in Transport Catagory Aircraft -
Flamability Assesment of Bulk-Packed, Nonrechargable Lithium-Ion Cells in Transport Catagory Aircraft -

Battery Boxes


CY-8523A OpenThis is the battery box for the SINCGARS VHF low band frequency hopping radio.  It will hold one each BA-5590 or equivalent and connects the two halves in parallel for a nominal 12 Volt supply (15 Volts typical).

The BA-5590 sits on the bottom and then slides into the plug.  When the cover is closed the rubber strips trap the battery.  Any up or down with the radio either horizontal, like in a HUMVEE, or vertical, like when being carried on someone's back, will not tend to dislodge the battery from the socket.

Cy-8523A Radio Wire Integration TerminalsIt has two push type terminals for Radio Wire Integration.  So a single pair is all that's needed for remote operation.  The C-11561 Remote Control Unit (RCU) looks almost identical to the RT-1539 SINCGARS radio and allows almost full control of all radio functions using just one pair or normal field wire.  Note that the CY-8523 battery box is used on both the radio and the RCU and the telephone binding posts are used to interconnect both units.

CY-8523 J1 Radio SideJ1 is the connector that mates to the radio.  It has 27 socket positions, but only 5 sockets are installed. 
Battery 4 (Aside+) through diode to J1-F
Battery 5 (Bside+) through diode to J1-F
Batttery 1 (Aside-) to J1-U
Battery 2 ((Bside-) to J1-U
Battery 3 to J1-Z

Board behind
            Binding PostsThe 2 Binding Posts go through surge suppression circuitry and a transformer before getting to J1 pins a & Y.

The two battery sections are wired in parallel (each through a series diode) for 15 Volts output.  The Yellow wire is connected to battery terminal 3 which is tied to terminal 1 (negative) when the battery is a rechargable type, see table above.
This would allow charging rechargable battery types and NOT charging primary batteries.

Wire Color
A side
B side Battery
Battery 3
+15 V


Audio Remote

Audio Remote

Rechargable gnd check



See the PRC-104  web page for more on this battery box that holds 2 each BA-5590 or BB-590 batteries and has a built in charger that runs from a vehicle "24 Volt" electrical system.


LST-5 Batt BoxThis box holds a single BA-5590 family battery.  The box is just slightly larger than the battery and so has a flexible plastic bail with a large tab on the top that can be used to pull the battery up out of the box enough to get a hand hold on the battery itself.  The plug that goes into the battery is a custom made unit that's fairly thin and it too had a bail for unplugging.  The connection between the battery box and the radio is by means of a DB-9(f) socket in the battery box.

The plug has no keys to force how it is installed but because of the angles between the 5 battery socket pins the plug can only be installed one way.

Battery pins 2 and 4 connect to white wires that from a jumper so that the black wire going to pin 1 is the negative lead and red wire going to pin 5 is the "24 Volt" (30 volts for a fresh BA-5590) lead.



 There's a surface mount LM211 voltage comparator a few diodes, 2 larger parts marked Q1 and Q3 and a TO-220 package marked Q2.  This may be a combination of a voltage regulator and a battery disconnect circuit.
Q1 = Q3 = 340 T2 955E
Q2 = MT P5, ONO5E, 337
U1 = 37AD, LM, 211M

The circuit acts like a relay and connects power to the radio when a jumper is connected between pins 1 and 6.

1, 3, 7
+ Out
5, 9
Switched - Out
open = off
to +Out = On
The battery is connected in series so the output is 20 to 30 VDC

Lithium Chemistries used for batteries

Many people say "Lithium" battery and then go on to talk about specifics that only apply to one of the following battery chemistries, but most likely not to all of them.  There are primary and rechargeable Lithium chemistries and chemistries that provide anywhere from 1.5 to 3.7 Volts per cell.

Where Used

STAR 1175C REMBASS Unattended Ground Sensor Repeater Relay (RT-1175/A or RT-1175/B)
RT-1402A/G 226 to 400 MHz AN/PSC-3 radio
URC-200 VHF/UHF radio
Advanced Lightweight Microclimate Cooling System (ALMCS)
Javelin anti tank - there are problems when the BB-2590 is used in the Javelin system since it was designed to use the BA-5590 which can not deliver high surrents.
AN/PLQ-7 Manpac -
Modular Advance Reconnaissance System (MARS)MARS -
AN/PPS-15DS, AN/PPS-5 GS ground survalence radars
EPLRS UHF Radio Set AN/VSQ-2(V)2 -
ASELSAN - 4300 Have-Quick I and II (slow), SATURN (fast) frequency hopping ECCM radio
Scope Shield II Communications System
Night Vision Equipment Company - broadband thermal marker -
AN/PRC-104 - 3.5A @ 24V Tx, 0.2 A @ 24V Rx TM 11-5820-919-12, -40-1, -40-2, -10HR
AN/PRC-119 SINCGARS TM 115820-890-10-1, -10-8, -12, SB 11-131-2 - RT-1439, RT-1523
AN/URC-100, -104 TM 11-5895-1195-10, -10HR
Compact Laser

See Appendix A of the Battery Safety Guide for more.

BA-5590 Style Connectors

Battery Sockets

One of the first Dead Lines on the BA-5590 was due to a manufacturer not floating the socket.  When a battery rotates inside the battery box large forces can be placed on the mating plug pins, even breaking them.  Note that some battery boxes use a cable to connect to the battery thus avoiding any problem caused by a non floating socket.
Note the BA-5590 does not have any extra top contacts.

Primary &
              Secondary SocketsPrimary

The BA-5590 shown at the top has an all plastic socket.  As shown the wide key is pointing up above pin 1.
There are 4 narrow keys at 4,5, 7 & 8 o'clock.
Mathews Associates
Connector Corporation -
Pin 3 is not connected in primary batteries.


The BB-590 shown at the bottom has a plastic insert with a wide key pointing up above pin 1.
There are 3 narrow keys at 4, 7 & 8 o'clock.
The outer part of the socket where the locating pins ride is metal, unlike the all plastic primary socket.
Pin 3 is connected to pin 1 and pin 3 is used as the negative terminal on many devices that charge this family of batteries, that way the charger will not try to charge a primary battery.  But I've heard that many other charging devices only depend on the key at 5 o'clock to prevent a primary battery from being installed in a charger.

Equipment Plugs

BAI Aerosystems "106" plug - for BA-5590 The plug is available with a shell for use on a cable and with a flange with mounting holes for panel mounting.
Van Brakel Electronics - has plug CA110821-6 for the BA-5590 - this is the connector with 2 locating pins that's found on many radios.
Fair Radio has some metal plates with a plug attached

Other Mil Rechargable batteries

BB-388/U, BB-557/U,
          BB-390/U batytery tops
The above batteries are sitting on a shelf.  This allows seeing the relative size.
BB-388   6140-01-419-8190
BB-390A/U and BB-388/U are Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) 6140-01-419-8187
BB-503A/U are Nickel Cadmium (NiCAD) 6140-01-419-8193
BB-516A/U are Nickel Cadmium (NiCAD) 6140-01-419-8191
BB-2800/U - PLGR, BA-5800 replacement
BB-2847/U battery is a Lithium-ion (LiION) 6140-01-419-8194

Unknown 5590 size battery adapter

What batteries go into this and what does it do?
It is very light, i.e. I think there's no electronics inside.
There are three battery compartments:
2 deep ones that seem to hold 2 AA batteries in each, for a total if 4 series connected cells (6 Volts).
1 shallow compartment too short for a AA cell, and although a CR123 will fit it bows the lid so probably some other cell (N?).
Note only the connector sockets for the two internal batteries 2 - 3 & 1 - 4) are populated with socket pins.

Buzzing out the wiring shows socket pins 1 & 2 connected (-) and pins 4 & 5 connected (+) so it's a single 12 volt battery.

An "N" cell is too small in diameter for the single battery compartment. (This is for a CR123 or BA-5123/U battery)
A CR123 is too big in diameter for the 2 deep battery compartments. (they are for AA cells)

Shown below next to a real BA-5590.  If you know what this please let me know.
Answer from Dean M. referring to the American Mil-spec web page:
"Unicor Military Radio Battery Assembly for PRC-117G or PRC-150 modern radios  Hold-up battery 6160-01-492-5650 A3272554-2, This assembly is the exact same size as a standard BB-390, BB-5590, etc. battery. It is empty inside and holds qty 4 AA batteries and 1 CR-123A lithium battery. This is meant to be a hold-up battery for when the radio is used in a vehicle setting. These could be easily taken apart and made into other types of battery adapters."
Unknown BA-5590 type
          battery adapter


NRL Charges Marine Corps Expeditionary Power Requirements - Solar panel, charge controller, BB-2590/U

Technologies that make a difference - "An official Department of State position sites that Columbia and Afghanistan provide the clearest examples of the growing convergence among drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime."
BAI Aerosystems "106" connector - for BA-5590
Marines capitalize by saving the Corps millions -
Battery Eliminator -
Belss - analyzer, eliminators
Iris - battery eliminator
SINCGARS Alternative Power Supply Suitcase model (ASAPS-SC) -
CA NG - Ground Precautionary - # 97-007 CECOM GPM #97-007 All equip utilizing 2 or more BA-5590/U Lithium Sulfer Dioxide Battery.
Berg Battery Tester - BT-1 pocket tester
CBD - Market Survey for Battery State Of Charge Meter -
CBD - Battery System SOL M00681-99-Q-M11104 DUE 04/06/99 - for BA-5590 without fuel guage
Applied Design Concepts - adapter cagble to allow use of BA-5590 type batteries for STE/STU III/KIV-7
Defense Update Feb 2004 - Many Battery Articles (a few minor typos)
Fact Sheets and Information Papers Lithium Sulfur Dioxide Batteries - venting problems
final report describing the Ft. Hood Battery Mgmt. Task Force -
Ft Hood - Appendix H  State-Of-Charge (SOC) Meters for Lithium Batteries - TS-4403A/U -- CTA item ($4905) BA-5590, BA-5598, and BA-5588
Lind Electronics - some cables that mate to the BA-5590 family batteries
Simpower Limited - battery dealer
Medtronic Physio-Control - info on their LiSO2 battery - Background on Lithium Batteries -
Moby Power -
Rejo - Rechargable Batteries - Primary Batteries - (go to "products", then "lithium battery") (then select "joint battery industrial sector study - executive summary")
Information about Non-rechargeable Lithium Batteries (this PDF file requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
S.C.Levy and P. Bro, Quality and Reliability Methods for Primary Batteries, Wiley, New York, 1990 (ISBN 0-471-52427-1)
S.C.Levy and P. Bro, Battery Hazards and Accident Prevention, Plenum, New York, 1994 (ISBN 0-306-44758-4)
HDS Systems -miners head lamp -  Lithium/Sulfur Dioxide Battery - Saft LO26SX 3 V "D" cell. - Battery Tester - US Patent 4659994 - only for detecting reversed cell, not SOC
TI - bq2052 gas guage to build into a LiSO2 battery -
Document ID: MIL-B-49430/3G NOT 2 -
CECOM Logistics & Readiness Center - Acquisition Reform Homepage - MTS Good Examples - Battery Standardization -
Preferred Power Sources
Primary: BA-5590B, BA-5588A, BA-5567A, BA-5347, BA-5372, BA-5800A, Commercial: AA, AAA, C, D, 9V
Rechargeable: BB-390A, BB-388, BB-516A, BB-503, BB-2847
Linear Technology - LTC2400 24 bit ADC on a chip
Van Brakel Electronics - may have a plug for the BA-5590
House of Batteries - carries Saft and many other batteries
War Fighter Solutions - Technical Hacking For Military Equipment - How to make BA-5590 adapter cables
YouTube: Why do Li-ion Batteries die ? and how to improve the situation?  by Jeff Dahn

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Page created 31 Dec 2001.