MintyBoost USB Charger v1.1

Update: This post is about version 1.1 of the MintyBoost. ladyada has updated the kit to version 3.0.

In high school, I used to love building electronic things. That was so long ago, I was using vacuum tubes to make power supplies.

Once I made an audible tachometer for my car from a schematic in Popular Science. I even thought I wanted to be an EE and started at UC Berkeley in the School of Engineering. After a few quarters I realized that if I didn’t like learning engineering, I probably wouldn’t like doing Minty Boost Componentsengineering. (I think my friend Dan Kalman told me that)
Over the years, I still enjoyed making electronic things. Back in the mid 70’s, I had just moved to New York.

As a photo assistant, I used an answering service home answering machines weren’t in wide use.
By the late 70’s, I bought an answering machine and a pager. In those days, the only people who used pagers were doctors. I needed a way to know immediately that I had received a message on my answering machine.

I put a roller switch on one of the answering machine cassette solenoids that triggered a bunch of 555 timers. That dialed my pager’s number from a chopped up Radio Shack phone that had my pager’s numberprogrammed in one of the speed dial locations.

Minty Boost Circuit Board

Years later, answering machines had their own call transfer feature.
When Make Magazine started publishing, I became a charter subscriber. The projects they were doing were all the kinds of things that I used to do. One of the projects I saw at the Make Blog, was kit called the MintyBoost, a USB charger designed by ladyada, that fits in an Altoids tin and runs on two AA batteries.

MintyBoost Solder Side

It basically takes the 3 volts from the batteries and boosts it to the 5 volts that USB devices use. Since we have a couple of iPods and cell phone that can be charged with the MintyBoost, I bought a kit.
You can update the v1.1 by adding a resistor.

It’s a great beginner’s kit and easy to assemble. You have to solder the components to the circuit board but you’ll learn basic soldering skills in the process.

MintyBoost Case

The hardest part for me was finding the Altoids gum.

Once you’ve built the charger, you’ll have a something that is useful and may give you the satisfaction of making something yourself. That’s got to be worth something.

8 Replies to “MintyBoost USB Charger v1.1”

  1. Please help with some Turn-Key-solutions.

    I am looking for some EASY to use Turn-Key-systems.

    I supply the Windows computer, the turning shaft, the generator to be tested. That is all. I need a price for:

    (1) A tachometer which is hooked up to my Windows computer, which I can see the speed of a turning shaft, and automatically graph the speed of that turning shaft over time 24×7.


    (2) A volt-meter which is hooked up to my Windows computer, which I can see the voltage of the tested generator (less than 260 volts), and automatically graph the voltage over time 24×7.


    (3) An amp-meter (or a current meter) which is hooked up to my Windows computer, which I can see the amperage of the tested generator (less than 200 amps volts), and automatically graph the amperage over time 24×7.

    Please tell me where I can get the previous items. DACs that work with some non-specific “other manufacturer” are worse than totally worthless to me. I have been getting vague answers from other sources. Please help.


  2. Michael,
    I made that tach almost 40 years ago. I don’t really know where to point you, unless you live near a big city library that might have back issues. Call Popular Science? It must have been 1969 or 1970.

    You could take a regular tach, or one with an indicator light and hook it up to an oscillator to produce a tone. Something like a LM555. just had this DIY Tachometer.

    Good Luck. Have fun.

  3. Dear Leslie,

    Such a neat blog!

    Can you help me find out more about that audible tachometer? Direct me to sources? Pass on the schematic, etc.

    Many thanks, keep up the good work.



  4. That is terrific! I will build one of these for sure. Thank You for the Idea 🙂 bye the way I love your site keep it up!

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