The storage life of a mercury cell varies but is generally classified as long. The working life of the
cell is extremely long relative to other types of batteries; and it maintains its full rated voltage (1.34 volts)
until just before it is ready to expire, at which point its voltage will drop off sharply. Recharging of
mercury cells is possible, but is not recommended because the recharging cycle can vary from one cell to
another; and, after being recharged, their operating lifetime is uncertain.
NICKEL-CADMIUM BATTERIES (NICAD)
Nickel-cadmium batteries have very high efficiency. They can be recharged hundreds of times; given
the proper conditions, they may even be recharged thousands of times. They can be stored for a number of
years with no significant loss of performance. After just a few charge and discharge cycles, NICAD cells
can be recharged to the point that they are just as good as new batteries. Since they are sealed, they are
maintenance free and can be installed in any position. There are two types of nickel-cadmium batteries
vented and nonvented. This description deals with the nonvented exclusively because a vented NICAD
would have extremely limited application in a shipboard environment.
The voltage at the terminals of a NICAD will normally be between 1.25 and 1.30 volts in an open-
circuit condition. This value will vary, of course, depending on the state of charge. If the charge has
dropped to a low of 1.1 volts, the NICAD should be regarded as being completely discharged and should
not be permitted to be discharged further. The majority of small NICADs are rated in milliampere hours;
the large ones are rated in ampere hours. The small NICAD is the one the technician will almost always
be concerned with.
At what voltage is a NICAD battery considered to be fully discharged?
As a general rule, if the charging current is held to 10% of the milliampere-hour rating for the
NICAD and the time of charge is held at 150% of the time required to establish its full milliampere-hour
rating, you will encounter no difficulty in maintaining NICADs at their maximum charge. For example,
you should charge a battery rated at 300 milliampere hours for 15 hours at 30 milliamperes. You can
leave the battery on extended charge for years, provided the charge rate is lowered to less than 10% of the
NICAD's milliampere rating.
You should never place a NICAD in your pocket, because metal objects (such as keys) can short the
cell and cause extreme heat. Never dispose of a NICAD by fire, because it can explode. Never solder a
connection directly to the cell, because the heat of an iron can damage it. Never overcharge a NICAD
cell, because an accumulation of gases within its case can destroy it.
NICADs are also subject to a phenomenon commonly referred to as cell memory. If a NICAD is
consistently discharged to a minor extent (for example, 30 minutes per day) and then recharged after each
use, the useful capacity of the cell will eventually be reduced to that level. To keep this from happening,
you should fully discharge (1.1 volts) NICADs on a regular basis. In fact, some maintenance requirement
cards and calibration laboratory procedures require this periodic full discharge of equipment containing
RF ATTENUATORS AND RESISTIVE LOAD TESTS
All rf attenuators, decade or step attenuators, decade resistors, and 50/75-ohm loads are clearly
marked to show their attenuation factor or resistance. In the case of precision rf attenuators, they are
usually marked to show their useful frequency ranges. They are all basically resistive devices and are