If the Women Don’t Find You Handsome…

Making it work.

Making it work.

One of my favorite TV shows is Red Green. For a Canadian, that guy is alright. If you haven’t had the pleasure of his manly wit, you really ought to take a moment to watch a few episodes. Like a real life version of Red Green, the YouTuber AvE has taught me not to be afraid to make broken things “chooch”. Of course, I’m not nearly as technically sound as he is, but I can maths just a little bit. On a recent range trip I discovered that my trusty Chrony brand chronograph had been left on from the previous range trip and the battery was dead. But channeling the spirit of Red Green, AvE, and MacGruber, I removed the batteries from my flashlight and used them to power the chronograph.

Making it work.

Making it work.


The flashlight was powered by two CR123 3 volt lithium batteries and the chronograph was powered by one 9 volt alkaline battery. I cut and bent the temple from an old pair of broken sunglasses to connect the negative terminal on the chronograph to the cathode of one battery, taped both batteries together in series, and taped the positive terminal to the anode of the other battery. It was ugly and sloppy. But it worked, as you can see below. If it’s stupid and it works, it’s not stupid.




Now, this is a gun blog, not an electronics blog, but on the off chance that you’re curious, why do you suppose that this worked? 6 volts does not equal 9 volts, does it? A chronograph is really just what it sounds like: a clock. The battery powers two light sensors, a clock, a display, and a chip that does a quick calculation. The clock starts* when one sensor detects a change in ambient light and stops when the other sensor detects a change. Those components can still run when the 9v is mostly discharged at 6 or 7 volts and the brand new CR123 batteries actually measure a little higher than their nominal 3 volts. In short, close enough is often good enough. Sure, it’s possible to damage things this way, so maybe you shouldn’t take this as a Pinterest life hack. But given that the voltage of the CR123 in series was lower than the nominal 9 volts the chronograph was designed for, and given that batteries typically just push whatever amperage that the equipment is pulling, it was most likely not going to cause any damage.


*Gross oversimplification. If you really want to go full nerd, on the chip level, it actually counts how many clock cycles (highs) occur between the high signal from one sensor and from the other. There is some other simple logic involved to avoid anomalous readings.


Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block (https://www.youtube.com/user/chopinbloc). He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at choppingblocktests@gmail.com


  • PK

    …they should at least find you handy.

    I love that show.

    • Chop Block

      Funny thing is that I had a spare battery and one in my range finder that I used on previous trips. Durr.

      • PK

        You improvised a fix when you didn’t even need to? You really are channeling Red Green.

        • Chop Block

          Lol. No, I HAD a spare and I HAD another in my rangefinder, but I used both on previous trips and forgot to replace them. I blame it on the heat.

    • Dougscamo

      Yep, me too….which is impossible to find in my range bag along with the other things that I packed for a reason which are also impossible to find….which explains why the damn thing weighs 50 pounds without ammo….which now makes me wonder why I even take it to the range…

      • PK

        Spare parts, tools, batteries? Sounds like a heavy bag unrelated to shooting, might as well leave it home…

        The reason I specified “Chrony range bag” is that unless I’m going to be chronographing, none of that comes with me. If I am, then it does, and also has the spare battery just in case. When I inevitably use the replacement, I get a new battery to put back in the bag.

        • Dougscamo

          Oh, I wasn’t “bagging” you….just reminded me of my average range bag (yep, got more than one)….which contains everything that I ONCE needed on the range and have never needed since BUT MIGHT….my habits not yours….

          • PK

            Anything you needed at least once at the range? Oh boy, that would be a 53′ semi-trailer in my case!

          • Gary Kirk

            I’d be right around… Let’s see.. Moving my range to right outside of Midway, or Brownell’s buildings..

          • DwnRange

            humm, down here on the farm “we don’t need no stinkin baggages” ….. : )
            (doesn’t everyone have an 800 yard range off the back porch?)

          • Dougscamo

            I do if I ignore the neighbors….

  • Dougscamo

    Dang it Edward, you took all the fun out of the comments when you said firearms, not electronics….before someone else did…

    • Chop Block

      You know my name is Andrew, right? It’s right there at the top. 😉

      • Dougscamo

        Derp! It was early….I didn’t have enough coffee….the sun was in my eyes….my wife was talking to me….I’ll just slink off now…#stupido….

        • Chop Block

          Hey, I made a mistake once.

  • ShooterPatBob

    Keep your stick on the ice.

    My favorite Red Green invention was the Frankenstein all wheel drive car. They welded and duct taped a rear wheel drive and front wheel drive sedan together, haha!

    • PK

      Cars can also cook a good meal, if you do it right. The Christmas episode one year where he cooked a full dinner in various parts of the car was just too funny.

      • Chop Block

        Mythbusters confirmed it.

      • ShooterPatBob

        It’s been a decade at least since I’ve seen the show, hopefully I can find it on YouTube now.

        • Vince

          It’s there in all of its glory!

          • ShooterPatBob

            Excellent, thanks!

  • Anonymoose

    I’m a man. I can change, if I have to, I guess.

    • Gun-Toting Racist

      2 $5 for a $10? I can do that kind of changing, np.

      • Chop Block

        So long as they aren’t Canadian pesos.

    • noob

      Unless you are in the military as of today, in which case you have to stay being a man.

      • Anonymoose

        But what if I want to become a god? They got a problem with that too?

        • Dougscamo

          Only General Gozer….

  • Rob

    Nice hack. Most digital electronics these days operate at 3.3 Volts or lower. There might be some analog circuitry involving the optical sensors that requires more than this, but probably not over 5 Volts. This means the first thing the circuitry does is regulate the battery voltage down from 9 Volts to something below 5 Volts. If your battery is over 6 Volts it will probably still work, at least for a while. A normal 9 volt battery will drain down to about 7 Volt before it is considered “dead”.

    • flyingburgers

      The 9V is there probably because they need to power some 5 V TTL stuff. Otherwise, you’d have to stick at least 5 alkalines in series and that’s annoying.

    • Scott Willbanks

      I came here to say exactly this. Most electronics run @ 3.3v or 5v. There is always a voltage regulator to provide stable power. Over-voltage batteries are used since they “lose” voltage over time.

  • ActionPhysicalMan

    I am a fan and supporter of AvE as well. The guy is just a bit too over the top with his wittiness but he presents a lot of useful info.

    • Chop Block

      I like his style, but I don’t have any class.

  • Joshua

    Maxim 43. If it’s stupid and it works, it’s still stupid and you’re lucky.

    • iksnilol

      Negative Nancy.

      • Joshua

        see, the important part of the maxim is that if it works, it either wasn’t stupid, or you were lucky. You need to be able to determine that, cause if it wasn’t stupid, it was not stupid from the beginning, why did you think it was? Or it was stupid and you got away with it, how did you manage that?

  • Preacher

    Flashlight: 18650,
    Radio: Modded to 2x 18650 @ 7.4
    Vaporizer (Medical): 18650
    Notebook: 6 – 9x 18650
    ActionCam: Modded to 8x 18650 external
    Headlight: Will get swapped for a 18650 model soon 😉

    only the MSA Sordin runs still at 2x AA Lithium and the future inear´pro will run at a different source.

    Let me tell you: It is so comfortable to run all sources from one battery type.
    If I would buy some NVG in the future, even on that I considered running it external with 18650 instead of CR123.

    Best part: One charger to rule them nearly all!
    4 Bay @ 1A for everything from AAAA NiMh to 26650 LiIon, 12V car or 230V power plug input, weights in at just 160g
    + for everything else, like the the Mobile + Suunto Watch: USB Out of the Charger, charging from the cells. Just need 2 USB Cables.

  • Tim

    AvE is the man.

    Keep yer d!ck in a vice!

  • Some Rabbit

    So your chrony was making like the humble possum and was playing dead.
    “Quando omni flunkus moritati”

    • Chop Block

      I totally missed the opportunity for an opossum lodge joke.

  • KKM Precision

    Red Green is a legend!

  • Swarf

    AvE is serious fun. I couldn’t believe I watched a 20 minute video of a guy machining a potato in to a functioning nut and bolt, but there it is. He is quite entertaining.

    But when he jokingly refers to his… attention to detail… as a disease, I’m not sure it’s really a joke. A lot of people call themselves OCD, but he actually might be clinical.

  • Gun-Toting Racist

    Obviously you should have disassembled your [friend’s] watch and used that battery to make a full 9V, then convert it to a time-blaster by reversing the polarity. Impress your friends!

  • B-Sabre

    If it’s stupid but it works, it’s still stupid and you got lucky.

  • Richard Hoffarth

    …of course, you used the Handyman’s Secret Weapon…Duct Tape?
    Loved this piece!
    On a side note: I live in Minnesota, so we have a lot of Canadian influence here. When my wife and I first saw the Red Green show, she laughed and hooted, while I sat there and tried to figure out what was so funny…my wife said, “That’s because that’s you!” I get the humor now.

    Good job of jury-rigging. Keep up the good writing!

  • Bob

    you DON’T have an extra battery in the case you carry it in.?
    I’m FROM MN myself…. always carried an extra battery!
    Surely you’ve heard of “Murphy’s Law” which states what can go wrong WILL go wrong.
    Well “O’Sullivan’s Law” states that Murphy was an optimist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Markius Fox

    There is a distinct lack of the handyman’s secret weapon in this post.

    As consequence, you need to negotiate a Lodge holiday with all the members wives.
    Good luck, and may God have mercy on your soul.