Introduction: External Li-ion Battery for Digital Cameras

Picture of External Li-ion Battery for Digital Cameras
An external battery is useful for taking extra photos and videos as they have a higher capacity than the LiPo batteries that come with your camera. They can also replace difficult-to-find batteries in your backup cameras which you may sometimes use for your projects. Because they are cheaper on a watt-hour basis, you can bring several cells on a long trip. You can even take apart a laptop battery for a free Li-ion cell. I will be using my 2MP Canon S330 model as a working camera.
  • Voltage: 3.7V
  • Battery size: 18650 rechargeable Li-ion
  • Capacity: ~2500 mAh (versus 1000 mAh)
  • Options for using NiMH AA batteries
  • Also suitable for cellphones

Step 1: Things Needed

Picture of Things Needed
Materials
  • Wooden block
  • Digital camera (an inexpensive one is recommended)
  • 18650 li-ion battery (eg. used laptop batteries, Deal Extreme)
  • 18650 li-ion battery holder
  • Camera battery (used to match the size)
  • 2 pin connectors
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • Quick setting epoxy
  • Small copper or brass sheet (any metal that can be coated with solder)
Tools
  • Multimeter (to ensure correct polarity)
  • Dremel
  • Sanding and grinding pieces
  • Saw (circular saw preferred)
  • Quick setting epoxy
  • Soldering iron
  • Hot melt glue gun

Step 2: Cut Wood Into the Shape of Your Battery

Picture of Cut Wood Into the Shape of Your Battery

Mark the battery's dimensions on the wood and cut it. A circular saw would make a smoother cut than that of a hand saw's. The block can be cut a bit wider or longer. You are going to sand it anyways.

Warning: When using power tools, always wear eye-protection.

Step 3: Grind and Sand the Wood

Picture of Grind and Sand the Wood

Use a coarse grinding disc to trim the wood until it fits the battery compartment. Use sandpaper to smooth the surfaces.

Step 4: Drill a Hole for the Wires

Picture of Drill a Hole for the Wires

Drill a hole to lead the wires out of the plastic flap of the battery compartment.

Step 5: Mark the Contacts

Picture of Mark the Contacts

Mark the "+" and "-" contacts on the wood. The battery pack may state the polarity but if it does not, you can test it with your multimeter.

Note: The T (thermistor) terminal was left out for my camera. For some models, it will work fine but others may require you to sacrifice a used battery pack with the circuit board inside. You will have to take out the LiPo battery and wire the 18650 holder to the circuit board so that the polarity matches.

Step 6: Make the Grooves

Picture of Make the Grooves

Make grooves for the wires and contacts by grinding it.

Step 7: Cut Metal Strips

Picture of Cut Metal Strips

Cut them the size of the original battery contacts.

Step 8: Solder the Metal Contacts

Picture of Solder the Metal Contacts

Thread wires through the hole first. Tin the metal strips before soldering them to the connectors with the correct polarity.

Step 9: Glue Contacts Using Epoxy

Picture of Glue Contacts Using Epoxy

Glue the contacts with epoxy and use a clamp to hold them in place until they set. Make sure they are lined up properly.

Step 10: Solder Connector to 18650 Holder

Picture of Solder Connector to 18650 Holder

Step 11: Test for Correct Polarity

This is a very important step. Before installing it, test the polarity with a multimeter so that it matches that of the original battery pack. Reverse polarity can damage your camera. Always make sure that the battery is correctly inserted into the holder. To make it easier to identify the polarity, you can add a blob of solder onto the positive terminal.

Step 12: Install Adapter Into Camera

Picture of Install Adapter Into Camera

With a 18650 cell, you can now take more than twice as many photos on a single charge. To increase the capacity further, simply install them in parallel. Multi-cell 18650 holder can be modified for parallel configurations. Two cells in parallel would double the capacity and make it useful if your camera will be on all day. This might look like an overkill but since aged batteries have a higher internal resistance and reduced capacity, it may work.

Other chemistries like 3 NiMH AA cells will also work. They have similar capacity and voltage.

Comments

Nice!

rnijland (author)2016-04-14

i Have a kodak z1x cam which using 2 AA batteries. will a 18650 work or will it be too much power?

mplatteeuw (author)2016-01-16

Nice little tutorial ;)!
I am planning to upgrade an old Nokia phone with an 18650...
With the 600mAh battery it lasts 1 week. will be testing what it does with an 2600mAh 18650 as main battery :p

tutdude98 (author)2012-08-14

I have samsung s5230 and i have code that shows me voltage of battery and its 4200 mV when its full

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Bio: Autistic person who's interests include in utility cycling, recreational cycling, cycling safety, electronics, gardening, Arduino, and LEDs.
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