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Modify a Mini-B USB Cable to Power an Enclosed GoPro Hero3 (With Skeleton Back Door)

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I got my GoPro Hero3 for Christmas, it is a fantastic camera.  However, the battery life leaves something to be desired.  Sure, you can buy a bunch of spare batteries and change them out periodically, but if you are taking a time lapse - you really do not want to move the camera.

Enter: The Frame

This is GoPro's answer to this problem.  Now you can shoot while being connected to an external power source.  But, wait, $40 for a piece of flimsy plastic (to be fair, TWO pieces of plastic!) with a few holes in the side?  No Thanks.

I really wanted this capability, but didn't want to spend a lot of money or sacrifice the poly case by drilling a hole in the side.

Enter: Modify a Mini-B USB Cable to Power an Enclosed GoPro Hero3 (With Skeleton Back Door) (This Instructable)

Disclaimer:  Perform this at your own risk, I take no responsibility for your actions and assume you have some competency. With that being said, this instructable is merely a cable modification, I do not modify the camera or case.



 
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Step 1: Parts/Tools

You will need:

Parts-
-A Mini-B USB cable of your desired length.  I found an old 3-footer in my spare cables tub.  I might suggest not using the one included with your GoPro (just in case...).  Note: I have a Hero3 Black Edition which uses a Mini-B. I do not know what the Hero2 (or whatever) uses.  Also, of course, your cable design may be slightly different.
-Glue...?  I used some, it may not be needed though...

Tools-
-Wire Strippers/Cutters.  Not that you will be stripping wires explicitly - but you will need to cut off the black plastic molding around the connector and trim back the cable sheath.
-Long Nose Pliers.  For general dismantlement and metal bendage.
-Small Rotary Cutting Tool.  I use a really cheap one from Harbor Freight.  Yes, it is cheaply made and doesn't have a lot of power, but hey its like $10 on sale.
yamil0081 year ago
Awesome! I think that you can use Sugru to cover the exposed wires and make it look nicer. Anyways, awesome instructable. I doing this one definitely
ptrobrn yamil0082 months ago

Or just some shrink wrap.

zplus (author)  yamil0081 year ago
Maybe so but it is definitely a tight fit without modding the case! In fact, I was not worried about strain relief because the case kind of crimps down on those wires.
sniffrumble3 months ago

Awesome! I think that you can use Sugru to cover the exposed wires and make it look nicer. Anyways, awesome instructable.

Awesome! I think that you can use Sugru to cover the exposed wires and make it look nicer. Anyways, awesome instructable.

Invention14 months ago

I made this mod in about ten minutes. The Skeleton case provides sufficient strain relief so that the USB cable doesn't need any more support. The only tools I needed were an xacto knife, a teeny flatblade screwdriver and a teeny pair of pliars. Instead of sawing off the excess metal case on the connector I just folded 1/16" of metal over with pliars until it would fit inside the case without modification. Kept the watertight case back in case I need pictures of fish - one other similar instructible contemplates drilling holes in your case which is definitely not necessary. I should be able to keep the Gopro inside its case permanently, pulling off pics by wifi and charging by this hacked cable.

sheepbars5 months ago

It looks like you've peeled back the sheathing as well. Normally that is connected to the metal enclosure around the pins and presumably grounded. What should I conclude from this? Should it matter for this project?

It looks like you've peeled back the sheathing as well. Normally that is connected to the metal enclosure around the pins and presumably grounded. What should I conclude from this? Should it matter for this project?

im prety sure it dosent matter, but i might be wrong.

gazumpglue7 months ago

It looks like you've peeled back the sheathing as well. Normally that is connected to the metal enclosure around the pins and presumably grounded. What should I conclude from this? Should it matter for this project?

chimplost7 months ago

Excellent picture of the finished assembly. This is helping me.

steveazhocar9 months ago
It looks like you've peeled back the sheathing as well. Normally that is connected to the metal enclosure around the pins and presumably grounded. What should I conclude from this? Should it matter for this project?
regaltaxlaw9 months ago
Thats phenomenal
conniest11 months ago
It looks like you've peeled back the sheathing as well. Normally that is connected to the metal enclosure around the pins and presumably grounded. What should I conclude from this? Should it matter for this project?
zplus (author)  conniest11 months ago
Most likely it will not matter at all, especially if you are purely using it for charging. Pulling the shield back could introduce some extra noise, yes, but I doubt anything noticeable. Just don't use the cable near any strong, high frequency magnetic fields or high voltages. :)
Vincent VD1 year ago
Great success! thnx for this tutorial! i'm still looking for a way to have both livestream to my computer and charging at the same time. using the 10.5.5.9:8080 way seems to be the only way...
IMG_5114.jpg
Excellent picture of the finished assembly. This is helping me.
zplus (author)  Vincent VD1 year ago
Awesome!!!
Awesome! I think that you can use Sugru to cover the exposed wires and make it look nicer. Anyways, awesome instructable.
Great success! thnx for this tutorial! i'm still looking for a way to have both livestream to my computer and charging at the same time.
Is the skeleton back door waterproof? My GoPro (Hero1) waterproof enclosure has no openings. As a fan of time lapse photography I think this is a great project, thanks for sharing.
No... The Skeleton backdoor has two massive holes in it! The only way to achieve an extended battery life and maintain a water tight seal, with almost any version of the GoPro, is to buy the battery backpac and the waterproof door that it comes with.
Or you can buy one of the timelapse controllers from Cam-Do (http://cam-do.com/). Since it just turns the camera on for a second to take a picture then powers it off they claim you can get up to months of use out of a single battery if you don't need high frequency timelapse. I've had mixed success but I'm blaming this more on the gopro's battery problems and I haven't tested it that much.
vkelman1 year ago
What type of external power source do you use? How long it allows camera to operate? I'd like to use Hero3 in the mountains...
zplus (author)  vkelman1 year ago
I have only used this with a wall outlet with USB adapter. But yes I have seen those battery packs and would like to pick one up for long bike rides. A go pro battery is like 1000 mAh. But I have seen some of the packs rated around 10,000 mAh. That means you could potentially get 10x the battery life.
I applaud your function, but you can use a spare battery pack on the camera and use the USB port to charge and power the camera.
Battery pack doubles the time camera can shoot, right? But it doesn't make any easier to attach USB to the camera to use external power source, correct?
zplus (author)  alaskanbychoice1 year ago
Well, to be fair, this is the far cheaper (free vs. $50) option. :)
magno_231 year ago
you could also go online and search for a 3d printed GoPro 3 Frame
zplus (author)  magno_231 year ago
Believe me, I thought of making my own frame! But, I decided that the cable mod would be easier and cheaper (free).
can this work on the GoPro HERO 2?
zplus (author)  santibarraza1 year ago
It looks like the Hero 2 uses Mini-B USB so, yes, in that respect. However, I cannot speak to the clearance/fit because the hero 2 is shaped differently from the hero 3.