Introduction: Digital Camera Power From USB or Wall Outlet (Canon 500HS 510HS or Other)

This is usefull if you have a portable camera with a poor battery life.

battery getting old, or low capacity battery from the start, like the Canon 500/510HS in question here, with under 1h of typical battery life.

We are going to make the camera work from USB power.

I tryed to make this as accessible as possible, so you might already know a lot of what I talk about (meaning : don't be afraid at the length of this tutorial, there isn't that many things to do)

You can find those devices in online store, but because it is pretty specific to a camera, the good quality ones are pretty expensive

or you will find low quality ones

Those instructions can work for other Cameras, but you will have to do more work.

To check before beginning :

If the original battery of your camera is not giving around 5v, which is what the USB will give you, you will need to add a DC to DC regulator.

but this is pretty permissive, as the Canon 500HS/510HS battery is rated at 3.5v but give 4v when fully charged, and the camera works fine on 5v.
But I won't explain everything about DC to DC regulator here, so if you are a real beginner to all of that, you might prefer not to do this project, and if you know what a DC to DC regulator is, you probable only need the .stl for this project, and adding a DC to DC regulator will make the final product way clunkier.

Here is everything you will need :

-A 3D printer with enough precision to print 1 mm walls. (and like 10 grams of filament)

you can do the dummy battery out of wood, if have the tools for this kind of precision, but really, a 3d printer will be way easier.

-Soldering tools.

including a soldering iron with solder, wire clippers and small diameter heatshrink. (2 to 3mm of diameter)

+ not necessary, but will help greatly : a third hand and multimeter, and also steady hand, wherever you can find that.

-2x Dupont male and female headers.

or other small and solderable plugs.

-At least 10cm of small diameter wire.

AWG 20 to 28, preferably at least 5cm of black and red wire.

-Thin metal plate and sanding paper.

anything conductive you can easily cut and sand down, around 1mm thick and at least 1cm² of surface, I used some kind of plate spring from a release mechanism of a used handheld vacuum cleaner. you might also need a stronger cutting tool for this than wire strippers, and pliers to hold the tiny pads when sanding.

-A pen

Step 1: Making the Battery Dummy

If you have a camera that uses Canon NB-9L, like the 5x0HS, just print the .stl file at the bottom of this step.

just flip the model so that the face with the 3 rectangles for contact in the camera are down on the printer bed

If not, take your battery's outside dimensions, contact pads and a possible opening for wires size and position.

Try to reproduce those in CAD.

Fusion 360 is free and will have all the features you need for that, here I realize, if you don't have an NB-9L battery and are a beginner, you will have a hard time...

Hollow the dummy battery with openings under the contact pads (so wires can pass through) and since there are probably pretty small shapes, try to make it support free for 3D printing so the piece will be as clean as possible.

Check if the battery fits well in the camera, and doesn't move.

What to do when something doesn't fit : changing the file is the cleanest way (the .stl file here is well proportioned, so you might want to change your horizontal size compensation slicer setting in "other" tab or similar settings in other slicers than simplify 3D) but if it is almost fitting and the problem is somewhere accessible, sand it.

What to do when the dummy moves : same thing, or add paper to add thickness.

Step 2: Wiring the Dummy

Cut your conductive metal plate to match the size of the contact pads.

clip it roughly, then sand it to match the dimensions more precisely, better to have a bit too much than not enough to have a friction fit.

Solder your wires to one side of the plates and close to one extremity.

so the solder will fit in the openings on the printed part.

Proper soldering procedure : strip the wire, keep the 2 parts you want to solder in contact while heating them with the iron, then add solder, not directly on the iron, it should be able to melt from the parts heat. remove any sharp bits around the solder, and check for continuity somehow (this is where a multimeter with diode check is useful)

The NB-9L battery need 2 plates connected to the ground wire and 1 plate to positive like on the picture.

For other batteries, use a multimeter on the original one to see what voltage goest through what pads.

nothing = connected to the same wire, negative value = ground and positive are opposed to how you wired the mutlimeter

Pass the wires through the printed part and press the plates in place.

you can, once again, check continuity to see if something detached, or if ground and positive are touching, which isn't good. and if you even have a variable power supply, you can check if the camera powers on when applying roughly the same voltage as the battery to the wires from the dummy.

Don't be afraid if you have nothing to check, the worst case scenario is a short circuit, but USB power is low enough that nothing should be damaged, and most USB devices have safety systems to cut power when a short circuit is detected.

I am not responsible for any damage thought ... but it's still pretty safe.

Step 3: Powering the Dummy

Following the soldering procedure above, solder the wires coming out of the dummy to the male Dupont headers.

or the smallest plug of the two you have, which need to be able to go through the opening in the battery door, as there can be a sensor preventing the camera from turning on if the door is open (or you can take the camera appart to put tape on the sensor and leave the door open, but that's really not elegant, even if you have no sensor, and it will probably interfere with the tripod mount anyway) if there is no opening on the door, make one. (as clean as possible, but you know, your soldering iron can probably poke a hole through plastic...)

I chose to use the mini-USB to USB cord included with the camera for this, but if you don't want risk it, any USB cord will do (maybe just avoid USB 3 cords, as they have more wires that are useless for this project)

If you do choose to splice the data transfer cord of your camera, you also have the option of a neat feature : you can have your camera powered by your computer, and just have to connect the hanging mini or micro USB plug to the camera to transfer data. (thought on the 5x0HS, when unplugging, you have to restart the camera to use it again)

For this, jump to the next step, otherwise, continue here.

Cut the USB cord at the length you want from the USB type-A plug, and strip it.

as seen on the picture, you will also have to get the shielding of the cord out of the way (meaning : cut it away)

Then strip the red and black wires, and cut the green and white out of the way. (at slightly different length to avoid them touching each other, cause that's dirty m'kay?)

And solder the USB red and black wires to the other plug.

Now is a good time to check everything, put the dummy in the camera, plug the right wires together (ground of the dummy to the black USB wire, positive to the red) and plug the USB in a computer.

If nothing happen when you try to power on the camera, it can be an openning in the circuit, or a short circuit within the wire, so check as you can if the positive and ground wiring aren't touching or disconnected somewhere.

If the camera powers on, you can put heatshrink around each of the plugs just soldered, and mark which side is + and which side - to know how to plug the right way (this is where the pen is useful)

And if you just wanted power (no data) through USB, you are done!

Step 4: Splicing the USB Transfer Wire (1)

You will have to cut the cord, mostly close to the end that goes to the camera, but far enough from this plug so the cut can easily get to the dummy battery wires.

+ taking in consideration ~1cm lost from the splicing, on the picture it's a bit too short.

And strip the cord on each ends, take away the shielding around the 4 wires, and try to cut each of them like on the picture.

red and black the longest, green and white shortest, with one slightly longer than the other on one end of the splice, and inverted on the other end.

Step 5: Splicing the USB Transfer Wire (2)

Take a piece of heatshrink, and while keeping it flat, cut a triangle on the middle of one side, to get a square opening.

Slide it around the longest cord to keep it out of the way for more convenience.

Then solder the white and green wires together.

make sure the solder of the two are offset enough so they don't touch.

And slide the heatshrink back to the splice, trying to get the red and black wires to go through the opening on one end, then on the other, to get the same result as the picture.

don't shrink the heatshrink yet.

Step 6: Splicing the USB Transfer Wire (3)

Now solder the black wires together, and the red wires together, then solder each to the second plug.

better to solder the wires together than to the plug, because doing the 3 in one might be hard.

And cut a heatshink in a "C" when flat at one end to get the result in the picture after sliding it around the plug

But here again, don't shrink it.

First, plug everything, and test the "power mode" and "data transfer mode".

If nothing work, check if the red and black wires aren't touching, and if both aren't open somewhere.

If can only power the camera when plugging the dummy battery, check for the same in the white and green wires.

Step 7: Splicing the USB Transfer Wire (4)

Once everything is working, note where are the red and black wire on the splice plug and shrink the 2 heatshrinks around it.

making sure the one around the plug is pushed as far back as possible to leave the smallest gap, it won't be watertight, but more reliable.

Then heatshrink the dummy battery wire, also noting where are the wires on the plug.

Finally mark + and - on the heatshrinks like on the pics to help you plug it the right way.

this is when the pen is useful.

And you are done!

Step 8: UPDATE : More Reliable Plug

After some time using my portable camera with this wire, I had some corrupted video ... simply because dupont header aren't that solid of a connection, moving the wire a little had a lot of chance of unplugs.

To avoid that, I designed a more reliable plug that goes around the headers, which can be downloaded here