5 Hour External Battery for DV Camera




Introduction: 5 Hour External Battery for DV Camera

This project turned into an easy way to extend my DV Camera's battery life. The battery that came with my Canon Optura 60 lasts for about 40 minutes or so minutes on a full charge. I got a BIG battery but that only last for an hour or so (if it will charge, but that is another issue/story).

I looked on-line for what was available that would have some legs to it so I wouldn't have to keep turning the camera on and off all of the time; thus missing all of the great shot. If I had a nickel for every time..........

"Oh son! Can you do that funny thing again so papa can record it on the video camera? Make sure not to hurt yourself this time."

After thinking about it for a while, I came up with the idea of making my own battery!

After reading Tim Anderson's Lost Your Charger? How to Charge any Battery Survival-Style, I decided to make an instructable of how I did it.

WARNING: Just because I have not blown up my camera yet with this external battery pack, doesn't mean you won't blow yours up. If you do create a battery pack such as this, and you do blow up your camera, it isn't my fault! I didn't tell you to do it nor did I twist your arm about it.

Step 1: Specifications

I wanted to use rechargeable batteries and I wanted my pack to be small. AA battery seemed the logical choice. They are easy to find, just about everyone has a charger and if they don't, you just run down to the ESSO station and buy one (if you forgot yours or didn't think you would use up the 5 hours of battery life.)

My camera's external power supply has an output of 8.4 volts and 1.5 amps. Rechargeable batteries put out 1.2 volts. After some high powered calculations, I found that 7 rechargeable batteries would put out exactly 8.4 volts! What luck.

I was not worried about the current output of the batteries. They are 2500mAh and should provide plenty of current for my camera.

By looking at the plug on the external power supply, I was able to find the polarity being delivered to the camera. In my case, the barrel is negative and the inside is positive. This is important to know when you wire up your new plug and hook it up to the battery pack.

I also matched the plug from the external battery pack. It turns out that I have a size "H" coaxial.

Step 2: Parts List

Here are the parts I scavenged up to make the battery pack:

- 8 AA battery holder (series) - less than $2
- 9volt battery connector (I had one from another project)
- Size "H" Coaxial plug (came in a 2 pack so I have an extra now) - about $2.50
- Mobile phone car power adapter (for a phone I no longer used)
- 7 AA rechargeable batteries (I already had these)
- Thin, neoprene mouse pad (if you want to make the case for the battery pack)

Step 3: Make the Cable

I started by cutting off both ends of the car adapter. Snip! Snip! That was easy...

Then I stripped back the insulation and found 6 wires. These are very small wires and I didn't want to overload them nor did I want to lose any power in my cable. So I took three wires and soldered them together and took the other three wires and soldered them together.

Now I have my positive and negative wires.

I soldered one end of the cable into the new size "H" plug (keeping track of which was positive and negative so I could hook them up on the other end correctly.

Before soldering the 9V battery plug onto the other end, I tested my soldering connection to the size "H" plug using my multi-meter. I wanted to insure that the positive was only feeding one set of wires and that negative was only feeding the other set of wires.

With that checked and correct, I soldered the 9V connector on.

Step 4: I'm Missing a Battery!

With an 8 battery holder and my need for only 7 batteries, I was in trouble. I needed to come up with a way to only put 7 batteries in an 8 battery hold while creating a closed circuit. What to do!

I tried putting the batteries in several different ways but each time I had an open circuit. No luck.

After hours of research, I finally came up with a solution. I created a dummy battery out of a jumper. Now I have a complete circuit! This also gives me the flexibility to use 5 or 6 alkaline batteries if I need to.

The battery pack was ready for testing! My first run with the external battery provided me with 5 hours of operation on one charge. 5 hours!! Count them! One, Two, Three, Four, Five!! I had hoped for 3.

Another bonus to this setup is that your camera battery will charge while you have this external pack hooked up.

Step 5: Neoprene Battery Cover

Now that I can run my DV camera for 5 hours on external battery power and another 40 or so minutes with the provided battery, I needed something to put my new battery pack in so that it looked cool. I didn't want people to see me with AA batteries dangling from my camera.

I wanted it to be black like all good photographic equipment. I also thought it would be nice to have it a little water resistant. Just in case it rained or someone tried to spill Coke on it.

Neoprene was my thought. Some thin neoprene. I had never worked with neoprene before. I figured there must be a good way to glue it together. After all, they make dry suits out of the stuff and they don't leak.

I found some stuff on-line but it cost too much and I would have to wait for it to arrive. I already had my neoprene. I took an old mouse pad and pealed off the fabric top leaving me with a nice thin piece of neoprene.

I cut my pattern out of the neoprene and used contact cement to glue it together. It worked great! Once it was all glued together, I added some Velcro to keep it closed and I was done (for now. I need to add a clip or belt loop to it.)

8.4 volt, 2500mAh external battery pack for my DV camera.



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    46 Discussions

    I have this Panasonic DV camera with a very low charge battery. I did get allmaterials to make your device but, the connector of my camera doesnt have a sinple (+) and (-) polarity, it has a four signal input...

    1 reply

    If you could find a wiring schematic for your camera, that might help determine what is what. You can also use a multimeter to determine the voltage and polarity of the plug.

    I see that you are not that familiar with electronics, as you said you were worried about having too much current.

    As long as you have the correct voltage, then the current will automatically be right for what the camera is using and never be higher unless you have a short or something fails, in that case then the extra current available can do more damaage, but not much more that with the regular battery.

    1 reply

    I see that you are not that familiar with the English language. I went back to see what you were talking about and found my comment

    "I wasn't too worried about the current output of the batteries."

    I used the contraction "wasn't" which is the shortened version of "was not". I realize I only saved 1 character by using the contraction "wasn't" over the use of both words "was not" but it is a habit. I should look at updating my instructable with the full use of both words to aid in readability and understanding.

    I'm planning a road trip with some friends,and when we were discussing what we were going to do with the camcorders' batteries, they nearly jumped from their joy when i told them i could try to make a battery pack. And now today i find this instructable.You sir have made exactly what i wanted to do. I'm going to be doing some shopping tomorrow,and will hopefully have it done by the end of the week. I'll try to take some photos of it when it's done. I also thought of a case to put the battery pack in and i believe the best thing to do is to get a deck box used in card games.It's made of thick plastic,can withstand a few spills,and you can easily cut two holes in the back to put in on your belt,or fanny pack. My main problem,is having to sacrifice a charger,since it's a Sony and it has a weird connector,that I don't if I can find a spare one.

    8 replies

    I think You dont have to dispose your charger cable. Just cut it in the middle, make continuity connectors in both ends to re-connect every time you need it, and in tle pack of rechergeable batteries You constructed, put a cable with the same kind of connector, so You can connect to your new pack AND to your old charger too...

    Can't wait to see your pictures. Sorry to hear that Sony uses a goofy plug. That will make things a little more difficult as you pointed out. Another thing to keep in mind is how long you need/want your cord. There are times I wish it was longer and times I wish it was shorter. So maybe it is about the right length for me? ;-)

    I'm afraid I don't have good news. Even though me and a friend who helped me ,figured out a way to make the external battery pack without clipping the charger,we were unable to make it work. The reason for it was that we were unable to provide exactly 8.4V to the camera,just as the charger did. His rechargeable AA batteries,were not giving out 1.2V but 1.35V, some AA batteries from IKEA we tried gave 1.31V while some Philips he had on his remote,gave out 1.46V. That resulted in the camera turning up,but giving us this message "Please replace the AC adapter or re install it" or something along those lines. Which is basically saying "Give me 8.4V or else I'm only going to display this stupid message on your screen instead of letting you work me" So I wanted to ask you if you could use your multimeter and actually measure the battery pack,to let me know if it's at exactly 8.4V or if your camera has some tolerance to small discrepancies. Thanks. I hope to take some pics tomorrow to show you my non-working version.

    They are rated at 1.2 but when fully charged they do put out 1.3x. My pack does put out more than the 8.4 and the camera seems to be OK with that. When it gets too low I start to get audio noise as if someone is blowing on the mic. Maybe you could put in a not fully charged cell and see what the voltage comes up to? See if that works. Or try 6 cell fully charged and see if the camera likes that.

    I'm assuming that the 6 fully charged batteries theory,is not going to work,since it's going to give out 8.1V if every battery gives 1.35V and it's a bit off the original 8.4V. I believe the closest we got was to about 8.3V yesterday,while trying out various battery combinations,and the camera still gave us that message,so I think it's 8.4V or nothing. I will however try it out and see how it goes. Another interesting thing is that while the battery states on the sticker that it puts out 7.2V when measured it gave 8.4V Either Sony screwed up,or they're lying.

    That should tell us that their battery pack is a 6 cell rechargeable. The specs. on a rechargeable are usually 1.2V for each cell. In actuality they do give out higher voltage when they are fully charged as you have seen. I am surprised that the camera is taking issue with this as it should run on a range of voltage. If it didn't, you would never get any kind of life out of a battery pack. Check your wiring to double check that is connected properly. The other thing would be to try looking up that error message on-line and see if you can find anything about it.

    Here are some crappy pictures i took just now. The big black thing you see,is an external battery pack that we bought,to use besides the one i was making.It comes with 2 small bags full of connectors,and a 15 cm cable to plug those in.The problem was that the cable was too short to be able to have the battery pack in your pocket while connected. So we extended the cable by cutting it up,and addind some UTP cables.Then instead of soldering back the other end that plugs to the eX-power (seriously that's it's name),we added a female cable connector. We then added a male connector to the other end of the cable,and another one to the battery pack. So now all we have to do to swap battery packs,is change connections.

    If 3.3v is the correct voltage for your camera, then with a slightly different configuration, it should work just fine. The trick will be getting 3.3 volts. 3 rechargeable batteries gets you 3.6 volts. Check the documentation for your camera to see if there is a voltage range for operation and see if you can come up with a battery configuration to match it.

    I like this tutorial. I myself have a JVC with a battery that isn't holding the charge as much anymore that runs on 11 volts (Output 11v-1A according to the charger) and I happen to have the same Energizer Rechargable with the 2500 mAh. And since they give off 1.2v per battery, according to my calculations, it'd be 9 batteries to power the camera (and the amount of voltage isn't even enough, as the volts per battery on the lab states 1.2v, but with 9 batteries, it'd make the amount of voltage put out at 10.8v, and 10 is 12 volts). Kinda makes me wonder if JVC did it to avoid people like us from constructing our own battery packs (as their replacement rechargeable batteries for the GR-D30U are still being sold by JVC at $29, which only holds a charge for one hour).

    By using a wire with clips on the ends, I can change how many batteries I use.  If I need to use Alkaline batteries, I should use 5 or 6 or them, not 7.  So I can just move the clip to accommodate this need. 

    So there is a real reason for this.

    WARNING: Just because I have not blown up my camera yet with this external battery pack, doesn't mean you won't blow yours up. If you do create a battery pack such as this, and you do blow up your camera, it isn't my fault! I didn't tell you to do it nor did I twist your arm about it.
    i really dont see how this would ever cause any damage to a camera or laptop that this is connected to
    just as long as you don't go too high with the voltage it will be ok
    and even if you too high with the voltage,the worst thing that could possibly happen is that the camera will not be able to charge for a few minutes,worst case scenario,the camera blows a fuse on the inside
    by the way,i made myself one for my psp,it uses 4 batteries not 8,5.2 volts,instead of neoprene,i used a wall wart(transformer)'s plastic casing,and the cable that i used was the exact same size as the one for the psp's connector!
    its working perfectly for me now

    1 reply

    The warning is somewhat for fun but as you point out, it is important to use the correct voltage. You never know what is going to happen. I had a camera that fried when I had it connected between my VCR and my computer's IEEE1394 port. Turns out the computer was plugged into an outlet that was not wired properly and the ground was hot and the neutral was hot! The VCR was plugged into a different outlet that was wired correctly. Well a 120 volt potential existed between the neutral from the VCR and the neutral from the computer. When I plugged in the firewire cable the magic smoke from some components in the camera came leaking out. Three trips in for service later, the DV camera was working as new again.