On location photography shoots I usually run into the need for several chargers and very few power outlets. Other times I've packed the camera bags and forgotten the second, identical charger cable thinking it was already in the bag.
Often times I am photographing a late wedding reception and running low on juice or will need to recharge gear for the next day's shoot while at still at a late shoot. More frequently I find only one outlet available near our table and need to charge several items at once.
This is the easiest solution I have found using the cables included without buying special chargers that handle multiple batteries at once.
+ 2 or more Camera Battery chargers
(1 usually comes with the camera)
+ 2 AC leads for the chargers
+ 1 Inline AC ungrounded plug - hardware store
+ Heat shrink tubing - 1/4" for AC leads, 3/4" to cover split connection
(black electrical tape works as well
but a nice piece of heat shrink
won't unravel or leave goo
while keeping the look of
well built, professional gear.)
+ Epoxy / Epoxy Putty / Hot glue - encase split junction
(come on, doesn't every project on here use one of these 3 adhesives?)
Wire cutters, strippers
Soldering iron, solder
30 minutes or so? Not too tricky or difficult once you have the parts together.
** All the external hard drives I use have the same kind of figure-8 AC leads to the power bricks, and this Instructable can be applied to powering multiple drives or any other peripherals using same ends. **
Step 1: Gather Gear
I frequently use 2 Nikon MH-18a chargers for the EN-EL3, EN-EL3a, and EN-EL3e batteries. Flashes use AA batteries and need an additional AC outlet unless...
We add an AC extension inline with the figure-8 ends!
Step 2: Chop Shop Time
*With cables unplugged*
Figure out how much cable you'd like to have left AFTER the split and add an inch to that and CUT the AC leads as close to the same length together.
Then snip an extra length from the LONG piece left (with the plug on it) for your AC lead
Cut / unzip about an inch on the cut ends of each new figure-8 tail and the same on both ends of the bulk cable tail.
Step 3: Plug It Up
Wire the AC feedthrough / outlet tail. The plug I used is polarized but the figure-8 ends are not. As the wall-wart adapters my AA chargers use are NOT polarized I didn't go through any trouble to make sure they were matching.
When connecting the AC feedthrough plug, wrap bare wire CLOCKWISE around terminals so that it compresses the wire when bolt is tightened. Trim any excess so no loose strands can touch anywhere but the terminal itself. Wire both sides and close up the connection. For this plug I simply slid the boot over the connector.
The 3 tails should be ready to wire together.
Strip about 1/2" of insulation off the unzipped wires and twist pairs together
Step 4: Strip Show
Strip between 1/2' - 3/4" of insulation off each unzipped tail
Determine the length of cable you want to lead to the split junction and cut the AC lead with the plug attached (if needed) to this length. Strip 3/4" insulation.
FOR HEAT SHRINK: (Stongly recommended)
Slide heat shrink tubing on unzipped ends BEFORE stripping and way BEFORE joining connections.
I started with the 1/4" tubing and cut 4ea 2" pieces and 2ea 1" pieces.
3" of the 3/4" large tubing was just enough to cover the junction I made. Use a little more if you like.
Cut 2 short 3/4" - 1" covers and slide one on each of the FEED line ends. These will cover the split junctions and keep your gear from shorting and you from frying. If not using heat shrink leave room to tape over and seal off junction.
Cut 2" sections to fit on each zip cord - 3 tails and one feed. These provide strain relief and will tighten up the junction by bringing together any space in the unzipped ends.
DO NOT SHRINK IT YET!
Step 5: Solder Connection
For the best connection, solder the 4 sets of zip ends together.
Trim off excess wire / solder so the junction is about 1/4" long when finished. Make sure to keep it as small as possible to fit inside the heat shrink tubing.
Slide up the heat shrink over the soldered connections and shrink it to cover the wire completely.
Slide all remaining 2" tubing leads as close to the junction as possible and shrink away. This will provide strain relief and compress any open space in the junction to keep the finished junction and cable as small as possible.
Step 6: Shrink & TEST
Congrats on a fine splitter cable! Be sure to test the connections with a multimeter for continuity BEFORE continuing and before plugging this into an electrical outlet!
If all's well, slide all the heat shrink as close to the junction as you can and shrink it down to tighten up the joint.
Step 7: Epoxy & Cover
I used epoxy putty to encase the entire junction. This should help with strain relief as well as insulation. Keep it neat and cover it evenly before the epoxy hardens. Make sure the 3/4" heat shrink cover can fit over the epoxy covered joint.
Once the epoxy has hardened, finish off the SuperSquid with the final heat shrink cover.
Step 8: Personalize!
Just because it's a chewed up and reassembled power cord doesn't mean it can't be stylish.
In dark clubs or reception halls I have trouble telling which power cord is mine so I added a ring of orange tape to the ends to make it easier to find.
A cable tie of your preference keeps the bundle neatly together when not in use and ready to travel.
The entire completed SuperSquid assembly takes up less space than one full cable did for a single charger. Shazam! Now get back to shooting!