Camera Hacker


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Making a RC Battery Pack Adapter for Digital Cameras

This article shows you how to hack your digital SLR camera to draw power from a RC battery pack. Why would you want to do something like this? There are numerous reasons:

  1. You can get professional-like extended power supply at a fraction of the cost.
  2. RC battery pack can be charged in 15 minutes. When is the last time you were able to charge a digital camera battery in 15 minutes?
  3. You can use the same battery pack for different digital SLR cameras, instead of buying proprietary battery pack for each different camera.
  4. Battery pack specifically for your digital SLR may be obsolete (you can't guy it any more).
  5. RC battery pack and its standard interface (Tamiya connector) has been around for ages. It's unlikely to change any time soon. (It's been twenty years since I started playing with radio control cars and the battery pack has been the same.)
  6. Building this power supply adapter yourself is fun.

In this article, we use the Canon EOS D30 and interfaces through the Canon BP-511 battery pack. However, the same concept can be applied to virtually any digital camera. You just have to make sure that the voltage specification matches closely.

The Canon BP-511 battery pack is spec'ed at 7.4 volts. Most digital SLR cameras uses battery packs in the 7 to 8 volts range. The 7.2 volt RC battery pack is perfect for this application.

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What You Need

You can find RC battery packs at your local hobby store that carry R/C car and R/C planes. They are practically standard in the R/C hobby. If you don't have a local R/C hobby store, you can order it online.

The RC battery pack comes in a few different varieties. Originally they are only available with NiCd battery cells. Nowadays, you can get them with NiMH battery cells. The NiCd version is a little cheaper than the NiMH battery packs. But the NiMH battery packs are superior in almost every way compared to the NiCd battery packs. The biggest noticeable differences are 1) NiCd battery pack loses charge in about a day, while NiMH will lose charge over several days; 2) NiMH has higher capacity.

You can get RC battery packs in 6 cells (7.2 volts) or 7 cells (8.4 volts). Check your digital camera for voltage requirements, then get the battery pack that matches.

Amazon has battery packs with the Tamiya connector and the Traxxas connector. I tend to stay with the tried and true Tamiya connector. And that's the connector you will see in this article.

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