With a little DIY ingenuity, a filmmaker can have one battery to rule them all. But should they?
With a wide variety of video gear comes just as wide a variety of batteries that a filmmaker must carry to power them. From lights to monitors and recorders and the cameras themselves, each design comes with a different size and type of power cell.
A YouTuber has managed to create a DIY battery adapter that can unify all his gear to run on a single battery model. That means cameras, monitors, video transmitters, lights, and more can run off of a single battery type, unifying his power needs and simplifying his kit.
How did this YouTuber do this?
“This simple DIY adapter converts your camera's batteries to NP-F mount, meaning you can power your camera, monitor, video transmitters, lights, and more off of a single battery type,” writes Caleb Pike, aka DSLR Video Shooter. “You can now just pack a single battery type (FZ-100, LP-E6, etc), and you're good to go!“
Check out Pike's video below, then let's break down this DIY battery adapter even further so you can create your own.
How To Make This DIY Battery Adapter
The adapter is based on the Sony NP camera battery line, which is not only ubiquitous, but uses the same general voltage that most cameras and other gear can run on, and comes in a literal wide variety of sizes and capacities. The only challenge is that the connections are different from gear to gear. If you are using another camera model like Canon, an adapter must be employed.
The thing is, they don't exist.
Pike says that his same adapter can be built around just about any camera’s battery, be it Canon, Panasonic, or any other camera rig.
The key is what voltage it supports, and if the two battery plates can be physically adapted. The NP-F supports 7.2 volts, which is in the range of most camera gear battery requirements. Pike also points out that with a variety of capacities, just about any NP-F style battery can be used, though he prefers the smaller, more compact models. They may have a shorter battery life, but he says it's worth it for a more compact fit.
Fortunately, for cameras, there is an LP-E6 to NP-F adapter that connects a Canon battery. If you have one of those, then you're done.
However, for other batteries—especially those that aren't made from Sony or Canon—a Watson FZ-100 single battery plate designed to work with Watson chargers will do. B&H sells them for about $2.00 apiece. There’s also a Dual USB Digital Charger that has two of the plates with the charger for about $12 on Amazon.
The second major part is an NP-F connection which can be harvested from either a dead NP-F battery or a simple dummy camera battery insert that can be used to plug in a DC power source. The risk of using an old camera battery is that one runs the risk of puncturing the lithium battery housed inside. This can cause a fire. So caution is advised as you cut around the perimeter of the battery case.
Pike mentions it twice, but we will mention it again for safety's sake: use caution!
If that seems too risky, Pike says that you can take a simple dummy battery coupler and squeeze it until the case separates from the interior workings. Then it's just a matter of removing all the unwanted circuitry until left with a red and black wire for connecting.
Once those two halves have been harvested, the next step is to verify the positive and negative connections on each side with a multimeter. It’s a good idea to draw the image to refer to. The next step is stripping the wires from the harvested NP-F plate and “tinning” them with solder. Then, connect those wires to the battery charger plate, and glue the two halves together.
Again, Use Caution!
This will be the fourth time for those who are counting.
Pike cannot stress enough how careful one should be if one decides to harvest from an old battery. He also talks at the end of the video about how to use a multimeter to verify each positive and negative connection and to determine the proper voltage.
It’s also important to measure the battery depth of the battery and the receptacle on your gear. Sometimes the depth of the connection may be too wide or deep, requiring some sort of shim or spacer. Once fitted, however, you then have a battery adapter for just about any device in your gear bag. No more packing multiple battery types and chargers for a shoot. It’s one battery to rule them all.
Pike was able to get about one hour of power to his Atomos Ninja V video monitor recorder. That’s not too bad, especially when you can just swap out the battery, or create a dual adapter to double the capacity on a monitor that supports two batteries. Or one can use a larger NP-style battery to be adapted from. It's all up to preference.
The "One Ring" Problem
Pike’s all-in-one battery adapter is an interesting solution for filmmakers who love to tinker to max out the performance of their camera gear, but also to streamline their workflows. Not having to lug around multiple battery chargers for a variety of different batteries is bound to make set life a bit easier.
But one battery to rule them all may not always be a great solution. Creatives who aren't comfortable with the fundamentals of electricity should steer clear. There are a lot of pitfalls to consider when tackling a project like this. But, if you are knowledgeable and handy, this is something to think about.
A filmmaker on our team owns an older Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera and would love to convert the LP-E6 battery connection to either a Sony NP-F or the new Canon BP style of batteries.
So what do you think? Are you handy enough with a soldering iron and a multimeter to attempt this DIY adapter? The DIY power source option is sure attractive (much like the One Ring) but comes with downsides that Pike doesn't mention. There could be a risk to your gear and the possibility that using a power source in this fashion may void your warranty.
The convenience may just outweigh the risk. Just be sure you know what you’re doing should you decide to give this project a try.
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