A DIY Canon DSLR Power Pack?

I was cruising the web and ran into Jared Abrams from Cinema5D.com showcasing the Swintronix PowerBase 70 Power Pack for the Canon 5D Mark II & Canon 7D. This is a pretty cool solution for those who are concerned about battery power and want to make sure you're running all day. Not a bad price for a unit that claims to hold the same power as 5-6 Canon LP-E6 batteries, and also has output options to power other equipment too.

Most people might not remember this, but long ago Digital Cameras used standard AA batteries, not rechargeable Lithiums. Battery technology was poor and run time was terrible, so you really tried not reviewing your images on the LCD. I remember owning an older camera that had the option to plug into an AC outlet. The brick converted AC back into DC for the camera. So I fashioned up a relative Voltage RC Car battery as my mobile power source. Worked great, dirt cheap, fast recharging, and lasted much longer than AA batteries. Ask around, you'll be surprised how many photographers are using RC car batteries for many projects.

swintronix-power-pack-canon
Swintronix Powerbase 70 Battery Pack Kit

Note: Don't follow my Lead. This could be a disastrous project.
My mind is wandering and I'm going to stir up some thought here about a possible DIY power pack for the Canon 5D Mark II. Taking a peek at the Swintronix PowerBase 70, I believe it has a rating for 14 volts but the Canon LP-E6 Battery is only rated at 7.2 volts. This sounds like there are (2) 7 volt batteries in this PowerBase. The 14 volts can be offered if these two 7 volt batteries are run in Series. Extended run times can be offered if these two 7 volt batteries are run in Parallel.

Here's the simple parts needed for a possible DIY Power Pack for the Canon 5D Mark II or 7D. First a way to connect power into the Camera. Available is an aftermarket ACK-E6 AC Power Adapter designed specifically for LP-E6 cameras like the 5D Mark II & 7D. This very specific adapter seperates from the 'Brick' leaving you with a simple adapter, not to be confused with the ones that don't seperate from the power brick. I won't need the brick, just the Battery adapter part with short wire lead.

ack-e6-power-adapter
click image

Second, just one 7.4v Lithium Rechargeable Battery will do the job powering up the camera, but if I want longer run times, i'll need to run two 7.4v batteries in Parallel. The single Canon LP-E6 Battery is rated at approx 7v 1800mah -aftermarket batteries around 1500mah. To make this worth carrying around, each 7.4v battery should have at least twice the milliamp hour rating if not more. The battery image below shows almost double the milliamp hour rating from the stock battery, so it's possible it may last twice as long.
lithium-rc-battery-7-volt
click image

Outside of those two parts, i'd need to take a short trip to Radio Shack for some wire adapter to mate the two, a decent looking electronics project box for the enclosure, and 7.4v battery charger for RC cars to recharge. I think it's quite possible to create a DIY Power Pack for the Canon 5D Mark II or 7D for a Total price roughly under $125 dollars. I really don't see why I need to make something like this, i'm just thinking out loud as usual.





12 thoughts on “A DIY Canon DSLR Power Pack?

  1. Pravash

    Hey Emm,

    thanks for your swift reply!! Checked out the Tekkeon stuff - but the guy says he cranks it down to 7.5 volts - which he considers "safe", although he says it outputs 8 volts.

    Wonder if 8.1 volts from my battery pack would fry my camera??

  2. Pravash

    Hi Em,
    You are probably just the guy I have been looking for!!
    I have a power pack VECT ET-95S - along with a DC coupler as well which fits just right on my 7D.

    The battery unit has an adaptor which as voltage outputs marked 12 volts (which I use for my field monitor) and a 5 volt, and an output marked 7.2 volts. Not wanting to take a chance with the rating (Chinese made battery) I checked out the voltage and found it was 8.1 volts. Is it safe to use this 8.1 voltage output?

    From what I know, in DC circuits, a volt or two here and there does not really fry the machine - but since the 7D is a very high precision instrument, I do not want to take a chance. Would be really grateful for your advice.
    Thanks and regards. Pravash

  3. Royal4d

    I think this guy here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjbRRHJL7B0) did the exact same thing. He has a GH2, I own a canon eos 60d, but it should work the same for every DSLR, right?

    Two or three of these and you get like, 6 hours x 3 = 18 hours, not bad at all for an independent filmmaker. The voltage regulating thing makes me think about it a bit. Is it in anyway possible that the camera could get damaged? Thanks a lot for the support.

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Cristobal - Look for a rubber piece that folds out. You'll find this rubber piece next to the door on both camera body and on battery grips. You run the cord through there.

  5. Hi Em, i have a power adapter for my canon 7d but i cant find the way to close the "battery door" so, the camera cant be turned on with closing that little thing :)
    is there a way to do it? or i need a battery grip?
    thanks!

  6. Aaron

    Iv'e been thinking about doing something like this for cold weather shooting. You could just stick the battery inside your coat too keep it warm. Otherwise the batteries run down so fast if your out below 0.

  7. You will need to regulate voltage somehow. A 2S lio pack has a nominal voltage of 7.4 but a max of 8.4v. Probably not enough to smoke something, but you may want to regulate it. You will also need a lipo alarm or some sort of cutoff to not overdrain the battery, which may cause it to explode.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    You'd have to check the MHA ratings too, to make sure it can keep up with the draw. I don't see why it wouldn't though.

  9. Garrick

    I have so many Sony batterys around do you think its possible to run a 7D off of one of these big sony L NP-970 battery? its a 7.2v. Im thinking maybe something with the ikan cradle?

  10. elbee

    I think sometimes this blog reads my mind! I have been mulling putting together something similar, with Li-Poly or Li-ion batteries to power my T2i for time lapse. Currently, I get about 6-8 hours battery life on one LP-E8 battery ( 4 sec shutter every 1 minute). Using the battery pack doubles the time, but for some time lapses, especially night sky where shutter speed dips to 30 seconds, using even the battery grip isn't enough.

    I've been looking at some of the packs here: http://www.batteryjunction.com/lithium-packs.html

    Now, I just need to fashion a decent looking box to hold it, and look for a suitable charger and volt checker to complete the set.

  11. For $125 you could also buy a battery grip and plenty of batteries, and a spare set of eneloops, which would give you even longer shooting times (albeit not non-stop).

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