Power Your Camera From USB Power Bank: Up to 5hrs of Runtime!

Since 2017, I have used canon 700D as my primary camera. After years of usage, its battery is almost exhausted and can’t back up for more than 15 minutes. Buying a new battery isn’t a good option for me because they are very expensive and not much convenient for me so, I am thinking of powering the camera from a USB power bank which leads me to certain amount of problems that can be solved to complete this project. Let’s start the discussion.

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Canon Original LP-E8 Battery

How Much Power does the Camera Consume?

Before doing anything, it is better to check the power consumption of the camera. So, I have used my bench power supply as a power source and used the old battery enclosure along with the battery connector to feed the voltage into the power terminals of the camera. I have set 8.2V on the bench power supply because it’s the full charge voltage of a 7.2V camera battery so that the camera thinks that a fully charged battery is connected.

Of course, this setup has worked flawlessly, I can record videos, shoot photographs even with flash. Mostly the camera consumes 660mA during video recording. Definitely, A bit of extra current is needed to shoot photos and a bit more to shoot photos in flash. Basically, I have seen a lot of current spikes on flash photography which leads me to think of does the power bank full fill that power demand?

How to Power the Camera From USB Power Bank?

Mostly, all the power banks by default deliver 5V on their output and this DSLR needs a forward voltage of at least 7.2V to work with. So, obviously, that amount of low voltage can’t power it on. So, I needed to increase the voltage to a certain value so that the camera can detect it and can think that a proper battery is connected. I have used a boost converter module based on MT3608 IC. This little guy is very powerful. It can easily handle 2A of current on its output. So there is a lot of headroom for the camera.

Anyway, I have connected the boost converter with my bench power supply and set the power supply at 5V. Then I have adjusted the trimmer to set the output voltage at 8.2V

How to Externally Power the DSLR?

Powering up the DSLR externally is not so simple. There is no power input port on the DSLR Cameras so that the first solution that came to my mind is to use the old battery enclosure.

First I have dismantled the battery, salvaged the battery connector from the old battery set, and have fixed the connector on the PCB. Next, I have used a 4.7uf electrolytic capacitor in parallel with the connector’s positive and negative terminals. Next, I have soldered two wires in these terminals. This yellow wire is positive and black is GND.

After placing the PCB inside the battery, let’s join the two pieces together.

So, will the DSLR Camera Work at 5V?

Yes, it will. The camera is properly powered up at 5V. I can record videos, capture photos and even I can use flash during photo shoots. But as I told you before, during the flash photography I have seen so many current spikes. At 5V, I have noticed up to 3.2A of current momentarily. In video recording, however, I have seen up to 1.5A of current consumption which will be fine for the power bank but I am really concerned about the huge 3.2A of current draw. Will the power bank handle it?

Will the Power Bank Handle the DSLR Camera?

To connect the power bank with the boost converter, I have used a micro USB breakout board and soldered wires at the positive and negative terminals from the breakout board to the boost converter.

After connecting the power bank with the Micro USB breakout board, the camera is just working fine, and flash as well as the continuous shooting mode are doing well. So, we are just ready to move forward.


How to Choose The Power Bank For DSLR Camera?

There are several power banks available in the market but you have to choose the right one to get success in this project. I have chosen the Xiaomi Powerbank 3i which can on paper deliver 2.4A but in real life, it can provide up to 3.5A which is enough for our project but not all the power banks aren’t capable like this so it’s better to check some reviews before buying the one.

Power bank’s total capacity is also important. I have chosen the 10000mAh one if you go for higher capacity then obviously you can get more camera run time. Lower capacity means lower the run time. I personally prefer to use at least 10000mAh one for roughly around 5hrs of camera run time! Isn’t it astonishing?!

Enclosing All the Parts…

Some of you may ask why haven’t I put the boost converter into the battery enclosure? The obvious reason is heat. As the camera works for hours it definitely generates more heat. If I pack the boost converter with the battery enclosure, it also takes place inside the camera. The converter definitely heats up during operation. So you can guess it the camera heats up quickly because only of this converter so it’s better to place it outside from the camera body.

To do so, I needed a proper and lightweight enclosure to pack every component altogether. So I have measured all the components and designed a case on fusion 360. I have also left two holes for input and output LED indications and one for the output wire to pass through.

Download the 3D Printed Case

Next, I have exported this design to Cura, slice it, and print it using PLA by my 3D printer.

After finishing, I have first removed all the support material and have installed the MicroUSB breakout board in this cutout and tightened this with bolts.

As I have mentioned, I left two cutouts for the LEDs so, I have used one on the input of the boost converter and another one is on the output. Input line indication LED works on 5V so I have used 47-ohm resistor and output indicator will work on 8.2V so 220-ohm resistor is finalized. Finally, I have soldered a suitable wire with the boost converter and passed it with the respective cutout.

To fit these LEDS on their respective holes, I have designed and printed two washers for the LEDs so that the right amount of them can be exposed to the outside of the casing. This is definitely not so important; I have done it only for aesthetics. Anyway, let’s fix these LEDs with superglue, place the boost converter with double-sided tape, and put the lead of the box in its place.


Final Test…

After plugging in the MicroUSB cable in the MicroUSB port and the other end of the cable to the power bank, I have noticed the two LEDs are glowing.

After testing on the output wire, I have got 8.2V. So, everything is fine.

Let’s put the output wire inside the dummy battery, solder the wires & use a bit of super glue to join the two parts of the battery enclosure altogether.

After inserting the dummy battery inside, the camera works and does everything that it supposes to, but there is a problem with this setup: after putting the camera onto the tripod, I have to always hold or put this power bank somewhere near the camera which is definitely not so convenient. So I have designed a power bank holder on fusion 360 and printed it with my 3D printer. This holder can be set on the legs of the tripod using Velcro.

3D Printed Tripod Powerbank Holder Design

Now put the power bank inside this holder and we are done.

How Much Camera Runtime Can I Expect from a 10000mAh Powerbank?

Well, to calculate the camera runtime, I have nothing to do with the mAh rating because it is defined at 3.7V and we are here talking 5V from the power bank so without wasting to calculate the capacity from mAh to Wh, it is better to take the given Wh value written on the box and the body of the power bank which is 37Wh. So, by dividing it by voltage and current consumed by the camera, we can get the total runtime. The calculation is shown in the picture below.

So, I can expect this power bank can run my camera approximately 6 hrs at full charge during videography if it is constantly consumed 1.2A at 5.1V. At the worst-case scenario with 50 % efficiency, I can expect around 3 hrs of video shooting time which is really great.

So, in the end, I would say this was a pretty helpful project for me. This simple solution will help me a lot during my shoot and I will never have to concern about low battery. That is why I’m sharing this project with all of you guys so that you can fix your problems like this too.

To fold all the excess micro USB cables I have designed this cable manager that folds all the excess cable.

Download the 3D Printed USB Cable Organizer Design

Watch the video of this project here! Anyway, if you find this project helpful enough then don’t hesitate to express your valuable thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting & appreciating.

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