I take long timelapses, for astrophotography. My camera's batteries are irritatingly short-lifed for this purpose, and so I wanted to try an alternative. I found .stl files for 3d printing the form factor of the battery as an empty shell, and I'm pondering popping something like this inside:


This would let me connect any micro-usb power supply and step-up the voltage to the 7.4 volts the battery itself ought to supply.

Now, I'm not so hot on electronics beyond basic circuitry, so the dangers of this approach are lost on me. Obviously I'll test that it's not going to melt the printed battery case and I'll check that the output voltage is stable before giving this a try. What I want to know is; are there any non-obvious dangers to this approach? For instance, if a certain component fries on that board, is there a danger that the camera this is plugged into will be killed? (input voltage will be 5v so that seems unlikely, but I just don't know for sure).

  • \$\begingroup\$ kind of naive question: you are sure your camera does not have an external power plug, right? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3 '20 at 8:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusMüller an entirely sensible question! But yes, I'm sure it doesn't have an external power plug. I didn't purchase it specifically for this, so having one wasn't on my list of requirements when I bought it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan Scally
    Aug 3 '20 at 9:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ in that case: what's the actual camera model? Also, these seem to be second-sourced batteries, and it happens pretty often that these don't even remotely fulfill the specs printed on them. Do you remember whether the new original parts lasted longer? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3 '20 at 9:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the biggest potential problem might be noise from the power supply affecting your imaging sensor during long exposures. You need a very clean and high quality step-up power supply. \$\endgroup\$
    – StarCat
    Aug 3 '20 at 9:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StarCat huh, I hadn't considered that at all. Thank you - I'll add that to the list of things to test. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan Scally
    Aug 3 '20 at 9:51

I would recommend against your approach and use the solution that the camera manufacturers have already made. Every camera brand already has a solution to this assuming you can get AC power to the tripod position.

The solution is a Camera AC Power Adapter, these work by having a dummy battery that is connected to an AC powered regulator. This will ensure you don't cause any damage to the camera as most of these battery packs require the thermistor reading as well as the voltage.

I would not recommend connecting something DIY to the camera, it would be a sure way of voiding a warrenty if you did cause any damage.

Various models for the systems

Sony System (Alpha) - Sony AC-PW20 Replacement AC Power Adapter

Canon System - Andoer ACK-E18 LP-E17

Nikon System - Nikon EH-5 plus EP-5 Replacement AC Power Adapter

  • \$\begingroup\$ As far as I know, there isn't an "official" solution that fits my camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan Scally
    Aug 3 '20 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is you camera the Olympus E-M10 MK III, that takes the BLS-50 battery. The closest thing I can find for that battery is this. link \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3 '20 at 9:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ bah, I got the model wrong, sorry. Was doing it from memory; it's actually a step down from there; the E-M5 MK II. Wrong model doesn't materially change the Q though. That thing you found looks like it's basically doing this exact idea of mine, except with the step-up module integrated into the USB cable. Or am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan Scally
    Aug 3 '20 at 10:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the link I've sent is basically what you are planning to build! If you plan to make one, the key things to know are the expected max current draw of the camera during use, might be hard to work out without measuring yourself. Except for if you over volt the camera body I don't see much risk of causing damage. If the camera draws too much current the voltage will drop & the camera will assume the dummy battery is low & power down. You may want to put a large Cap in the battery to deal with spikey current draw from the sensor other than that I wouldn't expect many issues. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 3 '20 at 10:24

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