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  1. #1
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    External Battery for GoPro Camera

    Hello all. Figured this was the best forum to ask questions about making an external battery for a GoPro Helmet Wide camera. If not, please move.

    I got myself a GoPro Helmet camera. The video has been great and I have quite enjoyed it. The only complaint I have is battery life. The camera uses 2xAAA batteries. I have been using brand new 850mah Energizes, but my run times have been 12, 21, 30 and 33 minutes. As you can see, the batteries have been working longer each time, but I would still like it to be longer. I was thinking an external battery pack would remedy this.

    The camera itself holds the batteries in the back and then the whole camera goes into a waterproof housing. If I were to make an external pack, I would buy a second waterproof housing that I would drill a hole into for the cord. I would like to be able to run it off the internal batteries when I needed it to be waterproof. Is any of this possible?
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  2. #2
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glynis27
    Hello all. Figured this was the best forum to ask questions about making an external battery for a GoPro Helmet Wide camera. If not, please move.

    I got myself a GoPro Helmet camera. The video has been great and I have quite enjoyed it. The only complaint I have is battery life. The camera uses 2xAAA batteries. I have been using brand new 850mah Energizes, but my run times have been 12, 21, 30 and 33 minutes. As you can see, the batteries have been working longer each time, but I would still like it to be longer. I was thinking an external battery pack would remedy this.

    The camera itself holds the batteries in the back and then the whole camera goes into a waterproof housing. If I were to make an external pack, I would buy a second waterproof housing that I would drill a hole into for the cord. I would like to be able to run it off the internal batteries when I needed it to be waterproof. Is any of this possible?
    I'm really surprised nobody else has even replied to this. Maybe should have been posted in the "videos" forum?

    It _should_ be possible, and I'll be finding out really soon. Got my GoPro, and want to do some time-lapse stuff over a long period of time, so am thinking of hooking it up to a 3V AC adapter. For use on the bike, I think your plan should work, and I'm hoping to try. Figuring some wood dowels to act as blanks holding the contacts inside the camera, with the cabling through a hole in the case, just like you say.

  3. #3
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    I use 1000mah rechargables and get about 45 minutes (a lot less when it's really cold). I just carry an extra set. An external pack might rememdy the cold battery problem so I would not have to do this:



    I'd mainly be worried about compromizing the waterproof case.

  4. #4
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by cytoe
    I use 1000mah rechargables and get about 45 minutes (a lot less when it's really cold). I just carry an extra set. An external pack might rememdy the cold battery problem so I would not have to do this:



    I'd mainly be worried about compromizing the waterproof case.
    Yeah, I remember seeing your post showing that - really clever!

    I would think that for MTB'ing the small decrease in splash resistance (since it's nowhere near waterproof anymore) would be minor. Could possibly even hot glue the hole.

    I read somewhere that you can power it through the USB -- I'll have to try that as well.

    I sent a question to GoPro customer support (keep hearing how good it is, let's find out) seeing if they think auxiliary power would work. "don't do it" may be the answer...

  5. #5
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glynis27
    The camera itself holds the batteries in the back and then the whole camera goes into a waterproof housing. If I were to make an external pack, I would buy a second waterproof housing that I would drill a hole into for the cord. I would like to be able to run it off the internal batteries when I needed it to be waterproof. Is any of this possible?
    Okay, here's the update. You _can_ power this thing through the USB. As I type this, I'm running a series of photos (5 second delay) and there are no batteries in the unit! So, simple solution. However, it might not be the most secure, unless you figure out how to get the plug to stay in. If the plug falls out, you're on batteries. This could also solve the problem of cold batteries - get the power to the camera through the USB camera, and keep the batteries in a pocket inside your jacket. That'll keep them warm, and you could also use bigger batteries, like AA or larger.

    Here's GoPro's quick reply to my question:

    > If rigging your own power supply to the camera, please make sure that
    > the voltage will not exceed 5v. Higher voltage supply can damage the
    > camera. You can also use a USB wall or car charge adapter to power the
    > camera through the USB cable.

    So setting up some sort of battery connection through the battery compartment itself is fine, as well, just don't exceed 5v!

  6. #6
    rider of bicycles
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    I have a GoPro Hero Wide and have come to the conclusion that it's simply a poor design. After going round and round with their customer service (which is actually pretty good), they ended up telling me that the camera will not operate on less than 2.4V.

    Incidentally, that's the nominal voltage rating of 2 NiMH AAA batteries wired in series. So, it's a very non-robust design- ie it only works when the batteries are FULLY charged, and will stop once they get down to their nominal voltage rating. For me, I usually get UP TO 20 minutes of recording after a fresh recharge, usually more like 12 minutes.

    Overall, I'm completely disgusted with the GoPro Hero Wide- doing the external battery mod similar to info in this thread is the only way the camera will probably be useful.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmh
    Okay, here's the update. You _can_ power this thing through the USB. As I type this, I'm running a series of photos (5 second delay) and there are no batteries in the unit! So, simple solution. However, it might not be the most secure, unless you figure out how to get the plug to stay in. If the plug falls out, you're on batteries. This could also solve the problem of cold batteries - get the power to the camera through the USB camera, and keep the batteries in a pocket inside your jacket. That'll keep them warm, and you could also use bigger batteries, like AA or larger.

    Here's GoPro's quick reply to my question:

    > If rigging your own power supply to the camera, please make sure that
    > the voltage will not exceed 5v. Higher voltage supply can damage the
    > camera. You can also use a USB wall or car charge adapter to power the
    > camera through the USB cable.

    So setting up some sort of battery connection through the battery compartment itself is fine, as well, just don't exceed 5v!
    Thanks for getting this info. Hmm, so an external 2 or 4 18650 cell pack in parallel (so max 4.2 volt) would work well

  8. #8
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by cytoe
    Thanks for getting this info. Hmm, so an external 2 or 4 18650 cell pack in parallel (so max 4.2 volt) would work well
    4.2V might work but I'd probably aim to keep it closer to the nominal 3V of the two AAAs. I was thinking maybe 4 AAs, two in series, two in parallel. Heck, if they're AAs, you can get those up to 2800 or so mAH now, so just two might be sufficient. Or, use three NiMH for a voltage of 3.6V. I don't know enough to speak intelligently on the subject (not that that's ever stopped me) but I'm thinking if they list 5V as the limit, I'd wanna stay plenty clear of that.

    But, yeah, this really does open up the options for external packs. I also asked GoPro if they might consider making a cable which just supplies USB power. Not like you can't use the existing cable, but a dedicated cable could be smaller/lighter/more flexible if you leave out the AV stuff.

  9. #9
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    Wow, I had given up on this thread a while ago! Good to see I am not the only person with this problem. Every review I have read on the GoPro rates it very highly. They never mentioned the battery life being so very poor, but they were likely not using rechargeables. The thought had crossed my mind to find some AAA with more capacity. Which 1000mah are you using Cytoe? The 45 mins you get would likely be enough for most of my rides.

    I tried again just last week, and my batteries only last 6 mins. I was not pleased. I see the new GoPro has an on-board rechargeable. I guess they got tired of the complaints.

    With using the USB port, did you need to make your own cord?
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glynis27
    Wow, I had given up on this thread a while ago! Good to see I am not the only person with this problem. Every review I have read on the GoPro rates it very highly. They never mentioned the battery life being so very poor, but they were likely not using rechargeables. The thought had crossed my mind to find some AAA with more capacity. Which 1000mah are you using Cytoe? The 45 mins you get would likely be enough for most of my rides.

    I tried again just last week, and my batteries only last 6 mins. I was not pleased. I see the new GoPro has an on-board rechargeable. I guess they got tired of the complaints.

    With using the USB port, did you need to make your own cord?
    Using La Crosse Tech AAA's and charger.

  11. #11
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    I can't believe I have totally missed this thread, maybe I need to spend more time on-line.

    I have the Hero 3, so not the wide version and run it with Energizer AAA which I thought had better capacity than 750mAh mentioned earlier. Of course I can't find them at the moment so can't check. will keep looking and when I know I will confirm.

    Only ever had problems with battery life once and that was on a bitterly cold winters day at Stromlo.

    Have also had good success with lithium AAA but that's an expensive way to go.

    Of greater interest to me is, have any of you tried night video? I built my triple MC-E to try and get it to work and if the "rabbit" was right in front of me it showed up but as soon as there was any distance between us all the video shows is darkness. The wide has some good quality night video of a car race but I would be interested in hearing first hand.

    Thanks

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    if I were to do this, I would make a dummy AAA pack with a lead that came off of it. get a real cable gland, and leave a pig tail. then just run the thing on a single 1s li-ion.

    for non-external power, just get a new housing and use it normally. avoid any possible issues with losing the waterproofness.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by emu26
    I can't believe I have totally missed this thread, maybe I need to spend more time on-line.

    I have the Hero 3, so not the wide version and run it with Energizer AAA which I thought had better capacity than 750mAh mentioned earlier. Of course I can't find them at the moment so can't check. will keep looking and when I know I will confirm.

    Only ever had problems with battery life once and that was on a bitterly cold winters day at Stromlo.

    Have also had good success with lithium AAA but that's an expensive way to go.

    Of greater interest to me is, have any of you tried night video? I built my triple MC-E to try and get it to work and if the "rabbit" was right in front of me it showed up but as soon as there was any distance between us all the video shows is darkness. The wide has some good quality night video of a car race but I would be interested in hearing first hand.

    Thanks
    Yeah, I've taken night video before with a Hero Wide....oh wait, no I didn't, because the batteries died prematurely first

    Also, the problem is voltage, not mAh. They designed the camera to require more voltage than is reasonably usable from the rechargeable NiMH Energizers that they tell you to use. Thus, it runs until the batteries get down to their nominal voltage rating (which is about 15 minutes for me), then it stops working. Li Ion batteries work for much longer because they have a higher nominal voltage than NiMH and it takes much longer for them to drain down to 2.4V. But, you have to buy new ones at $5/pair for about every 50 minutes worth of video. Even then, you still have to be very mindful of battery life.

  14. #14
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    i have the go pro hero wide using energizer 850mAH rechargeable batteries i have yet to drain the batteries completely - generally i have to stop and change out the memory card (2gb) before i have to change the batteries -- this is in all types of weather hot, warm, COLD high 30's - so as of right now i haven't had the poor battery issue that other members have had.

    perhaps you can try some rechargeable batteries and see how they work for you

    best of luck
    joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy
    i have the go pro hero wide using energizer 850mAH rechargeable batteries i have yet to drain the batteries completely - generally i have to stop and change out the memory card (2gb) before i have to change the batteries -- this is in all types of weather hot, warm, COLD high 30's - so as of right now i haven't had the poor battery issue that other members have had.

    perhaps you can try some rechargeable batteries and see how they work for you

    best of luck
    joe

    Read my above post. mAH is not the problem.

    And, the fact that it works fine for a few people, and hardly works at all for others means it is not a robust design. The batteries coming out of the Energizer factory are not all exactly the same. GoPro designed their camera such that it is right on the edge of being usable with the batteries they recommend, such that the variability in the batteries from Energizer is enough to make the difference between a system that works, and one that doesn't.

    I'm an engineer myself and design products for a living. The Hero is a poor design. A good design will work robustly- factors such as variability of the batteries should not affect the performance, they should design around that.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryguy17
    if I were to do this, I would make a dummy AAA pack with a lead that came off of it. get a real cable gland, and leave a pig tail. then just run the thing on a single 1s li-ion.

    for non-external power, just get a new housing and use it normally. avoid any possible issues with losing the waterproofness.

    This is exactly what I was thinking. I didn't know if a dummy pack exists or if I would need to make one. If I need to make one, I don't really know where to start.

    Now that I know you can use the USB port for power, that sounds like a better solution. Anyone know what size/name of plug on the side of the camera? Is it just standard Mini USB?
    Last edited by Glynis27; 10-21-2009 at 01:22 PM.
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  17. #17
    cmh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glynis27
    This is exactly what I was thinking. I didn't know if a dummy pack exists or if I would need to make one. If I need to make one, I don't really know where to start.

    Now that I know you can use the USB port for power, that makes this a bit easier.
    I'm figuring I'm gonna make a "dummy pack" since my searches for the same turned up nothing. Two ideas I had are 3/8" wood dowels with metal contacts at the ends and possibly a single piece shaped with a router. The dowels are easier, obviously, and I think I've got the right size at home.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AAA_battery - AAA battery is 10.5mm in diameter, or roughly 3/8". Cut to about 44mm long (~1 11/16") and then run wires to some sort of metal contact at the end. Cut a hole in the back cover, run the wires out there and then out through a hole in the clear housing. I'm thinking run that to a 3pk of AA NiMH batteries, so 3x1.2V = 3.6V, or a little over the nominal 3V it's expecting. That plus 2700mAH rating and an 8GB card should result in some pretty respectable recording times!


    cmh

  18. #18
    help with the zip please
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  19. #19
    rider of bicycles
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    The HD Hero does seem to have fixed the issue with a rechargeable Li Ion battery pack + 32 GB capacity. However, I won't spend more money with a company to upgrade from a product that doesn't work correctly to one that *probably* works correctly, unless they give a healthy credit for a trade-in/upgrade.

    This is one method that may work: rechargeable Li Ion cells, in the form of a AAA battery. You would have to change the wiring of the batteries from series to parallel to get 3.7V, 600 mAh

  20. #20
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    5 volt regultator - LM7805 for example

    I stumbled on this thread and have an idea for GoPro USB Power

    Voltage regulation is HIGHLY suggested...

    ::: Google: LM7805 schematics

    Here's one. peterflemming.ca/flemmweb_current/schem/opamp_linear/7805.pdf

    thomas.tuerke.net/on/tech/?thread=1162366360]USB]USB External Battery

    ___________________

    I am going to build on with a 9 volt battery... maybe several in parallel for longer use

    An interesting bonus... the LM7805 needs a HEATSINK... you can keep your batteries warm, lol

    (Also, it should be possible to lower the 9v a bit with a diode or 2...)

    WITH appropriate heat sink and cooling... the chip will handle up to 30v input and provide rock solid 5v output. The greater the input voltage, the greater amount of energy wasted as heat, the bigger the heatsink that is needed.

    The chip has thermal protection and is VERY inexpensive.
    ___

    Hit me up with any questions, ideas.



    ______

    Shrink wrap the diodes, connections, etc and mount the chip to an old heatsink from an old motherboard or video card.
    ______



    ______






    ______________________________________

  21. #21
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    I will look into making some form of a pack for these. The voltage of the pack correlates with the mah of the pack. A pack of longer Mah is going to hold the voltage higher for longer compared to lower Mah pack

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BallisticBatteries View Post
    I will look into making some form of a pack for these. The voltage of the pack correlates with the mah of the pack. A pack of longer Mah is going to hold the voltage higher for longer compared to lower Mah pack
    Ballistic, I'd be interested in buying a connector that uses a standard 1/4" Magicshine male on one end, if you can sort out the slot-connector for the GoPro HD.

    I have lots of 3.7v battery packs that would work.

  23. #23
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    gopro external powser supply without drilling a hole into the case

    This is how I added an external power supply to my GoPro Hero 2.


    Unfortunately I am not able to post links because I am brand new in this forum. So if you would be so kind to fix this link and post it in your answer you could help other users to see how you can create your own external power supply.

    replace xxxx with http
    xxxxxx://fotos.mtb-news.de/f/8u/hc/8uhcq9d931pt/original_goproexternalpowermod.jpg


    There is no need to drill a hole into the case, like you see it from others having the same issues, and the two power cables are actually small enough to fit through even if the case is closed. Careful spread some super glue on the back side of the black plastic before putting it into the metal housing of your custom ultra flat mini USB GoPro plug.

    Now you can extend the 3-5 hours of battery life of your GoPro with an USB external battery pack. Depending of how many batteries you are willing to carry around with you.

    You can iron the cables with low head so that the metal core doesn't melt through to make the cables even more flat. This should make it little bit more water proof. But it should be ok to stand the rain anyway without iron the cables.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails External Battery for GoPro Camera-gopro-external-power-mod.jpg  

    Last edited by grodin tierce; 07-24-2012 at 02:05 PM.

  24. #24
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    I use one of these:
    DC Converter Step-Down Buck Module 7V-24V to 5V 3A,5V usb output power adapt | eBay

    Its great for powering/ charging various usb devices, go pro, cell phones, ipad ect. I removed the binding posts and soldered on a deans T connector since my battery packs all use those.

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