Hacking a DSLR – Creating an External LiPo Battery Pack Modification

By , June 28, 2012 11:40 am

In this video I talk about my homemade Canon DSLR external LiPo battery adapter. With this hack* you can replace a Lithium BP-511 battery with a modified Canon DR-400 adapter and a 2S LiPo Battery. This is great for recording long duration timelapse sequences in cold temperatures. I also show how to use an inline Watt's Up power meter to monitor the voltage on a 2S 5500 mAh LiPo battery.

*I'm using the term hack in it's original meaning - as an electronics hobbyist who modifies an existing piece of hardware with a soldering iron to turn it into a new device or invention.

When modifying a DC power cord it is important to use a polarized power connector like the standard red Deans plug. This will help to protect your camera from reversed DC power. I would only recommend a DSLR LiPo battery pack mod to a person who is very comfortable with electronics and soldering. Make sure to test everything TWICE with your multimeter before plugging in any cords!

You can check out my Winter in the Barrens Timelapse that was created with the help of this power adapter.

With external battery power I was able to record my winter barrens timelapse sequences for hours on end in -16°C temperatures.

With external battery power I was able to record my winter barrens timelapse sequences for hours on end in -16°C temperatures.

My trusty Canon D60 DSLR camera has been a great workhorse of a camera and can now handle the low temperatures of a Canadian Winter.

My trusty Canon D60 DSLR camera has been a great workhorse of a camera and can now handle the low temperatures of a Canadian Winter.

Since I soldered a Deans DC power connector on the DR-400 dummy battery module I can still connect it to either the standard Canon battery charger for wall power or to a 2S LiPo pack for external battery power.

Since I soldered a Deans DC power connector on the DR-400 dummy battery module I can still connect it to either the standard Canon battery charger for wall power or to a 2S LiPo pack for external battery power.

This setup is the perfect replacement for a standard Canon BP-511 battery.

This setup is the perfect replacement for a standard Canon BP-511 battery.

The modified Canon DR-400 module is inserted in the battery grip.

The modified Canon DR-400 module is inserted in the battery grip.

The Canon DSLR is now powered from an external 2S LiPo Battery pack.

The Canon DSLR is now powered from an external 2S LiPo Battery pack.

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2 Responses to “Hacking a DSLR – Creating an External LiPo Battery Pack Modification”

  1. Hey. I have been looking for this type of thing for ever. I have a canon t3i and do a lot of film work with it in clubs and videos and Im always having to switch out my batteries. Well I have my camera ons 25lbs rig all the time and it's not the easy to just change the battery. Lol. Could you help me with details so I could build one but for a canon t3i?

    Morgan

  2. Andrew Hazelden says:

    Hi Morgan.

    If you are interested in making an external battery pack for your Canon T3I camera you can start by modifying an existing Canon ACK-E8 module. The ACK-E8 comes with a "dummy battery" module that goes in your camera. It is called a "DC Coupler (E8)".

    I wouldn't recommend the low cost eBay knock-offs of the ACK-E8 because they have a high failure rate and very low build quality.

    You can read more about the ACK-E8 module on B&H Photo or on Amazon.

    The ACK-E8 dummy battery has a DC style barrel connector on the end and is used to provide external DC power to the camera at the same voltage as a regular Canon LP-E8 battery (7.4 VDC).

    If you chop the "DC barrel" cord from the ACK-E8 kit you can connect it to a larger external "2 cell" 7.4 Volt LiPo Lithium Polymer battery. A "2 cell" LiPo battery is labeled "2S" (meaning 2 cells in series) when you are looking to buy one online.

    You should be able to find these supplies at a local Hobby store or you can get them online. I have purchased my Lithium Polymer batteries from a company called Hobby King. They sell Lithium Polymer batteries online to RC model airplane hobbyists at very affordable prices.

    Here is an example 2S (2 cell) 7.4 Volt 5200 mAh Lipo battery from Hobby King.

    Lithium polymer batteries require a custom battery charger that keeps the cell voltage even as the batteries are charged. I use the affordable "IMAX" brand charger from Hobby King when I charge my LiPo batteries.

    When you go to assemble the DC power cord for the LiPo battery, make sure to double check the polarity when you solder the wires!

    Regards,
    Andrew