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Power Your Camera or DSLR with a Large Power Bank!

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

In this project, we’re going to talk about how a DIY and modified 16,000mAh power bank powers a Lumix FZ300 Camera.



Modified DIY Power Bank Is Powering a Lumix DMC-FZ300.
Figure 1: Modified DIY Power Bank Is Powering a Lumix DMC-FZ300.

This project includes:

  • 3D Design

  • 3D Printing

  • Some Soldering

  • Some Modification

Honestly, I just did this because I was tired of having to carry so many batteries for this camera. None of which would hold charge longer than 45 minutes when recording in 4k.

So this idea came to my mind after a few outdoor shootings. I realized I could record hours instead of minutes.


Why wouldn’t you buy more batteries you might ask?


Well, I could. But the original Panasonic camera batteries cost a bit too much. I don’t get the logic behind paying 50 USD for a battery with a capacity of only about 1,200mah. I could build a 16,000Mah power bank for half the cost using replaceable 18650 Samsung cells! Plus, I don’t have to change the batteries this way and will get uninterrupted footage.


An 18650 20R Samsung Cell With 2,000mah of Capacity.
Figure 2: An 18650 20R Samsung Cell With 2,000mah of Capacity.

Another benefit of using a power bank is the batteries that are used to build it. They’re just the good old 18650 cells in which will exist for years to come due to their wide adoption in the industry. A Lumix FZ300’s proprietary battery on the other hand, may not be available in a few good years. I think you get where I’m going with this.


The Internals of The DIY Power Bank - Charging Circuit
Figure 3: The Internals of The DIY Power Bank - Charging Circuit

In this blog we will cover:


1. The main features.

2. The circuitry (What’s inside?).

3. 3D Design of the booster box.

4. 3D Printing of the booster box.

5. Building the Project.

6. Final words.


1. The main features.


This is a normal DIY power bank. Which means I had purchased the shell (which includes the charging circuit) and the batteries separately, assembled them, and then added the modified 3D-printed part.


Power Bank Shell (DIY Power Bank) Listed Online on Lazada for Cheap. About 4 USD!
Figure 4: Power Bank Shell (DIY Power Bank) Listed Online on Lazada for Cheap. About 4 USD!

The power bank has two ports and one of them charges faster. So with my modification, not only you can power your camera, but you could also charge two smartphones at the same time! It has two torch light LEDs and the other usual power bank goodies. I’ll leave a link here should you wish to buy it from Aliexpress and make your own.

How about the batteries? well, you can buy them online too! You would, of course, need to make sure the batteries are genuine and not too expensive at the same time. Here in Malaysia, there are a few good sellers on Lazada and other platforms. In the worldwide market however, you might need to depend on the good ratings of sellers on Amazon or Ebay. Search for 18650 cells that can hold 2000mAh of capacity or more.


18650 SAMSUNG Cells Sold on Lazada for Cheap.
Figure 5: 18650 SAMSUNG Cells Sold on Lazada for Cheap.

2. The circuitry (What’s inside?).


There are basically two buck boost converters used in this project.


1. Power Bank Boost Circuit with LCD - BQ-U8V1.3


This module has an LCD to show the battery percentage, two USB outputs and two USB inputs (for faster charging of the power bank I assume). It basically converts the 3.7v from the batteries into 5v (boosts the voltage) so then you could charge your phone and other portables with it.

I don’t have the circuitry for this boost converter but I know that it has current-overload protection and is readily available online for cheap. About 4USD.



BQ-U8V1.3 Power Bank Module Image.
Figure 6: BQ-U8V1.3 Power Bank Module Image.

The general circuitry for this project is quite simple!


All you have to do is connect the positive and negative battery leads together in parallel and terminate the wires on the board seen above!


General Circuit for Connecting the Batteries to Both Boost Modules. One For the Camera and One for Charging Your Portables. This Is A 16,000mah Power Bank but Your Mileage May Vary According to The Type of Batteries Used.
Figure 7: General Circuit for Connecting the Batteries to Both Boost Modules. One For the Camera and One for Charging Your Portables. This Is A 16,000mah Power Bank but Your Mileage May Vary According to The Type of Batteries Used.

2. 50W 3.7 Boost to 9v Circuit used for the camera - DD0424TA


I had to search for quite some time to find a reliable buck boost converter module that wouldn’t buckle under camera’s sudden change in power consumption (pressure) specially when recording 4k videos or zooming in and out which which activates the piezoelectric zoom motor.


This is because I had bought a dummy battery (DMW-DCC8 DC coupler) which came with it’s own boost converter and promised to work well with USB 2.0 ( 2.5W). But it kept resetting itself (and the camera as a result) as soon as I tried to zoom on something or record in 4K. I quickly realized that the 15w (or so it claimed) module wasn’t capable of supplying enough power to my camera and began my hunt for a good boost converter. I even tried a 30w (or so the module claimed) converter module and that didn’t work either.

I was so happy to see DD424TA work with my camera’s spontaneous high current consumption. Only then, I decided to proceed with designing the 3D enclosure for the module.


This is a very interesting and powerful (50W) buck boost converter module for the price that is based on a XR2981 chip. Let’s have a closer look at it.


DD0424TA Boost Module Used for Connecting the Camera to the 18650 Cells.
Figure 8: DD0424TA Boost Module Used for Connecting the Camera to the 18650 Cells.

The main star of the show for this buck boost converter module is the XR2981 chip. You can download the datasheet from here. It’s an interesting one.

This chip uses PWM method to convert the voltage at 600kHz. Quite an impressive chip from XY Semi.

I’ve added the typical application circuitry from the datasheet below. There is a good listing on aliexpress that has more details about this module. For instance, the output of this module is not limited to 9v. You can change the output voltage as you wish by changing the R1 and R2 resistor’s value on the board.


R1 and R2 form a voltage divider in which determines the output voltage of the chip. Changing the values on R1 and R2 can yield different boost voltages.



Typical Application Circuit for XR2981 Booster Chip.
Figure 9: Typical Application Circuit for XR2981 Booster Chip.

Frankly speaking, I’m not sure if there is a circuit inside this one as I haven’t opened it. I’m assuming that it’s just a plastic shell with wires inside (the battery. not the small booster). Because I have measured the incoming voltage and the outgoing (at the dummy battery’s terminals) and they are exactly the same 9 volts. The camera would appreciate 8.4 volts. However, I don’t think another 0.6 volts would hurt it all that much.


I should warn you though. If you’re building this project, I do not take responsibility for any damage caused to your camera. Mine hasn’t been damaged and is working fine. But one should always stay cautious with expensive equipment.


DMW-DCC8 DC Coupler and It's Original Buck Boost Converter Module (The Weak One).
Figure 10: DMW-DCC8 DC Coupler and It's Original Buck Boost Converter Module (The Weak One).

3. 3D Design of the booster box.


The 3D design for this extension to the power bank wasn’t difficult. But even up to this day and after having designed and printed so many things, I’m still fascinated by today’s hobby technology that allows me to create my imaginations it in a virtual CAD world, tweak it, adjust all of the details and have it printed with little to no effort in just a few hours.


My go to program for designing 3D-printable objects is ANSYS SpaceClaim. I like this program since it’s so easy to use even a 5 year old could learn it’s functions in a few hours! (no offense to the smart 5-year-olds out there!) I will try to record a vlog on how to use it program later on. Your comments on this blog will motivate me.



Designing the Buck Booster 3D Design in Ansys Spaceclaim.
Figure 11: Designing the Buck Booster 3D Design in Ansys Spaceclaim.

4. 3D Printing of the booster box.


So you think all the measurements are correct? We shall print it and it would fit? Wrong. This was printed 3 times to make up for the inaccuracies caused by stepper motor step differences. Third time’s the charm I suppose and that’s the print that is attached to the power bank. The nicest color I had in my filament box was grey. So I went with grey.


It is printed with PETG 1.75mm filament with slow speeds (30mm/s) and without a cooling fan on the printer hot-end. 0.15mm layers sliced by Cura. Using 3D printers and the correct slicer settings will come through in another blog soon!


Cura Slicing Software Environment.
Figure 12: Cura Slicing Software Environment.
Checking the Layers of a Model Sliced by Cura - Print Simulation
Figure 13: Checking the Layers of a Model Sliced by Cura - Print Simulation

I haven’t recorded a time-lapse of the item being printed. However, I can show you the results of the print below. As you can see, the box on the right side has the lowest print quality due to the wrong printing settings. The other two (in the middle and on the left side) are printed with better quality but one of them has the wrong size still. Thus, only one out of three is a good choice to proceed with.


3D-Printed Boxes Next to Each Other - for the Buck Booster PCB.
Figure 14: 3D-Printed Boxes Next to Each Other - for the Buck Booster PCB.

Only the box below makes it to the project. You can see a many plastic strings inside which is a rather a side effect of my printer than anything else (slicer settings). I will remove the strings later on using hand-held drill.


The 3D Printed Box That Makes It to Be in The Project.
Figure 15: The 3D Printed Box That Makes It to Be in The Project.

3D printing process has 3 major levels as shown below. In simple terms of course. I’d say the 4th level is to clean he extra plastic from the print.


3D Printing Process in Simple Terms.
Figure 16: 3D Printing Process in Simple Terms.

5. Building the Project.


We have discussed the circuitry of the power bank. As well as the chips and PCB modules used.


Now it’s time to talk about the mechanical part of the build. First, I had to make sure the holes are proper. When you print using the FDM method, the printer would need to print extra material called “support” to ensure the print won’t lose integrity during the printing process. The “support” material help the them to basically stand upright and defy gravity in a sense. So then every print usually needs to be cleaned of the support material with a cutter or drill (in case of holes and how the model was sliced.)


That Little Piece of Plastic Under the Drill Bit Is “Support Material”.
Figure 17: That Little Piece of Plastic Under the Drill Bit Is “Support Material”.

The holes at the bottom don’t look very nice either, so let’s fix those too.


Cleaning the Holes at The Bottom of The Printed Part So They Look Round.
Figure 18: Cleaning the Holes at The Bottom of The Printed Part So They Look Round.

Then it’s time to clean the stringing side effect inside. That took a little bit of drilling.


Cleaning the Stringing Side Effect of My 3D Printer.
Figure 19: Cleaning the Stringing Side Effect of My 3D Printer.

We will then need to connect the printed part to our power bank. To do that, there needs to be holes to accommodate the screws and one more for the wires to pass through.


Drilling Holes to Connect the Extension.
Figure 20: Drilling Holes to Connect the Extension.

Creating A Hole to Pass the Booster Wires Through.
Figure 21: Creating A Hole to Pass the Booster Wires Through.

Now it’s time to insert the female plug into our extension box, make sure it’s secured by melting some 3D plastic on it (using a hot air station) and then insert the booster PCB on top.



Hot Air Station Melting 3D Filament Plastic.
Figure 22: Hot Air Station Melting 3D Filament Plastic.

Let’s solder the booster circuit to the batteries and screw the extension box up tight. The circuit diagram is the one mentioned previously.


All Connections to The Buck Booster Converter Made.
Figure 23: All Connections to The Buck Booster Converter Made.
Connecting the Extension Booster Buck Converter Through Screws to The Power Bank Body.
Figure 24: Connecting the Extension Booster Buck Converter Through Screws to The Power Bank Body.

Last but not least, when building your DIY power bank, you want to make sure the batteries are installed with respect to their polarity. It’s best to check the polarity with a multimeter first. Or else, you might end up with a fire or explosion!


Here, I did that accidentally and it almost caused a fire. The short circuit current was so high that the sprint was melted! Do not try this at home.


18650 Cell Inserted into The Power Bank with The Wrong Polarity.
Figure 25: 18650 Cell Inserted into The Power Bank with The Wrong Polarity.

Alright! All is good and well. We can finally pop the cover back in. I had used some double-sided tape as well to ensure the batteries aren’t going to shake inside the power bank. That could be dangerous as well.


Popping the Power Bank Cover Back On.
Figure 26: Popping the Power Bank Cover Back On.

Looks good! Doesn’t it? Now it’s time to test it and see if it still works after being put inside the box. Just to make sure everything is alright.


Completed Power Bank + Buck Boost Converter.
Figure 27: Completed Power Bank + Buck Boost Converter.

But, does it work?


The Booster Circuit Works Like a Charm! Project Completed.
Figure 28: The Booster Circuit Works Like a Charm! Project Completed.

Absolutely! Here’s how it looks in a size comparison to the original battery. 16000mAh (Samsung battery - powerbank) versus 1200mAh (original Panasonic battery). You would usually carry a camera bag with you and this power bank fits perfectly fine in the average camera bag.


Size Comparison of The Power Bank Battery Versus the Original Battery
Figure 29: Size Comparison of The Power Bank Battery Versus the Original Battery

6. Final words.


It’s good to build something that isn’t practical, just for the sake of learning. But I like to take a level higher and build something close to a market-ready product. So then I can use it every day with pride.


Update:


I did try it for a 3 hours photoshoot in KL Lake Gardens a few days ago (20th DEC 2020 - photos coming soon). And to my surprise, it stayed at 100% after I had recorded about ten 4k short videos and had taken about 150 pictures. It was such a great experience! Because you would never have to think about running out of juice ever again!


You can keep the camera on at all times. Just point. And. Shoot.


Stay tuned. A new YouTube video for this blog will be coming soon.


Your comments will be a great source of encouragement for me to write more.


Thank you.

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