In addition to this extremediy.org, I also run a YouTube channel (ExtremeDIY). Many of my projects are intensive in terms of time. I use a Cannon camcorder and quite often I find that the camera runs out of power. Usually, way before I am done with whatever task I happen to be doing. I came up with the idea of using a USB power bank as an external Cannon battery charger.
The Cannon Battery Charger Challenge
This presents a few challenges. USB power banks have a 5vdc output. Most cameras are a few volts north of that. Many of the Cannon and Sony cameras need an 8.4vdc source to charge or run the camera. I did some research and did find some information on doing this. Most of it was bad. It seems that the brute force approach was the most common recommendation.
Most involved soldering wires directly to a USB plug, then praying for a good outcome. One thing I didn’t want from a USB battery charger is to destroy my Cannon camcorder! So I did more research and came up with a way to use a high capacity power bank to safely feed my camera.
The Cannon Camcorder Solution with a USB Power Bank
The key to success was to step up the 5vdc from the USB to 8.4vdc. I found a great converter and used that for this project. Here is a list of the components I used. There are affiliate links to the actual parts I used at the end of this article.
- Voltage Converter
- Project Box
- 10,000mah USB Power Bank
- 3.5 x 1.3 mm Plug
- old USB cable
- Cable Ties
- Self Sticking Velcro Tape (two sided)
Building the USB Cannon Camera Charger
Preparing the Project Box
The first step was to get the project box ready. I did this by drilling two different size holes on either side. I basically matched the drill bit size just slightly larger than the cable that would go into it. So the side with the USB cable was drilled out to 3/16” and the side with the actual charger cable was drilled out to 1/8”.
This project box had mounting points. Unfortunately, they do not line up directly with the mounts on the voltage step up converter. I ended up using thick two sided 3M tape to mount the board to the box. Putting down three layers of tape gave me the perfect fit.
Connecting the Wiring
Connect the Input USB Wire
Next, connect the USB cable to the “IN’ side of the circuit board. Cut the USB cable so that you have about 8” of cable to work with. Carefully strip the cable. You want to get rid of all the shielding and the two data wires. The only two wires you’ll be concerned with are the red and black wires. These are the 5vdc feed from the USB port on the battery pack.
You’ll want to strip these two wires so that you have about ½” of bare wire. Twist the ends of the wire together and fold it back on itself. Before going any farther, slide some shrink tubing over the wires so that part of it covers the sheathing. Shrink the tubing down to help keep everything together.
Now you can slide the wires into the project box. At this point you’ll want to connect the wires to the voltage converter. The converter is marked with “+in” and “-in”. In DC circuits, red is always positive and black is negative. So you will want to connect the red to the “+in” and the black to the “-in”. This converter has screw connectors so you won’t have to bother with soldering anything.
Test your Connection to the Battery Pack
At this point, you can connect the USB plug to a source. I already had a charge on the battery bank so used that. You want to make sure that the board lights up. There is a small switch on the board that lets you switch between the input and output voltage on the led display. You should have ~5vdc on the USB side. If you don’t, you may want to check the wiring to make sure that you didn’t cut though the red or black wire and that the polarity is correct.
Connect the Camcorder Battery Charger Wire
Next, you’ll want to connect the output wires that go the Cannon camcorder. I bought a complete cable that has the right connector (see parts list below). I cut the female side of and kept most of the wire going to the camcorder side. The Cannon Vixia camcorder uses a tip+ connector. So you’ll want to identify the correct wire that is the tip. There are two wires that are part of this pre-wired tip. The one with the white stripe on the side should be the tip. You’ll want to verify this with a voltmeter.
Connecting this wire to the voltage converter is basically a repeat of what we did with the USB cord. Strip both wires about ½”. Twist individual wires tightly and fold them over on themselves. Next, slide both wires into the project box and connect them to the appropriate terminals. Make sure the “tip” wire is connected to the +out.
Completing the Cannon Camcorder Battery Charger
The next thing you’ll want to do is secure the circuit board to the three sided tape in the box. Once you have that done, secure both wires with a tie wrap inside the box. This is to make sure that the wires don’t inadvertently get pulled out.
Adjusting the Voltage
To adjust the voltage, you will want to attach the USB cable to the charged USB power bank. The LED’s should light up. If they don’t, stop and check your wiring and also check that the battery pack is turned on. Once they are on, you can toggle the small switch next to the LED to see the input and output voltage. The input voltage should be in the range of 5vdc.
You’ll want to turn the small adjustment screw (potentiometer) in the upper left hand corner until the correct output voltage is displayed. In my case I set it so it was 8.5v. You’ll want to set for the correct voltage for the device you’ll be powering up.
Finishing up the Cannon Battery Charger
Let’s go ahead and put the cover on the box. I used two pieces of self-sticking Velcro to attach the project box to the battery itself. Using one piece lengthwise and another crosswise secured the box to the power pack. Additionally, I made a small loop out of a tie wrap underneath the lengthwise Velcro to hang the external battery pack underneath the tripod.
Testing the Cannon Camcorder Battery Pack
Now that I have this all together, I have to test it to see how long I can run the Cannon camcorder with this power bank. I set up the camera with a 32GB sd card, I would change this out several times during the course of the test to make sure that it was actually recording the entire time. The camcorder also had a small battery pack on it as well. I did this intentionally to duplicate how I would use this set up in real life. This also meant that I would leave the screen on the entire time.
I attached the camcorder battery charger to it, pointed it at a clock that I had set to 12:00 and started recording. This ended up running for about 8 hours and 40 minutes before draining the external power pack! I also had about 70% power left on the battery that was mounted on the camera. This would probably have given me another half hour or so of recording time.
I don’t plan on making videos that long but I know that I will no longer have to worry about running about to get an extension cord or another battery while filming a project. This lets me focus on completing the task I am filming and letting the camera capture all of it. I have to call this external cannon battery charger a complete success!
Below are affiliate links to the items I used in this project:
Check out the video version of this article below: