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  • Another Battery Hog-OT

    I have a trail camera, used it for several years. It takes 8 AA batteries, and drains them in several months. I know it sounds trivial, but they add up. It has a battery tray that holds the 8 batteries, in series. So would it harm anything if I connected a positive and negative wire in the appropriate place and used a 12V marine battery? There is electricity fairly close, so I could charge the battery when needed. Any issues? I don't want to ruin it.

  • #2
    Lead-acid batteries (and some others) have a considerably higher voltage when being charged than when providing power only. You may want to remove the connection to the camera when charging the marine battery. Voltage under charge may go up well above 14 V.

    It is common to design battery powered devices that use standard AA etc batteries with parts that are good only for a small amount of added voltage. The battery is regarded as a fixed source (which the specified ones are), and it is not expected that more voltage will be applied.
    CNC machines only go through the motions.

    Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
    Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
    Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
    I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
    Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

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    • #3
      Probably could put a 12v zener and resistor across input to the camera to regulate the marine battery overvoltage and protect the camera. the current drain should be very light when used with the AAs so the series resistor would not have to dissapate a lot of heat.
      Glenn Bird

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      • #4
        What about the rechargeable AA's, some initial investment but I just bought some cuz already had the charger and forget the amount of repeats but if true will be dead and gone by that time...

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        • #5
          Most 12V car batteries hold 12.4-6 volts fully charged. Disconnecting the camera during charging would not be a problem for the few hours.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by rws View Post
            I have a trail camera, used it for several years. It takes 8 AA batteries, and drains them in several months. I know it sounds trivial, but they add up. It has a battery tray that holds the 8 batteries, in series. So would it harm anything if I connected a positive and negative wire in the appropriate place and used a 12V marine battery? There is electricity fairly close, so I could charge the battery when needed. Any issues? I don't want to ruin it.
            I have a similar trail camera, which takes 8 AA batteries and battery issue is the main reason I don't use the camera.

            It is relatively easy to design a device to use the rechargeable batteries, but converting from alkaline batteries to rechargeable ones is far from easy. Alkaline battery cell has a nominal 1.5V voltage and may be still good down to 1V. NiMH cell has a nominal 1.2V voltage, but in reality it starts from 1.3V (fully charged) and goes down to 1V (fully discharged). NiMH cells have the same physical size as AA alkaline battery and it makes for an easy conversion if you camera works with them. You need to verify that,

            Another candidate is a 12V lead-acid battery. It has a different form factor, but can be adapted to use it externally from the camera. I any case the weather resistant connection is a must.

            One more option is a Li-Ion cell with its nominal 3.7V voltage. Three of them in series make about 12V. The most common physical size is 18650, where the first 2 digits represent the cell diameter in mm and 65 is the cell length in mm. Such cells need to be external from the camera.

            With any rechargeable battery you need to manage charge and discharge to prevent battery distraction. The best charging would be done in a designated charger (by the battery type). To limit the discharge is far more complicated and I don't have a ready answer for that. I did not do the conversion because of these difficulties, but maybe you can do it...

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            • #7
              Ditto I got tired of spending $10-$12 for batteries. I wonder if a small 12 volt battery and solar panel mounted away from the camera and connected by a set of thin wires would work?
              Retired - Journeyman Refrigeration Pipefitter - Master Electrician

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              • #8
                Originally posted by wmgeorge View Post
                Ditto I got tired of spending $10-$12 for batteries. I wonder if a small 12 volt battery and solar panel mounted away from the camera and connected by a set of thin wires would work?
                Sure, the 12V LAB would work, but you still need a charge and discharge controller if you want your battery to last.

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                • #9
                  I have done this conversion quite a few times already. My new way of doing it is using a small 7AH SLA battery (usually out of an older UPS) with a 10W solar panel. To connect the camera I use an adjustable buck converter. https://www.ebay.ca/itm/281677889336

                  For the next try, I want to go with an old lithium battery from a 12v tool and one of those charge regulator. https://www.ebay.com/itm/402434607022, the same panel and converter.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by slamadeleine View Post
                    I have done this conversion quite a few times already. My new way of doing it is using a small 7AH SLA battery (usually out of an older UPS) with a 10W solar panel. To connect the camera I use an adjustable buck converter. https://www.ebay.ca/itm/281677889336

                    For the next try, I want to go with an old lithium battery from a 12v tool and one of those charge regulator. https://www.ebay.com/itm/402434607022, the same panel and converter.
                    Solar panel charging is nice, but charging is not the issue here. The OP indicated he has electricity and can charge the battery from the grid. I would do the same thing since I already have a designated Li-Ion battery charger. Proper charging of the Li-ion cells is tricky and there is no way around it. I am talking about Li-ion cells because this is what I have. Most of them came from an old laptop battery, battery could not hold any charge, but individual cells tested like new after 10 years in service. Li-Po batteries are a different animal and I don't have any experience with them. Your ebay link references a single cell Li-Po charger, which is not good for our project - we need at least 3 cells to get 12V.

                    Like I said before charging is not a problem, the discharge is. Although you can discharge a Li-ion to 20%, you should not go much below that. We should find a way to turn the camera off when the battery voltage reached a certain level. I am not sure how to do that.

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                    • #11
                      I did the deed today. I retrieved the camera only to find on the bottom of the unit was an "external power supply" female fitting for a round power plug. Never noticed it before. That saved me time from wiring in the battery tray. I scrounged a male power plug that fit, soldered it to a length of 2 wire. Checked the voltage on the marine battery, 12.3V. So it is back in the woods wired to the marine battery. I'm curious of the discharge rate, so every once in a while I'll check the voltage of the battery. I'll know when the voltage gets low, the camera stops taking night time pics, it can't power the infrared flash I guess. So I'm not out anything so far, didn't fry the camera, so time will tell. Thanks for the help.

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                      • #12
                        You'll probably find the 12V battery will self discharge faster than the camera will draw it down. A small solar charger will keep the battery charged.

                        Mike

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                        • #13
                          I have found my trail camera and what a surprise! It uses 8 AA batteries, but is a 6V camera. It can work from only four AA batteries or 6V external power supply. So Li-ion is out of the question - the voltage is not compatible. NiMH batteries have too little voltage for the camera to operate. But I have a sealed 4.5 AH, 6V LA battery and will try it.

                          Thank you for pointing out to the external power receptacle, I completely forgot about it. Check your camera again. Are you sure it is 12V?

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                          • #14
                            Yes, it's 12 volts. It is molded right in the rubber flap that seals off the power connection.

                            I'm going to look into a solar charger. I know there are a lot that use them on RVs.

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                            • #15
                              Something in me says run a wire out to the camera and forget about charging, battery replacement, solar panel, etc. If it's not too problematic to run a wire, then it might be the best way overall.
                              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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