Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

One Battery To Rule Them All (Or How To Simplify Your Camera Rig)

Too many batteries...
Do you ever find yourself caught in the frustrating task of juggling the myriad of batteries and chargers that fill your camera bag? Cameras continue to get smaller every year as they shed unneeded weight. While my back is thankful for the lighter load, the downside is that they are also shedding standard parts like monitors and XLR connections. That means I have to add them back on in order to make the camera work properly. And with each additional accessory comes an additional battery and charger to manage. Here I present my current solution for taking four batteries down to one, which includes a power solution for the JuicedLink Riggy. One battery, forged by Anton Bauer... One battery to rule them all...

The Heart Of The Solution:
The trick to simplifying my camera rig has been to find one battery solution that can power everything: camera, external monitor, audio adapter, and even my shotgun mic. At the heart of my system is the Anton Bauer Battery (AB), also called Gold Mount batteries*. I prefer these batteries over the V-Lock system, as the AB batteries retain a solid connection with the battery plate even after years of use. It has been my experience that the V-Lock batteries tend to loosen over time, making their connection points unreliable. The AB batteries deliver 14.4 volts (12-17 operating) which is more than enough current for everything I use. In fact, it is too much current for my audio gear. That is where a power regulated AB plate from Letus comes in handy.
(Power Regulated Letus AB Plate)
This plate comes with 4 D-Tap connections built into the plate. Each connection can be unregulated, or customized, to a predetermined voltage like 5v, 8.4v, 9v, or 12v. So if I have an accessory like the JuicedLink Riggy that requires 9v power, and my camera requires 8.4v's then this plate can accommodate it via a regulated D-Tap port. Now I only have one battery system to worry about, and one charging station to use. Couldn't be simpler! All of my power comes from one place. And since the JuicedLink Riggy can provide phantom power for my shotgun mic, I can stop carrying AA batteries too!

One Battery To Rule Them All
Yes, you might be thinking, but an adapter from D-Tap to the 9v JuicedLink Riggy doesn't exist! Well, that is where this handy modification comes in...

(You might also like: How To Build A Camera Cart For $200)

*If you are looking for a reliable and more affordable battery solution then AB, check out Batteries For Broadcast. I've had good success with their gold mount batteries over the years.


How To Make A 9v to D-Tap adapter:

DISCLAIMER: As with all DIY projects, your mileage may vary. I take no responsibility for your results. Improper wiring, connections, and improper use can result in damage to your equipment. Proceed with caution.

The Parts You'll Need:
- Extra D-Tap Cable (Either: Lowel AB Cable or Zylight AB Cable)
- 9v Battery Adapter
- Foam/Wood (I recommend going with wood)

Tools You'll Need:
- Soldering Iron
- Wire Cutters/Strippers
- Electrical Tape
- Glue

Instructions:

1. Using wire cutters, clip off the end of the D-Tap cable  and strip it, revealing the two inner cables (Red & Black)
Cut D-Tap Cable
The Cut End

2. Using the soldering iron, connect the BLACK cable from the 9v battery adapter to the RED cable from the D-Tap cable. Then connect the RED cable from the 9v battery adapter to the BLACK cable from the D-Tap cable.
9v batter adapter
Yes, this is backwards. Normally, red connects to red, and black to black. But the 9v battery adapter was meant to connect to a 9v battery. We are not doing that here. Instead we are sending power to the JuicedLink Riggy and using this connector as out 9v battery. Therefore, to have the polarity aligned correctly, it needs to be "reversed" when it is connected to the D-Tap. You can double check for yourself by lining up a 9v battery. :)
9v adapter & 9v Battery Comparison

3. Wrap the soldered cables with electrical tape.

Completed Cable

4. Using foam, or a small block of wood, cut a dummy 9v battery body.

"Battery" in place

5. Glue the 9v battery to the block of wood/foam. (Although I show a foam example in this tutorial, I am finding that it isn't holding as well as I like. Using something stiffer like wood will work much better).

6. Cut a notch into the battery compartment for the cable to escape. (Although not shown in the picture below, the lack of a notch makes it difficult to remove the battery compartment).
Plugged In.
Now enjoy only having to worry about one battery on set instead of four or more... but be careful, for none can withstand the power of the one battery :)

Until Next Time - Get Out There And Shoot!
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