V lock battery mount (with built in battery) for powering handheld rigs
Don’t attempt this if your not confident soldering or using a multimeter. Just buy a ready made V lock mount or a cheap Chinese battery and plug it into your DSLR using the proper leads from switronix.
This project started when I wanted to balance my front heavy rig. The weights that attach to the 15mm rods are quite expensive and they don’t do anything else useful. I’ve seen Red and Arri cameras on set with V Locks batteries hanging off the back. So while being the common battery on set and powering the camera they can help to balance a handheld rig.
At the moment I use a bunch of different batteries on my handheld rig. A Canon LP-E6 for the Zacuto EVF, AAs on the Zoom H4N and Panasonic batteries on the GH2. I have to remember to have spares and have all the batteries charged, which is a bit of a pain. The cheapest solution I found to balance my rig and power my camera from a V lock battery was by Catclaw but it’s not the prettiest solution. I also looked at the Lanparte which is very pretty but double the price.
If you buy the bits separately the 15mm rod mount is $30 and the V lock battery plate is $27 so your paying $50 for a power splitter. There are dedicated DSLR cables that can run strait from the V lock mounts D tap so you don’t need to buy the power splitter but the dedicated cables are over $100 each. Here is one for the Panasonic GH2 and the Canon 7D/5D. I searched for a cheap power splitter so I could build the rig myself but I couldn’t find one…
I did find a battery with a built in power splitter and the cheapest place I found it was on eBay for $35. Convinced I could build a V lock mount for my DSLR with a built in battery, I ordered the parts. I bought a slightly more expensive 15mm Rod mount (cheese plate) that could hang vertically but it still came out cheaper than the Catclaw rig.
The V lock mount, battery and cheese plate arrived a week later and I put them together. I’m not going to do step by step photos, if you don’t know what your doing here you could kill your camera, even your battery. If you want me to build one…just ask.
I soldered the V lock mount to the Chinese battery so if I plug in a V lock battery to the mount it runs through the power splitter. Then I discovered my GH2 needs an adapter called DMW-DCC8 when not using a battery. I had a cheap battery that didn’t hold its charge for very long so I decided to pull it apart and build a DMW-DCC8 rather than buy one. I did some research into DIY adapters and found the GH2 is happy with 9V in which means I can use the 9V output on the power splitter. I pulled the old Panasonic GH2 battery apart and attached the 9V output lead (that came with the battery/power splitter) through a hole I drilled in the Panasonic battery to the terminals testing the polarity of my homemade DCC8 with my multimeter.
I found the camera still thought it was attached to a battery except the camera was receiving 9v so it flashed a warning saying “This battery cannot be used”. I covered the two middle terminals of the battery and found the camera worked fine, just as if it was connected to the DCC8 adapter. The camera uses the incoming voltage to decide if it’s running off a battery or the DCC8 so there is a momentary pause when powering up via the DCC8. The Zoom H4N came with a power adapter so I cut the plug off. Then I soldered it to a USB plug. I ordered a DR-E6 AC power adapter to power the Zacuto EVF because I didn’t have any Canon batteries laying around to cut open.
So now I have a V lock mount with a built in battery for my DSLR that can power my Zoom, Zacuto EVF and DSLR at the same time and I don’t have to worry about changing batteries. I can plug in a V lock battery and run everything all day off one battery. I don’t even have to take it off to charge or buy a $200 charger for it just plug in the built in battery. As an added bonus it was cheaper than anything else out there.