Eye to Eye, Portable power supplies


The true portability of modern HD mini-cameras and flash-RAM video recorders is encouraging programme makers to go way beyond reach of tethered power supplies. But are the battery-makers living up to the demands being placed on them?
Recommendation 1 in portable power supplies is so obvious it almost doesn't need stating: rechargeable batteries are far more cost efficient than the use-once-and-dispose variety.
Recommendation 2 is equally obvious but not entirely practical. The lead-acid batteries used in the majority of cars and uninterrupted power supplies are a proven and cost-efficient portable power source offering high power-to-weight ratio. But their lead plates make them heavy and their dependence on sulphuric acid liquid or gel reduces their appeal as a travel companion.
Recommendation 3. An even more obvious portable power supply is the tug-along diesel-powered generator that accompanies large OB trucks on the rare occasion that they are not within reach of local mains. This is certainly an efficient option provided the locals don't mind the smell but hardly relevant to the modern age of high portability.
Battery technology has developed in several directions since Alessandro Volta created the voltaic pile in 1800. Available technologies include lithium air, lithium-ion, lithium-ion polymer lithium iron phosphate, lithium sulphur, lithium-titanate, nickel-cadmium, nickel hydrogen, nickel-iron, nickel-lithium, nickel-metal hydride, low self-discharge NiMH, nickel-zinc, rechargeable alkaline, sodium-sulphur, vanadium redox and zinc-bromine plus a few currently in the melting pot. So don't complain that TV-Bay is not practical and informative.
In reality, you trudge around IBC, NAB or meander through the web looking at the latest portable lights, cameras and recorders, making careful note of the batteries they use, their storage capacity, mounting type and price. That conveniently narrows the range to specialist brands such as the following.
Anton Bauer's recently introduced Dionic HC is a lithium-ion battery compatible with existing Anton Bauer Interactive2000 PowerChargers and Titan series chargers. It detects the camera load and displays run-time based on existing operating conditions. The battery uses cells originally designed for high rate applications.
Cine 60 has developed a new battery with V-Mount Adapter under the name of BLOQ. Designed to run a Sony PDW-700 for more than two hours, it takes less than one hour to recharge. If a short is detected, the battery is switched off within a few milliseconds. The number of shorts and date of occurrence are logged along with highest and lowest temperature and charging cycle count.
Cine Power produces a wide range of portable power supply products including battery packs and belts. The company's 15 Amp-hour camera power battery was used by David Breashers at 6 kilometres altitude on a 2004 Everest exhibition. More recently, the Mega-D was used in the Canadian Arctic by Polecam inventor Steffan Hewitt filming walrus for 'Call of the North', released ion 2006 by National Geographic.
Hawk-Woods recently added to its range the RP-4X4 four-channel simultaneous charger for the company's Reel Power camera batteries. This 6 Amp-hour charger will charge up to four batteries at the same time. Dimensions are 18.5 x 22 x 15 cm.
IDX' E-HL9 Series high-load lithium ion battery line can handle a 10 Amp load. Two E-HL9 can be combined to delivery a total power capacity of 176 watt hours. It also supports the company's Digi-View, enabling a viewfinder reading for battery levels in many cameras. A five-LED power status display delivers an incremental capacity reading. The E-HL9S is a cheaper alternative battery with the same single-unit power capacity as the E-HL9 and a three-LED power indicator display.
Panasonic subsidiary Sanyo Electric, which manufactures many of the cells used by battery system suppliers, is in discussion with six manufacturers of electric and hybrid cars to supply lithium-ion cells with the aim of winning 30 to 40 per cent of that market by 2020. The company's declared aim is to reduce the cost of manufacturing lithium-ion cells to less than half its currently industry average of 66 UK pence per watt hour by 2015. Sanyo already provides nickel-metal hydride batteries to Honda and Ford for their respective hybrid cards and will also be supplying Peugeot Citroen from 2011.
Panasonic itself recently tested a 40 cm long 1 kg four-wheeled device powered by its Evolta-brand rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride cells recently on a two-month 500 km trundle from Tokyo to Kyoto, stopping once a day to be recharged.
The majority of commercial airlines have become relatively safety-conscious compared with the days when they allowed smokers to light and quietly doze off with miniature bonfires in mid-flight. Most now refuse to allow lithium-ion ENG batteries on-board aircraft in hand luggage despite legitimate air safety certification that proves compliance with IATA regulations for lithium content and United Nations testing. For this reason, PAG has introduced 'flight friendly' ZL-Series (zero lithium) travel packs.The ZL-Series comprises battery packs with capacities of approximately 150, 125 and 50 watt-hours. Models compatible with either the V-Mount or PAGlok formats are available. There is also a 40 watt-hour NP1 pack. The ZL-150 is PAG's highest capacity battery and is packaged in slimline format rather than the cumbersome 'brick'. Lithium-ion batteries of this capacity are limited to two units in hand luggage, whereas the ZL-150 has no such restriction. Power and time displays are incorporated.
SWIT recently introduced two high-capacity batteries specifically for the RED camera. The D-8161S holds 190 watt hours and can operate for around three hours. The D-8111S holds 126 watt hours digital battery and can work for more than two hours. Remaining battery power is displayed at rear of the camera.
Solar future?
Mid-winter Britain is not an ideal environment in which to contemplate solar cells as a serious power source except for production crews heading south. Rain-powered, snow-powered or cloud-powered perhaps but. More likely, a combination of existing electro-chemistry and nanotechnology will lead to batteries which far higher performance than is presently attainable. Lithium-ion still looks the most promising avenue for development, MIT having claimed that an electric car based on its Nanoball technology could be recharged in five minutes compared with eight hours.

Tags: iss049 | psu | dionic hc | lithium-ion battery | anton bauer | cine 60 | cine power | hawk-wwods | idx | panasonic | swit | pag | zl-150 | paglok | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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