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The perfect charger (?)

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Klorenzo, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I finally got this new battery charger and is almost perfect. There are a similar ones from other brands, this is the Patona synchron (Germany based I think).

    - changing the "battery plate adapter" it can charge different type of batteries (one charger to rule them all!)
    - As input current it works with: USB (5v), Car power socket (12v), Wall socket (220v)
    - As output it charges the camera batteries(!) and also has an USB output so it doubles as a 220v -> USB adapter.
    - it's quite small and light (113 gr excluding cables)
    - Has a 0-100% backlit charging display
    - it works as a battery level tester even when completely disconnected from power sources
    - it costs about 22 euros

    My main problem was to find something that could charge batteries while off the grid. There are some chargers that accepts 12v input but this means to bring around a medium sized solar pack (like the GoalZero Nomad 7) and this works only while the sun is up or with big special 12v power packs. Even charging from a car/motorbike is not ideal as you have to remember to do it while on the move (ok, with a car you can do it during the night if you can safely leave the charger inside and you remember to do it before you get into bed).
    Having USB is much simpler as I can use a common power pack plugged during the night or while hiking. Yes, charging times are going to be slow but the capacity of camera batteries is not much so it's reasonable (I still have to test a full charge time).

    Here is a comparison with the E-M1 and E-M10 chargers. Overall size is not much different from the standard ones.

    28621465943_f74ba96fb3_c.

    28621455403_0ba2cc4487_c.

    What I would improve:
    - make it smaller
    - make it double sided so that it can charge two batteries while keeping the small size

    Or just make the damn camera charge the batteries through USB like some models (TG-4 for example) are already doing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  2. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Let us know how that test turns out, starting from a dead battery. My guess is that it will be hopelessly slow.
     
  3. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I did this this morning. It took exactly two hours using an Anker Astro E1 power bank (that is supposed to be smart and figure out the best output to use depending on the device).
    The strange thing is this: to refill an Olympus BLN-1 battery with 1220 mAh it drained a whole 5000 mAh power bank! It wasn't 100% charged, let's say only 4000 mAh. A little charge is lost in the transfer for any device (from 10 to 20%) but this was much different.

    According to this article:

    "The lower its power, the more a Power Bank has to work to bring it back to life. We consider charging from 20% to 90% a full charge, as the efficiency loss increases beyond these points, leading to wasted charging potential. Going from 5% to 100% can take exponentially more power."

    According to the charger LCD I went from 2% to 100% so this may explain the huge drain. This means that it's not a good idea to completely discharge the battery, waiting for the camera to power off, but it's better to stop as soon as the indicator turns red or even before (at least when power sources are scarce or if recharge time is important and the battery should suffer less too).

    Another nice thing I discovered is that the charger acts as a tester even when completely disconnected: it uses the current from the battery to display the current charge level.
     
  4. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Interesting. I'll be keeping track of this as charging multiple cameras (sometimes with different batteries) is a constant challenge for me when I am on the road. I do like the fact that the GX85 can be charged by USB and I'm thinking of making USB charging a must-have for all future cameras purchases.
     
  5. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    Your camera battery is 7.2V at 1220 mAh, which means its capacity is 8.8 Wh. The cells inside your power bank probably are 3.7V, which means that its capacity is 18.5 Wh. Given that there are two step-up stages in the charging path (and those are by no means 100% efficient), I'd say it's about right that fully charging the camera battery drained your power bank completely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    So, wouldn't it be easier to just carry a spare charged camera battery?
     
  7. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    For a couple of days it works, for three or four weeks obviously not.
     
  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Maybe I don't understand. Aren't you going to have to recharge your booster battery from mains power after you charge each camera battery? Or if solar charge, same thing? Instead of charging the booster, use a 12v solar source to charge the camera batteries -- requiring many fewer milliampere-hours from the solar source? There are many eBay modular chargers that have 12v inputs.
     
  9. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    A 12v solar panel is not huge but neither tiny (size and weight). And I do not have one, while I already have a small 5v panel.
    The other problem is that it works only when the sun is strong enough so I have to be ready to place the battery under charge at the right time/angle and the bigger the panel (plus charger, plus battery) the more likely it is to leave it at the camp. So it may take a couple of days of babysitting to recharge one battery (go back in the evening, connect it, wait for the sun in the morning, let it charge, etc.). I have three batteries, this could work but it's not ideal. So I would need a 12v power bank to simplify the process but this is big/heavy and "expensive".

    And up to this morning I did not know about the small voltage detail and I was confident that I could charge about 4 batteries with the power bank I already have and use the small panel all day long to keep it charged. So I may get the big panel and still use it to charge the small bank and/or charging directly when possible.


    BTW: on the website this is the output from the solar panel:
    • Solar Port (blue, 8mm): 15V, up to 0.3A (5W max), regulated
    On the back of the charger there is this:

    Input: DC 12-24V 1300 mA

    Would it work? The 1300 mA is a minimum required?
     
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Probably not. 0.3A is 300ma. Far below the 1300ma that the charger says it wants. Since the solar panel also says that it is a regulated voltage, there is the likelihood that it would just shut down when connected to something that demanded more than it could provide. So, not slow charging. No charging.

    That said, electrical specs on consumer electronics are to be viewed with suspicion. I have tested many USB supplies, for example, that claim 5v/2a and won't deliver anything close. So my suspicious nature says that the 300ma. claimed is probably with the panel lying flat on the ground, at the equator, on the date of an equinox. Even such apparently simple things as USB charging cords can't be trusted. I have tested many that were made with such small diameter conductors that they couldn't deliver 2 amps through an 18" cable without so much voltage drop as to be useless. Caveat Emptor

    The only way to tell, as you are finding, is to take the specs with a pound of salt, then measure and test. The measure part is important. Fortunately decent meters are dirt cheap these days. Like this one: Tenma Pocket Digital Multimeter with AC/DC Current Measurement | 72-10400 (7210400) | Tenma or this one: Tenma 2,000 Count 3-1/2 Digit Multimeter DMM | 72-7720 (727720) | Tenma I am not shilling for MCM but I have had good luck with them and with Tenma products. They do one sneaky thing, though. They regularly publish sale catalogs but you do not get the sale price on an item unless you use the part number from the sale catalog. So if you decide to go shopping I'd encourage you to download and read all the sale catalogs and specials listed on their home page MCM Electronics: Home and Pro Audio/Video, Security and Test Equipment

    Edit: Oops. Just looked at that $20 meter again and it only measures to 400ma. Not enough for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  11. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    @Klorenzo@Klorenzo, hi, which brands of batteries do you use, and what voltage does this charge them to?

    Thanks
     
  12. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    According to the text on the back the output is:

    4.2/8.4V: 800 mA

    (maybe the difference depends on the input source? No, it does not)

    I'm charging an original Olympus and two Patona premium (7.6v, 1140 mAh, 8.7 Wh). I've used the same brand of batteries with the E-M10

    @stratokaster@stratokaster your guess was close: the power bank capacity is 19.24Wh

    @oldracer@oldracer thanks for the answer. I have a meter, I use it for the motorbike, but I do not have the big solar panel. I wrote to them just to have a confirmation and to ask for other options.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Do you have a voltmeter? I'm curious as to what voltage it charges the batteries to... the Oly batteries take a higher max charge voltage than most others.
    I have Progos & an Oly battery, and swapping the chargers results in under-charging.

    Thanks
     
  14. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    Both the chargers charge with 8.1V measured during the charge (I had to extend the meter probes with small wire to reach the contacts). This is the same value I get on the battery fully charged.

    The nice thing about the E-M1 charger is that it does not charge at all if there is no battery, probably the other three contacts activate the charge.
    This does not happen with the E-M10 charger (which has only 4 contacts rather then 5) where there is a 5.2V voltage on the +/- pins even when the battery is missing. I could not measure it while the battery is inserted as there is a small cover right over the contacts.

    Another difference is that the Oly charger immediately stops charging a 92% battery while the Patona pushes it up to 100%. This may be a choice or just a different way to evaluate the charge level.

    I suppose the 4.2/8.4V may depend on the fact that this is a multi-battery charger: with some may use the 4.2V and 8.4V for the others.
     
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  15. lchien

    lchien Mu-43 Regular

    95
    Aug 7, 2014
    Texas
    I would note as an electrical engineer that the BL-1 and BL-5 battery are 7.4V (2 cells) and the Battery bank are 3.7V (one cell).
    That means the 1220 mAh holds 9 WH of energy. THe 5000 mAh battery bank has 18.5 WH of energy from which 9WH must be transferred. Given that the voltage has to be upconverted by the Battery bank to 5V (at a loss of 80% efficiency) and probably upconverted again by the USB charger (another 80% efficiency loss) to more than 7.4 to charge, and typical charging efficiencies of only 80-90% then 18.5 WH gets quickly whittles down to less than 10WH ... it will take virtually the entire battery bank charge to charge an Olympus battery.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
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  16. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    All I can say is that I have a Nomad 7 and it dosen't work too good unfortuately (seeing you mentioned it in the first post)

    Sent from my LG-H815 using Tapatalk
     
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  17. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    In the end I got the Anker PowerPort Solar Lite. Not sealed but the 15W output is twice the Nomad for half the price (it's a little bigger though).
    And I'll spend a full 18.5 WH to recharge a single battery but...why not, and I have not better alternatives anyway.