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Those AA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries are expensive!...so I thought I would take advantage of the auxiliary power port on my Bushnell Trophy Cam and hook up an external battery pack.

I knew that simply hooking up a 12 volt battery to the camera would fry it. I had been trying to figure this one out for a long time (see original post here http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=4736969 ), but I had some time off between the Christmas and New Year's Holiday and finally completed the project. I could have simply bought the solar charger that Bushnell makes for the camera, but the area that I plan on mounting the camera does not get a lot of sun since it is on a North facing slope and in the deep woods. Plus...a DIY project is much more fun.

Here are a few pics of the final result. I am testing it out in my backyard right now and I have taken over 3,000 pics and videos in the last few days (dang squirrel's) and I have 100% battery. I will share the materials that I used and how I did it in the next few posts.

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Note: The camera is ON, but there aren't any AA batteries.

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I ruined a couple drill bits drilling holes in the t-post. Good thing I hammered it in the ground before it froze.

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Optional solar panel attached. I reclaimed a dead tree branch and made a post to mount the solar panel.

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Semi-homemade feeder. The small trash can is just the right size for a 50 lb. bag of yellow gold. Spray painted to look like ASAT.
 

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Here is the parts list.

12 volt battery. Any 12 - 22 volt source will do, but I was able to score this one on clearance at Walmart. It also came with a waterproof case and AC/DC charger.

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While I was at it. I also picked up the solar charger. Also on clearance.

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The solar charger is not required. Just a "nice to have".




A "Buck Converter" to step-down the 12 volts to 8.4 volts.

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This is the one that I bought off of Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C0KL1OM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 .



2.1 mmx5.5 mm DC Power Jack Socket.

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I bought these...also off of Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JR591DG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1



Waterproof Project Box

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Again...Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JEWNKR0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And last but not least....The CABLE. I will cover this in the next post.
 

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The cable....

I was able to find all kinds of connectors on eBay and Amazon that I thought might work. This type of connector is commonly used for security cameras and low voltage lighting. They could be found for just a couple dollars each, but I wasn't sure of the dimensions or if the gauge of the wire was going to be sufficient. Rather than try to save a few bucks on something that I was unsure about, I called up Bushnell and just ordered theirs. It was only $11 shipped and came with the squirrel proof shielding.

The phone number and "replacement part" number are on the invoice below.

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If you want to save some money and buy the $2 connectors, I took some measurements for you below.

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Next....Assembly...putting it all together.
 

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Regarding the Bushnell cable. I cut off the end that attaches to their Solar panel/Battery combo unit and wired it directly to the Buck Converter. After peeling back the aluminum shielding, a black and red wire were revealed. Just to make sure of the polarity, I verified it with my Harbor Freight multi-meter. I got it for FREE with a coupon.

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In researching the specs on the Bushnell Solar/Battery unit, I found out that the output is 8.4 volts. There is a dial on the back of the buck converter to adjust the voltage output. Using my multi-meter, I adjusted it down to 8.39 volts. The camera will run off external power anywhere from 8.4 volts down to somewhere around 6ish volts. Once the voltage drops below a certain point, the AA's take over.

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Note the polarity on the cable. With the little notch facing down, Left is + (positive) and Right is - (negative).


I will throw in a few more pics since I took the time to take them.

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Model # 119873C. I think the "C" is for "camo" or "Cabelas" since Cabelas carries the camo version. Elsewhere, it is brown.


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As mentioned earlier. I am testing everything in my backyard for now. So far so good. I will keep you posted on how it does and let everyone know if I end up frying my camera.

I had originally bought a couple 12 volt (7.5Ah) sealed lead acid batteries for setting this up at my hunting location. The 32gb SD card holds about 7,000 pictures using the 14mp setting on the camera. When I go to swap out the card, I will just replace the battery with a fully charged one and charge up the old one when I get back home. Wash, Rinse and Repeat. The solar charger is going to be pretty much useless for my setup (heavily shaded area), but it was on sale and couldn't pass it up.

I didn't do the math on what all this cost me, but it should pay for itself in short order given the price of those AA Energizer batteries.

Oh...Happy New Year! I am going to go watch the ball drop and then go to bed....if I can hold out that long.



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The battery pack is tucked away back in the tree out of the elements.

You can see it in the upper left portion of the pic (10 o'clock).


I cut up an orange juice container to provide the camera some protection from the weather.
 

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really cool! but gotta ask why would just a 12v external fry a camera? does the battery just store power and the camera takes what it needs from it?
 

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Voltage that is too high can cause premature failure of electrical and electronic components (e.g. circuit boards) due to overheating.
 

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So far so good.

I has been a few weeks now and the cam has taken over 6,000 pics and videos so far. The battery indicator is at 100% full strength (3 bars) and hasn't budged a bit....even with the single digit temperatures we have been getting lately.

The 12 volt battery did draw down to 11.8 volts. It should be somewhere around 13 volts when fully charged. The solar charger must not be keeping it topped off. The buck converter still showed 8.1 volts though. Rather than draw down the 12 volt battery #1 anymore and risk damaging it, I put it on my small 1.5 amp Schumacher battery charger and swapped it out with battery #2 while it is recharging. This is most likely what I will be doing when I place the camera in it's real location...a deeply shaded area where the solar charger will be of little use. I will swap out the SD card and the battery every 4 weeks or so.

A set of Energizer Lithium AA batteries (8) would probably be dead about now.

For some reason I was having trouble posting any pics this time around. I will try later.
 

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I recently made a similar battery pack for my Aggressor HD.

Here is where i was able to get the power cable from
http://custom1enterprises.com/custom1enterprises_004.htm
Used amazon to find a 12v to 9v converter, a dakota lithium 7Ah battery , and a menards Survivor Dry Box Green (Model Number: S1072-11 | Menards® SKU: 1759050)

So, yeah.. for around 90 bucks, I was able to make a pretty solid battery pack. I could have had a cheaper battery if I used a conventional SLA battery. But I feel the lithium will give better performance.
Either way, when you have to pay almost $17 for an 8 pack of lithium AA batteries, it wont take long to get my money back out of this battery box.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey NeoKane,

Thanks for the links. Feel free to post pics of your battery pack. I am interested in seeing what you and others have come up with.

Now that hunting season is over and Winter is in full swing, I am going to start working on battery pack #2. I will look into the Dakota Lithium batteries as I agree...they are superior to standard SLA batteries, but they sure ain't cheap. I already have a $4 Harbor Freight plastic (and hopefully waterproof) ammo can to house the battery (or batteries). It fits 2 7ah SLA's perfectly, with just enough room for wiring in some connectors. This should give me twice the run time when wired in parallel but may be overkill...plus it will be quite a bit heavier.

Again, thanks for the links. I looked at the $35 kit that "Custom1..." put together. I think I prefer the Bushnell cable over theirs since it comes with the vinyl wrapped aluminum conduit shielding to keep the critters from chewing through the wires. The buck converter I chose is rated for up to 3 amps vs. their 1 amp and it is made out of aluminum instead of plastic which should help with better heat dispersion. Not to mention, but I only have about $20 in my "kit".

With my last card pull/battery swap, I changed the settings on the camera to take pics only (no videos). I want to see how many pics I could get before the battery drops below 12 volts. I think video (especially nighttime video) drains the battery faster as it has the keep the IR LEDs lit up over a longer period of time. I will post the results later.
 

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I did another card pull/battery swap today...right around 30 days since my last one. I was able to get 5,122 pictures and the 12 volt battery dipped down to 10.6 volts.

I'm thinking it should last longer than that, but oh well. At least I do not have to shell out any more $$$ to buy more AA's. I'll just keep recharging the 12 volt batteries and swap them out every month.

Another $18 saved.
 

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Sorry...just seeing your post. That battery should work as long as you step it down to 8.4 volts.

With the capacity of that Lithium ion battery, you are gonna fill up the card before the battery dies.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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I set out a trail camera this weekend over a couple of salt blocks. Here is the setup and view. You can see why a solar charger will not work in my situation. The woods are overly mature with a very dense canopy...no sunlight.

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I was going to make a 2nd battery box out of a plastic ammo can, but opted to just Keep it Simple.

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I made a "basket" that the battery could sit in so that I could easily swap them out every 30 days or so.

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I had someone ask me about the polarity of the connectors. Here are a couple of pictures that I hope clarify things a bit.

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That'll work. Let us know what kind of battery life you are getting.

I'm swapping mine out every month or so and still have 3 bars after taking 300-400 pics/videos in "hybrid" mode.

I could definitely run it longer but I worry about draining the battery lower than 12 volts. Besides....I'm too curious to see what is on the sd card and can't wait much longer.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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Update:

Come to find out, the polarity to the "made in China" solar panel was wired backwards by the manufacturer. No wonder it wasn't keeping my battery topped off. Should extend the battery life now. I still check the SD card and swap out the battery every month or so.
 

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Great setup!

Looking for some help for a cuddeback system. I’m thinking of switching and trying an entire set of cuddeback cuddelink cameras. The G series take 4 D batteries and the J series take 12’AA batteries. How can i figure out what to step down the voltage to in order to make a SLA- solar setup? I have found the jack size for external charging port so that’s good but having trouble on the figuring aspects of
The voltage. You seem fluent in these things

I have 3 covert cellular code blacks and have built my own battery packs with solar.
I did buy coverts cable that stepped down 12 volt to 9. Got an ammo can- stuck a SLA in it and wired my covert cable and solar charger to the respective terminals. Drilled holes and used rubber grommets for entering/exiting cables and bam done.

Now that I’m wanting to try the cuddeback system all the reviews say the battery life is terrible. Any thoughts?
 

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Great setup!

Looking for some help for a cuddeback system. I’m thinking of switching and trying an entire set of cuddeback cuddelink cameras. The G series take 4 D batteries and the J series take 12’AA batteries. How can i figure out what to step down the voltage to in order to make a SLA- solar setup? I have found the jack size for external charging port so that’s good but having trouble on the figuring aspects of
The voltage. You seem fluent in these things

I have 3 covert cellular code blacks and have built my own battery packs with solar.
I did buy coverts cable that stepped down 12 volt to 9. Got an ammo can- stuck a SLA in it and wired my covert cable and solar charger to the respective terminals. Drilled holes and used rubber grommets for entering/exiting cables and bam done.

Now that I’m wanting to try the cuddeback system all the reviews say the battery life is terrible. Any thoughts?
Thanks.

I'm not that familiar with the Cuddeback's, however your 4D cell camera is definitely running off of a 6 volt system. 1.5 volts x 4 = 6.

12 batteries is a lot of batteries! I would have to guess that they are wired in a combination of a series and in parallel.

My Bushnell Aggressor cam has 2 sets of 4 AA batteries wired in parallel to make 6 volts. 1.5v x4 =6 ran in parallel to double the battery capacity Ah. I took it apart and just traced the wiring. I also knew that the Bushnell Solar charger designed for this particular camera has an output of 8.4 volts. That is where I set my buck converter. I simply looked up the specs on Bushnell's website.

My Bushnell E2 camera runs off of a 12 volt system. 8 AA batteries wired in a series. 1.5v x 8 = 12. Again, I took it apart and traced the wires.

Every cam is different. You can call the manufacturer or take your camera apart and trace the wires. A quick call to the manufacturer maybe the quickest and easiest.

Good luck.





Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 
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