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Old 06-09-2010, 01:04 AM   #1
paul.miner OP
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Adding external power to a GoPro HD

I've been thinking about adding external power to my GoPro HD since I got it, but the USB connector is on the side where I'd have to add a waterproof USB connector that I could plug/unplug easily. So I decided that I would tap into the circuitry inside to run power to either the USB connector or the li-ion battery.

After some research, I decided against tapping directly into the li-ion battery terminals because of the way li-ion batteries charge. Supplying a constant voltage may not be good for the battery in the long run, as it doesn't follow the normal charging procedure. It would be preferrable to power it via USB and let the camera take care of charging the battery.

The li-ion route would probably work, just may not be good for the long-term health of the battery. If you decide to go this route, don't supply too much voltage. The battery is rated at 3.7V, but reads 4.1-4.2V fully charged. I would guess somewhere in the 3.7-4.0V range would be reasonable for an external power supply.

First, pop the back off:



The easy spot to tap in would be the ground and battery connections here. But I'm after the USB connector...



The front side:



I could get access to the connector by removing the lens from the camera, but I really don't want to do that. Two things: the lens is pretty much sealed over the image sensor, and unscrewing it from the sensor board would expose the sensor to the environment, which is probably not a good idea unless you're in a cleanroom. Second, part of the lens is screwed on to the end and it seems like the threads were either very tight or glued, and would have to be removed to get the boards apart. Probably something that was factory calibrated that I don't want to mess with.

Instead, I found that if I desoldered the metal tabs that hold the front and rear pcbs together and took out the three screws, I could rotate the front pcb around so that a notch in the board would give my soldering iron access to the back of the mini-USB port:



The ground pin of the USB connector is connected to the camera's ground, so I only needed to get access to the VCC (power) pin:



Soldered a wire to it:



Then, I soldered a wire to the ground point, carefully routed the wires, drilled a small slot in the case, and closed it up. In retrospect, I used a much heavier gauge wire than I needed to.



I wanted to be able to remove the camera from the housing, so I needed a good connector that could fit inside the waterproof housing. I found an old WD hard drive and scavenged the connector from the stepper motor, and cut and trimmed the piece of the control PCB that contained the mating connector. I drilled a couple small holes to run the wires through the case (which I will seal up):







Testing it out:



Seems to be charging fine while recording!
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Old 07-02-2011, 02:00 PM   #2
GSbiker
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Very nice. I have taken mine apart a few times. I hope to add a remote shutter control.
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Old 07-11-2011, 03:05 PM   #3
dfhepner
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Nice work. While on my two week trip I set up the GoPro to take a picture every minute. I missed the good part as the battery ran out. I then cut a slot in the side case to fit the USB cable so that it could be charged from the bike on the go. I made a boot out of RTV that the plug would slide in and out of. I use a zip tie to cinch down on the RTV to make a water tight seal. The only problem that I had was that the camera seem to turn off when I started the bike. I will have to do some more work on the set up. I noticed that the camera would turn on when I inserted the USB plug with power on. I am thinking that I may have to go into the cable and disconnect the D+ and D- lines.
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:31 PM   #4
Sak
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fricking awesome hack. you have struck gold, mr miner.
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:10 AM   #5
VietHorse
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Oops... I also did a pretty similar thing...

Prep:


Naked GoPro:


Wiring almost same as the OP did, but I need to dig a hole at the back of the casing:


Connect the extension wires to a USB port, it connects with a Solar battery:


Worked well, not in the rain.
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:12 AM   #6
broncobowsher
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Need to submit to hackaday.com

Very nice work. I am still doing my best to avoid taking apart the GoPro.
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Old 07-22-2013, 06:45 PM   #7
ohgood
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great hacks, love it !

I hope one of our engineering types will chime in about wireless charging, which pad to buy, and all that jazz.

the coil should fit in the extra battery sized gopro case, and would mean rarely ever opening the case, provided a eyefi 32gb card was used. ;-)
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:36 AM   #8
thecanoeguy
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i fried my first go pro by putting 12 volts into it ,dont ask , i beleive they can be fixed ,any ideas here on who, i did the hole in the side with a usb ,and duct tape it to hold it in and it plugs in to my lighter socket , i have it set to take a pic every minute ,but it semms to randomly turn off ,sometimes it goes all day ,any ideas here , i have yo pull up ocasionally to check ,and keep missing good pics ,but i am on the the road in Africa and cant do such fancy work like you guys have
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:06 PM   #9
dfhepner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecanoeguy View Post
i fried my first go pro by putting 12 volts into it ,dont ask , i beleive they can be fixed ,any ideas here on who, i did the hole in the side with a usb ,and duct tape it to hold it in and it plugs in to my lighter socket , i have it set to take a pic every minute ,but it semms to randomly turn off ,sometimes it goes all day ,any ideas here , i have yo pull up ocasionally to check ,and keep missing good pics ,but i am on the the road in Africa and cant do such fancy work like you guys have
I found that when ever the power cycles on the USB it causes a reset to the device. As I recall from the USB spec. that the way to reset a device is the turn off the power and then back on. Even though you have a charged battery in the unit, it gets reset. I would guess that you have glitchy power source.
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Old 07-27-2013, 11:56 AM   #10
dfhepner
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Pictures of low risk external power

Here are some pictures of what I did to add external power to my GoPro






These were done while I was on a trip a few Summers ago and missed some good shots because of dead battery. I used a pocket knife to cut a hole in the case and then connected the mini USB cable. I then use Permatex Clear RTV to create a boot. After it set up a pulled out the USB connector and then layered more RTV. I may have used a very thin piece of plastic from a shopping bag to keep the RTV from sticking to the USB connector. I may have also use some Neosporin grease on the connector.

As I said before I first used a zip tie to compress the boot over the connector. But this summer I did not do that and had no problem riding a full day in the rain.
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