MULTIPLE CITIES -- Batteries, chargers developed for military are advancing cameras used in U.S.
Innovations in batteries and power systems are making it possible to squeeze even more life from portable power cells, even in the harshest environments like desert conditions encountered by U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan.
Producers doing law enforcement or agency field training videos are unlikely to encounter an AK-47 round fired intentionally in their direction; but advancements in battery and power systems for the military, battle-tested overseas, can mean dramatic gains in commercial applications at home. And why not? The military, just like government agencies and broadcasters, is always looking for smaller and better portable power sources.
Anton/Bauer’s latest DIONIC HCX battery
Today’s workhorse battery is the lithium-ion based system. More than 4 billion rechargeable lithium- ion battery cells were made last year, according to industry figures. The battery has a positive electrode layer, usually of lithium cobalt oxide that is paired with a negative electrode layer made of specialty carbon that is separated by a thin micro-perforated sheet of plastic. It is then submerged in a solvent that acts as an electrolyte.
Anton/Bauer, a longtime battery producer, has updated its reliable DIONIC HCX high-current battery with a RealTime LCD screen that displays both a fuel gauge and remaining run-time data. The battery has a 124 watt-hour capacity and a motion detection sensor, said Kayla O’Brien, company spokeswoman.
“The unique motion detection sensor, which puts the battery ‘to sleep’ after a two-day period without a power draw, significantly reduces self-discharge and provides extended storage and battery life with nearly zero capacity loss.” O’Brien said. “To ‘awaken’ the battery, customers need only move it or attach it to a device.”
The batteries can be used with Anton/Bauer’s new AB-HDRF System, a COFDM transmitter that fits on the end of a field video camera and transmits over the 5.8-gigahertz frequency band. The AB-HDTX sends its signal directly to the AB-HDRX dual-diversity receiver. The system offers users the flexibility to choose among 12 channels, with the option for multiple cameras to transmit to one central site, O’Brien said.
DATA DEVICE CORP.
Data Device Corp.’s Solid State Power Controller Data Device Corp. of Bohemia, N.Y. manufactures power systems that increase the working life of today’s batteries. The company has introduced a new generation of solid-state power controllers that minimize component size and weight while increasing performance, said Chris Stabile, marketing communications manager.
The SSPCs feature on-board DC-to-DC converters to simplify power supply requirements, a new command interface to reduce bus traffic and enhanced digital discrete control capability designed to improve system integration, according to Stabile.
The SSPCs are “great” for governmental or agency field work, and those systems make it possible for U.S. soldiers to deploy into remote locations and wait, Stabile said. The SSPCs enable troops to operate in a “stealth mode,” powering down combat vehicles so they have a vastly reduced and nearly undetectable power plume that keep surveillance and communications systems operational.
Frezzolini Electronics’ FLB-200 Frezzolini Electronics of Hawthorne, N.J., offers the Frezzi FLB-200, a high-output lithium battery that can power a field camera up to four hours without a recharge. Such long battery life was unheard of just a few years ago, said James Crawford, its spokesman.
“When we started doing batteries, if you got the camera to run one hour on a single charge, that was a lot,” Crawford said. Now with the FLB-200, a camera can run for four hours, he said, adding, “There are clients who have gone on a (field) mission, done their story and come back without ever charging their battery.”
However, when the battery needs to be charged, Frezzolini offers the PB-65 battery-charging system that features a 14.8-volt lithium ion battery for the Sony EX1 and EX3 camcorders, and the PBC2, a two-channel charger. The PB-65 can charge two batteries simultaneously, but using the DC OUT connector and optional PBC2 Cable, another PBC2 base can be connected to charge four batteries simultaneously. The PB-65 has a built-in “Power Tap” connector that can be used to power a separate set of lights for the camera.
PAG’s PAGlink System PAG, the British camera power and lighting specialist, has updated its PAGlink system, which charges multiple batteries at the same time, said Steve Emmett, PAG’s publicity manager. The PL16 charger allows multiples of batteries (up to 16) to be linked for charge and discharge, providing combined capacity for extended camera runtime and a higher current draw of up to 12 amps.
PAG has just released the PL96T Time Battery, which has a numeric run-time and capacity indicator, making it quicker and easier to see remaining camera run-time, Emmett said. In addition, PAG also has the new ultra-compact PAGlink Micro Charger. The charger clips over the battery contacts and is connected to a plug-in power supply unit. This charger fits any kit bag and will charge four PAGlink batteries overnight, he said.
“For organizations that have large stocks of batteries, the new PAGlink Battery Reader is essential,” Emmett said. “This small handheld device clips over the battery contacts and displays data stored in the PAGlink battery’s microprocessor, which makes battery management easier.”
The PAGlink battery system was conceived with multi-camera format compatibility in mind, Emmett said. “The key was to create a system of compact, lightweight batteries that could be used individually for small, low power-consumption cameras which could then be linked,” he said, “combining capacities for set-ups that have a higher power consumption or that draw a greater current.”
Switronix Intellicom’s JetPack The Switronix Intellicom 130S battery brick includes an on-board fuel computer display. The backlit LCD displays operating runtime in hours and minutes, a capacity bar grid and the percent capacity remaining. The battery’s fuel computer samples the capacity and the discharge or charge load, re-computes and refreshes the display every five seconds. It has the power to run most camcorders for more than five hours.
Switronix also just released the JetPack all-in-one power distributor converter, said spokeswoman Lynn Impagliazzo. A compact, all-aluminum design, the JetPack is available in A-Mount or V-Mount configurations and it houses a power regulation board connecting to three LEMO outputs (five volts, seven volts and 12 volts), a USB power connection and two unregulated power taps, she said.
SMALLER, MORE POWER
The future of batteries and power supplies is “small,” said Steve Goldman, DDC’s product manager of Solid State Power Controllers.
“We are forever shrinking the technology and getting more out of smaller space,” he said. “We are going to even higher power systems that are smaller and more lightweight.”