GoPro batteries a quick and drity "review" of sorts

Electronics and electrotechnical stuff
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Posts: 401
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 5:32 am
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GoPro batteries a quick and drity "review" of sorts

Post by Downunder35m »

When it comes to battery life we often have to use the tiny internal one to keep things weatherproof.
And most GoPro users have more than one or two batteries around.

But what is the difference between the genuine thing and aftermarket?

With the Hero8 we got a new battery - the one with blue cap.
The Hero9 again has a new battery with a higher capacity than previous models.
But we leave the newest edition out here for now.
If you have older batteries and plce them into your Hero8 you will notice the warning that they are not really recommended.
They claim it has to do with battery technology and certain modes requiring a lot more juice.
Checking the battery life tests you find online and considering the capacity is still the same as for the 7 or 6 you can see the claim is true.
The Hero8 can be a powerhungry beast if you use all features at highest resolutions and framerates....
Appearently the blue cps use a newer technology allowing for a higher energy density.
Basically it means the battery is able to provide a higher peak current.

A good review will now get to hypersmooth and limits or even tell you only genuine is good enough.
This is not that sort of review though.

The GoPro batteries, like any modern lithium battery of good quality comes with a protection circuit built in.
With the blue caps GoPro also included fancy electronics to tell the cam what sort of battery is used.
Was to great frustration to users when they realised that after a firmware update their older Hero models no longer worked at all with aftermarket batteries and even refused bluecaps.
So, what exactly happened?
We got subjected to extended quality control measures - to say it in comercial words you find in fine prints.
With the Hero8 being on the limit what what standard lithium batteries can provide heat became and issue together with their extended warranty and customer care program.
You can state there is no warranty if using aftermarket batteries but in most countries local law renders such clauses useless.
So GoPro decided to create a firmware and batteries that make sure you can't draw too much power from a non genuine battery.
Means if the firmware detects an non-genuine battery it will prevent certain functions.
After all you don't really want a battery to overheat and blow up in your expensive camera, especially not while the thing might be mounted close to your face or body.

Aftermarket suppliers like Wasabi reacted in kind by providing batteries that will work no matter what firmware update might come.
A strong claim, so I tried to test it....
Before you get too exited: No, aftermarket batteries, no matter the claim won't work like a genuine one in terms of giving you ALL camera features.
In some cases you won't even notice that settings are missing unless you regular use them.
The real claim is basically that aftermarket batteries for the Hero8 and most likely the Hero9 won't get accepted by GoPro.
The chips used might fool the cam to think it is an older type battery but it won't remove the firmware limits for non genuine batteries.
And no manufacturer will ever be able to unless GoPro licnces them or removes the safe guards from the firmware.
Providing a battery that works like the genuine thing would mean the encryption for the chip was violated and that give goPro reason for a legal claim ;)

So I should not buy aftermarket batteries then?
If they come much cheacher and you accept the limts then please go for it to save money.
Especially if your prefered format is still HD with normal frame rates.
But if you really require hypersmooth and other advanced features you should only use genuine batteries for that task.
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
To tinker and create means to be alive.
Bringing the long lost back means history comes alive again.
Posts: 401
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2020 5:32 am
Location: Australia

Re: GoPro batteries a quick and drity "review" of sorts

Post by Downunder35m »

What about USB?
Well, that is the thing...
It seems GoPro "overlooked" the USB power option.
I tried with a rather limited USB wall wart and long cable...
The cam clearly struggled in certain modes and I had a lot of glitches.
But there was no limits in the firmware making sure I can only use functions to suit my power supply....
Makes me wonder why no battery manufacturer though about the option of adding a USB plug to battery cas to slide it with it...
External (longlife) batteries utilise it, often as a package with a waterproof housing.

I wondered about the Q factor ;)
As in terms of QI charging....
The coils used are flat and even the smaller ones still too big too fit anywhere flat onto the Hero8.
But: DO we need a flat coil??
The inductive charging coils in your toothbrush are tiny in comparison, but work with a core and lower frequencies than QI standards.
Around 40 minutes with all features and functions active, based on the battery capacity means the best can draw up to 2 amps at the worst times.

I experimented a bit with these tiny charging coils and their chargers/receivers.
They are aimed to provide little more than what the battery needs to be safely charged.
Protection is also very basic in the models I checked.
Whatever protects the battery is often seperated from the actual wireless circuit.
If we use the same basic approach but instead of a laminated iron core using a split ferrite transformer.....
There would be enough room without the battery for all required electronics and the transformer, if if doubt even for a tiny battery to bridge transfer issues.
Only big deal is the air gap between primary and secondary core with the original door.
A potted core using most of what the door allows certainly helps but even one millimeter distance mean big losses.

More experiments made me realise that without a custom door that includes the prrimary coil there is no feasable chance to get water proof solutions going.
But if we use the USB port anyway.....
These cheap aftermarket QI coils often come with the required USB connectors - including USB-C.
And they are tiny with only a few mm protruding out of you USB hole on the phone.
Sadly a true pain in the behind to repurpose as they are designed to be abused in this way.
It really hit me when I watched an old 3D movie on my headset.
I use a magnetic USB plug and cable to prevent damage to the prot when the cable gets caught somehwere while I move my head.
Those things are fully waterproof and still fit inside the original door.
Since they are round and allow for swivel a simple hole can be drilled to glue them in.
Means you abuse one magnetic plug to make a waterproof connection to the outsie and solder some wires to the actual USB part of it.
I found a lightning connector actually is the easiest thing here as you have all "pads" to solder on exposed and when done can cover it with some varnish or resin.
On another, USB-C connector you pry off the magnet ring and carefully flatten at least ne side of the remaining plasic to fit between port and housing.
Solder the wires from the other connector to the circular pads on the USB-C connector.
If you have the means to create a fitting slot in the door then please do so!
It still leaves enough room to solder but allows to use some latex tubing on the end of the cable to protect the connection from water.

I tried to find suitable USB connectors that are water prrof but most are too big for the door.
What does seem to work is these conductive tubes for TENS machines and their connectors.
The tubes form a perfect seal in a clean and slightly undersized hole.
And these connector pins are just metal rods ;)
Means once pushed in they seal the tube from either end.
I strongly recommend using different tube sisze to prevent accidentally reversing the polarity and to include a diode in the connections for added peace of mind.

If we use a bit of fantasy we have a surprising amount of feasable options to overcome the short battery run time and the waterprrof problem at the same time.
What really surprised me is that I could not find anyone offering a waterproof SLIDE-IN Dock for the camera.
Plenty of underwater gear avaialable from domes and housings all the way to big housings with additional batteries inside.
The door seal from a pressure contact.
On the sort sides through dowforce, on the long sides through the tight fit.
A simple, rectangluar seal.
Not too hard to make a secure grip for the legs to make sure the cam stays in place.
And the big battery can be uderneath or wherever really....
Inside of the battery compartment is quite sturdy metal, so you could even use a clamp fitting inside to keep the cam attached and water proof...
Why isn't anyone doing it already? ;)
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
To tinker and create means to be alive.
Bringing the long lost back means history comes alive again.
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