Powerbank Battery for a Dashcam

Discussion in 'Batteries and Capacitors' started by Murdock5150, Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Murdock5150

    Murdock5150 New Member

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    Hi recently someone smashed into my car whilst parked and drove off the most annoying thing prior to the smash, is I was looking at getting a dash-cam to record such events. I drive a BMW which annoyingly switched off doesn't provide power to a device.

    I'm looking to configure the following: cigarette lighter to a powerbank to a mini 803 dashcam so whilst driving the power bank gets charged and then when it comes to turning the car off it keeps running. I don't leave the car for long outside of home max 2 hours in public car parks.

    I don't fancy hard-wiring it to my car either since I don't want to mess around with my car or drain the battery.
    Any advice if this configuration would work?
     
  2. reverend

    reverend Well-Known Member

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    Quite a few people on here use the Anker E series for this sort of thing - @Dashmellow, @russ331 and @niko are the first examples that spring to mind of people who have a power bank.
     
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  3. Dionic90

    Dionic90 Well-Known Member

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    I have three of these portable power thingies. listed at 50 000 mah. i use 3 cams in the ride, two of which are wired to the car and the 3rd cam is powered off a portable power bar. i get easily 3 days continuous use per bar. Been using this setup for a few weeks now.

    Anker is popular but you will pay more for the name for what you are getting. the ones I use are non branded with just led power level lamps and a power button (ive 3 of these banks).

    There is another cat on this forum who uses the same power thingy I use so search around, list some you think you find and post up here for opinions.

    I think you should also consider hard wiring, even if you will let a pro do it. its super simple with using an add-a-circuit (no wire splicing). the hardest part will be running the wire to hide it! :)
     
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  4. Dashmellow

    Dashmellow Well-Known Member

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    Here's a link to the generic lithium-polymer 50,000 mAh battery bank in question. For around twenty USD shipped from Amazon it is hard to go wrong. Despite the 50,000 mAh claim it is likely to be about half that or less but the device has plenty of juice for your needs. It has short-circuit and over current protection; the device will automatically shutdown if it detects an overload and it will also shut off automatically when it detects there is no longer a load on the battery such as when a dash cam is disconnected by unplugging. Mine has worked perfectly for months and I am about to order another. You will find this same power bank selling under different brand names at widely different prices but they are all the same and appear to come from the same Chinese manufacturer. Buy from a reliable seller in the event you do run into an unexpected issue but you can find these on eBay for even lower prices. The bank has two USB-A ports - 1 amp and 2.1 amp that can be used simultaneously. MiniB USB port is for a charger. If you care for this battery and practice good charging technique it should last several years in regular use. Try to keep it topped off rather than allowing it to be fully discharged, never charge in freezing conditions and protect from heat whenever possible.

    bank.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
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  5. Sabe

    Sabe Well-Known Member

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    This is actually grrreat idea, one reason i did hardwiring was because i start my car a lot during a day, and i didn't want my camera to suffer many and many power cuts in short period of time.
    But this USB power bank idea totally would filter out power cuts and therefore there would be no need to hardwire.
    Only thing i feel hesitation would be the fact that a USB power bank has lots and lots of amperes packed in a very small space and i'm little scared to put these lithium bombs in my car, because if something should happen to this box it's very dangerous packet. I don't know is this fear more theoretical or could it happen in real life, must think about that more.
     
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  6. Dashmellow

    Dashmellow Well-Known Member

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    It is possible that a battery bank like this could catch fire, especially if it is abused such as left in the hot sun to charge but these sort of events are extremely rare. More likely, the battery would swell up and pop the case open if anything were to go wrong at all. The media makes a big deal when such an event like a battery fire does happen and this alarms people of course but the media never mentions that such events are an extremely low percentage of the number of batteries out there and they don't report on all the fires and explosions that never do happen in the scheme of things. Be careful, practice proper handling and charging technique and you probably don't need to worry.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
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  7. Dionic90

    Dionic90 Well-Known Member

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    Agree with @Dashmellow on all points. Thanks for posting the details dash!
     
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  8. soundesciple

    soundesciple Active Member

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  9. reverend

    reverend Well-Known Member

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    The new Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 13000mAh went on offer yesterday so I picked one up for £21.99

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/B00BQ5KHJW

    It's landed today and just charging now so I'll chuck it in the car later to see how it gets on with the dash cams.

    As for the 50000mAh version it looks like we have the most popular version of that as the Allpowers on Amazon UK that's going for £24.99 and the EPCTEK at below £13 but the reviews are making it sound like they have a bad batch at present.

    This will tide me over until my Lukas arrives anyway :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
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  10. Dionic90

    Dionic90 Well-Known Member

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    not sure what is meant by "best version". I have three generics of that "best version" and they have been solid performers in the weeks I have been using them, lasting well over two days 24/7 use with one cam in constant recording and backscreen on.
     
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  11. Dashmellow

    Dashmellow Well-Known Member

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    I've learned to take all customer reviews on Amazon with a grain of salt. Many are shills, some are from buyers who really don't understand the product, some are comments about the seller rather than the product. All in all, the reviews can give a general impression but I find them unreliable and essentially useless and so for the most part, I ignore them. One typical example of why I ignore them was a review I read from a buyer complaining that it took too many hours to charge one of these battery banks which just happens to be normal for this capacity battery. The "reviewer" didn't bother wait to fully charge the battery and then went on to complain that the battery didn't last long and gave it one star.

    The Allpowers version of this product is the most heavily promoted. It is also the hands down most expensive. The one linked on the UK Amazon site is literally twice the price (£24.99) as the identical EPCTEK version also listed on Amazon for half that (£12.80). (also with good reviews FWIW) The only difference between the two is the name on the label and the price. The identical one I purchased on Amazon US from Lenogue came with a small instruction manual from the manufacturer - EPCTEK. Every indication is that these generic packs comes from one or two factories in China and all of them are the same. Of course, the whole idea behind buying an inexpensive generic Chinese battery bank is the value for the money. If one is interested in spending £24.99 it would seem like a better idea to invest in the Anker E4/E5.

    So, I agree with @Dionic90, I don't know what makes the AllPowers the best one? The Lenoge version I bought has been in regular service for about 5 months now and performs admirably and cost half the price of the AllPowers. I can't imagine what would make the more expensive one better.
     
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  12. reverend

    reverend Well-Known Member

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    Best version purely as in terms of number of reviews and the score they have on Amazon - like you say though mate you can usually spot the fake reviews so I do take them with a pinch of salt but I did go through them before buying over here.

    It's more the in-depth reviews of those when they were tested as the 30000mAh version that put me off:

    http://goughlui.com/2014/06/09/exposed-power-bank-ripple-devices-at-risk/

    I'm hoping the LiPo ones are better there but I can't find any proper reviews anywhere.

    A few of you on here are happy with them and they sound great for dash cam use.but for the EPCTEK ones there are too many bad reviews of the seller here in the UK lately with DOA units or that they aren't replying to any support emails. When they do you have to pay return shipping so I decided not to take the chance of getting one from a bad batch and got the new Anker (it's just available here) so was on Hotukdeals.

    I get an 18 month warranty with the Anker so if it does fail before then (they do say the batteries will die quicker in passthrough mode in the booklet) they'll swap it over if needs be hassle free :)

    I just wish we could get some of these things at the price you guys do in the USA!

    I've reworded that last post so people don't go thinking there's any difference between them (other than the company selling them on Amazon!) :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
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  13. Dashmellow

    Dashmellow Well-Known Member

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    Just the other day I ordered another one of these "50,000mAh" generic banks. As a kind of experiment and leap of faith, I ordered the absolute cheapest one I could find from a Chinese eBay seller with a decent feedback history and a US based warehouse. I paid $14.36 (£8.93) including shipping. Interestingly, I notice that the seller has now raised his price on this item to $17.36. In any event, it will be interesting to see what actually shows up and how well it functions. If it performs as well as the other one I have I think it will confirm that they are all the same regardless of price or brand name. I'll report back.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
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  14. Dashmellow

    Dashmellow Well-Known Member

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    Now that I've read the link you provided I can see why you were put of by the tests that were performed. I have a friend who likes to design and build power supplies and he's always going on about ripple. Certainly, there is information to give one pause. I would love it if he had tested as Anker E4 or E5.

    From a practical standpoint, all I can say is that every camera I've run with the battery bank has performed flawlessly and the cameras themselves seem no worse for wear after many hours. Time will tell and it's best to keep an open mind and share all of our collective experiences.
     
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  15. reverend

    reverend Well-Known Member

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    To be fair I did read one review that had issues with the E5 that they couldn't work out so they pulled it - I'll try and dig it out.

    It did point me at another one I can't remember the name of which did great in their tests, but then when I checked it out it didn't do passthrough so was no good for dash cam use!

    I'll see if I can find the link :)
     
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  16. reverend

    reverend Well-Known Member

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    This is it:

    http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-usb-battery-pack-travel/

    It was the E5 they had a problem with and the IntoCircuit Power Castle which came out top in that one, and it's a pretty in-depth review with proper testing done :)

    I've used that Charger Doctor thing while charging my phone from flat and it's been fine at a solid 5v and 1a but strangely when it got to 90% charged it then dropped down to 500mAh and then as time went on it's gone up to 5.27v and 80mAh - guess it's the way the iPhone wants trickle charging at the end of the cycle?
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
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  17. Dionic90

    Dionic90 Well-Known Member

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    These power packs myself and @Dashmellow use are less than 20 bucks USD. I now have three and may just get one more to have redundancy. If the pack lasts for half a year I've gotten way more than my money's worth. I fully expect the packs to last much longer so having a warranty is not that important to me.

    I think these packs have some warranty plus the distributor I'm purchasing these from is literally a few miles from me.

    I'm sure there are some lemons out there, as it is with anything man made. I don't need any fancy led displays or silk screening. I just need a box with cells. :)
     
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  18. Dashmellow

    Dashmellow Well-Known Member

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    That site you linked is very interesting @reverend and there is a lot to peruse. I noticed that in the fellow's initial review of the 30,000mAh version of this battery bank he concludes, after figuring out that the true capacity is probably at most 23,200mAh, and offering a few other caveats he states, "Despite this, I still think it’s a great bargain buy. It’s a lot of capacity (even if it’s less than what the label says) for the price. For your hobbyists – why would you build your own charger and lithium pack when you can just pick up these slabs? If you’re not using them hard, they’d probably have plenty of life anyway". Of course, further testing regarding the cleanliness of the power these things put out and other measurements prompted him to modify his enthusiasm.

    All this has left me wondering what exactly to make of his conclusions. Perhaps, the chargers ripple factor are more of a concern with highly sophisticated smart phones or tablets as compared to running a dash cam. For me, at least so far, the analysis has left me with more questions than answers. How clean is the power coming out of the typical dash cam 12V power adapter anyway? How clean is the voltage coming from a typical 12 volt cigar lighter? How clean does the wave form really need to be for dash cams? Except for RF and noise, does it really matter in real world experience? Also, is there a difference between using a battery bank for charging other lithium based batteries and simply running power to a device like a dash cam.

    Like @Dionic90 I intend to keep using these packs and see how it goes. In theory, they should last at least two or three years in normal use. If I get much less, I'm still OK with it. So far, there has been no indication that the one I've been using has damaged the cameras I've run off this battery pack in any way.

    One thing I have noticed with these packs that isn't mentioned in the review or analysis is that as soon as you plug in a camera it will power up but the blue indicator LEDs do not light. The videos produced will have an unpleasant pulsating buzzing noise. However, when you press the power button on the unit the indictor LEDs come on, the noise disappears from the videos and all is quiet on the audio recordings. (edit: On some of these units the LEDs do light up when you plug in a device but you still need to press the button to eliminate the pulsing buzz.) Could the pulsating noise be evidence of the poor waveforms that showed up in the testing? Since the circuitry, when engaged seems to filter the power coming from the device, I wonder if there is some other contributing factor in the results? Since the tests were done over a year ago, I wonder if the manufacturer might have since modified the circuit design to enhance the filtering? I guess we have no way of knowing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2014
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  19. reverend

    reverend Well-Known Member

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    That's a very good point - if you notice he doesn't tend to touch any of the big brand products - maybe because he's been asked to stay away (i.e. not show them up?!)

    It was the fact I'll have the Mobius hooked up that worried me with @Isoprop's posts about using a stable power source with the battery in that - if you're on caps then technically as long as the device isn't crashing then you don't need to worry unless somehow it could cause premature failure?

    I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of car adaptors aren't just as bad which is where things like the AM interference comes from.

    Even the Anker's are just really cheap products from China, but with a very good support and marketing team behind them to get their name out there. It definitely worked for me as I've now bought another one - a little lipstick type one for the mrs to put in her handbag :)
     
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  20. Dionic90

    Dionic90 Well-Known Member

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    That's where the added cost is coming from. These generics don't have a marketing team and thus costs are kept low. Sadly people sometimes confuse this as meaning the product is not good.

    @Dashmellow , really appreciate your thorough thoughts and posts on this. I can't agree with you more.
     
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