External Power to Charge and Run the Go Pro HD Hero 3 and Other Devices
I am power mad. I love torches, batteries, gadgets and just about anything you can plug in or use batteries with. The thought of having “power to go” kind of excites me in a strange way…maybe it’s just the fact it gives me independence and the ability to be away from civilisation for longer without recharging.
There are a few times when I need additional power such as when I am shooting weddings. I normally take pre-charged batteries for:
- Pocket Wizards
- Power Packs (for speedlights)
- LED continuous lighting
More recently, I have been using Go Pro cameras at weddings to record various things such as the first dance, parts of the ceremony and sound bites.
When the Go Pro HD Hero 3 Black Edition was released, it was somewhat of a revelation but the one thing holding it back, for me anyway, was the battery power and longevity.
After testing the camera filming on a 32gb card at 1080p 60fps, I only managed to capture 1hr 9mins before the battery ran out and camera switched off…not good.
There is a battery pack available from Go Pro for £50 or an alternative, cheaper model at Amazon, but still, it wouldn’t give me the long running times I needed.
After a bit of research, I found the portable battery packs from Anker that come in various sizes and power storage that looked pretty good on paper anyway. I needed something small enough to be inconspicuous and easy to handle yet big enough to give long lasting power.
I chose the Anker Astro 5600mAh.
Now, bear in mind that the Go Pro battery is around 1000mAh, I assumed that this would last at least 5 times as long giving me the power I needed so I ordered one from Amazon.
Within a couple of days the battery had arrived and I must admit, I was expecting a third world, cheap and cheerful battery in basic packaging. What I got was a very professional, sturdy box with all the documentation and an 18 month warranty.
The device itself if excellent. It is reassuringly heavy, nice and shiny, well constructed and easy to use. It is pretty small and compared to the Go Pro 3, it is the same height, the same width and about 1.5x the length as seen below.
There is one micro USB port which is used to charge the device itself, a USB port for adding devices that need to be charged and that is it.
The unit comes with 4 adaptors allowing the Anker Astro to charge the following devices and more:
- iPhone 4/4s
- Sony PSP
- Go Pro Cameras (or any device with micro/mini USB)
- Google Nexus 7
- Various Android Smartphones
On top of that, there are 2 cables, one 15cm and the other 70cm.
Note: As a guide, the Anker Astro when fully charged, will in turn, charge an iPhone 4s 2-3 times…
The body of the Anker Astro has 4 blue led lights which give you an indication of the power left plus it has a handy led torch (or flashlight) which will apparently run for many hours on one charge.
Real World Test
Ok, figures, info and claims are all very well, but how does it perform for what I need?
Note: The Go Pro battery is around 1,000mAh and the Anker Astro is 5600mAh
Well, just after Christmas, as I said, I left the Go Pro running on a full charge and it lasted 1 hour and 9 minutes. Yesterday, after receiving the Anker Astro, I fully charged it, fully charged the Go Pro battery, attached the two and tried again.
I had a 32gb card in the Go Pro filming at 720p 120fps as I wanted to really test this at high frame rates. I have to say, I was quite impressed.
The Go Pro ran for around 2 hours and 20 minutes before it ran out of card space long before the battery power ran out and it didn’t overheat…it got warm but not too warm.
I separated the devices and checked battery power left in both. The Go Pro battery was still 100% full and three lights on the Anker Astro lit up indicating that I had only used around 25% capacity!
A day later and that charge of 75% remaining is still showing.
Therefore, I can assume that if I had either extra cards or a 128gb card filming at lower resolutions and frame rates, I should be able to power the Go Pro HD Hero 3 for around 9 hours (2 hours per 25% charge in the Anker Astro and 1 hour for the Go Pro battery).
Great for filming long shoots or time lapses.
For this to work, the Anker Astro 5600 has to be attached to the Go Pro. This means either:
- Using the Go Pro HD Hero 2 with skeleton housing
- Using the Go Pro HD Hero 3 “naked”
- Using the Go Pro HD Hero 3 in “The Frame “
- Using the Go Pro HD Hero 3 with a hole drilled into the casing
As I will be using the Go Pro HD Hero 3 Black Edition outside of the casing to be able to pick up sound, this is going to work perfectly with the Frame that I am also about to order…happy days.
All in all, this is a great workaround for all types of situations and devices and for a mere £17, I am a happy bunny!
For more info and/or to buy at Amazon – Anker Astro 5600mAh
Anker also make other chargers with smaller and larger capacities (click for more info):
P.s. Who would like to buy 2 hours and 20 minutes worth of footage of my ceiling?
Update October 2014: I recently reviewed a cheap but effective product that could compliment this quite well. The only trouble with using the micro USB cable plugged into the side of the Go Pro camera is that it can become uncoupled quite easily.
This handy “battery eliminator” solves that problem whether you are using the “frame” or the supplied housing with skeleton back. Check it out below: