Disclaimer: Information provided in this document is not an endorsement of specific companies, brands, or models. These examples are provided to give you ideas.
Cell cameras can be incredibly useful technology, but battery life can be a real problem, especially if your cameras are not deployed where you can reach them quickly and easily. External batteries, even relatively small, inexpensive ones, can greatly increase the length of time a cell camera can run without requiring attention.
Here’s one documented example of camera performance with an external battery. On January 1, 2016, a new AT&T black flash Spartan GoCam camera was deployed with a fully-charged external 6v 12Ah external battery in an area with poor cell signal (typically two bars) and real-time control off. On July 14, 2016, the camera sent picture 2193, the status report showed 5.7v, and the info strip on the night photo immediately before photo 2163 showed P5. Several other cameras at this property have been running for over 7 months.
If you are not a do-it-yourselfer and you are near an authorized Jager Pro dealer, you can get a complete 6V battery kit that includes a 6V 12Ah SLA battery, weather-resistant plastic case, cable to connect the battery to the camera, a mounting strap, and a charger. Price in July 2016 was $70.
SMALL AND RELATIVELY UNOBTRUSIVE
Plano broadhead box or Plano archery box, either green or tan. They have been available from Amazon as an add-on item for as low as $7.50 but price with Prime shipping is currently about $10.50, although it has been as low as $9. The boxes may be available for $12-16 at Wal-Mart, Cabela’s, Bass Pro and other stores. They measure 6.75″ x 5″ x 5″. These are NOT dry boxes, so you must tape across the top to keep water out of the indentation that the handle is in and you may want to silicone seal the holes the handle fits in and drill a couple of small drain holes in the bottom. Otherwise, you will have a wet battery. Use the foam that comes inside to pad the battery. This box will hold one 6V 12Ah or 6V 7Ah battery or two 6v 7Ah batteries wired in parallel. You need silicone sealant to seal the hole in the box that you make for the cable to pass through.
You can buy 6V 12 Ah SLA batteries on ebay for less than $14 shipped, quantity 1. You can also find them at any battery store but they will likely cost more. This is not a recommendation for any particular brand, just a photo to show what the batteries look like. You may want to get a spare so that you can just swap out batteries when necessary rather than pulling the battery, recharging it, and putting it back.
Ready-made: You can purchase a ready-made cable like the one shown below for about $10. It works on all Spartan cameras.
DIY: You can also make your own cables.
- Barrel connector: one (1) male 4.0 OD 1.7 ID DC connector, which you can get from ebay or electronics stores. If you don’t want to deal with soldering the connector, you can purchase connectors with cables like the one below from Parts Express. You will need 20 AWG copper wire if you don’t purchase a connector with wire.https://www.parts-express.com/parts-express-17mm-x-40mm-x-92mm-dc-plug-with-6-ft-cord–090-491
- Spade connectors: Two (2) female spade crimp insulated connectors for 20 AWG wire, which are typically red. Drill a hole through the front of the battery box near where the lid stops, then feed the wire through the hole before crimping the spade connectors in place. After the spade connectors are crimped and the cable is fitted to the battery, seal the hole with silicone.
- You will also need a strap to secure the box and battery near the camera.
If your camera takes hundreds or thousands of pictures in a week or month, especially it’s set to send hi- res photos, you may prefer to use a higher capacity battery. You can get 6V 42Ah batteries for a little under $80 from companies like BatteriesPlus. You may be able to get them on sale for about $70 if you buy online and pick up at the store. They measure about 6.3″ long x 6.4″ tall x 3.4″ deep and weigh 12.6 lbs. UB6420 batteries are available from Amazon for less than $70, shipping included. You will probably want to get a plastic ammo can (sometimes available at Tractor Supply for less than $10 on sale) or a marine battery box. The Attwood 9082-1, available from Amazon, works well, too.