Building a Portable Power Station for All Your Photography Needs

Without a power supply, most modern-day photographers will run into problems pretty quickly. If you regularly shoot on location or find yourself off-grid for long periods, this video is for you.

Matthew Perks of popular YouTube channel DIY Perks is back once again with another interesting project, which I think may interest many photographers who like to build things for themselves. This week, Perks has built a portable power station that is capable of delivering up to 1,200 W with ease. In the video, we see the power station running everything from a microwave oven to a gaming console, which means for us photographers, this device will be able to easily power everything we would ever need while out in the field for many days.

Perks goes into great detail on the build explaining the benefits and dangers of the parts that he uses (so exercise proper caution). He also includes a useful parts list with links to all the major components utilized. While I appreciate that this type of project is probably more suitable for moderate to advanced DIY'ers, there will be many of our readers who are handy with electronics or know someone who is.

As you can see in the video, Perks seems to carry his completed power station with ease, which gives me confidence that it would be more than portable enough for photographers to move around. I really enjoy watching DIY projects like this, as they help me to see what's possible when it comes to building things that may translate well into the photographic industry. The great thing about DIY is that you can tailor it to your exact specification. I think it would be interesting to build one into the photographer's favorite Peli case which you often see while out on location.

Over to you. Would you find something like this useful to your practice? Tempted to build one yourself? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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3 Comments

Lee Christiansen's picture

Lithium cells can be dangerous - really dangerous...

My broadcast camera batteries are essentially several of these bigger cells all joined together, (that's how all bigger camera batteries are built), but the manufacturer, (in my case PAG - a well known established UK brand), see fit to also build in quite clever safety circuitry.

Without similar safety features, I'd venture that building a high capacity system may be a problem if something was to go wrong. And these simple single cells don't have any extra circuitry built in. The management card system that he recommends probably doesn't have any specific safety feature. I'm not an electrical bod, bu I'm guessing neither is our ingenious DIY chap. With oodles of power and lithium, specific knowledge about batteries is a bit essential here.

Maybe the idea would be better if instead of using single cells, a case was using larger, pre-built lithium batteries which have multiple cells and their individual safety features. Granted, more expensive - but cheaper than "boom..."

Otherwise well thought out - but needs that safety element.

Andrew Eaton's picture

The clever safety circuity is the BMS board. The BMS cuts charging or discharging if cell voltage is to high or to low. The system he made has everything your camera batteries have. But if the BMS is not setup right then there can be problems, if the cell welds are poor then there can be problems. you do not need individual cell circuity only each parallel group needs a connection to the bms. any faults in the set will result in over voltage when charging and under voltage in discharge. I think the video massively skips over critical info on making a battery pack...

paul aparycki's picture

A few decades ago, I had a custom built power supply for an ELM go awry, really awry. Hysterical now, but not so funny then and rather dangerous. I had in the last couple of years, been poking about looking for some alternative to Profoto Li-fe batteries for B600s . . . finally found an excellent article written by someone who obviously knows what he is talking about . . . and he brings up the safety circuitry issues as being probably the main reason aftermarket stuff just isn't available. Battery is doable . . . safety circuit isn't so simple (or cheap).

Your "yeah, I can do it" DIYer probably has some real smarts . . . but most likely not enough to keep you, or a customer, or model, or someone . . . from getting seriously hurt.

Tread with extreme caution when doing this stuff.