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Voltmeter/USB power for bag


Nathaniel Robinson
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This is my new attempt to kill two birds with one stone: add a voltmeter and 5v USB output to my bag.

 

Problem #1. I use a Hawkwoods DV-SQN4S battery distro in my bag. I power my gear (Maxx, 2x411a) from the switchable, regulated 12v outputs. For my meager power needs, I can usually get through a day with a single set of batteries. HOWEVER it would be reassuring to have some insight into remaining battery life.

 

Problem #2. The most frequent power issue I run into is.... my iPhone. Rarely makes it through the day if I've used it for navigation to get to the shoot and if I'm using MovieSlate for sound reports. There are some nice looking hirose-to-usb options out there (http://bluecowcables.com/product.php?id_product=128), but I was hoping for a cheaper option.

 

After a few minutes of poking around on Amazon I found this gizmo:713_Aam_Axu_L_SL1500.jpghttp://www.amazon.com/DROK-Converter-Regulator-4-5-40V-Voltmeter/dp/B00IWOPS8K

 

 

 

I wired the gizmo to the UNregulated output of the distro, and voila! USB power for my phone and a nice readout of remaining battery life at a glance.

 

2014_04_23_11_59_34.jpg

 

 

The next step will be enclosing the unit, and adding panel mount male hirose connector. Currently it is hard-wired to distro only for testing purposes. ANYWAYS not bad for $10!

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The enclosure will be the biggest obstacle; part of me wants to hot glue everything into an Altoids tin and call it a day. For the moment I am searching for a more elegant solution. Some poking around turned up this series of Hammond enclosure: http://www.hammondmfg.com/dwg9TBU.htm

 

The plastic is ideal for me, since I have little more than a Dremel to work with. I hastily ordered one...in the wrong size.

 

 

2014_04_25_12_54_23.jpg

 

 

JUUUUUST barely too small to accommodate the PCB. I've since ordered the 1151K-TBU, which is slightly larger in all dimensions. It should be possible to fit the hirose connector opposite the USB output. The screw terminals will be removed in favor of a hard wire to the connector.

 

Hopefully the translucent enclosure will allow me to forgo cutting a "window" into the box. I think the display will be sufficiently bright/legible without that step.

 

2014_04_25_12_53_11.jpg

 

 

Ultimately it will be either be fitted with mod-u-lox hardware to attach to my Petrol bag, OR just velcro'd to the side of a Petrol pouch.

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Good little project Nathaniel and indeed a good find.

Are you forgetting the switches and going with USB power permanently on? I can understand why if you are since you might just want to get things in the box.

 

 

 More ignoring than forgetting, haha. On power up, the unit defaults to USB power off. If there is a way to change this behavior, I may settle for USB power constantly on. If not, the plan is to just drill a small hole, and use my Lectro tweaker to toggle the state.

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Very cool! I just ordered one to play around with myself.

I would look into if the USB being left on drains your power even when not using it. It might constantly be converting your input voltage into 5v and burning off/throwing way the excess voltage. I just remember reading someone on here warning about this or similar with certain 5v regulators. That might be why it defaults to Off

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I would love to see a follow up on this. I went ahead and ordered the parts as well.

 

I'm a big fan of the Audio Dept BDS, but it doesn't have a volt meter available, so I put my own together. If this works then super neeto!

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or you could just bypass the switch - the pcb is already exposed....

 

Hmmm, not sure that bypassing the switch will change the "power on" state of the USB output. In any case, I'm avoiding work on the surface mount components, my soldering gear is just not suited for the work.

 

 

Very cool! I just ordered one to play around with myself.

I would look into if the USB being left on drains your power even when not using it. It might constantly be converting your input voltage into 5v and burning off/throwing way the excess voltage. I just remember reading someone on here warning about this or similar with certain 5v regulators. That might be why it defaults to Off

 

Something I will be on the look out for!

 

I have the V-lok version of this distro and the 4pin is never used so I might copy this one too. Any updates on how it's working out?

 

The new enclosure arrives in a few days. I am hoping to have a working version this weekend!

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Enclosure arrived early! Done for now. Suspect craftsmanship more apparent on closeups.

 

2014_04_30_22_35_39.jpg

 

2014_04_30_22_04_27.jpg

 

2014_04_30_22_04_18.jpg

 

I found that the USB cutout and hirose wires were sufficient to hold the PCB in place. No glue or stand-offs used. Accessing the USB power switch via a hole drilled in the enclosure is doable, but annoying. Not sure what the solution is there yet.

 

No ground loops, practically weightless. Overall, pretty happy with it.

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post-2650-0-24335100-1399847366_thumb.jp

I used a dremmel to sand down these Lite Brite pegs to use as a button. They have a ridge so the smaller part can go through the enclosure without the whole thing coming out. I also made a couple small stands for the circuit board out of these pegs to keep it level so the buttons don't fall through. Works pretty well. You can use a small amount of glue to keep everything in place.

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Please excuse my ignorance, but why are you all adding voltage meters to bags with digital recorders which tell you your external battery voltage? I'm seriously not attempting to be condescending, and I'm a huge fan of DIY projects. Just want to see what I'm missing. Is this just a user preference for a massive voltage display? Obviously it solved the USB power issue which is great, just wondering about the metering. Thanks.

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Please excuse my ignorance, but why are you all adding voltage meters to bags with digital recorders which tell you your external battery voltage? I'm seriously not attempting to be condescending, and I'm a huge fan of DIY projects. Just want to see what I'm missing. Is this just a user preference for a massive voltage display? Obviously it solved the USB power issue which is great, just wondering about the metering. Thanks.

 

There is certainly a gear nerd side of me that likes a big goofy voltage meter! But for my setup, it's a little more practical than that. My Hawkwoods BDS offers 4 switchable regulated outputs on hirose connectors, and 1 unregulated, unswitchable output on a permanently attached cable. I prefer to run all my gear from the regulated outputs, for 2 reasons. Firstly, I like the extra layer of over voltage protection. Secondly, I'm wary of using the permanent cable for anything mission critical, since repairing it in the field is a bigger pain than swapping in a spare hirose-to-hirose cable.

 

The downside of the regulated output is that all my gear reads 12v until the bitter end. This gizmo provides a little window into remaining battery life. More of a peace-of-mind improvement than anything.

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Not all recorders have a voltage readout that is convenient to view. Having just purchased a 633, I was puzzled why I have to go into a menu to see voltage.

 

Also, on my typical bag setup, I have one NP1 powering my 788T, and another NP1 powering a BDS with all my wireless, and other goodies. I like to have a volt meter on that, since, as you stated, the 788T has one of its own.

 

One more reason is because although I do have a Remote Audio BDS4u with a meter, I also have a Sound Guys Solutions MD-6, which has neither a USB port or a meter. I prefer this BDS because the connectors are in line and not staggered, which makes it easier to loosen or tighten a cable, especially if you have fat fingers :)

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post-2650-0-31969700-1400277540_thumb.jp

Here is mine up and working. I have the Lite Brite peg working as an on/off button for the USB charger, and went with a "regular" BDS connector that'll work with locking or non locking cables. Pretty sweet! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • 3 weeks later...

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

Here is mine up and working. I have the Lite Brite peg working as an on/off button for the USB charger, and went with a "regular" BDS connector that'll work with locking or non locking cables. Pretty sweet! Thanks for sharing this!

very nice. where did you get your BDS connectors from? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

this is a good solution.  who knew that a pre-made PCB was available.  genius!  i ordered one.  the AudioRoot stuff mentioned in the other post about BDS boxes was nice but i couldnt easily find a price and why not just make the thing.  nice job nathaniel. 

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