In Part 1 I walked about how to charge and gather 18650 Li-Ion Cells from cell phone USB batteries. In part 2 I will show you how to mod the very popular 12v Talentcell Lithium battery for use in your audio bag.
Right now if you were to go to the Zoom F8+F4 group on Facebook you would be presented by hundreds of people asking how to power their Zoom recorders. A lot of the comments suggest using the Talentcell 6000mAh battery. I just have 1 massive problem with this suggestion, the Talentcell battery features a nonlocking toggle switch. The last thing you want is to lose power during a recording because something like a cheap toggle switch got flipped. Some people have modded their battery to have a plastic guard over the button. That’s fine but you than have to still deal with the fact that the 2.1mm DC jack doesn’t lock. Here is how you can fix both problems!
2.5mm Locking DC Jack – http://amzn.to/2Agh2Ug
1/4″ Fender Washer
2.5mm Locking DC Plug to Hirose Cable – http://amzn.to/2k7Nnqj
12v 6000mAh TalentCell Battery (You want the NON-USB edition) – http://amzn.to/2ngHyYT
18AWG Red/Black wire – http://amzn.to/2AkPGKN
Basic Soldiering Kit w/ Precision Screwdrivers
Small Iron File – http://amzn.to/2AiXtsD
Unscrew the screws holding the clamshell plastic case together.
Use remove the small piece of plastic that is filling the gap in the case where the USB port would be on the upgraded model. File this opening to be bigger till you can slide your 2.5mm Jack into the slot. You will also want to bend the tabs of the DC JACK outwards so they are flat with the back of the jack. This will help it fit without touching the LED Meter PCB. You may want to still put some electric tap on the PCB.
Solder 6-7″ of 18Awg Red/Black wire to the circuit board that is mounted on the 6x 18650 cells. You will solder Red to P+ and Black to P-. Or you could use common sense and match it to the 2 wires already soldered to the BMS circuit. Leave the stock cables in place, you will still be using them along with the original secondary PCB with the big toggle button.
DO NOT LET YOUR SOLDERING IRON CROSS THE PADS BETWEEN P+/P-
Sparks will fly! And if you cross the pads long enough you could do serious damage to your BMS circuit board.
Solder the Red Wire to the center pin of your Locking 2.5MM Jack and the Black wire to the “chassis” pin. In a lot of DC jacks the negative and the ground are connected. You want to select the pin on your connector that is making contact with the side “spring” that touches the outside jacket of the 2.5×5.5mm DC plug. That is a long sentence! Here is a generic DC jack diagram that hopefully makes more sense than I do.
Close it all up. Put your fender washer over your DC Jack and lock it into place using the nut. It will look like this when you’re done. Yes I realize the photo below looks like it is a 1/4″ TS port, but it is not. I’m a sound mixer, not a phone photographer.
So, what have we really done:
The new port we’ve added to the Talent Cell bypasses the toggle switch. We are taking a clean feed directly from the 3S Battery Management System PCB. The 3S BMS handles all the cutoff voltages to protect the 18650 cells from over discharge. It also protects the cells from over charging past 4.2v a cell. So a 3S battery really is 12.6V (3 cells in series) and our 6000mAh is a 2P (2 cells in parallel per series.) This means each cell is 3000mAh each. And while that number is hard to believe, I have seen others run test online and confirm that they hover pretty close to that number. Talentcell produces their own 18650 cells and don’t publish a proper datasheet.
The original 2.1mm non-locking DC jack will still be used for changing just like always. This way when you go to charge the battery you don’t have to buy a new 2.5mm 12.6v Li-Ion charger. If you own a Talentcell you probably never noticed that the charger that came with it is really 12.6 and not 12v. This way it charges the cells all the way up to 4.2v each and not just 4v. By using the original DC jack you still can use the LED battery meter when your charging to know when your battery is full.
The other big advantage to using a modded Talentcell is you no longer have to use battery cups like you do with the Inspire Energy Battery or NP1 style batteries. A right-angle locking 2.5mm DC jack acts like your battery “cup.” No more accidentally having the NP1 battery jump out of the cup or the cup coming loose off the battery. It’s now locked on!
For the cost of doing one mod you are still coming in less than just one of the 98Wh Inspire Energy Batteries. The Talentcell is not 98Wh though, it’s only 74Wh. But that is more than enough to get the average person who would be doing this DIY project to lunch to swap batteries. I haven’t tried yet to mod the 3000mAh Talentcell yet because the original LED PCB goes from wall to wall internally. But Talentcell does make a 132Wh battery if you really need something that big. I found the 6000mAh pack to be a good size vs weight in my bag. Also the 6000mAh unit is roughly the same size as a Lectrosonics UCR211/411.
What do you about batteries do you want to know more about? Leave a comment below!
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can email him at Andrew@HoldForSound.com