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Hiker
Posts: 9

Using an External Battery

This is a short commentry on how to use an external battery with a GoPro Hero 7 Black camera, or at least it is a reflection of my experience. Yes, it can be done but it needs some planning.

 

My first source of information was to look at the user manual which may be downloaded from the GoPro website. Sadly either the information therein is not up to date or information is simply missing. So do read the user manual but keep an open mind.

I note from the Internet that many users find the GoPro battery to be too limited for the need, so timelapse or a longer action video have greater demands which means the need for external power and the need for an SD card that is large enough to store the video.

 

You need to think about three things -

1. What size battery
2. What size memory card
3. How to make it all work

 

Battery Size

Batteries are sold by price and mAh which is the measure of the amount of power they store. Price and mAh do not always relate to each other. Cheap is good since they hold the rated power. You do not need any features so do not pay for them. The described power rating of batteries is not always what you get. Sometimes it is but often there is an oversight and you get less. So buy a little larger capacity than you need and you will not be disappointed.

 

The larger the battery capacity the heavier the battery. You will not be able to helmet mount a battery and keep a good balance with your helmet. The GoPro internal battery (1220 mAh) would give me just over an hour of recording time, I need a lot more than that and decided to target a 10,000 mAh battery capacity. Please note that if you are recording at say 4K you will need a lot of battery since you are really making the camera work. So gather some data first using your internal battery to understand what are your needs. The following article may help you.
https://gopro.com/help/articles/block/hero7-battery-information

 

SD Memory Card

The user manual says that the largest card capacity is 128GB. This is not correct. The largest card is 256GB. I confirmed this with chatting online to customer support and details of supported cards are found at this link which also lists 256GB capacity (the link in the user manual no longer works and returns a 404 notice).
https://gopro.com/help/articles/block/microSD-Card-Considerations
The supported card model numbers are clearly described in the list. They are on the packaging but you may need to look round the bar code before you can find it. It is important to get the right card since other cards of the same capacity may not be able to write fast enough and will therefore not record correctly.

 

My solution was to buy a 256GB capacity card, check it is a supported card and that is just fine for whatever I do.


Making it Work

Sadly, this is not a matter of plug and play.

 

First consider where will the camera and battery be located. Get a USB A to USB C cable of the correct length. Too long will be a problem for action sports since you do not want to worry about excess cable getting in the way. Cables are factory made in many different lengths so you will be able to find the length you need. Get a quality cable that has flexible sheathing since that will bend more in use.

 

When you connect the external battery to the GoPro you will need to remove the external door. This means that the GoPro will no longer be perfectly water proof and water and dust are problems to control.

 

The internal battery is a problem and in order to use the external battery you need to remove the internal battery. If you do not do this what will happen is that the camera will use up the power from the internal battery and then stop, it will not switch to the external battery. That is annoying. I also turned off QuikCapture.

 

Without an internal battery, a red warning icon appears in the top right corner of the screen saying No Battery. Bit pointless but that is what happens. The external battery works just fine but the camera cannot measure how much power is there.

 

To seal the camera in the first instance I connected the USB C cable and then sealed round everything (all the open space exposed by the door removal) with Blu Tak. This keeps out dust and rain and works well as a temporary measure for evaluation. I will replace this with RTV Silicone in a few weeks time. This is never going to make the camera good for taking under water but it is good enough for going out into the weather.

 

The end of the cable that plugs into the battery pack is how I copy off the recorded media, I just plug it into my computer, no need to remove anything from the camera which stays sealed.

 

Similarly, the cable plugs into the 1A socket on the battery pack when in use.

 

Operating the camera is nearly the same as normal. However, I do not trust operation to give consistent start results yet. Connect the battery and press the side button to power on and watch for the screen to appear. To record, press the top button and all should be good. But .... do check it is recording, look for the red timer in the center top of the screen. Similarly, if you stop the video to take a break, it may need the camera to be started from scratch by first removing the plug from the battery. Your results may be different.

Many of the operation challenges can be fixed though a firmware fix to support external battery operation but since it is not a small job to do this I would not hold out much hope that anything is going to happen anytime soon. In case anyone reads this and wonders about firmware version, I am running the latest which at time of writing is ver. 1.8.

 

Highlighted
Tourist
Posts: 1

Re: Using an External Battery

Is the whole 'need to remove the internal battery in order to use the external battery' a new(ish) thing? I used to be able to just plug a bettery in (with the internal battery in the camera) and it would charge and use the external battery as power. Now if I plug in an external with the internal in place and click recored, the camera restarts. If I take out the internal first, it works fine. What happened? 

Highlighted
Hiker
Posts: 9

Re: Using an External Battery

How GoPro choose to write code to program the camera wil impact how the battery is viewed.  It costs money / resources to write code and debug.  The code as a whole has a number of lumps in it now.  Will these lumps be ironed out ...  probably not since this is now an old model camera and GoPro will be more interested in supporting the newest model.

 

Highlighted
Tourist
Posts: 10

Re: Using an External Battery

Do you get horizontal lines across your video and video freezing when you power in this way? I do myself, can't get it to work.

Highlighted
Hiker
Posts: 9

Re: Using an External Battery

No, not at all.

 

You may want to check that you are using exactly the right memory card and you may also want to make a fresh format of the memory card.  The problem you describe does not sound to be battery related, my money is on the memory card ......

Highlighted
Tourist
Posts: 10

Re: Using an External Battery

Hmmm ok,

 

Yep I've tested this extensively with 2 of the recommended cards, latest firmware, formatting in camera each time. Tried support and no help.

 

Righto I'm going to do a youtube vid of all these tests and send it to them.

 

Cheers for your reply, would be great if i could just get this thing to record like it's meant to :)

Highlighted
Hiker
Posts: 9

Re: Using an External Battery

Well ...  you do appear to have followed the right path.  Could  I please just confirm one thing......   If you use the internal battery, are you able to make perfect recordings or do you get the same defects?

 

If you get the same defects then the problem must be the camera since you use the designated battery and have tested with different cards,  but the correct cards.  So, the next step would be to ask customer support to deal with it since as long as you are still within the warranty period you may need GoPro to take a look for you....

Highlighted
Tourist
Posts: 10

Re: Using an External Battery

Internal recordings fine. Maybe it's the power?

 

(it is an Anker 10aH usb batt)

 

However just repeated my tests with usb hub power - same thing

 

I'll do some extensive tests this weekend, documenting the lot.