DIY External Battery Setup for Your Sony Alpha Series Camera

  Here I'm presenting my solution to the problem of long timelapses with Sony A6000 series cameras. Sony A6000 battery life is quite good for shooting stills and moderate-length videos, but how would you film a 12 hour long timelapse?

Your options are: 

  • Dummy battery + boost converter (boosts 5 V from USB to battery voltage 7.4 V) - ready solution [link] . 
You plug in the dummy battery instead of a real one, then connect the USB cable to either a wall charger or a powerbank.

  • Same thing as option above, but with a DIY spin! Keep on reading if you love making things with your own hands.

You'll need:

  • Boost converter with a display [link]
 Display may seem like an excessive luxury until you're out in the field and the camera stops working due to an accidental turning of the trimpot resulting in undervoltage. 

  • 3D printed enclosure for the boost converter [link]
There are two parts total: bottom part holding the PCB and the top lid. I've made 3 variants for the lid: 
  1. closed lid,
  2. lid that exposes the trimpot with an extra hole to reach the button on the circuit board,
  3. lid that exposes the trimpot with a stub above the button for pressing.
I think it's worth printing variants 2 and 3 in transparent plastic like TPU or PET-G, all the remaining parts can be any opaque widespread material (PLA, ABS). 

Left to right: bottom part for PCB, lid with access to trimpot printed in TPU, closed lid printed in PLA (supposed to be no hole in there, but that was fixed in later version)

A spool of flexible semi-transparent TPU filament.

  • Four M2 screws (or any sufficiently small screws).

  • Any cable with USB type A connector at least on one end. This is still the majority of cables, pretty much every cable except USB C ones.

  • 5.5 x 2.1 mm. barrel socket, matches the dummy battery [link]


Chop off the other end of the USB cable, solder the barrel connector to it. Red and black wires from the USB connector carry the power, white and green are data wires so you don't need them.

Cut the cable in two halves. Strip the insulation and maybe even tin the tips of red and black wires - this will improve connection durability. Green and white can be left in peace or cut, we won't be needing them. 

Weave the cable halves through the holes on each end of the box.

Tie a knot on each cable some distance from its end. This knot will transfer the strain from the tinned wire tips (easy to break) to the insulated part of the cable (not so easy to break).

Hide the knots in tiny compartments like this:

Prepare the wires for the boost converted. If your cable contains an extra non-insulated wire - tie it to the black one. This connects GND and cable shielding, hopefully to improve transient resistance.

Screw the wires into the input and output terminals of the converter. Keep in mind that the cable with  USB A connector is input, whereas the barrel jacked cable is the output.

Time to test if the whole system works or not! Just connect the USB cable to either a wall charger or a powerbank. You should measure about 5 V at the input and any arbitrary voltage at the output.

Note: some powerbanks don't detect the idle boost converter as an active current drain and leave the USB socket turned off, or even turn it off intermittently. This is to be expected, but I definitely recommend to check everything both on wall charger and powerbank to make sure the issues stem from the powerbank as opposed to incorrect wiring.

Adjust the voltage with a thin slot head screwdriver until it reads 7.4 V. Double check that with the multimeter.

Screw on the lid. Not too tight though, we'll be doing some additional checks on real camera later and new bugs might come to light :)

Final check: connect the dummy battery, insert some thin wires into the battery and measure the voltage. This should be something close to 7.4 Volts again.

Using it

Connect the USB cable to any power bank or charger:

Insert the dummy battery and connect it to the converter assembly:

Close the battery compartment. There's a tiny rubber plug that you can take out and weave the cable through.

Turn on the camera and film videos/timelapses of any length!