I’ve been captivated by time-lapse films appearing on Vimeo as of late. The basic premise is to take a series of pictures or video clips over a certain time period and edit them together to create a time-lapse sequence. This can be done with still photography gear or a video camera. There is a technological hurdle common to both approaches and that is: how do you power your camera for three hours at a time?
I may have a solution. I wrote the attached article for an astronomy message board website several years ago, when I’d spend my nights under the stars with a telescope. My scope requires power to run its fan, guidance system and laptop computer brain. We’re not talking about AAA batteries here, we’re talking deep cycle D.C. vehicle battery. The design is rather simple: deep cycle battery with some wires coming off the terminals to power cigarette lighter plugs. A simple on an off switch and power meter let you know when it’s time to re-charge. It works and cost less (at the time) than a commercial solution.
“But my DSLR and video camera run on A.C., not D.C.!” you say. Yes. This will still work with the addition of a $35 vehicle inverter (the type you’d use to run your laptop from the car’s cigarette lighter) between the battery and camera’s power supply. You’ll lose some energy to the inverter but it will still work. And it beats running the camera off your car’s battery. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than packing up your gear only to learn the car won’t start because you killed the battery.
Go make it. Here’s how (Adobe pdf) :