USB Charging Station

By Jon Anderson, July 21, 2019

Ever been on a liveaboard where you found it hard to find enough outlets to charge all your batteries?  Tired of traveling with a rat's nest of chargers for you underwater photo equipment?  Ever had to pay exorbant fees for overweight luggage?  These things have happened to most of us and fortunately, Interceptor121 published an inspiring blog that I found via a Wetpixel discussion on charging batteries using USB to reduce luggage weight.  Being an engineer, I ran with his idea but also wanted to get rid of the rat's nest and have one clean charging station for all my underwater photography equipment.  Here is the result:

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Here are some details on my design:

• The base plate is made from very lightweight corrugated plastic (~4.5 mm thick) that I bought at Home Depot. After cutting the plastic, the edges are somewhat sharp so I wrapped them in electrical tape to prevent getting cut or poked by them.  I attached several adhesive-backed foam feet (similar to what you would put on the legs of chairs) to the bottom to prevent it from sliding around when placed on a flat surface. My base ended up being 340 mm x 145 mm (13.4 in x 5.7 in) to fit these components.

• All of the components are attached to the base plate with small pieces of 1 inch wide 3M Dual Lock (basically fancy velcro).  This makes them removable so you can take only a subset.  I plan on detaching and taking only the camera battery charger only when I go shoot topside wildlife and landscape photos to charge batteries in my vehicle.

RavPower 60 Watt 6-port USB Charger.  This takes a single AC cord input and gives you 6 reasonably high power USB outputs for each charger.  There are lots of chargers available with different numbers of ports and currents.  Just make sure the charger you pick provides enough current to charge everything you plan to.  I am currently using 5-ports and will likely use the 6th occasionally to charge my iPhone or a GoPro.

EBL Smart AA AAA NiMH Charger (2X).  These are for charging the Eneloop AA's that I use in my strobes.  They also charge AAA batteries which could be nice for things like a headlamp or other small lights.

Newmowa Dual USB Charger for Nikon EN-EL15.  I shoot a Nikon D850 but if you look around a little bit you will find these guys make this exact same charger for most popular cameras including Canon, Sony, & Panasonic.

Beston 18650 Charger.  Some of my torches and other lights use 18650 batteries so I decided to add this to my setup.

8 inch Micro USB Cables.  I used these cables to help keep everything clean without lots of extra length to manage.

• My Shearwater Teric dive computer charging dock gets one of the remaining ports on the 6-Port USB charger.

• The entire setup above weighs 650 grams (including 5 ft AC power cord, excluding Shearwater Teric and its dock) and only uses 1 AC outlet.

• The only thing I regularly use on dive trips that cannot be charged on here is my Kraken Sports Hydra 3500 WSRU.  Hopefully in the future video light manufacturers like Kraken Sports will consider USB chargers as an option, though with larger lights I suspect current limitations will be an issue.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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