VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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SHOP WINDOW -- THE POWER GAME

 

Re-chargeable nickel cadmium batteries are still the most common source of power for camcorders, and have become part of video movie-making folklore. They’re a constant source of anxiety; apart from never quite knowing when they’re going to expire there’s the problem of cell imbalance, the root cause of the so-called memory effect which reduces a nicad battery’s ability to hold a full charge. There’s also natural ageing to worry about -- they don’t last forever --  and their distinct dislike of working in cold environments. Unfortunately we’re going to have to live with nicads for some considerable time to come, the alternatives are either still expensive, or have limitations of their own. For all their shortcomings nicads are still relatively cheap, readily obtainable and with care, should last a couple of  years or more.

 

Battery care is the common thread in this month’s Shop Window, but with a difference. Rather than simply look at another selection of stand-alone dischargers, we though we’d broaden it out and include some specialist products, including chargers and dischargers designed for in-car use, and a pulse charger, which the manufacturer claims prolongs the lives of nicad batteries.

 

BANDRIDGE VA-830

UNIVERSAL DUAL-SPEED CHARGER/DISCHARGER £

Versatile car charger/discharger, with fittings for most battery types, including al lthe usual 6 volt palmcorder batteries, rarer 7.2 volt packs, and the older 9.6 volt nicads used by JVC and Panasonic. There’s a very comprehensive compatibility chart on the back of the box, something we’d like to see a lot more of.

 

The unit comes with a 12 volt car lead and plug, and it can also be powered by a suitable mains adaptor. The charger has two speeds, fast (delta-V) and normal. The charge currents are 2 amp and 1 amp respectively; a 1Ah battery will fast charge in around 20 minutes, though as the instructions point out this will shorten the pack life if you use it too often, moreover it is not advisable to fast-chage using a mains adaptor as most of them do not have a high enough current rating and may overheat. Manual voltage selection and discharge cycle, it also has a pair of regulated outputs (switchable 6/7.2/9.6 volt) which could come in handy for powering other devices from the car battery. Reasonably well made and the discharger works satisfactorily, we’re a little concerned about the high charge current though, which is running close to the tolerance of most 6 volt nicads, and certainly won’t do their life expectancy much good.

 

Performance                9

Construction                8

Value for money

 

BANDRIDGE VA 485

3-WAY BATTERY CHARGER/DISCHARGER

Novel three bay charger powered by a car cord or mains adaptor (both supplied) with fittings for most popular 6 volt battery packs. There’s spaces for three Hitachi, JVC, Minolta, Panasonic, Sharp or Sony nicads on one side, whilst Canon packs have the other side all to themselves. Up to three batteries can be discharged together, delta-V controlled charging is sequential; the charge current is just over 1 amp, so a typical 1Ah pack will be fully charged in just under an hour.  Simple to use, charging sequence is aautomatic, and our sample works within reccomended parameters with the discharge voltage not falling below 0.9 volts. Worth considering if you’re a multiple battery user.

 

Performance                9                     

Construction                8

Value for money

 

 

CAM PLUS SBC 5431 

UNIVERSAL BATTERY REFRESHER £23

A basic multi-purpose discharger from the Philips ‘Cam Plus’ accessory range. It is designed to work with a range of nicad batteries in the 6, 7.2 and 9.6 volt range. The unit is supplied with two adaptor plates for the commonest 6-volt packs used on Canon, Hitachi, JVC, Panasonic, Philips  and Sony camcorders. 9.6 volt ‘handset’ packs simply fit onto the top of the charger whilst older Sony NP22 ‘chocolate bar’ batteries slide into a recess on the top of the unit. Voltage selection is made by a sliding switch on the side and battery capacity is shown by a row of five red LEDs. When discharging is complete an alarm sounds and the discharger circuit switches off. Reasonably well made, suitable for those with older machine, or two different models.

 

Performance                8

Construction                8

Value for money 8

 

CULLMANN 65670

TWO IN ONE CAR CHARGER £28

This is just the job when you’re out and about in the car. It’s a simple no-nonsense charger, designed to fit Sony as well as JVC and Panasonic 6-volt packs. The holder is well made and grips the battery tightly, so it won’t fall out. A single LED on the unit shows when the power is connected. The charger connects to the car battery via a standard cigar lighter plug, ont he end of a metre-long cable (not 3-metres as stated on the instructrion leaflet). The charge current is around 250mA, which means a standard 1Ah pack will be fully charged in around four hours, a 1.8Ah pack will take up to seven and a half hours. Rather expensive but well built and small enough to keep in the glove compartment, a must for day trips and motoring holidays.  

 

Performance                9                     

Construction                9

Value for money 7

 

 

HAMA 46310

CAMCHARGER COMBI £

Another versatile charger/discharger, designed to work from a mains adaptor or car cord (both supplied). Multi-voltage operation (6, 7.2 and 9.6 volt), it comes with two slide-in adaptor plates, to suit most popular types of 6 volt battery pack . Voltage is selected by a switch on the side; charge and discharge modes can be selected manually, though it will start to charge the battery automatically, once it has been discharged. Helpful instructions with a useful compatability chart. Reasonably well built, electrically satisfactory with a fairly gentle 800mA charge current, it’s worth thinking about as a one-stop battery care system, particularly for those with more than one machine.

 

Performance                9

Construction                9

Value for money

 

KEENE MULTICHARGER MK II  £135

The Rolls Royce of battery charger/dischargers, with a price tag to match. Part of the reason it is so dear is the high-power switched-mode universal mains power supply that works on any AC mains supply, anywhere in the world, from 100 to 240 volts. It’s also supplied with a 12 volt car battery cord. Multicharger can charge and discharge 3 batteries simultaneously, various fittings are available to suit most pack styles (Canon, JVC, Panasonic, Sony eyc), though this isn’t a universal design, you have to specify which type you want.  Multicharger uses an advanced pulse-charge system, which prevents the built-up of memory effect, and there’s protection circuits to prevent over charging or discharging, charge time from flat on a 1Ah pack is typically 75 to 80 minutes.  Definitely the one to have for serious video movie makers, and in particular travellers who take their machines abroad.

 

 

Performance                9

Construction                8

Value for money 7

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1994 1809

 

 


 

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