Can I use a different voltage transformer?
June 10, 2006 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I lost my camera's battery charger transformer on a trip. Can't find one anywhere cheaply. Can I use another voltage?

My nikon 995's transformer ran away. The cradle for the battery says it needs 10.v/.6a input, but I can't find a 10.5 volt transformer anywhere. If I go with a lower voltage, such as a nine volt, will it charge, just at a slower rate? Or not at all?
posted by [insert clever name here] to Technology (10 answers total)
It's not really a good idea. There's no way to know what it would do without knowing the details of the circuitry inside the camera. I think the best idea is for you to keep looking for a transformer with the proper voltage.

There are generic transformers you can buy which permit you to select the voltage; have you looked into any of those?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:35 AM on June 10, 2006

I found a generic transformer like Steven C. Den Beste speaks of on eBay when I was given a used scanner that didn't have a transformer. You can get transformers for about $15 including shipping/handling—a reasonable amount to pay for the peace of mind that you won't be ruining your camera.
posted by limeonaire at 8:39 AM on June 10, 2006

Would one of these chargers work?
posted by buggzzee23 at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2006

Response by poster: I'm not sure what the cameras circuitry would have to do with the charger. Perhaps nothing and I explained my question poorly. There were two parts to my battery charger. A transformer and a cradle for the battery. I had to remove the battery from the camera and charge the battery on the cradle. The transformer is gone. Maybe its the internal circuitry of the cradle that is important?

The cradle steps the voltage down even more, from 10.5 volts to 8.5 volts.

The other problem is that I have an event I want to photograph tomorrow (the local Pugfest!). So it kind of hinges on finding one today. THe universals I looked at yesterday didn't do 10.5 volts. They jumped from 9 to 12 volts.

The univer
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:49 AM on June 10, 2006

not the best of ideas. you could probably get within a volt or two and be OK (I've done this successfully, but not with anything as expensive as a digicam). best case is you just work the voltage regulators in either the transformer or the charger more. worst case is it burns your device up. it wouldn't bug me too much if I were overdriving, say, an electronic dartboard or something but a camera costs a bit more.

that said if you really really can't find one you can always look into buying the parts (voltage regulator chip and asst. support components) and building something that'll take your 12V and output 10.5. if you can work a soldering iron I can't see how that would be too difficult.
posted by mrg at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2006

I just got a Targus camera battery charger that charges a metric buttload of different shapes, sizes, and voltages of batteries at Fry's. It came with both AC and car power cords (bonus!) and was $30.
posted by kindall at 11:23 AM on June 10, 2006

My wife once fully charged a her LG phone using a Zire 31 charger before she realized what she did.

Strangely enough, the Zire worked fine but it toasted the charger.
posted by 4ster at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2006

er, I should have said that the phone worked fine, but it toasted the charger.
posted by 4ster at 1:36 PM on June 10, 2006

The problem with not giving the charger enough voltage is that you could end up under charging it. Like, you'd charge the battery to the point where the battery gave off 9 volts, rather then the point where the battery gave off 10.5 volts. Then, the battery would only ever give off 9 volts and wouldn't run the camera.

You'd be better off giving it too much voltage, but that could cause it to overheat or blow up.
posted by delmoi at 1:57 PM on June 10, 2006

Yes you can use a different transformer, with relatively low risk. Simple answer... correct output type, voltage nominally +/- 10%, proper connector and polarity (for DC).

First, you'll have to determine if the "transformer" provides AC output or DC. In most wall warts, the transformer is only part of the circuit that's in the black box that plugs into the wall. Actual transformers ONLY work on AC. A wall wart that supplies DC contains internal rectification components. Your description of a 10.5V part seems suspicious to me. It's an odd number.

Assuming your missing component provided DC, I'd use a 9V 1A unregulated DC wall wart and you'll have plenty of overhead to operate downstream circuits at 10V or more.

Make sure the polarity on the connector is correct. There is usually a little diagram close to the mating connector that shows if the inside pin is negative (-) or positive (+). Note that there are different diameters, too, so choose one that fits.

Components in the charger can accomodate variations in the supply voltage. Worst case scenario is that the charger will run slightly hot during charge or take slightly longer to charge. You are unlikely to destroy anything unless you go way overboard (+30 or +40%).
posted by FauxScot at 3:35 PM on June 10, 2006

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