We have the power …

Whilst this site is predominantly about video and filmmaking including its ancillaries of audio, effects, scriptwriting, lighting and so on – and we covers drones too – I do on occasion like to visit different areas that may or may not be part of the fundamental raison d’être of the site.

This is one of those moments.

The other day in between reviewing the DJI Mic, Zhiyun Crane M3 and GoPro Hero 9 Black, I muttered a little about the pitfalls of Monkey Mia that were endured during our week there.

(We are on the home now with a 3 day stopover at Jurien Bay. The noise from the wind finally drove us to quit a day early. 48 hours of non-stop 50kph blow will do that).

Anyway, when I was doing that minor piece of editing on the Zhiyun / GoPro gimbal footage, the unexpected happened. The power went off.

Our specific tent campsite was a “en suite” site, meaning we had a small and private toilet / shower block next to us and ability to tap 240v power from it.  This was leading into the tent and a 6 way power board that we used for our 45l fridge / freezer, charging up laptops, phones, cameras etc and when needed, an electric frypan, rice maker and kettle.

Our lighting in the tent was a quad of LED strips that used a “cigarette lighter” fitting to a 240v / 12v transformer.

So, the power going out was a bit of a blow as in one fell swoop we couldn’t see, cook, run laptops or charge anything.

As an aside, what was weird was that being stuck in a closed society of probably 300-400 caravans, campervans, rooftop sleepers, busses and tents, when it went off there was collective groan or sigh that you’d expect. And when it eventuall came back on, similarly no unanimous cheer.

The point of this story is that although this happened to us, I assume it could happen to anyone shooting and editing out the field and depending on the severity of the outage, deadlines and other milestones could be heavily affected.

But I had a secret weapon that had me up and running again within a minute.

Some six months ago I invested in a pair of 42mAH “power stations”. Thee have an inbuilt lithium battery that can be charged up from 240v or a directly connected solar panel. To power devices, connectivity is via 4 standard USB ports, a USB-C port, 3 generic 12v ports and cigarette lighter socket or, with the flick of a switch, it turns in to a 240v inverter.

To get my power back, all I needed to do was simply switch my fridge and lights over to the 12v settings and voila! Alternatively, if I needed 240v, I could just plug the power board into the 240v socket on the power station and switch it to AC mode.

How long that 42mAH would last is dependent on a number of factors of course, and dictated mainly by the power draw from each device. The fridge would be the biggest constant draw at around 1.5A. Using an electric kettle is out of the question at the level though  (tip: get a 12v kettle).

But I expected I’d get at least 3-4 hours of a little unit like this. Bigger ones are available as you’d expect, and you may be able to justify one of those and the subsequent higher up-front cost.

Mine was $279 and paid for itself on this trip alone.

PS: By choice, I no longer work for Jaycar so am not about to give any free plugs. There are numerous versions and capacities of power stations around, so shop around if you think this may be of interest to you.


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