We’ve been working with a company called Cam-Do on how to power a GoPro camera for extended timelapse photography projects where battery life is a limiting factor. Our setup is now being used out on Jamaica Bay to monitor horshoe crabs, more pictures to come.

Here’s what’s in the Kit and its purpose:
Waterproof Enclosure (made by Cam-Do) keeps the GoPro and Voltaic battery Dry
Scheduler (made by Cam-Do) turns the GoPro on and off based on a programmable schedule
3.4 Watt Solar Panel (made by Voltaic) charges the Voltaic battery
V15 USB Battery (made by Voltaic) stores power from the panel and charges the GoPro

We’re pretty pleased with how it turns out, but give yourself a week or two to setup and test the system so that you’re happy with the way everything fits together. Three important tips to making sure it works well.

1. Match your GoPro Model with what you’re trying to do
– Hero 2 and Hero 3 White work with the USB charger and solar.
– Hero 3 Silver and Black work with solar if you’re using WiFi for control and downloading.
– Hero 3 Black needs a battery eliminator for the Cam-Do Scheduler – if you don’t know what this is, go with Hero 2 or Hero 3 White

This is no longer necessary. GoPro revised the firmware on July 29th, 2013 so that all versions can be powered by the USB Connector.

2. Be sure to put the Voltaic V15 Battery into “Always On” mode

3. Print out and read Cam-Do’s manual about how to program the scheduler

Here’s some photos showing the proper setup.

Solar Panel Mounted to Case

Battery Connected to GoPro (2 Options, the Cam-Do photo on right is more elegant)

Overhead view of the Case with Camera

Panel input into Case

Get your GoPro Timelapse & Solar Setup here. Read more on our guide to solar chargers for GoPro cameras.

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8 Responses

  1. Aaron

    I am using the Cam-do solor powered gopro rig and when I plug my gopro into the voltaic charger the gopro locks up. I have the latest firmware on it and everything works fine sometimes, yet the other times it gives me a red light and after i unplug it the light remains lit. the only way for me to then turn on the camera is removing the gopro internal battery. Why is this?

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Aaron,

      We haven’t seen this behavior on our end. Which GoPro model are you using? Which cable are you using to connect from the Voltaic battery to the GoPro? Do you see the same behavior if you try different USB cables? With the Voltaic battery, we include a “curly cable” and a MiniUSB adapter that we suggest you try in addition to any other MiniUSB cables you might have. I’ll also check with Cam-do to see if they have any suggestions as they have more experience on the GoPro side.

      Reply
  2. Mark

    Hello,

    I’ve had the same issue mentioned above. I’m using the Cam-Do solar box with program scheduler and the V39 battery. The camera is a GoPro Hero 3 Black with the latest firmware and a 64gb SanDisk card.

    Most of the time the V39 batter will work with no issues when I plug it into the camera using the GoPro usb – mini usb cord. However, sometimes when I plug in the battery the back LED will light up, but will not turn off. The camera becomes unresponsive to the buttons and the cam-do program scheduler.

    Is this a bug in the H3B… if so, is this solved in the H3B+

    Reply
  3. Dave

    Can I use this set-up without the solar charger? I am aware this means I will have to charge the Voltaic battery once in a while, but will it still support the Cam-Do scheduler and time-lapse program (set up for M-S, 7am-6pm, every 20 minutes).

    Reply
    • volta

      Hi Dave,

      Yes, you don’t need the solar charger for the system to work. You’ll have to swap out and recharge the battery every once in a while as you suggest here.

      Reply
    • volta

      We were shooting 2 seconds of video in this case, but you could change the parameters so that you should longer stretches of video. If you just want to shoot video for a long time, you need enough battery and solar to recharge the GoPro 12X per day which starts to get to be a lot of solar panels and battery power.

      Reply
      • Richie

        Thanks for the feed back. Yeah we would shoot a lot of video. Maybe we set it up with the motion sensor to save battery life and amount of footage.

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