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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old March 15th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #1
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Which Charger is Best for the Price for Sony NP-FH Batteries?

Is there a good charger other than the expensive Sony model, besides the small and slow ones sold by cut-rate dealers? They all seem to have a slower charge rate than doing it in-camera.
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Old March 15th, 2008, 05:17 PM   #2
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Pretty much three choices -

VQH10 - the dual bay Sony model designed for these - $90 is about as cheap as I've seen, even secondhand - not very available.

BC-TRP Sony - the genuine Sony, with the flip out plug on the back. Charges F and H series... I use these myself, until I can snag a VQH cheap!
There's some Chinese TRP's that use an A/C cable, pretty sure these are knockoffs (darn good ones if they are, but I don't think that Sony made these with the external cord...)

Then there are the cheap Chinese ones for around $10 if you find the right vendor on eBay - but pick the worng vendor, and you'll never know what you'll get, may or may not fit your batteries! I got one because it had the car adapter, which is a good "emergency" charging option. It's worth it for $10, but not much more.

I think the VQP10 (last years model for the FP series batteries) should also work, although not charge as fast and use whatever special features the FH series are supposedly endowed with... but see them for around $60 shipped, not a bad option, and tempting!

HTH!

FWIW, I just picked up a used VQP10 really cheap (said it was scratched and worn, big whoop) from B&H's used section - stumbled across it, and figured it was worth a try - from the reviews of the VQH, looks like the speed advantage may be offset by the dual bay - it has to wait until the first finishes to full before it starts the second. Sounds very much like the old SQ series (M size), they fast charge part way, then take their time charging fully. If that's the case, the VQP might be a bargain worth checking out, probably won't have mine for a few days, but will post my review...

Last edited by Dave Blackhurst; March 15th, 2008 at 11:02 PM. Reason: updated info
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Old March 16th, 2008, 01:20 AM   #3
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B&H Has the Best Prices on These Chargers

Thanks, Dave. B&H sells the BC-TRP for $38.95 and the VQ-H10 for $84.95. These are the best prices I found for them, from any of the more reputable dealers. A few that are listed cheaper, turn out to be Brand-X "equivalent" models, that usually are anything but equivalent.

The little, direct plug-in BC-TRP has a charging output of only 350 mAh, which would take about 4-5 hours to fully charge an NP-FH70 battery. The larger, dual-bay VQ-H10 is much faster, with an output of 1,700 mAh, which should take an hour or less to charge an NP-FH70. It also works as an AC-DC power supply and comes with a cord to connect to a camcorder. Since the Sony HC-series all come with an AC-DC adaptor, this feature would be a duplicate of what's included with the cameras.

I wonder if these lithium batteries are damaged at all, by a fast-charger? If the small, slower chargers were easier on them and they gave undiminished service for a longer time, it might be worth the wait. Based on the 2.5 hours it took my HDR-HC9 to charge an NP-FH70, I calculate that it has an in-camera charging rate of about 700 mAh.

I have an excellent Sima charger, the SPM-13, that I've used for my Sony NP-F and NP-FM series batteries. It takes about 2.2 hours to charge a 2,000 mAh battery, even though its specs say it gives out only 600 mAh. It has worked hard and dependably for 7 years now. It gives out 3 ear-piercing yelps when it finishes, that can't be missed, even when you're outside. Unfortunately, Sima no longer makes this type of charger and the old one doesn't fit the new FH batteries. They also quit making the great little battery-powered DV rewinder I've used since 2004, the SRW-62.

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; March 16th, 2008 at 07:37 AM.
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Old March 16th, 2008, 06:44 AM   #4
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Battery care

"I wonder if these lithium batteries are damaged at all, by a fast-charger?"

Basically, YES, in time. A long slow charge is better for Li ion polymer batteries for longevity. Also, storing batteries for long periods should be done at part, not full charge to increase lifespan (and in a cool place.)

However, I'm sure most of us need power in a hurry (me included) and just accept that when they die you buy another one. More info in the 2 links below (the second one has a post by me with "paraphrased highlights you need to know", or at least what I think!.... drawn from the extensive information in the first link).

As always, fast it not always best!

http://www.batteryuniversity.com/

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.ph...hlight=battery
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; March 16th, 2008 at 04:01 PM. Reason: adding links
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Old March 16th, 2008, 08:56 AM   #5
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"I wonder if these lithium batteries are damaged at all, by a fast-charger?"
In general C/2 or slower is a good rule of thumb. A 1AH battery (C=1) should not be charged by more than 1/2A. While usually in the cell specification they allow up to 1C charge, it could be damaging in the long run.
HTH
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Old March 16th, 2008, 02:23 PM   #6
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One thing I think is worth noting, battery chemistry and design has no doubt changed somewhat - note the copyright dates on batteryuniversity.com.

For instance, NP-FS series batteries (early, small Sony infolithiums) are notorious for just dying out of nowhere -don't know exactly what was different about those, but they didn't last well from my experience. F and FM type batteries on the other hand by and large seem to last nearly forever, and the FP and FH seem to have followed in their footsteps so far.

Generally the amount of power/usage time you get out of each new generation of battery improves, while the lifespan at least seems to get better. It's an evolving technology, and there are new and different battery designs that promise huge improvements, so "out of date" information may not be indicative of "current" (pun intended) tech.
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Old March 17th, 2008, 09:05 AM   #7
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My Need For an NP-FH Series Charger May Be Solved

In a very delicate operation, that I don't recommend to anyone else, I made a tiny adaptor to allow me to use an older charger with my NP-FH batteries, for my HC9. I've been using a Sima SPM-13 lithium battery charger for 7 years, on NP-F and NP-FM series Sony batteries, which have very sturdy contact points. For the NP-FH and I assume, the NP-FP series, the 3 contact points have been reduced to extremely thin little strips of brass, that are in pairs, with tiny knobs on their ends. Chargers and cameras for them, have 3 flat prongs that push into the slots of the batteries and pry apart the springy pairs of strips. I can't help but wonder if these little contact strips will hold up with a lot of use. It doesn't make sense to me that Sony would make them so small, when there's plenty of room to use sturdier ones like the older series have. I made reasonably sure that what I used for prongs on my adaptor, wasn't causing them any damage. I'll just hope for the best, on the durability of those contact points, as there's no alternative, unless I had a belt-pack battery that used the DC power jack.

My adaptor has been successful in charging the NP-FM60 battery that came with the camera. The Sima charger behaved just as it does with the NP-F and NP-FM batteries. It doesn't have a 3rd contact point for the information circuit that is needed for the batteries to work in a Sony camera, just two prongs for positive and negative. Apparently, during the charging cycle, this information circuit is not necessary. The charger shut off when the NP-FH60 had reached 8.42 volts, which is exactly the voltage it had after in-camera charging in my HC9.

I would share the method I used to make the adaptor, but there's too much chance of wrong components and techniques being used, which could damage the contact strips and ruin the batteries. Hooking them up with accidentally reversed polarity might be dangerous. The only way I'd want to show anyone how to make one, would be in person. For those who can figure out how to do it for themselves and not damage the battery contacts, I can say that it does work, at least with the charger I'm using.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 07:52 AM   #8
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Made Another Charger Adaptor for HC9

I made one today that has all 3 contact points on it, so I can use it to charge the NP-FH batteries with my other Sony camcorders and mini-VCRs. I used it tonight with a 7-year old Sony Digital8 camcorder, to charge both my FH batteries. Now, I won't have to use the HC9 itself for charging, even if my Sima charger were to quit working. And it will let me charge two at one time, without having to buy another charger. Here's a picture of it, while it's sending power from an FH battery to a TRV730, prior to charging it up again. It's in the lower-right corner. It isn't pretty, but it works. That's a surrogate battery in the camcorder, which is the hollow shell of a worn-out FM battery. I removed its innards and soldered the lead wires from the adaptor to the contact points from the inside, passing them through 3 drilled holes. I used a hacksaw blade to cut the shell open along its seamline and fused it back together with shoe goo.

I'll also make another adaptor, using a defunct NP-F330 battery that came with my VX2100. This will allow me to use either this camcorder or a Digital8 GVD-200 VCR, which also takes the NP-F batteries, as additional chargers for the NP-FH batteries. My MaviCap floppy-disk recorder also recharges the NP-F batteries. It seems that the small-capacity lithium batteries that come with Sony camcorders are typically poor quality and don't last very long. Turning them into surrogate battery shells provides a good use for their remains. I've developed quite a collection of old video batteries and their parts in my re-cycling bucket, that is destined for the local receiving station for such things. And I'm aware that my keyboard could use a good cleaning.

I ordered a large NP-FH100 battery for the HC9 today, for $100. (U.S.) plus shipping, from B&H, the best price that seems to be available. I paid 80 cents extra for shipping by the Postal Service, which will put it in my locked neighborhood mailbox, instead of tossing it on my porch, in view of the street.
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Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; March 20th, 2008 at 01:18 AM.
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