Powering the Z-Cam E1

Some comments about powering this camera.

TLDR: use only high quality and low resistance cables to power this camera reliably (or at all).

There are several cables available online that work with this camera, some of the ones I’ve seen recommended are relatively expensive. However, there are cheaper choices that will work, two of them were tested here. One of the best cables was only about $3.40, it certainly not necessary to spend $20 for a functional cable.

Unfortunately there are very many more cheaper cables that will NOT work with the camera – the Thin Cable (2) sample tested is fairly representative.

It is entirely feasible to make your own cable, the parts are inexpensive and you can then make cables with thick conductors and no longer than you need, which will improve performance.

The camera is more forgiving of poor cables if the battery is in place, especially at startup. However unless your power supply and cable are capable of supplying more than 0.800A at idle, or 1.300A while recording, the battery will eventually discharge.

For most of the testing I used a Wavlink powered USB hub, and you can see from the table that even at high current drains the voltage output form the unit did not drop below acceptable limits.

The Smooth Q gimbal is also capable of powering this camera (without battery, a useful weight saving).

Table

Z Cam PSU

Notes:

  • LCD power drain not measured (all done with display on)
  • Lumix 45-150 lens current draw is approximately 0.100A
  • Estimate resistance of test equipment (meter and leads) to be about 0.250Ω and at the low voltages and high currents involved with USB, this can be significant.
  • Resistance of link used to measure voltage at camera port for cable tests not known and may have an effect.
  • Voltage measured at camera port with multimeter or USB tester.
  • Use of a pass-through USB tester to indicate voltage and current severely affected the camera performance, not recommended. Using a USB tester to measure voltage at the camera port was fine though.
  • Instances where camera failed with no battery and the DIY Cable (3) – camera will run if battery is present for startup and subsequently removed. Where Thin Cable (2) was tested, camera would not start under any circumstances.
  • Charging with Thin Cable (2) was limited to 250mA
  • The Z Cam PSU shows very stable voltage output under load.

The testing setup:

All testing was done using a Wavlink powered USB hub, except for the last table which shows the Z Cam PSU performance for reference.

For measuring the current drain of the camera in various scenarios, 2 multimeters and a very short cable was used, configured as shown.

P2200516

For measuring cable performance with the camera in various scenarios, a Keweisi USB Detector was used. This was wired with a short cable inserted into the path near the camera port and is accurate enough to show what was happening. The configuration here shows the DIY Cable (3) being used while recording 4K30 with the battery inserted.

P2200521

 

The cables used (links may not work as they age):

Fat Cable (1)

Fat Cable (1)

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Fat Cable (4)

Fat Cable (4)

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Thin Cable (2)

Thin Cable (2)

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DIY Cable (3)

DIY cable USB

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DIY Cable tail

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DIY cable balun

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