Last updated: 9 December 2005

When I started using my Nikon D70 DSLR for astrophotography I wondered how well its battery would perform. As it turned out the Nikon EN-EL3 battery performed better than expected. I could go a whole night of having the camera on and imaging on one or two batteries without any problems. Well, at least I could during the warm months at Oracle Observatory. But once the temperatures began to go below 50°F at night the useful battery life was shortened. And since I knew I wanted to do astrophotography with the D70 during the winter months I decided I needed an alternative power source for the camera.

I use a Celestron Power Tank with my telescopes and it has 3V, 6V, and 9V DC outputs as well as the two 12VDC cigarette lighter outputs. The D70 has a DC in power port for power supplied by an AC Adapter. I wondered if a cable existed that would connect the Power Tank directly to the camera. Well, one doesn't and I've been told that there could be problems using such a direct connection due to the camera voltage requirements. So, not wanting to fry my digital SLR I elected a somewhat convoluted alternative.

I purchased the Nikon EH-5 AC Adapter for the D70 ($90) from OPT. I also purchased a 75W DC-to-AC Power Inverter ($30) from Radio Shack. The inverter has a cigarette lighter plug and so plugs directly into the Power Tank. And the AC Adapter plugs into the inverter.

I tested this combination during my 3 December trip to Oracle Observatory when the temperature was 40-50°F. I successfully powered my LXD55-8"SC and the D70 simultaneously for several hours without any hint of a power problem. I suspect I could have gone for several nights on a single charge based on my previous usage of the Power Tank with two telescopes being powered at the same time.

So, if you need to power a digital camera and a telescope, you might want to investigate whether this power pack + inverter + AC adapter is a viable option for your camera and power supply.

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