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Michael J. Flynn

Arri 35BL-Evolution Power/Voltage

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Hi all,

Long time lurker and first time poster here.

I'm a film student based in Philly, and my friend and I are prepping a short we'll be shooting a combination of 35mm and Super 16 (on the Aaton XTR).  My school has a 35mm camera - the 35BL - but it hasn't been used in a few years since we're students and obviously film is expensive on ultra low budget projects.

The block battery that runs the camera is 13.6 volts I think - which the manual states is the peak operating voltage - but it holds less than a half hour of charge with the motor in use since it hasn't been recalled in probably 15 years.  Essentially, I'm wondering if anyone has any battery solutions - my biggest fear is blowing up the computer bits by overloading it with too much power.  We're running into a similar issue with the Aaton.  A rental house nearby has an Anton Bauer Cine Vclx/2 block battery which outputs 14.4 volts via 4-pin XLR.  I'm hoping this works for the Arri which can handle up to 16 volts, I believe.  I'm more worried about the Aaton which is rated from 10-14.  The Aaton has two 12 volt batteries, but they're old, and we're shooting exteriors in the winter - so I'd like a battery block solution.

Thanks for all your help in advance - I haven't shot my own project on 35mm before, so I'm really hoping we can get a power solution for this camera.  My school is actually giving us a roll of Fuji to scratch test all the mags and make sure the motor, gate, etc. are all in working order, and we're actually doing that test later today.

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I power my AATON 35III (rated 10-14V, same as XTR per your info) using a couple of these batteries: 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1048193-REG/bescor_fp_12vatm_12v_lithium_ion_battery.html

On my last shoot we shot 7 magazines and powered the tap using a single battery. Lasted the entire day. 11.4V was the charge left on the battery when we put the camera back in the case at the end of the day. 

I wouldn't use 14.4V batteries on older film cameras like AATON rated 10-14V because on a full charge these batteries sometimes can go up to 15+V. I'm sure there is some tolerance built in but it's not worth risking it in my opinion.

I have no experience with the BL but quick search says they are 12V. 

 

Edited by Robino Jones

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Yea the BL's just need a lot of amperage. I recommend NOT using a lithium battery, just sticking with NiCd. I believe they'll run up to 14v ok, but I'd google around and check. 

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Thanks guys,

Our film tech is trying to see if they can get the battery for the BL re-celled, but my school is notoriously unsupportive of the old film equipment (despite being the only place in Philly with working cameras...), so we'll see.

If she's able to, I wonder if the best solution would be to use the battery block for the BL (rated at 13.6 volts) for the Aaton as well since they both connect via 4-pin xlr.

Otherwise, I may have to see if my producers can budget in buying some batteries... none of the rental houses here have anything NiCd as best I can tell. 

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You should be able to use 12V Li-Ion Blocks without any problems. I used the 12V 4Pol XLR Output from the Bebob Cube with my SR2 and it still works after many hours. https://bebob.de/cube.html B.t.w. the Original NiCd batteries got around 14.8 Volts when fully charged.

We also used Li-ion 14V batts with the BL4 back in the days quite often on Steadicams etc.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Yea the BL's just need a lot of amperage. I recommend NOT using a lithium battery, just sticking with NiCd. I believe they'll run up to 14v ok, but I'd google around and check. 

35BL4S/Evolution current draw is around 3 amps (36W power consumption) with a loaded mag at standard speeds, pretty standard for 35mm cameras (and not much more than an Alexa Mini for example). They can spike at start-up, maybe up to 10A, so don't put in too low a fuse rating if the battery is fused. 

A 35 BL can probably take up to 17 or 18V, but you don't want to risk electrical damage, so I wouldn't use a 14.4 or 14.8V Li-ion battery (which will max at around 17V when fully charged) but the 12V regulated ones like Robino has would be fine.  7-10 Ah capacity (80-120 Wh) is perfect. 

Otherwise 12V lead acid block batteries are cheap and sturdy. We used to supply 13.2V NiCad blocks for 12V Arris, so that would also work.

I don't know about Aatons.

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6 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

A 35 BL can probably take up to 17 or 18V, but you don't want to risk electrical damage, so I wouldn't use a 14.4 or 14.8V Li-ion battery (which will max at around 17V when fully charged) but the 12V regulated ones like Robino has would be fine.  7-10 Ah capacity (80-120 Wh) is perfect. 

I hoped a bit that you answered! I have to mention that many Steadicam systems used 24 to 12 V output controls with converters.

I'm not sure if the AntonBauer / Bebob external Li-Ion Blocks use them for their 12V Outputs internal, but when I used them, I did not "roast" my SR "so far!"

But maybe someone can build a 4pin XLR to 4pin XLR to 12V converter / regulator? That should work with all Li-Ion Blocks/Belts or am I wrong? If I would need this accesoire too. 

Since 2006 the EU restricted the sales of Ni–Cd batteries & cells. 

Edited by Philip Reinhold
grammar + add

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15 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

Otherwise 12V lead acid block batteries are cheap and sturdy

If you have a camera crew of 5. Rare on a "BL" shoot these days. 

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1 hour ago, Tyler Purcell said:

If you have a camera crew of 5. Rare on a "BL" shoot these days. 

Well, a 35BL has to go on a tripod anyway, unless you're Mr. Universe. So an extra car battery may be no hardship.

On 11/7/2019 at 4:09 PM, Michael J. Flynn said:

it holds less than a half hour of charge with the motor in use

Don't forget, you only use power when it's actually running film, and half an hour is 3000ft.- you're very fortunate if you've been allocated that much.

Edited by Mark Dunn

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Just now, Mark Dunn said:

Well, a 35BL has to go on a tripod anyway, unless you're Mr. Universe. So an extra car battery may be no hardship.

Don't forget, you only use power when it's actually running film, and half an hour is 3000ft.- you're very fortunate if you've been allowed to use that much.

We shot some test shots handheld yesterday, and it can be done.  My DP isn't Hoyte van Hoytema, but he's telling me he doesn't think it's *that* much harder than an Alexa Classic.  I'm skeptical, but if he can make it work then great.

And I meant - when we're using the motor on and off, the battery lasts about 30 min before it can't power the camera.  If we didn't run the motor at all, we'd get maybe 45-60 out of it.  You can basically watch the green light bars go down as it runs for more than 60 seconds.

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9 minutes ago, Michael J. Flynn said:

We shot some test shots handheld yesterday, and it can be done.  My DP isn't Hoyte van Hoytema, but he's telling me he doesn't think it's *that* much harder than an Alexa Classic.  I'm skeptical, but if he can make it work then great.

And I meant - when we're using the motor on and off, the battery lasts about 30 min before it can't power the camera.  If we didn't run the motor at all, we'd get maybe 45-60 out of it.  You can basically watch the green light bars go down as it runs for more than 60 seconds.

I get it now- it's jut not holding a charge for any length of time. Fair enough, it won't do. Your DP probably won't be able to manage a car battery as well.

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4 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

I get it now- it's jut not holding a charge for any length of time. Fair enough, it won't do. Your DP probably won't be able to manage a car battery as well.

True. I'm sure we could find  an underclassman experienced enough to not screw up following he camera around with a battery, but we'll see 😛

Seriously though, thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.  I knew I came to the right place with all the reading I've done on here in the past - it's a great resource.  At the moment, it's looking like we may be able to get the current battery block we have for it replaced/re-celled, but I'm definitely going to look into all these suggestions especially to make handheld work easier to do.

2 hours ago, Adrian Sierkowski said:

Which school in Philly still has a BL knocking around?

And honestly, you could probably pick up 1 or 2 of these:

 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?sts=ma&fct=fct_category|battery_packs_belts_3722&N=0&Ntt=12V Camera Battery

 

 

Temple University. Hasn't been used in a few years, but it seems to be in good condition - fingers crossed the film comes back okay.  We've got two 400' and one 1000' mag.

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4 hours ago, Mark Dunn said:

Well, a 35BL has to go on a tripod anyway, unless you're Mr. Universe. So an extra car battery may be no hardship.

You mean a $5000+ tripod because the thing weighs a metric tone. 

I love the BL because it's such a cool camera, stooped in history. 
I hate the BL because it's a brick, that isn't even that quiet and is a bitch to work on. 

But yea, you need "people" to use one. That's why I sold my BL4 and 535. I was like, no way am I ever going to use them. The 535 package I had, also had ALL the cool accessories, but I was like, what's the point. The damn thing weighs 62lb with 1000ft load. 

People ask me all the time why I went with Aaton.... Because it's quiet "enough". It weighs less than a built Alexa Classic. Will run off one 12v battery for the entire day AND doesn't need an assistant to work it or carry it. 

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I have 100% hand held that specific BL4 many many times, and I am no jacked super-star. It's not that bad at all. Pretty sure the tripod the use (or used to ) is a 100D @ Temple, assuming it's the same stuff I used there-- so more like a $1000 tripod; used.  Just use the 400' Mags for hand-held. Save the 1000' for tripod use. And if you wanna get crazy crazy, talk to your lab about breaking down your 1000' loads into 400' loads for you and even a little 200' shorty-- makes ordering a little easy if you plan on using the 1000'

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