Battery pack with outlet

I’m doing some research with a Kinect, but there’s a bit of a snag: it’s kind of tethered to an outlet. I looked around, and several universities have made the Kinect portable, but all of them gut it in some way. The simplest seemed to take under $10 in components, but involved stripping the wires and reconnecting them to a new connector. I might be able to do it, but it’s moot since I’m not really allowed to mutilate any of it (and we can’t afford to replace it if I kill it). It shouldn’t take too much power, it looks like 6 AA batteries can run it for about 6 hours of continuous use.

Are there any cheap battery packs with an outlet? I don’t care too much if they’re rechargeable or not. I’ve been looking around, and all I can find are things in the $100+ range, which seems a tad excessive, considering the ad-hoc solution is, as mentioned, under $10 not including the AA batteries.

If you mean “outlet” as in 120V household power, that’s a lot more complicated because you would go from a DC battery pack to a 120V AC power, and then reconvert it (through the Kinect power adapter) back to 12V DC for the actual Kinect unit. If you absolutely insist on going this way, it’s not going to be cheap because the inverter will be pricier than the cheap wiring setup in that DIY project you talked about – that was a straight DC-to-DC connection, with off-the-shelf AA batteries rigged up to provide unregulated 12V power (much simpler).

If you don’t care and can afford it, this setup is commonly sold as Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and you can find them on Amazon or any major electronics store. They take household power, charge up an internal battery, and then feed devices through one or more built-in 120V outlets. They are much larger and clunkier than 6 AA batteries, but they usually also tend to hold a lot more energy (because they are intended to power computers and such). Maybe you can find the smallest capacity one that still supplies 120V power.

If money is the limiting factor, I’ve often seen old models of these things at thrift stores, auctions, and even just sitting around in trash piles. Often the electronics will still work and it’s just the battery that needs to be replaced, so consider going that route. Even if the battery is old, it may still be able to hold more charge than your Kinect would reasonably need.

However, another issue is weight: that kind of setup will be much heavier than a DC power pack, and if you’re doing robotics, the weight-to-energy density will be very poor.

Forgot to mention one other avenue (probably a better one):

  1. Buy a DC power pack that provides 12V output (there are a lot on Amazon)
  2. Buy a spare Kinect power cord and splice that to the battery pack, feeding the 12V power into where the AC power supply would normally be. There are instructions online.

The Kinect itself can remain unmodified. You still run the risk of damaging it, in theory, with electrical issues… and that’s a risk only you can gauge. Not sure who you’re doing the research for, but if you’re in an academic setting, there’s probably somebody around who could spare 15 minutes to help you rig up the wiring if you ask nicely – try the electrical engineers, supply room people, student clubs, etc. They might even have the spare parts you need to do so. Or look for a local Maker group, or an Arduino or robotics club, either in the university itself or in the surrounding community.

That seems to basically be this solution, where “rig your own battery pack” is replaced with “buy a battery pack” which seems like a good substitute. We’re working on something with regulating the engine of an electric scooter when there’s incoming danger. We’ll probably have someone with the background on the project eventually, but it’s been just me so far. I’ll have to ask the professor I’m answering to if the guy he wants to do the motor stuff is available and could do this (and if we’re even allowed to modify the power cord).

Thanks.

Because the kinect requires 12 volts, its not USB standard… so there is certainly no assuming a USB battery power supply would do it.

( And if you think … just add more battery power to the USB device ? The worry is that the USB battery pack would have a 5 volt regulator… )
From here,
http://www.kinecthesia.com/2011/04/kinect-minimum-voltage.html

You can have the maximum voltage at 12 volts, plus a little
And let battery voltage drop to 8.5 volts… so you can avoid a regulator ! (which wastes power and battery charge ) … The kinect will work with the batteries default discharge pattern, 12 volts fully charged, and fully discharged when the kinect stops working …

OR, If you found a solar (photo-voltaic) panel with a matching battery - you might add the 12 v regulator if the panel goes over 12 volts but that means you have to ensure the panel can produce well over 12 volts… - and then hope to run the kinect from the lights rather than from battery. Less “damm those batteries” issues ! (or skip the battery and just run from PV ? won’t work in the dark ?)