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David Pasko, Director of Engineering

Leading By Design

The camera operators mantra ‘never lose a shot’ is one that our engineering team take to heart. To ensure this, the team performs significant amounts of battery cycle testing. Unlike other battery manufacturers, we don’t say that each battery should last a certain number of cycles, we can verify that it will do.

To achieve our aim, we use a sophisticated set of automated test equipment that takes a battery and simulates customer usage of repeated charge and discharge. We record and review the data to predict the performance of a battery from the production line to end-of-life years down the road. The test equipment records everything from temperature to current, voltage, power, capacity and predictions of the data for years, in a single test. The team might have more than 100 different individual tests running at any one time looking at everything from current production to competitive products or future research and development. These tests may run for a duration of just a few hours all the way through to the full life-cycle simulation tests which might last for more than a year. This data obtained is invaluable not only for the engineers but also for the end-user, who can feel confident that the batteries they buy haves already been tested for thousands of hours in the worst possible conditions. We produce quality batteries, and the investment in equipment and methods to ensure this is second to none.

five machines that the Anton/Bauer engineering team uses to thoroughly test different batteries
Pictured here are the five machines that the Anton/Bauer engineering team uses to thoroughly test different batteries for various charge/discharge/temperature situations against performance.

Not only does this test equipment strain and measure every aspect of the battery’s performance, but it can also simulate some of the harshest environments in which the batteries will operate. By using computer-controlled humidity and temperature chambers the engineering team can expose the batteries to simulated extreme climate conditions, ranging from the intense heat of a desert day, the severe chill of a polar night, to the thick humidity found in the rainforest. Our batteries will operate in all foreseeable circumstances and the team has the unique capability to test and verify this, which is not commonly found in the battery manufacturing market.

Expansion into V-Mount Batteries

While historically known as the pioneer of the Gold-Mount battery mounting system, we joined the V-Mount battery market in 2013. Since then, we have released all 14.4V battery models in both Gold-mount and V-Mount configurations. This allows us to provide advanced power solutions for the widest range of equipment, regardless of the operator’s chosen battery mount.

Increased cross-compatibility

At the same time as the introduction of the V-Mount battery lineup, we expanded the level of compatibility with other brands operating in the same sector. Many customers have existing fleets of chargers and may need a battery that can work with their current chargers. Our batteries fit this brief as the entire battery lineup works on all major brand chargers. As a safeguard, the intelligence within the batteries allows them to protect themselves if mishandled by an inappropriate charging situation.

Charging a battery-operated device has become a simple process that we habitually do daily. Looking at this process in a detailed way allows you to better understand just how Anton/Bauer technology ensures each battery is charged exactly the way it should be in order to maintain performance.

Batteries come in many sizes and chemistries; with the new release of the Titon Micro Series, the capacity of our batteries ranges from 45Wh for the Micros to 240Wh for the Titon 240. Lithium-ion batteries have a specific way in which they prefer to charge, while Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, such as the Hytron 140, also have their own preferences. To handle these sizes and chemistries, we use a smart communication system where the battery and charger discuss exactly how the charging should happen. During the ‘handshake’ process, the charger asks the battery a series of questions to determine the optimum method; questions such as:

  • What type of battery are you?
  • What charge voltage would you like?
  • What charge current would you like?

The battery will respond, and the charging process begins. This process makes sure that every battery gets exactly the charge profile it requires. Charging each battery to a customized profile instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach means it will handle the battery in the best way to extend its life to the maximum potential.

Development of the Gold Mount Plus system

Building on the success of the traditional Gold Mount system developed by Anton Wilson and George Bauer an impressive 50 years earlier, the engineering team thought it right to draw on this legacy when developing the new 26V mounting system. The result was the Gold Mount Plus. Aptly named, the Gold Mount Plus uses the same 3-point mounting system as its predecessor but adds more in terms of communication and compatibility. The team completed the design in such a way that a Gold Mount Plus bracket will accept either a traditional Gold-Mount battery rated at a nominal 14.4V or a new 26V battery at the nominal 25.2V. This allows: either system to power bi-voltage equipment; the 26V charging system to accept and charge both battery types; and enables additional communications within the mount.

Batteries for every situation

With the surge in camera models of every style, shape and size, batteries to fit all these situations were needed. This drove our engineering team to develop the widest range of batteries ever to handle every type of power requirement. The following are the various battery models currently offered:

  • Salt- E Dog – 9kWh Sodium Power Supply. The future of sustainable production.
  • VCLX NM2 – consistent power at 14.4V, 28V and 48V for peak performance on cinematic productions.
  • DIONIC 26V – high current-rated batteries for demanding 26V equipment.
  • DIONIC XT – high current-rated batteries for the tough cine user.
  • Titon – quality standard current rating for ENG and broadcast situations.
  • Titon Micro – smaller form-factor for when space is at a premium and only small batteries will work.
  • Titon Base – perfect for the DSLR or handheld camcorder user when a standard ¼”-20 screw-in attachment is needed.

Safety by design

Lithium-ion batteries are sometimes viewed with some scepticism as regards safety and concern around failures. We take the safety of all our batteries seriously, and this is clear in multiple facets of the design process, including:

Multiple fail-safes

Anton/Bauer batteries use multiple layers of protection and redundancy to protect from common issues such as:

  • over-voltage
  • over-current
  • over-temperature

– but there are also multiple redundancies, so if the primary system is damaged or inoperable, there is a backup to take over. This protects the customer and is something on which we pride ourselves.

Self-healing protection

Anton/Bauer batteries’ first line of defence against the stresses listed above are sets of self-healing failures. Intelligence within the battery will cause it to protect itself while monitoring the situation and re-enabling itself once the issue has been resolved. Self-healing protection is important because it allows the battery to understand and remedy a situation in a way that enables the customer to continue using the battery.

Designing beyond the safety standards

Standard safety testing for lithium-ion batteries centers on the verification that the battery is safe for shipment aboard planes, boats and rail. These tests are referred to as UN 38.3 in the industry. This testing is performed by independent and certified third-party laboratories, who provide reports and certify that the products being tested meet the standards. We also have the capabilities to perform many of these tests internally and tests beyond these standard limits. Examples of this are:

  • Shock testing is performed by freezing batteries to –20C and dropping them from a height of 6 feet onto solid concrete on all their surfaces, then verifying that the batteries still operate, and can be charged and discharged.
  • Over-charge testing involves forcing a failure of the primary and secondary protection circuits, then verifying that the battery is still safely shut off and protected from an unsafe situation.
  • Over-current testing is performed by placing loads of up to 100A dozens of times and verifying that the battery protects itself and continues to operate.
  • For temperature testing, the battery is cycled from extreme cold to extreme heat multiple times, with the battery then tested to verify that it works afterwards just as it did beforehand.

Designed with the user in mind

To deliver products that customers want and need, a significant amount of engagement is a must. This comes from multiple sources from original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, brand ambassadors, or even reaching out to operators through social media or similar channels. These points of contact are so important because it ensures the team has a feedback loop where new operating needs can be raised, considered and implemented in future products. Customer satisfaction has been key to our growth over the past 50 years and will continue to be so.

Helping customers to ship dangerous goods

With the increased focus on the safety of lithium-ion batteries and tightened shipping regulations, we set out to help customers facing these new restrictions. Extra features were added into products, such as the Performance Quad Charger, where an internal discharger could be configured for “Fly Mode”. In “Fly Mode”, batteries could be placed on the charger to be individually discharged down to an appropriate level that would be safe to travel aboard a plane. The batteries would then go into a deep sleep mode to conserve power. This was to ease the customer’s mind meaning they didn’t need to worry about making sure all their batteries met the guidelines. A four-position desktop discharger was also developed and released for the same purpose.

A focus on continuous improvement

Learning lessons through continuous improvement is something the engineering team takes very seriously. The best way to improve products is simply to reach out to customers in order to get direct and unfiltered responses on which aspects of a product work well and which do not. Obtaining this information early and often within a design cycle of product development helps to make sure the result delivers on what is intended and satisfies the customer. The engineering team uses alpha and beta users to gather this feedback and for iterations of design improvements. Engineering as a discipline, regarding product development, could be viewed as a giant circle where constant feedback from an output is fed back into the system as an input to further improve the output. The team is always looking for ways to make something last longer, perform better, or cost less for the customer. Never being satisfied is a driving force behind the desire to always do more.

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