Core SWX has a range of B-mount Helix Max Batteries for the ARRI ALEXA 35. The Helix Max series was designed to be able to handle the most demanding power builds in the cinema industry. They are available in 98Wh (Helix Max 98) and 147Wh (Helix Max 150) models. For this review, I will be looking at the Helix Max 150 (B-mount).
With the arrival of the ALEXA 35, ARRI added another high-voltage camera to its stable, along with a new battery standard called B-mount. Now, this had many people questioning, do I have to use B-mount or can I use dual voltage V-mount or G-mount batteries with the ALEXA 35? Well, you have the option of either investing in the B-mount style system or continuing to use your current Dual Voltage V-mount or G-mount batteries with an adapter plate.
CORE SWX has some nice educational videos that help explain a lot of the questions you may have.
No matter which mount style you choose, a high-voltage battery pack is required for the ARRI ALEXA 35. According to CORE SWX, its Helix Max series is the most complete, ultra-efficient onboard battery system ever offered to the cinematic industry. The packs offer a maximum output of 10A at high voltage (20A at low voltage). They provide near-lossless power transmission at a 99% efficiency rate to high-voltage operating equipment. The unique design of the Helix allows it to output at low voltage on any equipment you may currently use standard 14v battery packs on, as well as charge on all standard V-mount and G-Mount chargers, however, the Helix B-mount requires a new B-mount charger.
The Helix Max Batteries encompass all the features of Hypercore NEO, with the added function of dual 14v/28v simultaneous voltage output, which makes them a good solution for the ARRI ALEXA 35. The packs provide high voltage only when coupled with a Helix V or G mount plate and/or when they are placed directly onto the B-mount plate of the ARRI Alexa 35, providing an output high voltage of up to 33.6v. This 33.6v is within the top range of high voltage acceptance, thus drawing less current, creating less heat and extending both operational runtime and product longevity.
When used on standard equipment (monitors, 14v cameras, wireless Tx/Rx) V-mount and G-mount plates, the Helix Max packs operate like any other V-mount or G-mount pack.
Having a dual voltage battery makes a ton of sense, as it allows you to use it on other cameras and equipment, and not just the ALEXA 35. You can buy Direct Connect plates that allow you to use G-mount or V-mount batteries on ARRI Alexa 35. These plates will also work with the ARRI PDM-1 and AEM-1 modules.
Above you can see a video that shows you how to install the Direct Connect plates on the Alexa 35.
If you happened to own an ARRI Amira, ARRI ALEXA LF and an ALEXA 35, which is quite common for a rental house, you could use the bebop B-Mount Battery Adapter for ARRI AMIRA or bebob B-Mount Battery Adapter for ARRI ALEXA/LF/65 Cameras so that you could run all of these cameras via B-mount dual voltage batteries.
Despite there being quite a few battery solutions on the market for the ALEXA 35, there are not a lot of flight-safe options. If you travel a lot, then having flight-safe batteries is a must. The CORE SWX Helix Max 98Wh and 147Wh batteries are both flight safe, and on most airlines, an individual can hand carry up to two batteries that have a capacity between 100Wh and 160Wh. There is usually no limit to the number of batteries that are under 100Wh that you can take, although it’s always best to check with the airline you are using.
The batteries have a maximum output of 20A (10A at 28.8v HV).
The batteries feature a nice robust housing in case you happen to drop one.
I also like that Core SWX has made the release mechanism entirely out of aluminum. Because the mount is actually on the battery itself and not on the B-mount plate, this needs to be as robust as possible.
The texture of the batteries also makes them easy to grip and handle. A lot of operators tend to hold the back of the camera when panning and for that purpose, the batteries work well. B-mount is a super solid mount and it is a lot more robust than any other mount on the market.
I have found in inclement weather conditions you don’t want to be handling a battery that has a slippery surface.
The batteries are rated for 2000 cycles, which will certainly get you through quite a few years of use.
It is also nice that CORE SWX has incorporated both a hibernation and storage mode for the batteries. Just like people, batteries don’t need to be awake if they don’t need to be used!
Size & Weight
The CORE SWX B-mount Helix Max 150 battery tips the scales at 2.2 lbs / 1kg. It has physical dimensions of 3.54 x 4.65 x 2.72″ / 8.99 x 11.81 x 6.9cm. So how does this compare to some of the competition?
|CORE SWX Helix Max 150||2.2 lbs / 1kg||3.54 x 4.65 x 2.72″ / |
8.99 x 11.81 x 6.9cm
|bebob B155CINE 14.4/28.8V 155Wh||2.2 lbs / 1kg||5.7 x 3.7 x 2.3″ / |
14.4 x 9.4 x 5.8cm
|SWIT BIVO-160||2.42 lbs / 1.1kg||5.7″ x 3.9 x 2.1″|
14.4 x 10 x 5.4cm
While the battery fits on the camera nicely, it doesn’t contour to the shape of the ALEXA 35. It is slightly shorter than the battery plate or AEM-1 Audio Module. This is purely a cosmetic thing, but I still thought it was worth pointing out.
Now, the reason for the Helix MAX batteries being wider and not taller than some other batteries is because they are using the newest 20700 size cell, instead of the 18650 cells commonly used in other brand packs like Swit BIVO. While this design creates a deeper build due to the wider cells, the operational functionality of the Helix Max packs far exceeds others using 18650 cells in the market.
The ALEXA 35 balances really nicely on the shoulder and batteries like the CORE SWX B-mount Helix Max add a nice amount of weight to the back of the camera.
The CORE SWX B-mount Helix Max batteries all offer one P-tap. This works well, however, it would have been nice to have seen a Twist P-tap (D-tap) where it doesn’t matter which way you plug it in. This is something the competing bebob battery has.
There is also a USB-Type A 5V output. I would have preferred to have seen a USB-C output. I am not sure why some battery manufacturers are still putting a USB-Type A output on batteries in 2022.
I really enjoyed using the CORE SWX Helix Max batteries. They are well built, you can charge them quickly, and they have a nice large and clear LCD display that shows you relevant information.
Personally, I would have preferred to have seen a LED display on the side of the battery, because that is where all the other displays for the ALEXA 35 are located.
On the side of the battery, you have a traditional LED display where the remaining power is shown in a series of four illuminated LED lights.
Now, I did check to see how accurate the % display was reflected between the battery and the camera and I found it to be about 1% off. This is quite common, and something I also found when using other B-mount batteries.
If you own an ALEXA 35 and you are going to be traveling a lot, these batteries make a ton of sense.
The ALEXA 35 isn’t a huge camera, and the Helix Max 150 is a nice sweet spot for offering decent run times, while not making the camera too heavy.
Helix Hotswap plate
The batteries will provide ample runtime for most camera and lighting applications, but they can also be used in conjunction with a Helix Hotswap plate ($349 USD) to double the available battery capacity and extend runtimes.
The CORE SWX MACH-4B is claimed to be the fastest li-ion B-mount quad charger on the market. It can provide 4A simultaneously to all four charge bays. The power range per channel is rated at 64 watts/hr.
The MACH-4B features four independent charge bays, and it is capable of charging four batteries simultaneously by focusing on each individually. The charger can completely charge four 98Wh batteries in around 132 minutes. This is very quick.
Red and green LEDs indicate charging/complete status and it supports a 90-240 VAC input voltage, making it worldwide compatible. Now, you may well be thinking that the charging display information is pretty basic, and you would be right. However, you can see the status of how the battery is charging directly on the battery itself. While I didn’t mind this, the LCD display on the batteries doesn’t light up unless you press the button on the side, so it does make it a little hard to see if you don’t do that.
The new low-profile design is over ½” thinner than comparable models. The charger features a recessed carry handle that makes transport convenient.
The housing is made of aluminum, and it is very robustly built and it is made in the USA. It weighs 5 lbs / 2.26 kg. I found the size and low weight made it a good travel option.
The MACH-4B does feature a fan, however, most importantly, it is very quiet. If you are like me and you often have to charge batteries in hotel rooms, having a loud charger can be very disruptive when you are trying to sleep.
The MACH-4B is nice and quiet and that is a big deal for me.
Price & Availability
The Core SWX Helix Max 98Wh and 147Wh Lithium-Ion Dual-Voltage Battery (B-Mount) are now available for the following prices:
- Core SWX Helix Max 98Wh Lithium-Ion Dual-Voltage Battery (B-Mount) $599 USD
- Core SWX Helix Max 147Wh Lithium-Ion Dual-Voltage Battery (B-Mount) $749 USD
How does this price compare to the competition? Well, below you can see:
|CORE SWX Helix Max 150||$749 USD|
|bebob B155CINE 14.4/28.8V 155Wh||$645 USD|
The CORE SWX Helix Max is more expensive than the bebob, but the bebob doesn’t offer any sort of LCD display, and they take longer to charge.
Core SWX Helix Max 98Wh Lithium-Ion Dual-Voltage Battery (B-Mount)
Capacity: 98Wh (14.8v, 6.6Ah)
Operational Voltage: Dual Voltage, DC 11v-16.8v/DC 22v-33.6v
Size: 3.54″ x 4.65″x 2.38″
Load: 20A @ 16.8v, 10A @ 33.6v
Core SWX Helix Max 147Wh Lithium-Ion Dual-Voltage Battery (B-Mount)
Capacity: 9.9Ah, 147wh
Operational Voltage: Dual Voltage, DC 11v-16.8v/DC 22v-33.6v
Size: 3.54″ x 4.65″x 2.72″
Load: 20A @ 16.8v, 10A @ 33.6v