I just finished as Steadicam Op on a feature shot entirely on the RED. I am sharing the following as I have heard of other RED users having similar problems with their cameras, and I hope this can help not only the users but the manufacturers as well. This is what I found through my testing on set. I'm not saying it's definitive, the only issue, or the same issue that others with power problems are having. Hopefully, you can just take from it what you will.
The common problem seems to be a lack of power delivery, or spontaneous power failure. On our set, this was after days of hit-and-miss batteries that would indicate a full charge, but deliver no power to the camera. Other symptoms included a mounted battery and a powered-up camera just spontaneously shutting down, often while merely sitting still, and frequently if bumped even slightly.
We had three RED batteries total for the camera - more than enough to keep it powered as long as they were being rotated on the chargers properly. All batteries seemed to take and hold a charge, as indicated by both the charging stations and the on-battery LED indicators. Often however, even when fully charged, only one of the three would deliver power when mounted on the camera.
During one battle, when the good battery was drained, and the other two just wouldn't cooperate at all, I decided to figure out just what was happening. The crew was relighting, and the camera could go off of AC power for a bit if necessary so I had some one-on-one time with the batteries. I took out my multimeter and started testing, to try and figure out just where the problem was.
I tested the battery. As indicated, it was charged and delivering the full 14+ volts. I tested continuity in the battery mount. Continuity was intact between the mounting pins, and the connector pins on the LEMO as well as the P-Tap. This let me know that no fuse was blown in the battery mount (we would soon disassemble it, only to find no fuses exist anyway), and any connections within the cable and mount were intact without shorts. However, not surprisingly, when the battery was mounted on the mount, no voltage was read on either the P-tap or the LEMO connector, indicating the problem had to do with the mating of the battery to the mount.
We disassembled the battery mount, just in case there were fuses to replace. I was pretty sure there were not due to the successful continuity tests, but not knowing what the insides of the plate looked like, anything could be happening. No fuses exist. All connections were intact. We then mounted the battery with the back of the battery mount off so we could see what was going on. The problem became immediately obvious. The mounting pins, were not mating with the corresponding sockets on the battery. Close inspection of both elements turned up a mess on the positive battery sockets - on ALL batteries.
For some reason, still unknown, the plastic casing that is around the positive sockets on the batteries was being chewed up (Figure 5). This left us with little bits of plastic protruding into the socket, and obstructing anything that might need to get in - like a mounting pin. That, on top of a poorly mounted circuit board inside the battery mount resulted in either a poor mating or no mating at all between battery and mount (Figure 6).
I should note, we called in for a replacement set of batteries and mount. An almost new set showed up the next day, but already the sockets were showing signs of damage, and this was gear our production had not used yet, indicating it was not a problem unique to our camera package. We were able to work through the problem by simply taking a knife and delicately scraping away the excess plastic from around the sockets. My guess as to why this was happening would be the pins on either the charger or battery mount were not spaced properly. Even if one pin was one way or another by a couple thousandths of an inch, repeated mating and unmating would quickly cause wear.
I would be very curious to know if others have found this problem. It would be easy to tell. If you are on a RED job, just take a battery and look closely at the sockets. My guess is that more than a few of you will see some messy plastic. The good news is you can typically get by with a knife and a delicate hand. The bad news is you have to get by with a knife and a delicate hand. A 90 second boot time between power downs, AFTER you've gotten a battery to work, is more than a small nuisance. It may make some AD's homicidal.