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Old 07-28-11, 04:38 AM   #1
jeneralist 
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How to keep the electronics charged?

Next month, I'm planning on spending some time on the Route Vert in Quebec. Among other stuff, I'll be bringing my headlight (needs AAA batteries), taillight (AAA), mp3 player, cell phone, and maybe my GPS (AA batteries). The things that take batteries just need more batteries to keep them happy, and I can get those on the way.

Any good recommendations for how to keep the cell phone and mp3 player charged? I plan on camping, so I don't think I can just plug them in every night.
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Old 07-28-11, 06:42 AM   #2
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For trips, I use Energizer disposable lithium batteries. My lights accept these directly and I have a charger that will charge my phone, gps, etc from AA batteries.
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Old 07-28-11, 06:44 AM   #3
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How about looking into a small solar charger?

Never had any use from these myself but could be a good application for you.

HTH
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Old 07-29-11, 07:17 AM   #4
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How handy are you with a soldering iron? You can build a "MintyBoost" from a kit by adafruit; provide your own enclosure (Altoids tin, soap dish, small plastic jewelry bead holder, otter box) and cable. Takes 2 AA batteries in stock form and will recharge various USB devices. Current versions of kit will work with iPhones. You can use 3 batteries in series (not 4!) and/or larger C or even D cells for more power capacity. They've also come up with a solar-powered version. Original instructables page; adafruit page with links to all the hardware; all their solar stuff (looks like the charge controller is out of stock for a week or so.)

Building and connecting the kits doen't look cheaper than buying a pre-packaged system; it might be more fun.
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Old 07-29-11, 09:36 AM   #5
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[QUOTE=ks1g;13004041]How handy are you with a soldering iron? You can build a "MintyBoost" from a kit by adafruit;

Actually tried that for last year's ride. It didn't work as well as I would have liked. Even with fresh AA batteries, it only brought my phone up to about 60% charge. If I left my phone plugged in to the 'boost during the day, and didn't use it, the battery was still lower at the end of the day.

Now, it may just have been poor soldering skills or a flakey USB connector. I'm going to revisit that question this weekend.
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Old 07-29-11, 11:27 AM   #6
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Probably not practical given the amount of time you have, but a dynohub into some sort of USB charging device could work.

I've seen ads for this one on BF:
http://www.thinkbiologic.com/product...rge-power-pack

but I'm sure there are others and DIYers who've done this.
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Old 07-29-11, 11:44 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=jeneralist;13004706]
Quote:
Originally Posted by ks1g View Post
Actually tried that for last year's ride. It didn't work as well as I would have liked. Even with fresh AA batteries, it only brought my phone up to about 60% charge. If I left my phone plugged in to the 'boost during the day, and didn't use it, the battery was still lower at the end of the day.
Yep. Mitiboost didn't cut it for me either.
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Old 08-01-11, 04:37 AM   #8
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So I took my mintyboost out of the closet last night to see if I could figure out the problem. Put fresh batteries in it. My cell phone was at 40% charge to start with.

Started charging the phone. I could see the little animation that lets me know the phone is charging. The "% charge left" estimate started going up, as it should.

Then I went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, was my phone fully charged? Was it at the 40% charge I started with?

Neither one -- it was almost completely empty!

So much for minty boost...
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Old 08-01-11, 04:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
When I woke up this morning, was my phone fully charged? Was it at the 40% charge I started with?

Neither one -- it was almost completely empty!

So much for minty boost...
Turns out that this is a well-documented problem (see http://www.ladyada.net/make/mintyboost/manual.html , at the bottom of the page). It happens for "some" devices -- including, it seems, the Samsung Moment.
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Old 08-01-11, 04:57 AM   #10
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Check out the variety of solar chargers at places like ThinkGeek http://thinkgeek.com - they all do fairly well to charge up all your toys. For me, when I do long tours of 500 km or more, I use a 12V solar panel that directly charges a 12V battery through out the day (you can the panel mounted to the nose of trike in the following photo):



The battery was connected also to an off-the-shelf 12V-to-car-cigarette-lighter-adapter, letting me use my car-chargers to either top up the power of my mobile and GPS while riding, or to fill up a particular device (like mobile phone) over night while camping. I was grid-power-independent for two weeks - even in cloudy conditions.

Another alternative is to use an internal hub dynamo, like something from SON Dynamo http://www.nabendynamo.de/english/index.html. All sealed up, and can easily generate the 5-6V needed for most handheld electronics. Since most mobile phones and GPSs can use a USB cable to charge up, a dynamo plus USB charger adapter could be the most efficient way to go.
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Old 08-04-11, 12:31 AM   #11
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http://www.solarjoos.com/

Kinda heavy, but pretty cool.
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Old 08-04-11, 09:15 PM   #12
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For the phone, or any other "5V" item there is a little solar panel kit that works great. Mine is called "Solar Bank", but I am sure there are a half dozen others that are exactly the same. it is about as big as an index card with a pack clip on it. The charge cord comes with a bunch of adapters to fit various phones, GPS. etc. It takes it about 4-5 hours to get enough charge to be useful when it's sunny out but so long as you keep it charged and are using it for one phone (etc) it is a great item to have along. It's easy to use the clip to attach it up in your lines and set on the handlebars to charge while you ride. Only cost me about $20 too.
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Old 08-05-11, 12:32 PM   #13
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Can you access mains power every few days? For my extended treks or airplane rides, I have a commercial version of the Mintyboost with a rechargeable LiIon battery. It has a USB port to charge either my cell phone or iPod. It can recharge my iPod Touch nearly 2 times itself, or my phone several times, or some combination. Then I need to recharge it with a mains USB charger, which are usually pretty small and light.

My unit is a no-longer made unit from Kensington, but reviews of similar USB power packs can be found at the iLounge: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/rev...try_date+desc/

and ignore products built specifically for iPhones and look for USB packs.
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Old 07-23-12, 09:11 PM   #14
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I found the best info on crazy guy, especially Wayne Estes, look at this: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=252905&v=Uu
R&J
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Old 07-23-12, 09:31 PM   #15
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for 20.00 these are a nice solution and they give you so many plug options for all types of devices..

http://www.ebay.com/itm/180904070383...84.m1438.l2649
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Old 07-23-12, 11:36 PM   #16
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Supernova ThePlug II+ and a Motorola P893 cache battery to smooth out the voltage and a Shimano 3n80 dynohub. That's why I use and I never run out of juice on a ride.
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Old 07-24-12, 12:05 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
...Any good recommendations for how to keep the cell phone and mp3 player charged? I plan on camping, so I don't think I can just plug them in every night.
I have a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar charger. It has a USB port and a 12v outlet connector. I can charge anything that will plug into either.

I have a USB charger for 2xAA or 2xAAA NiMH batteries and have successully charged batteries with it. I've also used it to charge my cell phone (USB) and MP3 player (USB).

The Goal Zero works best with clear, sunny skies. It'll charge when overcast, but just barely. It's got little attachment loops, so it can be hooked across the top of bags (ie, panniers), attached to the top of a rack, or even clipped onto a backpack or jacket/shirt.

Good luck!
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Old 07-24-12, 05:44 AM   #18
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Here is my setup I built my own charging station a few years ago and it worked pretty well with the iPhone 3G when I updated to the iPhone 4 the newer phones are much more critical of the USB source. At that point I found the Tekkeon charger / recharger. It takes AA batteries (4) both throwaway and rechargeable. It acts as a USB power supply and also a battery charger. I like to head out with 4 rechargeable batteries topped off and 4 throwaways as emergency backups. During the day if I need to recharge I dump from the rechargeable to the phone. If I get to a place that I can recharge it will do both the batteries and the phone together over night. If I get in a pinch I can use the throwaway batteries and resupply them at any convenience store. The rechargeable batteries are intended to be charged and used within a few days the throwaway batteries have a 5 year shelf life. I like this approach from a cost and “green” standpoint. I also added a $1 USB flex light to the kit. The Tekkeon base with batteries in it is heavy enough to make a little stand and the light works great in a tent, or for cooking late or fixing a flat in the dark.

http://www.tekkeon.com/productcart/p...&idproduct=194


First photo is my old DIY system second is my current setup.




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Old 07-24-12, 08:57 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalmouse View Post
The battery was connected also to an off-the-shelf 12V-to-car-cigarette-lighter-adapter, letting me use my car-chargers to either top up the power of my mobile and GPS while riding, or to fill up a particular device (like mobile phone) over night while camping. I was grid-power-independent for two weeks - even in cloudy conditions.


That was my original plan more or less as well. My little pack of 8 AA batteries gave me 12 volts and I used the car charger adapter as it had all the current and voltage regulation built in. The trouble with 12 volts from a lighter socket is that the charging voltage to the cars battery is over 14 volts even though the USB output is much lower most of these lighter power supplies are designed around 12 to 25 volts DC. Devices like the iPhone and iPhone chargers are very particular about supplied power and will communicate with the phone and start giving error messages of unsupported devices etc. when the voltage drops below 12. I had planned on doing more experimenting with higher voltages and such but also was fearing damaging the iPhone in the process. Just my experience with the lighter socket devices.

To my phone I added a mophie battery case that doubles my battery life and use it day to day it’s a great device and pricey at around $100. It also charges simultaneously with the phone from computer USB or car charger or AC charger thru USB cable. I should add the simultaneously charge rate taxes the small tekkeon unit I showed above. So if I’m on the bike needing power and I have exhausted the mophie and the iPhone is showing the red battery warning I separate the case and charge the iPhone solo till I get to AC. An A,B or both switch on the mophie would be great but most people don’t have the low amp charging issues we do on bikes. I understand the iPhone charges at a lower rate than some of the other smart phones so if you want to buy something like the tekkeon charger make sure your charging rate is lower than the device you get. I was able to charge my phone and the battery case off the unit but it got a little warmer than I thought it should so I just charge them one at a time.

On a side note I started off like everyone else and wanted my phone bar mounted. After a lot of riding and the distraction of the GPS and tracking stuff running and the exposure of the phone to direct sun all day I now keep it just inside the bar bag and can access it in a few seconds when needed.
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Old 07-25-12, 08:25 AM   #20
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Gomadic has a lot of reasonably priced charging options for most devices: chargers using AAs, rechargeable Li Ion rechargers, solar panels... Check it:

http://www.gomadic.com/
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Old 07-25-12, 05:36 PM   #21
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both my headlight and taillight are solar powered and i have a solar case for my iphone i fould at REI
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Old 07-26-12, 08:23 AM   #22
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If you don't really NEED a smart phone on a longer tour, you could also consider getting a cheap flip-phone to use with your current SIM, or some other prepaid cheap flip phone (for carriers that don't use SIM cards) that will hold a charge for several days.
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Old 08-02-12, 08:13 PM   #23
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Hey Jeneralist, I suppose the first question you will want to answer is if you will be near civilization or not. In 2010 I rode from KCMO to Marietta, GA. Two weeks, 1006 mi. I rode in and out of some very remote areas for a few days at a time and then back to civilization. I brought my phone and a 110 wall charger. I never had any problems finding power. On tours I bring a little socket test light ($1.00) and my wall charger. In the US, most Coke machines, ice machines, many parks, and a whole host of eating places, coffee shops, gas stations (open or not) will have power. I'd plug in and take a short break or drink a cup of coffee while my phone charged. I asked, if there was someone around.

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Old 08-03-12, 12:33 AM   #24
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If you want to use AA/AAA batteries to recharge electronics, this little device is pretty much the greatest deal out there

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...cm_cr_asin_lnk

You can use any chemistry type to recharge a device and it'll charge rechargeable batteries as well, but it uses an australian dongle so you'll need an adapter. Read the review by N-Lee for more info.

No clue on if it'll charge whatever smartphone you have sine most of them tend to be picky about chargers, but it worked for N-Lee's 1000mah device and it worked on my aunts iphone 3gs using eneloop batteries

"Just in case anyone is still interested in this charger: I recently found out that its USB port is capable of supplying 1000mA output current - even though the spec says 500mA only. I discovered this by accident when using it as a portable recharger for my
Archos 5 500 GB Internet Tablet."

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...cm_cr_asin_lnk

That is the american version which is considerably more expensive, but it includes the cigarette lighter adapter.
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Old 08-03-12, 05:47 AM   #25
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I use a Tekkeon MP3450i R3 and it'll charge anything even most laptop. Very pricey and a bit weighty, but modular also in case you want even more power. I can pretty much run my hotspot for almost 2 days off one of these between charges.

http://3gstore.com/category/283_560_battery_packs.html
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