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  1. #1
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    For those of us relying on battery-hungry mobile devices for route guidance

    I have seen a couple of posts dealing with this topic.. Mostly people were thinking of solar panels or AA battery sources.. But how about hand crank designs? *

    This one comes with a lot of stuff you probably wouldn't need.. *http://www.dealextreme.com/p/multi-f...chargers-57396

    Or.. This one is just straight up hand dyno
    http://www.sears.com:80/shc/s/p_1015...0101019x00001a

    You'd probably have to crank a whole bunch to juice your phone up a little, but it could really come in handy to get you to the next power source.. Spare you a solar panel set up and all those double A's.. Anybody have any first hand experience?

  2. #2
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    How about a dyno hub? They now have converters that allow you to charge USB devices with dyno hubs.http://peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt.asp

  3. #3
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Small solar panels are getting very efficient. The latest ones can ever charge during overcast conditions. A small charger will charge a pair of AAs and your phone during the day easily most of the time and it doesn't take any of your time.

    Also, I seem to remember there are dynamos with USB charging capabilities, or someone rigged something like that. Although, that requires rebuilding your wheel.

    But this is interesting. I just wonder how well this works, seems too cheap to be any good.

    I also wonder if you could attach a propeller to this and make it a wind turbine?

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Solar or dynohub with a B&M Ewerks. Best bet? wall plug somewhere unless you are on one of the deserted routes. Best place I ever found to plug in? Under a bill board on the side of US301 in SC.

    Aaron
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  5. #5
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I wouldn't want to hand-crank a generator for an hour at the end of every day.

    I seriously doubt you could fully charge a smart phone and a GPS with a mere 10 minutes of cranking.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I have used hand crank chargers on my sailboat. I would say that they should only be relied on for emergency use because it takes a lot of cranking to really charge anything. Because of that I would probably never carry one on a bike tour.

    For me the best approach is to minimize usage of devices that require batteries or charging and charge or replace batteries when the chance arises. That, for me, means no laptop, no GPS, cell phone turned off when not making a call, and so on.

  7. #7
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    I have a small hand crank for mobile phone. On paper it seems like the best idea ever. I used it once in camp, to test it. It makes unbelievably loud and annoying noise and requires quite a bit of cranking to produce any kind of current to speak of. After that experience it ended up in my mystery box of unused gizmos.

    I seldom stay in total wilderness for weeks. If I'm on the road, I'll likely eat lunch at a cafeteria/restaurant. I ask nicely if it's OK to charge. So far, no problems. If I really needed independent, off the grid charging, I'd get a dynohub based battery charger system, and charge during riding. Or solar panel, but where I live solar charging would mean staying in the camp for maximal efficiency.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    Yeah.. Dyno hub sounds pretty sweet.. Definitely an investment, though. Maybe going that route is worth it? Ideally, I would prefer to not have to rely on the phone, but was going over some of the google routing for my upcoming ride.. Let me tell you, you zoom out far enough and you can get anything to look like a straight shot line. In reality, so many twists and turns just to go through jersey.. Over 150 turning points. So, either have go with the electronic set up, or bring a whole Moby Dick of cue sheets, constantly stopping to pull out a new page.. My phone wille eat through that battery after about an hour of heavy use with gps synching and dyno makes the most sense. On the other hand, kinda takes the fun and adventure out of roughing it.. Bah, guess there's still some time to think it through.. Thanks, everybody.

  9. #9
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Another option is a high-capacity battery pack that will allow you to recharge your phone or GPS several times between wall outlets. Wouldn't be much good if you don't plan to be near any wall outlets for long stretches (to recharge the battery pack), but if you're planning on a hotel every now and again, it might be a good choice. Some discussion about those here.

  10. #10
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    After reading some reviews I also came to a conclusion that the hand crank is not really worth the trouble of bringing it along on a bike tour.

  11. #11
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    for me, means no laptop, no GPS, cell phone turned off when not making a call, and so on.
    +1

    Though i have thought about a GPS for navigating forest service roads around here. However, I think I will stick with paper maps and orientation skills.
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

  12. #12
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
    I think I will stick with paper maps and orientation skills.
    That's all fine until you hit a river coming down the shore, and have to learn the hard way that the nearest bike-friendly crossing is about 15 miles inland.. Especially when you are headed for a time-sensitive destination. In some cases it's way more time and energy effecient to have everything in the palm of your hand. Not just directions, but also live weather maps, tent-friendly camp grounds, sporting goods stores, motels in your area.. Street views and satellite imagery to actually show you traffic density and shoulder width on a given road to help pick the safest route if you have to adjust along the way.. Not knocking orientation skills, or anything.. Or paper maps.. Just.. I guess there are many facets to cyclotouring..

    Dyno hub with the Dahon biologic reecharge looks like the way to go if $$ isn't an option**
    Last edited by chiroptile; 05-26-11 at 08:54 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    Also, along the lines of what simplygib had suggested.
    http://www.fommy.com/view-full-page.asp?skuno=83981

  14. #14
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
    Also, along the lines of what simplygib had suggested.
    http://www.fommy.com/view-full-page.asp?skuno=83981
    That's interesting. It claims to recharge itself in 2.5 hours, but none of the reviews talk about that. Would be awesome if it actually works as advertised.

    EDIT: Reviews at Amazon are not favorable regarding the solar recharging aspect of this device. Too bad, would have been a great solution.

    I have this one which has more than 3 times the capacity at just a few bucks more, but needs a wall outlet to be recharged.
    Last edited by simplygib; 05-28-11 at 12:37 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member ocho's Avatar
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    Energizer XP4001 or XP4000 battery
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  16. #16
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    Simplygib.. I was actually looking at that one as well. Ended up going with this 16000 milliampere hour monster here..

    http://www.amazon.com/i-Sound-Portab.../dp/B00439G3WS

    It's not the lightest at nearly a pound and a half, and not the most compact at 5.8"x3.2"x1", but i did a dry run with all my gear last night, weighed out all the gear before making that decision. I think that for anybody not going the ultralight way while wishing to stay on the grid, this is the most powerful, highest capacity external charger, with benefits far outweighing it's construction. At least from what I've seen. *

    I did mull around the dyno hub with reecharge option, but the economics of it didn't make much sense in the end. Especially after reading the reviews for the isound.. Some people got a week's use on one charge..

  17. #17
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
    Simplygib.. I was actually looking at that one as well. Ended up going with this 16000 milliampere hour monster here..

    http://www.amazon.com/i-Sound-Portab.../dp/B00439G3WS
    That's interesting! 16000 mAh is A LOT! How do you charge this monster itself? Does it take a USB plug for charging or needs its own power adapter? How long does it take to fully charge the battery?

  18. #18
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
    Simplygib.. I was actually looking at that one as well. Ended up going with this 16000 milliampere hour monster here..

    http://www.amazon.com/i-Sound-Portab.../dp/B00439G3WS

    It's not the lightest at nearly a pound and a half, and not the most compact at 5.8"x3.2"x1", but i did a dry run with all my gear last night, weighed out all the gear before making that decision. I think that for anybody not going the ultralight way while wishing to stay on the grid, this is the most powerful, highest capacity external charger, with benefits far outweighing it's construction. At least from what I've seen. *

    I did mull around the dyno hub with reecharge option, but the economics of it didn't make much sense in the end. Especially after reading the reviews for the isound.. Some people got a week's use on one charge..
    Wow, that is a monster, and at practically the same price as mine. The 1.5 pound weight would be a show-stopper for me though. Mine weighs about 12 ounces. I'm already nearly maxed out on weight and need to trim everywhere possible. But that 16k mAH capacity is making me jealous.

    Agree on the dyno - too much money, not enough output for my needs. Would be a good solution for many though.

  19. #19
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    The battery comes with a dc converter that you plug into a wall outlet. I imagine charging it up with a USB would take forever. I'll measure and weigh everything out for you guys when it arrives.. Let you know how it works

  20. #20
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
    The battery comes with a dc converter that you plug into a wall outlet. I imagine charging it up with a USB would take forever. I'll measure and weigh everything out for you guys when it arrives.. Let you know how it works
    I did some more reading and it seems there is no USB charging option. Like you said: it'd probably take too long. I just wonder how long it takes to charge fully. If it takes something like 8h or more you may not be able to recharge it while on tour unless you stay in a motel once a week or so. 1.5lbs is kind of heavy too.

    So far I used this a few times. It takes 4 AA batteries and that's enough for two or more full iPhone4 charges. It won't charge an iPad though, just smaller devices. Also, tossing used up AAs seems environmentally irresponsible but in a pinch it's great, it may be easier to buy some AAs than find a power outlet and hang on to it for a few hours. It weighs few ounces empty. It provides about 3,500-4,000mAh with 4 AAs depending on the battery type used. For comparison iPhone 4 battery is 3.7V 1420mAh.

    It is also a USB charger, but slow.

    IMHO solar panels are the way to go. They're getting cheaper and better every year. The one I have charges 2x AAs in 4h and an iPhone in about the same time. Pretty much I have two AAs charged and the iPhone charged every day. It works during overcast as well, but much slower.

    I'm going to get another one so they'll keep my GPS and my iPhone going. My GPS runs two days on 2 AAs so that should be enough even on an overcast day.

    The only thing is the camera. But I found that three batteries are enough for a week or more. If I'm going to go on a longer trip I will just stay at a motel, hostel or RV site once a week.

    Although, I wouldn't mind a small wind turbine to attach to the bike or run overnight
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 05-28-11 at 05:16 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member chiroptile's Avatar
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    Disposing of the double A batteries was definitely a concern.. 4 milliamps on as many batteries is actually surprisingly good. Didn't think the AA option could provide that much charge.

    As for the isound, with three of us riding, the multi-charge capability is quite attractive. I called the company and they said the thing charges fully in about 7 to 8 hours. I was thinking maybe just top it off if whenever we stop somewhere for lunch, but would have to check with the manufacturer first. Some devices should be charged and discharged fully before being plugged in again. Weight isn't much of a deterrent.. winter bod blubber ballast to spare
    Last edited by chiroptile; 05-29-11 at 08:52 AM.

  22. #22
    helmet brake jakerock's Avatar
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    I just took delivery of one of these:
    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/4200mah...-gadgets-40210

    Charges by USB / AC / Solar... Just got it, so all I can say thus far is that it charges in indirect / overcast sunlight.
    When I know more, I will post about it.

  23. #23
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    Two and a half hours to charge with unit isn't going to work for me. Until these greener options can keep me jammin' when I am rollin' I just take multiple cell phone batteries with me when I head out. Has anyone ever used the arm band Iphone holder?

  24. #24
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    You can get 24hrs of life on a GPS with a fresh set of batteries. You shouldn't need GPS running 24/7 on a tour so that should last several days. If you are anywhere you can use a cell phone there will be AC power and a 1hr lunch stop will see your iPhone recharged. A digital camera with two batteries should last a week of reasonable use.
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  25. #25
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
    Some devices should be charged and discharged fully before being plugged in again.
    Most modern batteries can be topped off at any time. It would be totally impractical for something like this otherwise.

    Quote Originally Posted by jakerock View Post
    I just took delivery of one of these:
    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/4200mah...-gadgets-40210

    Charges by USB / AC / Solar... Just got it, so all I can say thus far is that it charges in indirect / overcast sunlight.
    When I know more, I will post about it.
    It says "Solar powered charging time: 14~20 hours" - that probably means 2-3 days to fully charge it. That doesn't sound practical.

    Quote Originally Posted by DownTheRoad View Post
    Two and a half hours to charge with unit isn't going to work for me. Until these greener options can keep me jammin' when I am rollin' I just take multiple cell phone batteries with me when I head out. Has anyone ever used the arm band Iphone holder?
    How many batteries would you need for multi-week tour and how would you charge them? I'd rather use a solar panel that can recharge my phone while I'm riding.

    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    You can get 24hrs of life on a GPS with a fresh set of batteries. You shouldn't need GPS running 24/7 on a tour so that should last several days. If you are anywhere you can use a cell phone there will be AC power and a 1hr lunch stop will see your iPhone recharged. A digital camera with two batteries should last a week of reasonable use.
    Yup. I have an older Garmin unit and it runs two full days of riding on a set of AAs. If I can get a solar charger that recharges 2 or 4 AAs in a day, I'll be set.

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