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Solar charging setup.

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Solar charging setup.

Postby BumpMap » Sat Sep 11, 2010 3:25 pm

Howdy all, i have been lurking here for quite awhile, but now I am planning my PCT trip for 2011 and was looking at alternates to my current charging/gadget package, but so far i really haven't seen anything 'better' in my opinion. So i thought i would share what i typically use for my extended hunting trips. This is an independent review and i have no interest whatsoever in the products i talk about here :-) I am also not putting in links to the items, i am sure you can find them online yourself.

Solar Charger: PowerFilms USB+AA (about $100)
Operating Voltage: 3.6
Operating Current: 0.4
Weight (Ounces): 4.9 (Without batteries)
Folded Dimensions: 3.25 x 5.5 x 1.38
Unfolded Dimensions: 24 x 5.5

This thing is awesome, flexible, foldable and has (6) six attachment points for your pack. It charges (2) two AA NiMHIt AND also has direct USB charging so when i am hiking i keep the solar panel tied to the pack with a USB cable threaded thru the straps to my smarthphone in a pocket on my straps. It charges it in under a couple hours (EDIT: It keeps my phone 'topped off' for the amount i use it everyday, a full charge is about a full day in direct sun) in direct sun and a few+ hours if i am hiking in gloom or its only partially in the sun as i am changing directions all day (I try and position my pack in direct sun when i take a break). For PCT Northbound i think this would be ideal since you got the sun at your back. Maybe you could rig something for southbound by attaching it to your straps and belt. Most of my gadgets have USB charging so i just rotate them as required.

T-Mobile G1 Android Phone
Weight (Ounces): 5.5
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.125 x .625

I have used this for a couple years now since it came out. there are other more current versions, but this one works for me and i despise signing another contract. The phone has a thumb keyboard (i hate screen typing) and a true GPS chipset that can work alone even without cell service, and is 'fairly' accurate, my guess is to within about 30'. But the GPS eats battery pretty fast. So i use it sparingly. Also Android has more free apps then iPhone. The following are the apps i like.

App-Orienteer- (free)

Simple compass and gps coordinate app (though i always carry a an*log compass, but this is convenient at times. i might use this less with the new app i found i will speak about next)

App-BackCountryNavigator- Cost $10.00

Ok this app has me VERY excited. It's a GPS that you can load Topomaps into (free public domain maps several sources available) and load in tracks (.gpx files) and it will orient the map if you want to your direction of travel. The best part is that you can preload all the maps and tracks so no service required. I have given it a test drive on a nice 5mile mile walk thru the Angeles Forest and was surprised at how well it did. I loaded the maps for the beginning of the pct with halfmiles tracks. Now to get the whole PCT loaded i will have to get a bigger memory card. I will post exactly how much memory it takes once i get the full version of the app and all the maps/tracks loaded in. It also has a compass and gps coordinates, and a share feature that will send your current location/trip via email/facebook/gmail or IM for when you do have service. I honestly dont think i would ever rely solely on this for navigating a long trip, but i might reduce the number of maps i carry by reducing their detail.

Sony PRS-600 EBook Reader (i am upgrading to the PRS-650 and have it on preorder $230)
Weight (Ounces): 7.5
Dimensions: 6.625 x 4.75 x .5

Seriously, Ebook readers (the right ones) are the best thing in the world. You can read for weeks on a single charge (they only draw power to update the screen when you turn a page, etc) I currently have over 10k books in under 980megs sitting in its memory (these are for reading and all .txt files, .pdfs with pictures/graphics will use considerably more storage), but the great thing about the Sony readers, and ones like them, which in my opinion makes them FAR superior to the Amazon or the Barnes and Noble readers is that you can insert your own SD Cards up to 32gb. That means if you want to have 100 .pdf pictorial field guides at 320meg each (which are huge guides) loaded onto an SD card you can just pop it in, and have another card with atlases and maps. Dont be suckered into power hungry LCD or backlit screens, the simple reader is the best for being in the middle of nowhere. I am upgrading to the newer 650 because they made the touchscreen a bit better contrast and less glare then the older model. Remember to get a case for it...they can take a bit of abuse, but why risk it.

Battery Adapter PRO (about $20)
Weight (Ounces): 2.9
Dimensions: i dont have it in front of me...its in my storage maybe 3x5x1

These things are a bit flimsy, and don't work with some gadgets, but it seems to work on mine fine. I have heard awful things from other people who use it, so buyer beware and try it on your gadgets before you get moving.

Basically it holds 4 AA batteries (i use the NiMH so my solar charger can charger them) and it has a USB recharging point for devices, and you can plug it into a wall when you get a chance. What sold me was it also has a little LED flashlight on it (yeah dumb, but handy for reading) This thing lets me haul extra power around to recharge my phone or reader, and the AA can be taken out and put into any accepting device. I can charge my phone about 3-4 times off the power in this thing.

Camera...everyone has their own taste and there are 1000s of options, so i wont get into that one, i personally don't mind the images off my phone.

So my gadget total weight list:

(6) NiMH rechargeable batteries - 5.5 (TY leaftye)
(1) Phone -5.5
(1) Solar Charger -4.9
(1) Ebook Reader -7.5 (can you really put a weight on the knowledge of the world at your fingertips?)
(1) Battery Pack/charger -2.9

Total Gadgets: 26.3oz

Would love to hear your opinions/setups.

I know a lot of people use the solar charges with the built in battery packs, personally i like the option of yanking the batteries out and putting them into a dead headlamp on the go.


Last edited by BumpMap on Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:32 pm

Postby leaftye » Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:27 am

You sure about the weight of those batteries? I think they're closer to an ounce each.

I don't see the point in that style of ebook reader unless the only purpose is to read novels. I read textbooks just as much, so I'm still waiting for an ebook with a low power high resolution oled screen. It must also be able to resize image-based pdf files so that maps like Halfmile's can be viewed fullscreen. I think this will come within the next year, but not before next hiking season starts. Hopefully by next. Even better if there's an option to buy it with or without cell phone & real gps capabilities.

Oh, and I used the same charger this year. Good charger, although I don't think it fully charges the batteries before the light stops blinking. I'm debating if I should carry it next year. I may just bounce a charger or switch to lithiums.
Sir Mix-a-lot
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Postby BumpMap » Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:56 am

You are right about the batteries, i will edit the above. For some reason .5 was stuck in my head, i just weighed them and they range from .8-.9

As for the ebook reader, i love it and dont mind black and white for maps or books. It can resize .pdf files brilliantly ( watch the youtube video. I normally take zeros in camp, or am sitting in a tree with a bow when hunting, so i have plenty of time for reading.

The OLED price points I have seen (none very recently) were outrageous, roughly $1700-2500 for a 11" screen, but even say a 6" screen at 1/4 the price, i don't know if i could justify it just for color. If money was no object then yeah, i would be getting one of the ASUS DR-570s supposedly coming out this fall/winter which will make battery concerns almost a thing of the past.

With the charger i have noticed sometimes my AA batteries don't always seem to get completely topped off as well, but my devices get fully charged via the usb just fine.

My budget wont allow for many town zeros so i am going to try and be as power self sufficient as possible, maybe sneaking in a charge or two at town meals or the inevitable angel's stops.
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:32 pm

Postby leaftye » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:33 am

Thanks for that video. I believe that's the first confirmation I've had about an ebook reader that can resize image based pdf files. I scan all my books, so an ebook reader would only be worth it to me if it allowed me to take advantage of all the work I've already done.

We'll see on the OLED. I'm not really keeping my hopes up. Qualcomm has some screen that should perform nearly as well for ebook readers. Again, not keeping my hopes up. Like many technologies, they will probably be 2-3 years away indefinitely.
Sir Mix-a-lot
Posts: 134
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:35 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

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