With more and more gadget you have, it is getting somewhat harder to keep them all charged while touring or on holiday. We have a camera, GPS, mobile phone, lights and sometimes a laptop that needs power, which means quite a few different chargers to drag along.
Depending on the gadget, how much you use it and with a little planing ahead, you can stretch the battery life out for a few days before you need a charge. This could even be extended with a little top up, which can be done while you are on the road. Look for a wall socket while you are having a break in a cafe, in a public toilet, on the train to the next destination. While visiting friends, on campsites and I have even see dedicated “charge points” in the airport.
But charging while riding your bicycle is a different kettle of fish. But like getting the power from the wall it makes life so much easier if you have few cables, chargers or gadgets that runs on the same kind of batteries. Which can been done with a little planing ahead and compromise on what the gadget needs to be able to do.
I got hold of another gadget to charge my gadgets, yeah I know, a Extreme 500 AA & AAA battery charger. This one can charge my AAA and AA batteries via USB, which you can charge from a computer or a wall socket. Best of all you can use it (the batteries you have charged) to charge other gadgets with it, if they can be charged by a USB cable, like my phone. And it is nice and compact so easy to carry around and pluck in to top up where ever you should find a wall plug.
I have looked into solar power and have yet found a solution that ticks all the boxes. The panels kinda needs to be rather big, facing the sun which is not always easy while cycling. To get the best charging with solar, it is best if you are in one place and able to turn the panels so that the sun is hitting them directly all the time. Along with the power pack (battery) solar power on the move becomes rather big/heavy. And at the moment solar power is also rather expensive. Though I’m looking forward to be proved wrong and have seen people managing their power needs with solar.
This is where my good friend in Denmark comes in, thanks mate. Since I have a dyno hub and I was wondering how to harness the power that I’m generating all the time but not always using it. I have happily forgotten which end of a soldering icon to hold :) Or rather forgotten how to get turn the 6V 3W the dyno hub generates into 5V that a USB port puts out.
With a little search on the big www you should be able to find a “how to guide” or have a friend like mine who is smart enough to knock something up. So my friend knocked up something that when plugged into the dyno hub puts out 5V which is just what my phone and the USB battery charger need.
I think that about 30 minutes riding gives me around 10% charged on my phone, so with a full days cycling I can fully charge my phone. I haven’t tried yet to fully charge four AA’s with it yet, but I have seen that it does charge and there is more “juice” in them.
The reason for carrying the laptop is to entertained us while on the road, keep in touch and back up our photos. If it could be charge that with solar or dyno that would great, though most times when I use the laptop I’m near a power source.
The camera is there to take document and record our trips. Which is more important to have charged than the laptop. Some cameras do run on AA’s or maybe can be charged via USB so that can be charged but the dyno hub USB combo.
The GPS is mainly there as a toy and secondly to record where we have been but also to tell us where to go. Since it is running on AA’s the dyno hub USB charger combo takes care of that.
The mobile phone is there to be able to called for help if needed and send the odd text home saying hello. So only turned on once every couple of days which made the battery last longer. The phone is charged via a USB cable so not that heavy or big. If they did standardise even more I could be able to charge my mp3 player with the same USB cable. So the dyno hub USB combo charger will charge these two just fine.
The Hope One front light, head touches and rear lights runs either AA or AAA, which also can charge with the dyno hub USB charger combo.
That said on our tour of Australia and New Zealand, I think the longest we were off the grid was three or four days. In Australia even less since we stayed at friends. In New Zealand we could always find a plug to top up if needed. And if I had more than four AA’s and a spare battery for the camera we could have lasted few more days no problems.