Working While Touring: Cords and Chargers

Written by Patrick on . Posted in Blog

While I build my entire gear page I would like to compose a series of posts dedicated to the gear I use while touring. This post is dedicated to CORDS AND CHARGERS.

Click the image below to see an enhanced version of the cords and chargers I use while bike touring. Every item depicted below has a purchase link below the image as well as a brief review.

 

 

Brunton Solaris 26W Solar Panel:
Home Page $655.00
Purchase $346.24

This is a great product. I eventually bought a Kelty Noah’s Tarp [Purchase Link] to help protect me from the sun while using the solar panels. I got tired of moving the solar panels away from the shade as it creeped across the ground with the moving sun. I wanted to stay shaded while the solar panels were out in direct sun light and this does prove to be annoying when you have to work a full eight hour day. Now that I have some protection from the sun I can lay out the solar panels in direct sunlight while I stay cool and shaded.

I have had small children walk over the solar panels without any harm to them, the solar panels that is…I wanted to pick up and hurl the kids for tromping all over the panels! With that said they are very durable. I have also spilled water on them with no damage to report. These are truly a great product. If you have the money I would contemplate upgrading to the 52W solar panels only because it takes roughly two days to fully charge the Impel2 with these panels sitting in direct sunlight. The 52W would prove to be much faster at charging.

Brunton Impel2:
Home Page $410.00
Purchase $399.00

As stated above, it takes roughly 2-3 days to fully charge the Impel2 with the Solaris 26W panels. That is if the battery is TOTALLY dead. Charging the Impel2 with the wall charger from dead to full takes roughly a full day…this battery takes a lot of juice! This battery itself weighs around 2.8-3lbs. The LED light system on the top is great to inform you how much charge you have left. When fully charged and plugged into my MacBook, this battery will provide an additional 10 hours of power using my computer at full power, brightest light settings, multiple programs running, etc. If the MacBook is running on 1% power and the Impel2 is connected to both the computer and the solar charger you will see severely diminished performance in your MacBook i.e. glitchy mouse, opening new windows takes forever, programs don’t function properly…etc. But with 2-3% and above, your MacBook will run fine. 

Keep in mind you CANNOT plug the solar panel directly into your computer. If you want to charge your computer with your solar charger you will need to go from your panel, to the Impel2, to the computer. EVEN IF THE IMPEL2 IS DEAD, you can still connect it to the solar panel then to your computer. The solar panel will charge your computer before charging the battery. Similarly if you’re using your computer while connected to the Impel2, and the Impel2 is connected to the solar panel, all the energy the solar panel gathers from the sun will go to your computer, not the battery.

So, how I use this system of three is to always have my battery connected to the solar panels as often as possible to ensure it is always full or near full capacity. When I stop and work I always use my computers battery until about 50% then I connect it to the battery. If there is sun I will then connect the solar panels to the battery to slow the depletion process of my computer’s battery.

At night I always charge my iPhone with the battery. You can charge an iPhone from dead to full roughly 10 times before seeing the LED display drops one dot. So in theory this battery could charge an iPhone 100 times or more before running completely out of juice.

PowerFilm 1.5W Solar Charger:
Home Page N/A
Purchase $76.23

I would not recommend this product only because I can use the Impel2 to do the same task. I also could never get this to work on my Android device (Nexus S) although it does work on my iPhone and iPod. KEEP IN MIND that this will not charge anything if the two solar AA batteries are not charged. So keeping this product out in as much sun as possible is critical. I use this by strapping it to my bicycle while riding so it charges my GoPro or other devices on the move. For the cost I would look into something a little more robust and efficient.

750gb 13″ MacBook Pro (Old Version 2011):
Home Page
Purchase $1,424.94

I switched over to a Mac in late 2011 and have to say I am very happy with the decision, although I do plan to upgrade from 4GB memory to 8GB because editing videos is very slow to render. However I am more efficient using my MacBook with the trackpad compared to using a gnarly mouse and double 24″ screens on a PC. How you ask? One item that has transformed my computer ability is the Better Touch Tool (BTT) for Mac. This system of creating unique and customizable gestures with the track pad has improved my efficiency 10 fold.

Having a small laptop on the road working as a web developer surprisingly has not hampered my work performance, quite the opposite.

The only issue I have had with the computer while touring was in a hotel near Newport, OR. We got a room due to the amount rain we were biking through and during the night while working my computer completely shut down. I unplugged the wall charger and plugged it back in only to hear a pop. Apparently old hotels dont have good serge protection and the wall jack fried my adapter/inverter portion of the plug. Calling Apple is not fun either. Even though it was covered under warranty they didn’t want to talk to me because I did not pay for the customer support plan…or some shit. Very frustrating, but in the end they shipped a new wall charger and all was well. 

Universal MacBook Pro Car Charger:
Purchase +/- $40.00

This will be a crucial purchase for using the Impel and Solaris. Depending on what kind of computer you have you will need to buy a car charger so that you can plug into the female output from the Impel2.


Everything else depicted in the image not described here is pretty easy to find on amazon so I chose to not include them.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly at pat@worldsbetweenlines.com 

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