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Solar power communication gps radio battery search field portable

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#1 B+Shooter

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 08:05 AM

So, as I am getting some of my gear needs squared away, I have realized the potential benefit to having some of my equipment be sustainable using rechargeable batteries/solar panels.  RFI concerning what panels people have used, pros/cons, opinions on best size/weight to usefulness ratio, etc.

 

I'm looking at something small enough to leave open outside a pack, and only to charge stuff the size of portable radio/GPS/AA & AAA batteries.  Also curious if anyone adds power storage packs to their gear in conjunction with panels.



#2 AaronK

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 08:54 AM

I use a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel with a Guide 10 Plus power pack. You can use the Guide 10 to charge AAs or AAAs as well as charge micro USB devices as well as 12v automotive barrel plug devices.
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#3 flashlightsolutions

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 04:28 PM

3 points to consider...

 

1. sort out if you want amorphous or polycrystaline panels. The former are less efficient but they work/produce for more time cos they are less sun angle specific.

But I you can constandly move the polycrystalines around, you get the cake and eat it too.

 

2. if your panel is a 5v -and not 12V out- you will have a small selection of AA&AAA chargers. Panasonic/Eneloop, Soshine T2 and the new klarus one. Do your reasearch on amp output, these chargers need 1amp to charge 2 batteries at a time.

And your charger MUST MUST MUST charger batteries indepedently.

 

3. Solar does not make any sense without having the means to store the power. Are you really gonna sit around for 2-4 hours waiting for your cell to charge? What if it rains or you just finished charging your phone in the afternoon, and all hell breaks loose and you have to talk and talk to your phone? You will be left dry before nightime.

 

Invest in a good power bank first, which you will be able to charge from a wall socket and your car. Then buy the solar panel

Really, how much time we spent in our cars daily and how much next to a solar panel? Car always wins.

And if all hell breaks loose there will be a full battery for every car left on the side of the street without gas. ;)


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#4 Corbs

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Posted 13 May 2015 - 06:42 PM

I use a solar monkey adventurer. The complete simplicity sold it to me. Battery, panel in one compact unit. I usually pre-charge it and use the solar for extended use. It's pretty waterproof, attaches easily and has a molle compatible case if you get the tactical version.

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#5 pira114

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 02:43 AM

I use a solar monkey adventurer. The complete simplicity sold it to me. Battery, panel in one compact unit. I usually pre-charge it and use the solar for extended use. It's pretty waterproof, attaches easily and has a molle compatible case if you get the tactical version.


I'm digging this. Was just considering getting a solar charger. Couple questions.

How long have you had it? How durable does it seem to be? Any weird issues or complaints?

#6 Corbs

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 06:14 AM

I like it. Had it a couple of years. The design is pretty solid, hinges good, protects panels in storage. The waterproof cover for the USB and power can pop off quite easy but that's not much of a worry. I've read reviews where people have left them on their tents through downpours and been fine.

I got the monkeytails USB cables with it and haven't been impressed by their durability, however everything that came with the unit is great so far. Saved my skin a few times.

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#7 B+Shooter

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 06:56 AM

I was looking at the Goal Zero Nomad due to the great pricing on GovX/Promotive.  I agree that having some storage capacity makes complete sense.  I had previously talked to a SAR guy who travels all over.  He stated that he would mount a unit (looked a lot like the Solar Monkey, but I think it was Brunton) to his pack while working during the day and using his radio.  When they were done for the day (and it was dark) he could plug the unit in and recharge his radio, rinse and repeat as needed.  He said he could sustain that for long operations.

 

I definitely need to account for my power needs and compatibility of devices. That should help me narrow it down to certain models of each brand.



#8 pira114

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Posted 14 May 2015 - 07:15 AM

I like it. Had it a couple of years. The design is pretty solid, hinges good, protects panels in storage. The waterproof cover for the USB and power can pop off quite easy but that's not much of a worry. I've read reviews where people have left them on their tents through downpours and been fine.
I got the monkeytails USB cables with it and haven't been impressed by their durability, however everything that came with the unit is great so far. Saved my skin a few times.


Thanks. My needs are basically extended backpacking and SAR. So this may fit the bill. $130 ain't peanuts, but it isn't horrible either. I try to protect my gear, but can't always focus on that. And I tend to push it to it's limits. Cheap gear shows itself that way. But I ain't rich, so I try to know ahead of time if it's a good gamble or not.

The only two things I'd probably need it for are GPS and smart phone. I use the camera quite a bit. And sometimes as a back up back up back up light source.
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#9 B+Shooter

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 09:28 AM

 

 

3. Solar does not make any sense without having the means to store the power. Are you really gonna sit around for 2-4 hours waiting for your cell to charge? What if it rains or you just finished charging your phone in the afternoon, and all hell breaks loose and you have to talk and talk to your phone? You will be left dry before nightime.

 

Invest in a good power bank first, which you will be able to charge from a wall socket and your car. Then buy the solar panel

 

So...

I've been heeding this advice and looking at picking up a storage pack first.  The two that caught my eye were the Goal Zero Switch 8 and the Eton Boost X.  The Switch 8 shows Capacity: 8Wh, 2200mAh, where the Boost X shows 5600mAh.  The Eton is only slightly more expensive, but seems like you're getting a lot more benefit from it, especially when charging from direct AC/DC power sources.  I haven't found any information about using solar to charge the Eton, I'm guessing that it should operate the same as the Goal Zero, just take twice as long?  I wasn't sure if there's any complications to using backup power packs with solar panels from different manufacturers?  

Just making sure these don't reach "equilibrium" like trying to fill pressure cylinders.  Is there something else I'm missing?  



#10 wiki61

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 06:20 PM

This is my solar power kit. It weighs less then 4 pounds and packs up small. All the cables, adapters, and electronics fit in a nalgeen bottle pouch. The battery is from A123 systems and weighs about 1.5 lbs and contains all the battery management stuff that is needed for lithium. I charge it with a genasun lead acid charger that has a 5a load circuit built in. The panel is a power film 20w. I have used this setup many times and it has worked great.

 

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#11 B+Shooter

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 07:29 AM

That's a great rig wiki. I will put something like that together if I ever get more into HF communications and need more power.  It's probably too much for my plans (no more than a 5w HT).  

 

I went ahead and ordered the Eton Boost X from GovX (had a $50 credit that was about to expire).  I'll test it out some then start scouting a panel for it later.  All the information is great and I still appreciate more info coming in.



#12 wiki61

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Posted 26 May 2015 - 06:32 AM

While I designed mine to be used with my HF gear, power is power. Since the picture was taken I have added a 12v USB charger and micro USB cable because I use it to charge my phone and tablet more than anything.

 

At first I bought the powerfilm AA charger to keep AAs topped off. However it is really slow. The 20w panel is just about right on the size vs performance. Sometimes I wish I had a 60w panel but the 20w works good. A friend of mine has a couple of the 100w ones and they are still portable but are huge unfolded. 

 

There is a lot of info out there on solar so you will have plenty to read on. I think batteries are the heart of the system so make sure you research them. 







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Solar, power, communication, gps, radio, battery, search, field, portable

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