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Old 04-25-2009   #1
hapypadler's Avatar
nowhere, Kansas
Paddling Since: '99
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charging laptops while rowing

I was thinking about taking the laptop with me on Ladore this year. I would like to charge it while it is in the dry box(ammo can) with a solar panel,maybe the brunton sloaris26.
any first hand acounts? Opinons?

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Old 04-25-2009   #2
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
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I'll ask the obvious question. Why on earth would you want a laptop on a river trip?

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Old 04-25-2009   #3
Pugetopolis, Washington
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Agreed. And its only four days.....

And its Lodore!!
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Old 04-25-2009   #4
Wirednoodle's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
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I really can't see why you would take a laptop on the river, but if you were set on doing so I think you may want to consider going another route.

Get a small sealed 12V battery (Optima or equivalent) and set it in a battery box (or ammo can) with two cigar lighters installed (one input and one for output). Rig the solar panel with a cigar plug for the power input. Be sure to include diodes for over charging.

For your output you will want a simple auto inverter, you can find one with two outlets and a usb relatively cheap, which would be the most versatile. You can then power any electronics for a few hours. The solar panel will trickle charge the day away.

Again, the need for electronics on water (which is a BAD mix) doesn't seem like it would be prudent, but this would be the manner in which I would go about it.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-25-2009   #5
hapypadler's Avatar
nowhere, Kansas
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it's all hypo-thetical, just had ideas that i wanted others opinions on. If I were to take it on the river, it would be for writing on it instead of paper, I'm going to transfer it to the computer later anyway.
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Old 04-25-2009   #6
spankey's Avatar
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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If you put a couple of 12 volt lantern batteries in parallel or use one at a time with a cigarette lighter and an ac adapter you don't have to charge anything. I bought an AC inverter in the Laptop department at Wall mart for 11 or 22 dollars it has one ac plug input and usb port and plugs into a cigarette lighter. The female Cig adapter can be had for a few dollars at Radio shack. The problem with the dry box is getting a wire into it and still keeping it dry... if you had one of the large flat clear map type dry bags then you could put the laptop and the solar charger in there in one bag but then you laptop would get pretty hot. If you go the 12v lantern battery it should power your laptop about 2 hours on a full charge then just charge it up with a solar cell and hook it up to the inverter when you are ready to use it again. link to 12v battery @ 7AH, TRIO LIGHTING TL930035 BATTERY
"I hope others think more of me than I think of myself" SL
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Old 04-25-2009   #7
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Steamboat Springs, CO
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you could use "through the hull" fittings to compress on the wires, that would be adequate.
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Old 04-26-2009   #8
Eagle, Colorado
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Go solar

Go solar. Why waste carbon charging a battery to take along. A solar panel will work great. Costco has a two pack of panels for pretty cheap. It will work fine for you. It will take some time to charge but so what. During that time you can paddle.
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Old 04-26-2009   #9
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A little about the plan; my laptop is a lenovo S10, a "mini" laptop. I can get about 3-10 hoursof use per charge. I seen it sitting next to a "tall 50" ammo can and realized it would fit great. I could write at the end of the day without having to type it later. The brunton solaris26 folds up to the size of a document folder so it would fit in the ammo can too. I was thinking about a waterproof jack that would permeate the ammo can, with a wire and a plug to charge the battery. Does anyone know of a good way to go through the box,without a cord hanging out?
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Old 04-26-2009   #10
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San Juans, Colorado
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Thoughts for Solar charging...

Interesting idea you have. Not sure I even want be next to a computer on any river trip but to each and their own..

I built a solar charging system a couple years ago that works great, but now I know it's limitation I would have done it differently.

First thing is to get a good battery: Optima's are good, but even better is get a AGM (absorbed glass matte) battery. They dont ever need water added to them, can be bounced and subjected to vibrations, and have little memory meaning you can drain them with little effect to future charging capacity.

I got 2 15W solar panels from northern tool and equipment (80$ each on sale), a 7 amp controller that wont let the battery be over charge or discharged at night. I bolted the panels to 1/2 plywood into a Pelican gun case, I used boards so the case would flex and not break the rigid panels if someone stepped on the case or even worse I found myself upside down getting worked.

I put the battery (36 amp/hour) in a small ammo can. I put bolts on the battery terminals, and hard wired the the controller, and 12V cigarette lighter to the battery. All I do is open the case, and alligator clip the panels to the controller wires, easy.

I also have a 12V battery charger for AA and AAA batteries. I did this as on a large trip it is sad how many batteries from head lamps go into the land fill, so now I can recharge all my batteries and not add heavy metals to out taxed environment. I also have a 150W inverter that I can run regular electronics with.

I built this setup to ensure that a satellite phone could always be charged and to power a small amp for guitars, etc... I also found that most small speakers for computer or I-pods are actually DC (car) as opposed to AC, all you need is to buy an adapter jack for them.

Using and inverter is extremely inefficient, you loose approx 30% of your power making DC into AC. Even worse is that many electronics are DC to begin with, so you end up buring 30% of your capacity inverting DC power to AC, where the AC device will turn it back into DC.... That makes for using double the power to run something. Most laptop actually use DC to charge them, they convert your household to DC in the little box on the cord.

The first thing you should do is buy a 12V cigarette charger for your laptop, they are expensive but adds a lot of power capacity to your battery.

Also, buy more solar than you think you need, if you maintain a battery solar works well. However I discharge my battery below 11V my solar panels dont have the amperage to recharge the battery. It takes a lot of amps to recharge a drained battery, but not many to 'maintain' it.

If I was to do it all over again, I would get 2 Brunton 26W flexible panels, they are pricy, but are WAY better than the rigid panels I have. You can put them in a small drybag, the are light, and you can bungee them anywhere on a boat. I wish I would have done this, I could put them on my bimini top. The rigid case and panels weigh about 40lbs, where as the brunton would weight less than 2lbs. My rigid case isnt that water tight either, its to big to have a bomber seal ecspecially after being used for 100s of days. It is a pain to open and charge on the water, so I rarely do unless it is absolutely flat water. This means that i dont take advantage of the sun during the brightest part of the day.

You can look on google and find the 26W bruntons for a little over $300 each as opposed to the $600 MSRP.... I would also buy a digital voltmeter so you can see battery status, smount coming in, and how much is being used. This will allow you to keep your battery in good shape, and prevent a deep discharge where 2 small panels will not recharge it.

Once I had power, I found that there were a lot of possibilities.... I can run auto head lights (small) monted on the bimini or front of the boat for night floating, run an electric inflator, or music. Many people have reservations about any electronic on the river...

I have found that having a navigation light is nice when you need to make miles and daytime winds make it a bi***. It is also nice to plug in a guitar to small amp if you have musicans (not me), and I enjoy a little Hank III at low volume when i am just drifting down the river comtemplating life.

You also need to get a desicant or wrap your computer in a towel in the dry box, if you put it in when it is hot, there will be considerable condensation as the box cools down. Think of relative humidity at night as oppsed to the baking sun.... condensation will ruin electronics in a hurry!

or you could just get a small recorder and record your thoughts on the river.
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