charging stuff on the river, 2016 version - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-16-2017   #1
plainfield, New Jersey
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2016
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charging stuff on the river, 2016 version

We will be taking a Lees ferry down to Pearce this summer, and have been pondering how to charge the cameras, and other such stuff. We are on rafts, so I have space, but we are flying out, so I cannot bring a 10 pound lithium ion battery on the flight.

I have read on the buzz about folks using solar and battery combos, folks using motorcycle batteries, and even portable jumper packs. I am planning on bringing extra batts for most of the stuff, but things like a gopro session will need to be charged.

Any thoughts on the latest gadgets and what would work?

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Old 01-16-2017   #2
the grove, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2008
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You shouldn't need to recharge anything. Leave the cell phone off. Get a camera that uses regular double AA batteries. They work so much better than rechargeables and my cheap mp3 player and speakers also use AAA and AA batteries.

You can use rechargeable AA and AAA bats when you are doing stuff where you have power to recharge, but for long backcountry stuff, you can use regular bats.

As far as lighting goes, I am a big fan now of the Luci lights after using them for a couple years. 2 of them suspended over a cooking/kitchen area provides a surprising amount of light and not batteries required.

fyi - as stated on the label, they are "not a flotation device"
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Old 01-16-2017   #3
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Boise, Idaho
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I used this on the main salmon for charging a fuji camera and two two go-pro's and it still had half it's capacity left at the end of the week. and i travel with it 2 weeks out of the month in my carry on for work. so it's OK for a flight.
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Old 01-16-2017   #4
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Boise, Idaho
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I did a 25 day trip on the Salmon last year (Boundary to Heller) and I took a portable jumper with a USB port in it. I use my phone for music and I charged my phone 3 times and my bluetooth speaker 4 or 5 times in that 25 days off of one charge. A portable jumper with a small solar backup might do the trick.
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Old 01-16-2017   #5
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ChroniclesofGnarnia, Colorado
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charging stuff on the river, 2016 version

Goal zero solar charge. Or one of there batteries.
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Old 01-16-2017   #6
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Lakewood, Colorado
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I like my gadgets and use them a lot on river trips. So far, I've had some success with a few items and not much with others.

IMHO, The Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar charger is a piece of junk so stay away from that. It just doesn't have the capacity to charge normal devices. Their larger capacity units might work better, but the 7w one is worthless. You can get a Anker 21 watt charger for half the price that does a better job. Look on Amazon, I think the Anker 21 is $50.

I had the Goal Zero on a couple of trips last year and half the time, even in full sun, it couldn't charge my phone reliably. I was given a Goal Zero battery power bank, and it couldn't charge that reliably either despite them being designed to work together. I was much more impressed with a cheap 10,000mah power bank I got at Micro Center. Goal Zero just isn't that great a product but has managed to get itself into most outdoor retail stores so its out there a lot. Overpriced and under performing IMHO. For what its worth, someone on my Grand trip last year had the Anker one I talked about above and seemed to have better success.

The other thing about Solar in general is that most of them aren't waterproof. Some say its ok to use in the rain, but if its raining you aren't getting much sun to charge with. Since they aren't really designed to get wet, you'll be taking it in and out of dry storage every time you hit a rapid.

I think this article is a good one for this subject...

Essentially, it details the fact that as of now, buying a couple of high capacity power banks is more economical then any portable power generation source available today. For a 5-7 day trip, a couple of those will do you a ton better even for heavy users like myself. You can get 3-4 charges out of a decent sized (10,000mah or higher) power bank, so grabbing a few of them at around $25-40 a pop is a good way to go. They generally charge about as fast as plugging into the wall at home too, which cannot be said for Solar Chargers.

The economics do start to go away for longer trips. I use my phone for music and taking pictures, a bluetooth battery powered speaker, stuff like GoPro's and waterproof point and shoots, and a tablet for reading and entertainment at camp. I think I'd need a minimum of 6-7 and probably upwards of ten power banks to handle that kind of use. So, I'm not sure what my plan is for this one. I've been thinking about making my own super high capacity power bank out of lithium cells in an Ammo can, but I might go the route of getting a better solar charger too.

I'm rambling on a bit so I'll leave it there. I can go into the DIY battery bank plan a bit more if you guys want, but it involves more lengthy explanation. The way I'm leaning is to get a single battery module(or maybe two) from a Nissan Leaf and adapt it for use as a power bank.
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Old 01-16-2017   #7
plainfield, New Jersey
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2016
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the luci lights look really cool, both my son and I received ones as gifts from different folks for the holiday. I am using AAA in the headlamps, and back up, but the cameras all need proprietary LiON batteries, so I will need to go a different route for them.
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Old 01-16-2017   #8
plainfield, New Jersey
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2016
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Ramble away! I was hoping for some sort of slick way to use 4.0/ 5.0 batteries from my 18 volt makitas to do something, maybe I could steal something from my dad's volt. I was wondering about some sort of larger ammo box based system.
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Old 01-16-2017   #9
NE, Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 178
Been using this on DeWalt 20v batteries, without any problems. 4 or 5 phone/speaker charges from a 1.5mah battery.
12V/20V MAX* USB Power Source - DCB090 | DEWALT
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Old 01-16-2017   #10
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
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I'm an ex solar installer/ electrical engineer so I built one - not too complicated. I got a medium ammo can and bought a small PV panel. The first iteration my panel was about the same size as the ammo can (10W?)so just glued the panel to the can and tried to keep it in the sun. Didn't get enough power though so went to a 18"x 24" 50W flexible panel. Inside the can I mounted a sealed 14 A-hr lead acid 12V battery, a small 5A charge controller, and DC meter and a 200W inverter with USB ports and AC receptacle. I used waterproof conduit seals for the solar leads in and a water proof USB outlet so I can plug things in during the day. I have a goal zero speaker and USB light that plug into the USB port. Between the USB and the 100V outlet I can charge most anything. As mentioned by others I have to open the ammo can if I'm going to run the inverter (heat) but everything else works with the can sealed. The solar panel has quick connects so I just plug it in when needed and store it otherwise. All this might be a little big for charging - I also use it to run a bilge pump for my dory. Hope this helps
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