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Old 10-07-2012, 10:40 PM   #1
jconly OP
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Charging your tech on the road - how do you do it?

So, for those of you who are living off your bike for extended periods of time.. how do you keep all your goodies charged?


I'm about to take off for a multi-week all dirt road riding and camping trip, and I'll be bringing some much used tech with me.
Digital cameras, netbook, my Cardo headset, iPhone, and GPS.

The iPhone and gps are easy ones to charge off the bike, but what bout the other ones with their proprietary AC chargers?

Is anyone carrying inverters with them? Seems like such a PITA and they're heavy and take up a lot of space.
The cardo and netbook both convert AC to DC, and I've often thought of instead of carrying they're large brick sized chargers, of seeing if it was possible to just build a straight DC charger that had the necessary voltage regulation built in. The camera battery is a different game since the battery connects right to that AC-->DC brick.


So how is it done?
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Old 10-07-2012, 10:58 PM   #2
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Most of my experiences are truck camping related. You should be able to buy a 12v camera charger. Mine for my Nikon DSLR has a built in 110v plug and a 12v plug with cord. My AA rechargable battery charger also comes with a 12v cord, and a 110v cord. GPS is a 12v cord. Laptop is trickier though. I usually just stop off at a coffee shop in the morning to recharge my caffiene and my laptop, upload pics, etc etc. I have been looking into the DC to DC chargers for laptops. I didn't want to spend 200 bucks for a charger on my old POS laptop, but my new one I need to get one.

You should be able to find 12v chargers for all your gear on google. I put mine into my tank bag so they charge when riding. On my BMW I had a short BMW plug to regular plug I made and just ran it up the steering stem area. On my KTM I am doing the same thing with the extra 12v acc wires provided.

This brings up the point of total reliance on the bikes tiny battery. An alternate charging system might be in order. Folding solar panels are nice if it is sunny. A good battery also might be a great start.
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:04 PM   #3
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Recharge off the bike. KISS principle.
This means no matter if you are camping in the wilds or hotel it ... you don't have to worry about charging it. Or finding adaptors etc.

You should only be recharging while the bike is running, usually enough extra capacity in the bikes alternator to handle that. And stops that flat battery ting in the cold morning start!

Most things would be able to charge off the 12v dc ... the exceptions are things that like a higher voltage - like a laptop PC... there you'll need a dc - ac - dc converter ... yet that the12v dc convert it to an ac voltage ..of the right amount then convert that back to dc... you can only directly convert a dc voltage to a lower dc voltage .. and that method is lossy ... better to go dc - ac and back to the lower dc. You will have to find the specialist people who make these things.

You cannot go from 12 vdc to a higher dc voltage without an ac conversion. Sorry .. basic physics.

A solar charger will only get you some dc voltage ..and then you have the same problem you have with the 12 v. And you have another thing - that is expensive and fragile... don't do it !

Warin screwed with this post 10-07-2012 at 11:09 PM Reason: Solar charging
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jconly View Post
So, for those of you who are living off your bike for extended periods of time.. how do you keep all your goodies charged?


I'm about to take off for a multi-week all dirt road riding and camping trip, and I'll be bringing some much used tech with me.
Digital cameras, netbook, my Cardo headset, iPhone, and GPS.


So how is it done?
All your devices should have a USB adapter plug available which makes charging on the bike fairly easy. Laptop - I just bring into a cafe during coffee or lunch to keep charged. Leave the heavy inverter at home.
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Old 10-07-2012, 11:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
You cannot go from 12 vdc to a higher dc voltage without an ac conversion. Sorry .. basic physics.
Actually, you can.


But for this topic's sake I will say that I meant those dc to ac back to dc laptop chargers that take the giant brick a/c adapter out of the picture.

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Old 10-08-2012, 02:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jconly View Post
Is anyone carrying inverters with them? Seems like such a PITA and they're heavy and take up a lot of space.
The 12V plug for my laptop is rather expensive, so on the rare occasion that I bring it with me, I use one like this:



$20 or so at Walmart. No cords, and it's fairly small.

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Old 10-08-2012, 02:57 AM   #7
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I have 12v to my tank bag. I charged everything in there: netbook, camera batteries, and cell phone. Not all at once though.

Powerlet 12v tank bag kit.

The 12v power for my netbook was $9 on ebay. More often than not I'd charge my cell phone at night off the netbook since I only usually used about 25% of the netbook's battery.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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I went through two powerlet charging harnesses. They replaced them, but it doesn't do a lot of good when they break and you need them...

I was on the road about a year and by the end I had a system down that worked for me.

I had a laptop with a 110V-240V power adapter and a 110V-240V AA/AAA travel sized battery charger. I charged my phone and camera with my laptop's USB ports and charged batteries for my GPS (after the powerlet harness died for the third time) and headlamp using the battery charger. I charged things up at gas stations when getting fuel/coffee, cafes while eating, and most camp grounds has a electrical outlet in the bathroom.

Never had an issue.
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Old 10-08-2012, 10:49 PM   #9
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Thanks for the responses guys. It's gotten me thinking a little further.
I can charge my phone and camera through USB straight from the bike (been doing that with the phone, forgot about the camera potential!)

My two hiccups are the laptop and the cardo headset.
I can do the DC-AD-DC plug for the laptop that was suggested, but this still leaves my cardo hanging. That's actually a pretty big problem.. I like to listen to tunes a lot on my solo rides.

It's looking more and more like the $20 inverter may be the way to go.. *sigh*

Quote:
Originally Posted by MountaineerWV View Post
I had a laptop with a 110V-240V power adapter and a 110V-240V AA/AAA travel sized battery charger. I charged my phone and camera with my laptop's USB ports and charged batteries for my GPS (after the powerlet harness died for the third time) and headlamp using the battery charger. I charged things up at gas stations when getting fuel/coffee, cafes while eating, and most camp grounds has a electrical outlet in the bathroom.

Never had an issue.
I would love to see an example of this though.. not sure I'm familiar with what your talking about but may be a great option. I feel like most solar solutions are impractical since I'm riding during daylight, and they take up a bit of space. The external, rechargeable batteries are bulky... but one that takes AA would be a nice easy time-effective solution. Just pick up fresh batts as I go.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:01 AM   #10
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I was on the road for 5 months, and I never had a problem keeping all my gear charged.

*point and shoot
*DSLR
*GoPro
*Sena SMH10 Intercom
*Macbook Air

I rode a KTM 690. I put a cig plug in the dash and ran a dual usb outlet to be able to run constant power to my iphone, GoPro, or Intercom and charge accordingly.

I also had a E45 Givi case that I ran a PowerLet through haul fitting directly to my battery. On the inside of the case I had a dual cig lighter female ends. I could then use one to run an inverter if I pleased and still have the other for dual usb charging.

Everything is about power management and understanding how much of a drain everything is on your system.

For instance, when I parked my bike, I had no problem charging my iPhone and headset inside the locked givi case all night long. That's not going to kill the bike battery, but I couldn't run the inverter like that. Also, It's a great idea to be run a switch to kill your head lights. That gives you an extra 35 watts if you are running low on electricity and want to charge more or use heated gear. I also like running a garmin that always displays the bikes volts so you can watch in real time what is happening. The fact is, our bikes are a generator. We make electricity, why make this harder than it is with planned coffee breaks looking for outlets and bandaid fixes like solar panels?

Those are my thoughts.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:47 AM   #11
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I found a solar / battery recharger called powermonkey extreme. (https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome...ngsoon/000382/) I haven't had a chance to try it yet (hopefully I will try this weekend).
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jconly View Post
I would love to see an example of this though.. not sure I'm familiar with what your talking about but may be a great option. I feel like most solar solutions are impractical since I'm riding during daylight, and they take up a bit of space. The external, rechargeable batteries are bulky... but one that takes AA would be a nice easy time-effective solution. Just pick up fresh batts as I go.
Check the power block on the cord to your laptop. Most, if not all, laptops run from 110 to 240V. As for the battery charger, I bought one from Radio Shack. Just ensure it can handle the full range of voltage. I think I had 8 AA and 4 AAA rechargeable batteries.

Powerlet is a great option, if it doesn't break. I don't know if I would mess with solar chargers etc. KISS. Just seems the more technology you try to involve, the more shit breaks and the more time you spend trying to fix it or find replacements.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MountaineerWV View Post
Check the power block on the cord to your laptop. Most, if not all, laptops run from 110 to 240V. As for the battery charger, I bought one from Radio Shack. Just ensure it can handle the full range of voltage. I think I had 8 AA and 4 AAA rechargeable batteries.

Powerlet is a great option, if it doesn't break. I don't know if I would mess with solar chargers etc. KISS. Just seems the more technology you try to involve, the more shit breaks and the more time you spend trying to fix it or find replacements.



Wow, you were talking about a charger for AA and AAA batteries.
I thought you were talking about some crazy thing that could charge other devices off of AA batteries.
That's what I get for doing my forum'ing at 2AM after a wrenching in the garage all day.

My devices that take AAA batteries are my spot and my headlamp and torch. These last a pretty darn long time. Rechargeable batteries seems too bulky for something that I won't be replacing that frequently. A couple spares with me should do the trick on that front.

Everything else I have, with the exception of that laptop and cardo headset are USB chargable. I'd just do DC-AC-DC for the laptop, but looks like the Cardo is going to necessitate the AC charger. A quick search of amazon did yield some small inverters though. And honestly, they looks to be about the same size as those DC-AC-DC chargers anyway.

I'd like to find a local source here in NYC to get a better sense of sizing though. We have no Walmarts here, and our Targets don't have auto sections . Any other suggestions for local sourcing? We've got pretty much everything else under the sun.

Instead of running the whole expensive Powerlet setup (I mean come on! $50 for an SAE pass through and extension cord) I'm just going to wire up my own solution.

In the "glove box" of my 990, I have my fuseblock that already has one of those BurnsMoto USB sockets hard wired.

I currently use this for my phone (although the 1A max output doesn't really charge when I'm using the phone to stream music.)

Then I think I'll make a removable charger for everything else on a need be basis. Just wire up a cigarette socket to a powerlet plug. I'll run a powerlet socket to my HDB setup direct from my fuseblock, unswitched, but add a manual switch for it to the HDB. There I can plug in a cigarette --> usb adaptor for a much quicker charge for the iPhone or camera, or one of those inverters for the Laptop and Cardo. Can take this right into the tankbag. If only my MacBook air would fit in there. Seems that's the only hiccup. I suppose I could always just run that power cord along the frame of the bike to a duffle in the back.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:27 AM   #14
liftedlimo
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Why not use headphones off your phone for music? Or get an ipod nano or something small and use headphones? I use the wrap around ear earbuds so they dont fall out when riding. You can even use the mic on the headphones to answer and make calls while riding.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:44 AM   #15
jconly OP
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Originally Posted by liftedlimo View Post
Why not use headphones off your phone for music? Or get an ipod nano or something small and use headphones? I use the wrap around ear earbuds so they dont fall out when riding. You can even use the mic on the headphones to answer and make calls while riding.
Well, I do use the phone for the tunes, but the headphones in my helmet drive me crazy. Much prefer the speakers, and their ability to better hear surrounding noise.
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