Saturday, June 15, 2013

Used Parts


12 Volt USB Charger...

Not so good


Everyone wants to be Green these days but sometimes it's an advance to the rear.

Despite what I said yesterday, the only way to keep writing for this blog on the trip is to take pictures with my mobile phone and publish when I'm near a community with cellular service. The trick is to keep the phone charged so that it will keep working.

My first attempt was to get a Nomad 7 solar panel. Costco had one with accessories for $99. I would just hook it up, point it at the sky, and be off the grid. The theory was much better than the practice. The 7 watt panel would eventually charge my phone when it was pointed directly at the sun on a bright day but wouldn't do a thing on a cloudy day.

Worse, if I didn't unplug the phone at the peak of charge the panel would back feed and discharge the phone battery! I put it out in the afternoon with a 60% charge and came back in the morning with a totally dead battery. To my simple mind a 50¢ diode from Radio Shack would have cured this but what do I know?

Thanks to Costco's great return policy I got all my money back and went looking for another solution. What I needed was a source of power for the USB port. And there it was waiting for me at my local Cycle Gear shop. A 12 Volt Power Adapter and a 12 Volt USB Charger Adapter. Total cost only $15.98.

This is actually greener than the solar panel because it's simple wiring for an already existing power source. No extra silicon mining and processing, no heavy metal lithium storage device, no huge packaging footprint. It works day and night and draws less than ¼ amp from the battery.

Simple is always better. In this case it's a lot cheaper too.

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