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#222130 - 04/22/11 03:55 PM Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
I've finally decided on the primary components base for my off the grid BOB/GHB survival electronics kit.



The NOMAD folding mono-crystalline solar panel is quite compact and rated for only 7 Watt, but can directly recharge my HTC HD2 smartphone (gives me Internet, GPS, compas, maps, radio, document copies vault, survival books, camera, voice recorder, entertainment, etc) from 10% to 100% in just 1 hour with not that much of effort (laying on the table). It can charge 2 devices simultaneously.

The matching 4xAA GUIDE battery pack on the left can help to fully recharge 4 eneloops in about 1.5 hours in the full sun connected to the panel (6 hours from a regular 0.5A USB source). And also stores at least 2 full charges for the smartphone (with 2700mAh NiMHs). Can be used as a 20 hours flash light too.

The second thing after the phone, which will be powered with this kit, is my SteriPen Traveler (on the right). It's 4xAA based model.

The USB cable near the center of the picture can deal with mini and micro usb ports. It's wrapped with a sleeved soft steel wire, which can be used for improvisation of other connector types if necessary. Or for fire making by short circuiting the battery pack (still researching this idea though, the short circuit protection of the batt.pack may require a different wire use).

See the manufacturer site for more specs (bought it separately from Amazon for a bit less).

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#222133 - 04/22/11 04:25 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Very nice. I had never looked into the portable solar option before, and I'm surprised that you can charge up a set of Eneloops that quickly.

At first, I thought that rectangular thing on the right side looked like a Li-ion battery, like from a camcorder, but I guess that's some sort of inverter and not a battery, is that right?

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#222134 - 04/22/11 04:32 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
Thanks! That's right, it's a voltage and current regulator box. The cable for dedicated GUIDE AA charger output is shown there too. There is also a 12V auto cigar lighter dongle (female) in the kit, but I don't use it, relying on the steel wire if the need arises.

Also you might be noticing the open pocket under the battery pack. It can conveniently and securely hold a phone or the batt.pack while it's charging from the panel, let's say, strapped to your backpack on the trail.

Overall I'm very satisfied with the purchase. Good build quality, great functionality, right size and weight, fair price.

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#222136 - 04/22/11 05:03 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I've never handled one of these portable setups before. Are they flexible enough to carry around in a bag or backpack with other stuff without cracking the solar panels? It doesn't look like there's any rigid frame or case behind the panels to keep them from flexing.

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#222137 - 04/22/11 05:12 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
Have you planned on getting a battery pack of some kind? 4 eneloops are nice, but that cell phone is really going to go through battery life if you start using it a lot.

Also a good question about the durability of it. Easy to clean the panels (ie, waterproof)?

My off the grid plan is to take my dinky lawn solar powered lights and use them to recharge my batteries. And if people aren't home, borrow their lights too shocked

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#222140 - 04/22/11 05:43 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
The panels are quite rigid. This thing is supposed to be attached to your backpack open to the sun. I believe they have aluminum backing to which the crystalline is glued - so quite impact resistant while folded.

The surface of the crystalline is covered with some epoxy like material, which is quite soft, so it might be scratched, they were protected with a film out of the box, which you need to remove before use. But IMO that's not a big deal as far as you have just isolated scratches slightly diffusing the sunlight.

The panel is positioned as weather proof, so you can leave it under the rain without worrying at least. I believe you can dunk it without a problem, just dry it out well before use.

Regarding the battery life and Li-Ion batt.packs. I'm standardized on AAs. I have plenty of them, I can find plenty later. Most of my electronics is taking AAs. The smartphone can be powered directly from the solar panel if necessary with even dead stock Li-Ion battery. Or from the AA pack powered by any AA or AAA size batteries. After all, the solar panel can charge 12V car batteries too. No 12V charging controller integrated though, so - only manually.

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#222142 - 04/22/11 06:35 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
The Guide 10 Adventure Kit looks like a very neat setup for a BOB.



This is my setup (A Brunton PV folding panel, an iSun Battpak, and a 3A @ 12V DC in - DC 1.5-12V out power converter), its probably a good idea to standardise on NiMh AA despite the addition weight penalty over Li-ion. AAs are used to power my SW radio receiver. GPS, Lanterns, Headlamps etc.


Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (04/22/11 06:37 PM)

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#222144 - 04/22/11 06:51 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
Cool setup! Where did you get that nice converter? And how do you like the Brunton panel (what's the model)? I'm thinking to invest in some ~100W folding panel soon for my car bag, but still undecided on the technology (PV vs Film).

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#222146 - 04/22/11 07:04 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7066
Loc: southern Cal
Have you had this device out on the trail yet?
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#222148 - 04/22/11 07:18 PM Re: Goal Zero - my new sustainable power base [Re: Alex]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

The DC-DC converter is a Maplin A79GW

http://www.maplin.co.uk/3a-digital-car-power-adaptor-115314

The Brunton PV panel is a Brunton Solaris 26, here is a good review.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYPuuc_PGRc

The main disadvantage of the Brunton Solaris is that it expensive and has quite a large surface area compared to mono-crystalline panels when folded out. It also needs to pegged out/guyed out using the corner grommets and bungy cords as it has a tendency to self fold back up.

The main advantage is the panel is lightweight and probably slightly more durable.

Overall the setup is probably a little too large and heavy for a lightweight BOB/GHB setup as other weighty items take priority, but for bicycle touring/bicycle bugout using a small trailer it should be a worthwhile addition for long term power for about 6 months of the year.

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