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Author Topic: Seeking advice for portable solar panels  (Read 9735 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: January 20, 2008, 04:14:46 AM »
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Dear all,

I am planning an extended trip in Nepal in a few months from now, and am starting to look for a rugged solution to recharge my batteries on the go.

Solar panels come to mind, but I have no yet found anything really convincing. The idea would be to find something I can fix on the top of my bag pack so as to recharge batteries as I walk.

The camera is a Nikon D3.

Any experience/advice would be highly appreciated.

Thank you.

Regards,
Bernard
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2008, 07:07:16 AM »
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Dear all,

I am planning an extended trip in Nepal in a few months from now, and am starting to look for a rugged solution to recharge my batteries on the go.

Solar panels come to mind, but I have no yet found anything really convincing. The idea would be to find something I can fix on the top of my bag pack so as to recharge batteries as I walk.

The camera is a Nikon D3.

Any experience/advice would be highly appreciated.

Thank you.

Regards,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168327\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I havnt done a remote trip in the digital age - scary

One thought is that probably the most widely available power source on the planet (apart from the sun) is the 12v car battery

I think you would do your self a favour by getting car chargers for all the gear you can and some pony clamp style clips to hook up with

S
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jorgedelfino
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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2008, 07:19:09 AM »
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I havnt done a remote trip in the digital age - scary

One thought is that probably the most widely available power source on the planet (apart from the sun) is the 12v car battery

I think you would do your self a favour by getting car chargers for all the gear you can and some pony clamp style clips to hook up with

S
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168342\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

a small inverter will do that for you, (12vDC to 110 or 220vAC), they are cheap and lightweigh, one will do for all your standard chargers, you will just need to find a car or truck once week!
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2008, 08:03:39 AM »
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a small inverter will do that for you, (12vDC to 110 or 220vAC), they are cheap and lightweigh, one will do for all your standard chargers, you will just need to find a car or truck once week!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168344\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's unfortunately not an option... I believe that there is not going to be any vehicle around for 2 weeks... the destination is the base camp of the Everest.

Solar is really the best option, just need to find the best implementation for my gear.

Thanks,

Cheers,
Bernard
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daethon
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2008, 09:50:00 AM »
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I don't have any experience with these products, but did a little searching around.  This link has 5 products specifically for Nikon Battery charging.  Hopefully will get you in the right direction


http://store.sundancesolar.com/sobachforni.html
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2008, 12:06:08 PM »
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That's unfortunately not an option... I believe that there is not going to be any vehicle around for 2 weeks... [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168352\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Just cos there are no cars doesnt mean there are no battereis

Ev base camp must be full of satphones laptops et al - bet some one has some big PV panels used to charge a bank of lead acids

I think you need to consider this in hand with you own solar solution for emergencies

ps getting an inverter and then using 110/240 charger is highly innefficient stepping up then down again

SMM
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2008, 12:17:44 PM »
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To see the level of electronic activiy in this area goog Everest base camp laptop !

eg..EBC Internet Cafe !

This is worth a read too..

some blokes blog

Especially flash card= good Hd = bad bit..

S
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 12:42:47 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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wolfnowl
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2008, 02:23:59 PM »
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Bernard:

No experience with these, but they might be along the lines of what you're looking for...

http://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=256

Mike.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2008, 05:08:14 PM »
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I don't have any experience with these products, but did a little searching around.  This link has 5 products specifically for Nikon Battery charging.  Hopefully will get you in the right direction
http://store.sundancesolar.com/sobachforni.html
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168371\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks. I also came accross that site, but they only mention support for D200 series camera. Not for the Dx with the larger EN-EL4...

I have contacted them to check whether they can help or not.

Thanks again.

Cheers,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2008, 05:21:34 PM »
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Bernard:

No experience with these, but they might be along the lines of what you're looking for...

http://www.brunton.com/product.php?id=256

Mike.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168424\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks Mike.

I have contacted them to ask how they propose to connect their panel to the battery charger of the D3... connection is often the problem with these solutions it seems (not specifically Brunton).

Regards,
Bernard
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2008, 06:01:16 PM »
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This is worth a read too..

some blokes blog

Especially flash card= good Hd = bad bit..

S
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168402\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks, interesting link.

I was aware of the limitation of HDs above 10.000 feet but this article is an interesting real world confirmation!

My current plan is to by a  SSDs or to buy a few 16GB cheap CFs, just trying to find a cheap enough option. CFs will probably end up being the best compromise between price, weight and need to energy. A wallet will always require power etc...

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 08:59:24 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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sergio
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2008, 08:07:39 PM »
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I have used HD all the time over and sometimes way over 10,000 ft. and never had a single problem. Bernard, though it is true that going from 12v to 115 then down to whatever the charger uses is inefficient energywise it is still a ver easy and practical solution. I have been in the Amazon jungle for weeks with a 5D and 4 bats and an inverter and charged my batteries every now and then I approached a small community where there was a small PV panel. If you turn your rear LCD screen off and other stuff you might not really need like IS or VR when shooting with not so low speeds, will give you huge savings in energy.

Though I have never been in the Himalayas I could be pretty sure base camp should have plenty of energy solutions. If you have some means of carrying a little extra weight I would definitely carry some type of 12v small battery something like 4-7amp and that could give some extra charges. Also take the smallest inverter you can find that still caters your charging needs. I got around pretty well with a 60watt automotive inverter last time that cost me like 30 dollars or so. It has an automotive 12v jack and you have to make yourself a cable that can connect it to the battery terminals.
Another pretty good solution depending of the camera you are using is buying a good amount of camera batteries. 5D batteries are small and when wisely used last a lot. Low temperature inefficiencies are something you are probably taking into account already.
Check this site: http://www.gaiam.com/realgoods/, maybe they have something.
What a nice trip, good luck.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 08:12:26 PM by sergio » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2008, 08:57:02 PM »
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I have used HD all the time over and sometimes way over 10,000 ft. and never had a single problem.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168482\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sergio,

I am sure you are familiar with MTBF. Nobody is saying that HDs will crash for sure above 10.000 ft, just that likeliness of a crash is much higher, meaning that the MTBF decreases a lot. I have also used my Epson 2000 at heights up to 12.000 feet without problems in the past, but how many times can you be lucky?

As far as I am concerned, I am not willing to take the risk this time. The whole purpose of the trip is to photograph. Relying on a key hardware element that is known to have a chance to fail would be poor judgement IMHO.

Quote
Bernard, though it is true that going from 12v to 115 then down to whatever the charger uses is inefficient energywise it is still a ver easy and practical solution. I have been in the Amazon jungle for weeks with a 5D and 4 bats and an inverter and charged my batteries every now and then I approached a small community where there was a small PV panel. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168482\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks for the advice, I'll consider that.

Quote
Though I have never been in the Himalayas I could be pretty sure base camp should have plenty of energy solutions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168482\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The base camp probably has, but we will not spend much time there and that will be after about 2 weeks in the mountains, after the interesting part of the trek actually. Besides, the expeditions that camp there are typically large commercial enterprises with controlled budgets, I don't know how friendly they are to hikers in need of juice, but I don't want to take the risk of being turned down. Autonomy is key and this is why I am looking for a good solar solution.

Quote
Another pretty good solution depending of the camera you are using is buying a good amount of camera batteries. 5D batteries are small and when wisely used last a lot. Low temperature inefficiencies are something you are probably taking into account already.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168482\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well I will most probably cover this with my Nikon D3 precisely because of its excellent autonomy and good resistance to cold weather, but I know that opportunities will be plenty and would find it sad to be limited half way through because of energy concerns.

Thanks for your advice.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2008, 12:20:29 AM »
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A further thought OT

Using the D3 you can shoot to both Cfs at once

This can give you instant back up

You should then give one of these set to someone else if you get robbed/lose your bag whatever

---

For power you may also want to consider wind or wind up - both of these work overnight

wind
windup

(not there I would suggest)

-----

I am convinced you want to avoid stepping up and then stepping down

Maybe you will have to get a D3 charger and break it open and do some testing about volts in is actually required

good advice to avoid chimping, AF etc

----

Also check this..
Digital Camera battery have two solar solutions for thier batteries nb the polymer one is unnafected by cold

---

And of course the best back up ever.. is here : )



S
« Last Edit: January 21, 2008, 01:01:34 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

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sergio
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2008, 05:13:24 AM »
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Bernard, check these flexible solar panels
http://store.sundancesolar.com/powulflexthi.html

or even better:

http://store.sundancesolar.com/porosepoposo.html
« Last Edit: January 21, 2008, 06:23:38 PM by sergio » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2008, 08:14:51 AM »
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Bernard, check these flexible solar panels
http://store.sundancesolar.com/powulflexthi.html

or even better:

http://store.sundancesolar.com/porosepoposo.html
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168536\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks. I had already contacted them to check whether they had something directly plugable into a D3 charger, but they don't...

Cheers,
Bernard
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AndyF2
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2008, 11:43:41 AM »
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One thought is that probably the most widely available power source on the planet (apart from the sun) is the 12v car battery

I think you would do your self a favour by getting car chargers for all the gear you can and some pony clamp style clips to hook up with

S
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168342\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
He's travelling by backpack - you're suggesting bringing along a car battery in the backpack!  
Andy
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2008, 03:38:48 AM »
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He's travelling by backpack - you're suggesting bringing along a car battery in the backpack! 
Andy
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=169027\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

No. Im suggesting that unless he gets extra triple remote (which he may be) people who live in huts usually use Photovoltaics (solar panels) or wind for power

how do they do this

thay have the renewable source charge a (or a bank of) lead acid batterie(s) typically in poorer countries car batteries - it no good using solar for your lighting without beingable to store it till its dark

So if you have a 12v hookup then your OK

I understand the OPs situation they may not work due to extra remoteness or the mountain politics (but then dollar bills are light and will sort the politics)

Incedentally you talk about the weight of a lead acid - well carrying energy is heavy (hense no almost electric cars on the market) so even a pile of D3 batteries for an extended trip would be heavy

the lightest fuel is petrol or parafin (and also possibly for sale up there)- which brings me onto another idea - I wonder if there are any superlight petrol generators with engines the size of a remote control car !

Having done extended remote trips in the era of film I am genuinely interested in this subject

My own thoughts so far are

-to get a 'digital camera battery' (no D3 version yet?) , thier solar charger and also a 12v charger for same with clamps attached

-Also to get a custon D3 charger without the transformer fabricated by a tech geek that runs off 12V or whatever th output of the DCB is

-And to take an FM2

A further thought. Solar only works in the day - wind works 24/7 so anovernight wind charge could be preferable

(before I was stupidly pulled into photography my career was going to be in low tech engineering for the third world BTW - far more lucrative)

SMM
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2008, 11:40:58 PM »
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These guys might have a solution you can use:

http://www.humanedgetech.com/shop/home.php

If you have Sherpas to carry most of your gear, consider simply buying a lot of camera batteries and take those along. I don't know if you can get generic batteries for Nikons like you can for Canon, but if so, it's usually cheaper and lighter to simply bring a lot of batteries than it is to pursue solar panels or other options.
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TMcCulley
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2008, 12:42:07 AM »
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Dear all,

I am planning an extended trip in Nepal in a few months from now...
Regards,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=168327\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sorry, I can not add anythning about your energy problem but I would like to say that I AM JEALOUS.  If I was twenty years younger I would be trying to go with you

Tom
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