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Thread: Keeping a lappy charged on a camping trip

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    Member ZiffyC's Avatar
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    Keeping a lappy charged on a camping trip

    I am doing the Birdsville races in Aug/Sept with my son and his partner, kicking off the trip with a daytime crossing of Bass Strait, then the Mallee country, up the track to the races, then Lake Eyre, pandas at the Adelaide zoo etc, and all the bits in between. I will be taking my laptop and a portable HD to backup my pics, my problem is, as we will be old style camping all the way (no generator) and I'm guessing my son will always have some device on car battery charge, how in the heck do I keep the lappy battery charged?
    I am thinking solar might be the go but don't want to pay mega bucks for what will probably be a one off thing... I found a 24,000Mah 10W solar charger that has a built in battery for under $200, does anyone have any experience with these? how well do they work?
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    If you are travelling during the day, whilst the vehicle is running, use a power inverter. I am sure your son won't be charging things all the time, and anyway, negotiate with him that you get x hours of charging from the car each day.
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    That won't work Rick.
    Most inverters use an "inverted sine wave" thingy that most laptops will not take. I tried it with mine ... fail.
    get the car charging kit from ebay for your laptop. I modified a female lighter socket to have some wired clamps attached to it to put it directly onto a spare battery for extended use/charging in the field.
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    Member fastr1red's Avatar
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    The 10W solar charger is no where near enough energy to charge,,,sorry to say.
    Your laptop power supply will be anything from 50w to possibly 90w. Mine is 90 as it's a 17" screen.
    Your best bet is what Rattus79 said and get a cigarette lighter plug with clamps connected directly to your battery, then get yourself a DC style laptop charger. Jaycar has them.
    Works extremely well. I have the same setup as I go camping regularly. Just returned from a week leave in the hills, had my laptop, phone, portable wifi and Ipad all powered from this.
    Not sure if I can post links to the parts here but let me know if that's ok and I'll point you to exactly what you need.
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    I have a little thingy I got from Zazz (see pic) & use it for the iPhone, camera & laptop (in turn) when travelling.

    Zazz-thingy.jpg
    Odille

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    G'day Jan

    Nice Q mate ... as I live on-the-road & charging laptps & cameras is a daily event ...
    You have 2 options > inexpensive & expensive

    inexpensive is to visit Jaycar Electronics and buy a $75 "12v to 24v Dc -> Dc regulated power supply" [this is what we use very, very successfully]

    here is a pic ...


    expensive option is to visit somewhere / anywyere & buy solar panels + deep-cycle battery + "full-sine-wave" inverter to then plug in your 240v > 20v laptop power pack

    ps- if you have a Compaq or Dell, take it into the shop to make sure that the DC power supply does match the computer's connection. These 2 companies have moved away from industry standard connectors

    Regards, Phil
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    That won't work Rick.
    Most inverters use an "inverted sine wave" thingy that most laptops will not take. I tried it with mine ... fail.
    get the car charging kit from ebay for your laptop. I modified a female lighter socket to have some wired clamps attached to it to put it directly onto a spare battery for extended use/charging in the field.
    Mine works just fine. It is a matter of buying the right power inverter.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    If you are travelling during the day, whilst the vehicle is running, use a power inverter. I am sure your son won't be charging things all the time, and anyway, negotiate with him that you get x hours of charging from the car each day.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    That won't work Rick.
    Most inverters use an "inverted sine wave" thingy that most laptops will not take. I tried it with mine ... fail.
    get the car charging kit from ebay for your laptop. I modified a female lighter socket to have some wired clamps attached to it to put it directly onto a spare battery for extended use/charging in the field.
    Inverters work just fine. I have been charging various laptops using inverters for many years. Naturally, I avoid the truly cheap and nasty ones - cheap and nasty anything should always be avoided - and get them from reputable Australian specialist shops instead of taking risks on Ebay, but there is certainly no need to spend big money on an inverter unless you want to. I have also used the dedicated laptop 12v charger supplied by the laptop manufacturer, but the inverters actually work better, and in any case, you still need to charge camera batteries, flash batteries, torch batteries, phone batteries, GPS batteries .... so an inverter and a 240v powerboard goes everywhere with me. They run just fine off the in-car 12v system but will go better if you have an auto electrician install a proper heavy-duty socket -use a "Hella" or "Merit" connector (ISO 4165) - with appropriate fusing. Take care not to run your car battery flat if you use it when the engine is not running!

    For about the last 7 years or so, I've added a dedicated second battery - a Thumper, made by a company in Adelaida that does an excellent job and supports them forever. (I've just had mine refurbished back to as-new condition after a lot of very hard work in all sorts of climates. Cost about a third of what it costs to buy a new one.) Get the sparkie to wire in a direct link from the car electrical system to the Thumper so that it charges fast. (Cigarette lighter connections are hopeless - unreliable, and they don't transfer much power. Get it done properly by a sparkie in the first place and it will just work. Easy job, won't cost you much. Or you could do it yourself if you are handy and understand auto electrics.)

    An auxilliary solar charging system for the Thumper would be a good idea if you stay in one place for a long time without driving. I've been thinking about organising something for years. Haven't done it yet though.

    OK, my rig is overkill for you, no doubt. But any half-decent inverter will do the trick for you no worries. This one for example: http://www.homeof12volt.com/shop/ind...530f/offset/10 (cruise around the site - these are the guys that make the Thumper batteries).
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    I spent half my younger days camping (many, many moons ago), whatever couldn't fit in my saddlebags or tie behind my horse's saddle wouldn't go, although there was always a little camera, sketch pad and pencils, how things have changed! all this electronic gear to think of, and all running on damn batteries, but still, I do so love gadgets... thank you guys for the advice I will check out all options before I buy..... new gadgets, can't wait!

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