I just discovered this old (slightly crappy) video from 2008.
I still have the Maplin solar flight case but it needs a new Lithium Polymer motorbike battery to slot inside.
This morning a friend of mine who is a Journalist in Syria emailed asking me how he can charge his camera batteries and laptop during power cuts. He is planning ahead and looking for a contingency plan should the power cuts become long and sustained.
He has an apartment he has lived in for a while with access to the roof so a mobile system is not really needed.
I threw together this quick shopping list containing kit I know to work.
“Solar panel.. You should be able to source a rigid solar panel where you are.. The flexible will most likely go missing in the post unless you are going to pick one up when over here. The rigid will last longer than the folding panel and give you loads more power for the money. You need something around 60-80 watts to keep a car battery topped up providing enough power for a laptop, other batteries and a light. http://www.maplin.co.uk/60w-solar-power-kit-223250
Charge Controller.. This is an important bit of kit that stops the power from the sunlight providing too much to the battery and also stops the battery damaging the panel at night. It also makes it all pretty simple to wire together.. http://www.maplin.co.uk/charge-controllers-97384?ordercode=L22BR
Leisure Battery.. A leisure type battery is really the only kind you should use with a solar set up. It does not have the cranking amps of a car battery but can take the various sporadic influx of power. It will last years longer and a 85Ah to 110Ah will mean you could work all through the night and a day of cloud and still charge stuff. You should be able to get one there. If you can only get a car battery it will do. I am using a car battery to run my shed lights as i found one in the garage… http://bit.ly/nHGG7o
Cigarette lighter power splitter.. This is a handy device you attach straight to the battery ideally by cutting off the plug and attaching crocodile clips to the cable end. It gives you a couple of sockets and usb slots.
Camera Battery Charger.. This battery charger is a must have. It charges pretty much every battery you own. http://bit.ly/qZqklo
Using an inverter to give you a mains voltage is not really economical. It wastes a shedload of energy and will drain your car/leisure batter fast. Where possible use 12v enabled devices.
In addition to all of this I would use an Apple Magsafe airline adapter http://bit.ly/oisqKX which has to be powered by 16 volts from one of these.. MiniGorilla https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/minigorilla/ The PowerMonkey Extreme does not have switchable power out and so is not as handy as the Mini or Power Gorilla. That said.. you need to be aware of what power you are switching so you don’t damage your tech.
You would need an In car charger to power the MiniGorilla from a car battery https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/spares/000272/ and the incar charger adapter to feeding 16volts from the power monkey extreme to your laptop. https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/spares/000224/
This looks pretty interesting but with no reviews i have no idea if it even works.. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Charger-Apple-MacBook-Magsafe-A1172/dp/B004BFX7M8 If it does, it can work in place of the PowerMonkey stuff and Apple Magsafe. They are pretty handy to have on the road though. Although I personally use the Power Gorilla.
Although this is a portable option for all of the above ( http://www.selectsolar.co.uk/prod/11/25w-sunlinq-with-powerpack-solar-powered-laptop-charger ) you have still not got the connectors to power your mac efficiently and am also not sure you could fully charge a macbook pro from it via a standard plug socket, unless the sun was out and shining hard. The full set up listed above should give you something much more versatile and you can take some of it (power monkey stuff) on the road should you have to move in a hurry.”
As my Journalist friend in Syria has limited bandwidth I could not send him the video’s Richard Mackney has made on a couple of these items.. Worth a look though.
There are a thousand an one combinations of what can be done and I would love to know your comments and ideas for other options.