In the Woods: Brooklyn, we have a problem


Okay, I'm going to try to make this quick, since I may be running out of battery sooner than I thought.

I left a connector for the Solo 15 at home, which means I have no way to get power from the Solaris 52 solar panel into the Solo 15. That wouldn't be a problem except I haven't been able to charge the X300 laptop directly from the panels in the past, although I may be able to if I get enough sunlight. (I think it just wasn't driving enough voltage through the inverter.

I've got about an hour-and-a-half of laptop battery left, so I'm going to attempt meager use until I'm sure I can get more power into the laptop. Oddly enough, EVDO is working this morning; I've got a nice little connection. If I could get power, I could even upload some more videos.

One plan for jury-rigging the Solo 15: the connection is just a wire. (It's actually a 12-volt car plug with two of the standard power plugs on the end. Obviously it's running DC out of the panel into the battery. I just so happen to have on a bracelet that my kid sister made for me from CAT-5, so I'm thinking about stripping the ends and just jamming them into the inside holes between the panel and the battery. (The battery has a circuit that prevents it from dumping back into the panel, so I'm not worried about juice flowing the other way. There's no intelligence in the standard wires.)

My only question: I don't know in a DC connection if you need more than one wire. The outside is a ground, right? But you don't actually need a ground if you're just putting juice down a wire? If so, I'll have to figure out a way to connection the second wire to the connectors, which won't be nearly as easy. (Why didn't I bring electrical tape?)

If you happen to know the answer to this very simple problem, feel free to ring me (347 495 0610) or send a direct message to me on Twitter, which is passed directly to my SMS.

I'm actually really tickled about all this. Everything's gone so well I was wondering when the real difficulty would show up.

Oh, and to you haters that said I'd freeze to death if I didn't bring a pad? Slept like a baby. Like a baby on a slab of wood. I was even sweating a little!

Update: Well, crap. While I was trying to rig up a plug I decided to plug the inverter directly into the panel to try and see if I had enough sunlight to charge the laptop without using the Solo 15 battery at all. As far as I know, that's a standard way to use the inverter. But as the USB was humming along charging a spare phone battery, there was a pop and a puff of smoke. I opened up the inverter case and while the fuse isn't blown, something on the board has scorched. I'm not sure if that leaves the inverter completely unusable or not. I tried it off the Solo 15 (which still has a little juice left) and the USB out on the inverter seemed to be working fine. But if the AC out doesn't work I won't be able to charge the laptop, even if I can rig up a way to get power to it.

This may be it for power. If that's the case, I'll probably pack up and head back to Brooklyn tonight. No need just to stay out here enjoying nature with no internet.

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  1. Well over $1000 in batteries and chargers and the wont work for lack of a plug. This makes me think the robot apocalypse may not be so hard to thwart.

  2. “No need just to stay out here enjoying nature with no internet.”

    Funny, I used to think that going to the great outdoors was so you could get away from the Internet. =)

    Hopefully this was a joke, but I understand even if it isn’t. As this was supposed to give you a chance to still work, not being able to work buts a damper on things…

  3. Just for the record, yes, you need both wires. That’s true for ANY electrical circuit: it needs to be closed loop.

  4. The inverter has given up its Magic Smoke and will not operate until the Magic Smoke is replaced. You did bring spare Magic Smoke, didn’t you?

  5. Ouch, okay not the best situation, I wonder if any of the manufacturers of these products are taking notes?

  6. I never enter the wilderness with out three things:

    1) Chocolate
    2) Herbal Remedies
    3) Flux Capacitor

    I am guessing that you left the capacitor at home. Whereas, god help you if you forgot the other two. However, if you forgot #3, you can always simulate it with #2.

  7. Despite my obviously bargain basement of simple electronic principles, I have fully restored power to all the gear.

  8. Why am I reminded of Han Solo trying to hotwire the door to the shield generator bunker on Endor?

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