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01-26-2014, 02:37 PM   #1
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Looking for a dependable portable solar recharger unit

Hi All.

Sorry if I am mis-posting this, moderator please feel free to move. I am going to be hiking in areas where it is likely I won't have access to electricity for extended periods of time (say 2-3 weeks). The one thing that I would like to be able to recharge is my batteries for my K3. Are there any recommended solar cells out there that others have used that aren't huge and will allow me to plug a standard (North American) plug into them?

Many thanks.

01-26-2014, 03:07 PM   #2
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I cannot say if this would work (1st link) but it's the right idea. You don't want to carry a DC/AC converter then reconvert to DC, too much energy lost that way. I picked up a generic charger (2nd link) with a plug that usually goes to a car; if you can make those two devices connect you'd be set.

Juice Bar recharger/light
3rd-party DI90 charger


Personally I'd take 3 batteries and be done with it.
01-27-2014, 08:11 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jimr-pdx Quote
I cannot say if this would work (1st link) but it's the right idea. You don't want to carry a DC/AC converter then reconvert to DC, too much energy lost that way. I picked up a generic charger (2nd link) with a plug that usually goes to a car; if you can make those two devices connect you'd be set.

Juice Bar recharger/light
3rd-party DI90 charger


Personally I'd take 3 batteries and be done with it.
The problem is I won't even be near a car for much of that time.

Much appreciated though.

Doug
01-27-2014, 12:00 PM   #4
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I think it's better to start with a number of charged batteries, unless we are talking about a reeeeeally long journey.

01-27-2014, 12:11 PM   #5
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Another vote for extra batteries. Turn off any in-camera processing and that annoying automatic reviewing and they'll last you a good long while.
01-27-2014, 01:28 PM   #6
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Most portable electronics (GPS, cell phone, battery chargers, etc) can be powered by automotive 12 volt adapters. Pair a 12 v camera battery charger with a solar 12 v trickle charger. Hard wire the leads to each other to eliminate the weight and bulk of the cigarette lighter plug/socket.

The trickle charger (typical 1.5 amp output in good sun light won't supply a quick charge but given that you'll be outdoors much of the time a solar collector attached to the top of a pack charging spare batteries can be a big help. And it can service a number of different devices with suitable mobile chargers. (Pairing items that all use AA/AAA batteries is efficient and is why the K200D remains a primary travel kit choice for me.)

Harbor Freight has an inexpensive solar unit which can be removed from the bulky plastic frame if used carefully and there are more expensive flexible panels that might serve even better. Matching the 12v solar output to your mobile device charger(s) is the solution.

One example:
1.5 Watt Solar Battery Charger

H2
01-27-2014, 01:53 PM   #7
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A bit repetitieve perhaps, but it looks like it is better to take some extra batteries with you. Although 2-3 weeks looks like a long time. Last year I researched the same question you are asking here albeit I was more looking for a solution to power my smartphone. Even with a little bit of internet on top of a hill of mountain you can get a weather report in the Norwegian mountain areas where I like to hike&fish. Off course I looked if there was something with added functionality available to power up my camera batteries and found nothing suitable. I ended up with the Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer which is decent enough for my phone if the cloud cover isn't to dense (which it was, but with a little bit of clear sky it does work really wel). On my last visit to the mountains I took 7 batteries with me on a intended 12 day's hike&fishing trip for my K-5 which probably was a bit overkill. Especially because I left 4 day's earlier because of the lousy weather. By that time I think I only exchanged one empty battery. Photo opportunities where a bit sparse because of that same lousy weather.

If you follow the pointers Savoche gave you and don't use live view&video to much about 6 or 7 batteries should be more then enough. No doubt you want as light a set up as possible and with Pentax there are a lot of good, small and light lenses available to make up for the extra weight of the batteries. I didn't use that bit of advice for my self though because I used some pretty heavy lenses; the DA*16-50 and DA*300mm (and cameragrip to balance out the DA*300mm).
01-29-2014, 07:31 PM   #8
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Thanks y'all. I'll check out the harbour freight option and think about more batteries.

01-29-2014, 10:54 PM   #9
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If you don't mind a little simple DIY wiring and have the appropriate plugs you can easily build a very useful adjustable DC power converter that can take voltage inputs from 5 - 40 VDC and output common charging and/or operating voltages of 1.5 - 35 VDC at up to 2.5 amps. This module is about the same size as a 9 VDC battery. The hardest part of using these modules is stripping and soldering the fine wires used in many plugs and connectors -- assuming you have the pin patterns for USB connectors anyway.

Do a search on this phrase in eBay or google.

LM2596 DC 3A Step-Down Adjustable Power Supply Converter

Two paralleled 9 VDC batteries paired with one of these modules makes a useful battery charging station or external battery source for most USB components in a package smaller than a deck of playing cards. Three 9 VDC batteries in series makes a pretty good emergency battery for many 12 VDC uses. The item can be used as a voltage limiter for 12 V solar panels.

H2
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