Solar powered Nexus One!

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Thread: Solar powered Nexus One!

  1. #1
    Junior Member KTP's Avatar
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    Solar powered Nexus One!

    Hi guys,

    I just ordered a Nexus One to replace several devices I use while on hiking trips and also to get an ebook reader into my gadgetry (carrying 3 or 4 paperbacks while trying to minimize weight in your 40 to 50 pound pack really sucks). I have been using several devices: a old motorola non-smart (dumb?) phone, a garmin gps, a camera, and a old Dell Axim 30V for ebook reading/web browsing at hotel before/after hikes. If the Nexus can do all of this in one device that is going to be a nice weight savings...plus the Axim 30V runs windows mobile 2003 which doesn't work with many websites anymore and resets itself to factory if you ever run down the battery. Also 800x480 >> 320x240

    Anyway, I have a couple of different solar panels I want to use to keep the Nexus One charged while on a two to three week hike. I have a 6 watt Brunton foldable CIGS panel which is 7 ounces and folds up to about the size of a dvd case, a 26 watt Brunton foldable CIGS panel which is 26 ounces and folds up to about 2 dvd cases side by side, and a 14 watt rollable powerfilm marine grade panel which is 15 ounces and can roll around my bedroll. The 26 watt is way overkill, it could probably power a small laptop in full sun and produces 4 to 5 watts even in total cloudy conditions. The 6 watt is a little wimpy but does work fairly well producing about a watt in overcast conditions. The 14 watt might be about right and it is super durable...there is a video of it getting shot 8 or 9 times by a 9mm handgun and still outputting over 98% of maximum capacity (so you can still charge your Nexus One if you get shot while having it draped over your backpack).

    I use a 12 - 24 V input, 5.5V at 1 amp output DC-DC converter meant for car lighter charging of cell phones to convert the output of the panels (anywhere from 15 to 20 volts) to USB level voltages. I did some tests while hiking with the 6 watt panel draped across my backpack and measured 5.5V at 700mA with my back to the sun and 5.5V at 300mA with the sun 90 degrees to me. Amazingly I actually measured 5.5V at 100mA while facing the sun (the panel 180 degrees from the sun). The CIGS solar cells must be really good at getting reflected light off of leaves and rocks.

    I believe the Nexus One charges at 5V 500mA when using the USB but I am unsure what it does if you only give it 5V at 100mA (does it refuse the available current until it meets the 500mA or will it take what it can get?) Anyway, I will update this with some tests and photos after I get my N1.

    KTP

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  3. #2
    Member tribz's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum and interesting first post. Keep us updated.

  4. #3
    Junior Member vang's Avatar
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    interesting. but wow... one such solar panel cost more than the phone itself?

  5. #4
    Senior Member iPhoneSlayer's Avatar
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    Wow..a 2 to 3 week hike! Where do you live? Must be nice to get away from everything for a while.

  6. #5

  7. #6
    Junior Member KTP's Avatar
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    Ya unfortunately this device is very misleading. It is really just a relatively large Li-ion battery coupled with a really teeny solar panel (from the size it could be no more than 1 to 1.5 watts even if it used Mars rover quality solar cells). Still not a really bad price for basically an extra battery for your Nexus One.

    For the other guy saying the panels cost as much as a Nexus One..not quite. I got the Brunton 6 watt CIGS Solaris panel at REI clearanced for $24 on Saturday, but you can get them regular price online for $70 or so. The 26 watt model I bought regular price from theNerds.net for about $260, so half the price of a N1. The 26 watt is too big for this application as it could charge a Nexus One in about 15 minutes if the sun was out and the N1 could take a charge that fast.

    The 14 watt rollable Powerfilm model is $170 at Defender.com (a boating store). It is probably the most rock solid of all the models and I plan to use it on my sailboat also (along with the other 2 panels) to keep the deep cycle that runs the chart plotter and nav lights topped off. The 14 watt will probably also be my extended hiking panel if the 6 watt proves a bit too wimpy for the N1 and flashlight batteries.

  8. #7
    Junior Member data2000's Avatar
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Sophia's Avatar
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    You can buy 'm as cheap as $1, no idea what the quality will be though (but I can assume you get what you pay for)

    USB Solar Battery Charger for iPod/MP4/MP3/Cell Phone - eBay (item 350312631130 end time Mar-04-10 20:26:02 PST)
    My sigs keep getting

  10. #9
    Junior Member KTP's Avatar
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    Well yesterday was the first day of (albeit hazy) sunshine and so I did a complete cycle test of a fully drained Brunton Inspire LiPo USB module charged through the included DC-DC car adapter (up to 5V 1amp out) powered by a Powerfilm 14 watt rollable panel. At 10 am I started charging the 11WH LiPo and noted about 2.5 watts going into the car adapter from the panel. This climbed to about 5 watts at 1pm and the Inspire was fully charged at around 1pm although it did a slowly decreasing topping charge until around 3pm when it shut off and would take no more current. I had the Brunton Solaris 26 watt foldable CIGS panel outside at the same time dumping into a 13 ohm resistor and saw a bit less than double the power of the 14 watt panel so both were performing similar in the hazy sun.

    I then hooked the fully charged Brunton Inspire up to my Nexus One smartphone which was at 18% capacity and in a little less than 2 hours it was at 100%. The Inspire still shows 3 leds lit which indicates somewhere between 50% and 75% capacity left. Thus fully charged it should give about 2 full charges to the N1. The total weight of the 14 watt panel, adapter, LiPo module and Nexus One smartphone is under 2 pounds.

    I want to add a final bit of kit to my setup, this Sanyo AA/AAA usb two cell NiMh charger. It uses an Atmel microcontroller to do smart charging of 1 or 2 cells off of USB 5V at up to 500mA. It charges 1 cell at 850mA or 2 cells at 450mA, so does DC-DC conversion inside. I found it for $14 and it weighs just a bit over 1 ounce.

    http://us.sanyo.com/dynamic/product/...l-27295019.pdf

  11. #10
    Senior Member jonno2k's Avatar
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    Curiously, why would you have the phone turned on at all? I would (perhaps incorrectly) assume that a hike of that duration would suggest you are not in cell range. Then you have your Garmin, which will last a lot longer on 2 AA batteries than your cell. So why have the phone on?

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