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Signal boost: Solartab
Today's interesting Kickstarter project came via a post on the SCA FB group (since deleted -- apparently too commercial). It's a group of solar-panel folks who are building what looks to be an ideal device for Pennsic: a solar panel the size of a tablet, designed for tabletop use, with a fairly beefy internal battery (13,000 mAh) and two USB charging ports. They claim to be on-target to ship in July (which is made more credible by the details: the device is already designed, and they have negotiated a deal with a Chinese manufacturer), so there's a decent shot of it being ready for this year's Pennsic.

Take a look. As of this writing, there are still a few available at the early-bird $99 price. (After that it's $119 on Kickstarter, or $149 retail.) I've ordered one: charging my phone at Pennsic is a constant hassle (I love our campsite, but we are nowhere near any plugs), and this looks well-suited to my needs. (And the rest of the year, I may just stick it in my office window and use it to charge devices.)

And yes, I know -- the cell phone is a modern horror that has no business being at Pennsic. But one thing about running a company is that being truly out of touch is *not* an option for me any more...

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I actually have a rechargeable battery already, and have used it for several years. But in practice, it hasn't sufficed for all of Pennsic for me without recharging at least once, and that's a nuisance. (And it has an annoying misfeature: since it is a UPS, it insists upon beeping a periodic alert whenever it is charging and isn't receiving power.)

This seems to suit my needs better. I agree that it's a slightly unfortunate OOP intrusion, but shouldn't be too bad for occasional in-camp use. (From the specs, I don't expect to need to charge it every day...)

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Ten minutes with a screwdriver and a set of diagonal cutters, and my UPS didn't beep either. But a portable jump starter is what I bring camping.

I have 3 USB power packs, one 2400mAh, one 18000mAh, and a tiny 3000mAh one that I actually generally carry around with me every day in normal life. At pennsic I keep them in a insulated lunch box in my tent to avoid heat stress.

The first one I inherited from my father when he got a better one, the second I bought for pennsic last year, for like 75 dollars? and the tiny one I picked up a few months ago on amazon for 10 dollars. And the 10 dollar one is just as good as the other two, though they are both the size of small paperback books, it's more the size of a mini flashlight. this is the tiny one. this is the big one.

Last year only had 2, and I charged the 18000 one once midweek, and used the 1800 one while the other was charging.

Given how cheaply they've gotten, I'd totally consider buying a few of them and just swap them out as the week goes on. Plus they've been great on trips, storms and other times when there wasn't an easy place to charge.

Also everyone I've known who has tried the solar route has told me it was a nightmare.

Re: Power at pennsic

Well, we'll see -- I've already ordered it, and am going to try it out. This one's specs seem just about right for what I've been looking for, and the price seems reasonable for those specs.

(And yes, I've also got a medium-sized battery that I keep on me routinely, which suffices for about 2 charges. Won't get me very far through 8 days of Pennsic, though.)

the massive one I have (18000) is good for about 4 days normal usage of my phone, plus charging overnight. (Samsung Galaxy S3) and I also charged my kindle (though it barely sips power). Having the small one to use while that one was charging was pretty awesome as well, but it only will charge my phone 1-2 times.

i have ordered it too. even though i have a portable battery that lasts me the 2.5 weeks of pennsic. i liek supporting kickstarters.

Haraldr has a couple of things roughly the size of a Palm Pilot that we've been using in Bu∂gartr for several years -- so my question is, what makes the new kickstarter device different?

Ah. To answer my own question, it's bigger and has a more powerful solar panel and a more powerful battery. I'm a little put off by how much attention they're paying to industrial design rather than functionality, though they mostly seem to have the functionality down as well. But one of their stretch goals is a *prettier* solar panel. WTF?

It's Kickstarter -- that's the sort of thing you do for stretch goals. Pebble did the same thing for its watches.

And keep in mind, this is explicitly playing to the iPad crowd, who demonstrably *do* care about this sort of detail. (Based on the popularity of the iPhone 5c.) Like it or not, tech as fashion statement is very courant.

But yes -- the powerful panel and battery are what appeals to me here. I suspect I will only actually need to charge it once at Pennsic, if I pre-charge it before I go...

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