Saturday, 3 April 2010

Two Little Beauties!

When you go travelling on your bike, you want to minimise what you carry, right?






OK, maybe not the two little beauties you were thinking of!







There is never enough space in your saddlebags / bike luggage / tank-bag or rucksack. So, anything that means we can carry less stuff has got to be good. Maybe I am slow on the up-take, but I have just realised the benefits of mini USB cables. When in the USA I carry two phones with me – my UK mobile and my US cell phone. I need both, but I used to have to carry two different battery chargers with me, because the connectors are different.

I then realised that when on my 4 month bike tour I would be taking an external hard-drive which connects to my netbooks by a mini USB cable (you can see the red hard-drive and its cable in the photo below). I can connect my GoPro camera to the netbook with the same cable. It occurred to me that if I could find an adapter to connect my phones to the same USB cable, then I wouldn’t need to take my two phone chargers as well. I looked on the web and hey-presto, there are such connectors and they are tiny. I will therefore be taking these two little beauties with me. All that means I can connect my two phone, the external hard drive and the GoPro camera all with the same cable, or more likely in case I need to connect two at the same time, I will take two mini USB cables. Neat.



















My big Nikon camera also connects to the netbook using the same mini USB cable to move pictures from the camera to the netbook, but I still need to take battery chargers for that Nikon and my point-and-shoot Sony camera. What I really need are cameras that ONLY need a USB cable for connecting AND charging and then I will be in minimum packing heaven!

9 comments:

Canajun said...

Seek and ye shall find. How did we ever find stuff before the web?

Gary France said...

Canajun - I am not sure we ever did!

bobskoot said...

Gary:

you are only able to charge single cell Li-ion batteries using USB power as it is only 5V 500MA. Li-ions are produced in single cell 3.6 v or double cell 7.2v which powers Nikon and camcorders. I think if you purchased a small inverter with 12V power from your bike, you could charge these 7.2v batteries while riding. You could use the same connector as per your battery tender or electric vest (2 pin SAE) to power the charger. It would also be able to charge your notebook/net book

bob

Chris Luhman said...

nice find. power bricks are very annoying to pack!

Gary France said...

Thanks Bob - I wish I knew about these sorts of things like you do! I took a look at the point-and-shoot battery and it is a 3.6V 2.4Wh Li-ion. From what you have said, this should be capable of being charged from a USB, so I looked on the web and found in Hong Kong a tiny USB charger for this specific battery. I will post a picture when I receive it.

I then looked at my spare Nikon battery and sure enough, it is a 7.4V 1500mAh Li-ion battery. If I only have this one battery to charge normally, I could put up with this and take the regular charger, although I will fit it with a US plug before I leave to save having to carry a UK to US adapter. I will also look into the inverter solution because I like the idea of charging on the move, especially for my netbook as this will save having to take its power brick (as Chris calls them). Hmmmnn, not sure about this though as if I am uploading a video overnight, the netbook battery might run out of juice before it is finished. I will see if I can find a small inverter and decide later....

Chris - I totally agree and hence my quest continues to find as many small options of just about everything.... (got the small wife already.... so it is ok if she comes for part of the trip)

bobskoot said...

Gary:

I have a very small USB charger capable of charging nearly any 3.6v single cell Li-Ion. It has moveable arms which has contacts to match the strips on the battery with a spring loaded "clothespeg" type action to hold the battery in place. I should snap a photo for you. Many of the newer camcorder type batteries such as with the GoProHD have recessed pins. You have to "mickeymouse" a small tin piece using the ends of a tin can and tin snips to cut a small strip to use. It must be TIN and not Aluminum, so not a soda tin, perhaps a soup tin. Or do you need an instructional video ?

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Gary France said...

Bob - The description you have given sounds just like what I have ordered. I could see a "clothespeg" type action in the picture on the website of the item I ordered. Yes, my point and shoot camera battery has three recessed connectors (marked +, C and -). When I receive it, I will see if it needs something else such as a piece of tin to make it work when it arrives. There is no need for an instructional video, unless you really want to make one....

I meant to tell you, I changed the colour of the Stig in my earlier posting – did you see it?

bobskoot said...

Gary:

Wow, I would not have thought to go back to a prev post. You are quite handy in PS editing.

I didn't realize you were so fixated with "small" or other deficiencies , now we know why you ride an H-D

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Gary France said...

Bob - It actually wasn’t PS. I must be one of the few people around that doesn't use PhotoShop. About 18 years ago, not long after we set up the firm I work for until just recently, we used to have to do many things ourselves. I needed to draw some simple engineering drawings but we didn't have CAD, so I bought a package called CorelDRAW (it was cheaper than CAD) and I taught myself how to use it. I have used it ever since and over the years got a bit handy at using it.

I don't think I am fixated with small, but you might be right. I just know that all those things I am likely to want to take on my tour won't fit in the space I will have available, so I am trying to get small versions wherever I can. Plus, at the end of riding each day, I hate carrying lots of heavy luggage into the hotel / motel / B&B, so I like it as light as possible.

I had to laugh about the other deficiencies comment. OK, Harleys are not as technologically advanced as many other bikes, but that is probably why I like them - quite often the simplest things are the best. I think that is why my wife likes me!