Author Topic: Which USB charging system do I choose???  (Read 695 times)

Jonny_C

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Which USB charging system do I choose???
« on: August 29, 2020, 02:53:26 PM »
I am about to set off on an autumn/winter tour of the British isles.
I need to power my phone primarily for safety reasons and I would also like to charge a camera.

I have never dabbled in bike electronics and the variety of options are overwhelming my uneducated brain.
I have got as far as understanding/buying the hub dynamo part of the system and now I need a charger/storage bank to plug into it.

I do not need bells, whistles or in headset USBs. Just a system that is as waterproof as possible that will generate/store as much power as possible at speeds under 20kph.

Please can anybody suggest a rugged and reliable system?
Mounting tips will be gratefully received as well!

Thank you for your time,
Jonny

happytourer

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2020, 10:43:05 PM »
I use a Son 28 hub and Sinewave Revolution to charge a large smartphone. Usually I have an EasyAcc 6000mah powerbank plugged in to the Revolution. Some Easyacc models support pass through charging, so the phone can be plugged in to the powerbank, it will charge first then the powerbank gets topped up.  Handy if charging from the mains too.

I fitted a short length of twin core cable piggy backed on the Son lighting connections, running up the fork to the yoke. This terminated with gold plated plug connectors, zip tied to the yoke. The Revolution plugs in here, and sits in my bar bag, along with power bank. The phone is in the bag or on a mount depending on how much route finding I have to do....  I like this arrangement as it's pretty easy to disconnect the charging device without disturbing the dynamo connections and nothing of value is left on the bike. Trouble free in all weathers for two years.

Averaging 20km/h and using the phone for some route finding and photos it usually maintains the level of charge over a day. Hope this helps.






John Saxby

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2020, 01:51:01 AM »
Hi Jonny,

Envious of your plan to tour Foggie Olde -- and in autumn and winter no less!

A few notes on generating & using electricity on your bike.

First, what do you need it for?  You mention charging your phone and your camera. What about lights?  Autumn/winter in the British Isles will have short days and lotsa wet as well.  How will you see & be seen?  The answers to these questions will shape how you generate, store & use electricity.

That said, this is how I handle the issue. On my Raven, I have three battery-powered lights, one headlight and two tail lights. Note here, that I use the headlight (a Cygolite) primarily to be seen, hence on flash mode -- I rarely ride at night, as I like to finish my day around 4 PM or so, in time for a cuppa as I set up camp.

When I'm touring, I also have a  phone, usually a camera as well, and a small headlamp I use in camp. To feed all these devices, I use an Anker 5200 MAh storage battery.

I have a SON28 dynahub--that was part of my spec when I had my bike built in 2014. Several people on this forum speak well of both Shimano and SP hubs, and both are less expensive than the SON item.

The SON28 is hooked up to a Sinewave Revolution charger.  (See my post of a couple of days ago on the wiring set-up for the hub and charger, in the thread on "Best Bike Components".)  I'm now on my second Sinewave.  The first one worked perfectly for 5 1/2 seasons (2014 to mid-2019) and then it didn't.  I couldn't get a clear fix on why my original one died, but it appears that the USB port which delivers the charge from the unit loosened on its moorings. As a result, the charge from the unit to my phone, storage battery, etc., was intermittent.

Nonetheless, I'd recommend the Sinewave charger.  It's sturdy, very compact, and performs as advertised.  It's not a bargain at ~USD 120 + shipping, but it's functional & well made.  Mine lives on the Thorn Accessory T-Bar, right behind my Arkel handlebar bag, hence shielded from the elements.

You'll need to connect your dynahub to the charger.  (Before doing so, you'll need your dynahub built into your wheel.)  You don't have to do this yourself -- a competent bike mechanic (or maybe your wheelbuilder?) should be able to set up the wiring and connections.

Before you order or build the wiring, however, you need to decide:  am I going to use the electricity from the hub to charge only a storage battery, or both a light and a battery?  Reason is--and I learned this the hard way--that my SON 28 is advertised as charging both a light and a battery, but it doesn't.

Originally, I set up a dual circuit, one to a headlamp, and one to my Sinewave charger, which in turn was connected to my Anker storage battery.  This dual-charging capability was a feature of the SON 28; the more expensive (and slightly more efficient) SON Deluxe, by comparison, does not allow this.  Problem was, I learned, that the headlight takes priority in the distribution of power.  The headlight I had at the time (an AXA product, from Europe) was either "on" or "off" -- it had no flashing mode. When it was ON, very little power reached my Anker storage battery.  (I came up against this problem in Sept 2014, on a tour of Denmark, Sweden, and northern Germany.  Happily, I was able to find a set of mains in every campground, and recharged my Anker that way.)

When I got home, I resolved the dilemma by removing the AXA headlight and converting my dual circuit from the dynahub to a single circuit, charging only the Sinewave, and from that my Anker battery.

This works perfectly for my needs:  The SON28-plus-Sinewave will charge my Anker from near empty in about four hours of riding in gentle terrain.  I use a "splitter" (a one-into-two USB cable) to connect two devices at a time to my Anker.  I avoid running my phone, etc., down below 50%.  That way, I can connect my phone and my camera (for example) at the same time, and recharge both in a couple of hours before I go to sleep.  This task runs the Anker down only by about 50%, so that it is then fully recharged well before lunch the next day.  This cycle just becomes part of the daily routine on tour.

Because I use the Cygolite headlight only on the flash mode, it usually lasts 3-4 days before I recharge it. My tail light usually needs recharging every 3 days.  So, there's rarely a queue longer than two devices on any given evening.

(My headlamp uses 3 AAA batts, and get recharged maybe once a week, so is not usually in the queue.)

Hope this is helpful, Jonny, and not too much "stuff".  There's another level of detail, but we don't need to go there, unless this arrangement seems workable for you.

Good luck!

John

steve216c

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2020, 10:44:05 AM »
I have toyed with the idea of a USB charge port on the bike. I commute 45-60 minutes each way daily (depending on wind and if cars intentionally drive to the side to stop me passing them near traffic lights) and stream radio on my iPhone using the built in speakers (I don't believe headphones are safe when cycling as they block essential road noises). With the cold weather now reappearing I suspect battery life on the phone will drop in tune with the mercury on the thermometer.

By time I get home on an evening, I'm usually low on juice and need to throw the phone on the charger if I don't want it shutting down on me before bedtime.

I have a Shimano hub dynamo which I run day and night with lights to increase my visibility to other road users. With LED lights drawing less current than old school bulbs, I suspect (but I don't know) that a trickle charge to a phone might work without compromising too much juice from keeping you lit.


Put off by the high price of most USB adapters for bikes, I have looked to alternatives. On AliExpress and similar there are rechargable front bike lights which also serve as a powerbank and phone holder for not much north of a tenner including postage. Of course these are only as good your ability to charge when not riding.

There are also bottle dynamos with USB and even dynamo that draws from the chain that claim USB charging options for under EUR 30- also from the far East. These are not of interest to me, but might be a solution that suits others.

Finally, I've wondered about getting a motorbike USB adapter to connect to my dynamo circuit. There are several options claiming 9-12v input and 5v USB output. With a 6V dynamo as input, it might mean the adapter comes weak on charging when running, but it might slow the process by trickle charging some of the loss back to the device. Seen these for under a fiver from same such sites.

This may come too late as the original post is already a month old, but might be useful consideration for others.


I actually 'reverse engineered' a bike dynamo circuit due to an unreliable bottle dynamo on my son's bike by disconnecting the bottle dynamo and soldering a USB plug to the cables so my son could run his lights from his powerbank. That worked as an interim solution, but we rebuilt his bike during the summer and he now has LEDs front and back powered by a hub dynamo along with several other improvements.


If only my bike shed were bigger on the inside...

PH

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2020, 11:48:05 AM »
I have a Shimano hub dynamo which I run day and night with lights to increase my visibility to other road users. With LED lights drawing less current than old school bulbs, I suspect (but I don't know) that a trickle charge to a phone might work without compromising too much juice from keeping you lit.
The consensus and my own experience with an igaro D1, is that it's lights or charge.  The charging devices are so fickle anyway, it's often advised to run them through a power pack, in which case in your example, using a power pack and charging off the bike would be my choice. 
I do some deliveroo and despite relying on the phone for work and having a dynamo hub, wouldn't consider using it. Two lipstick sized power packs last me six hours, sometimes I don't need the second one. Maybe three of those hours are with maps and routing, all six connected to the app with gps tracking the whole time.  Plus maybe a bit of music and internet browsing between jobs.

lewis noble

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2020, 12:29:12 PM »
Hello PH!

Lipstick sized power packs - giving life as good as that??

What make of packs are you using? I've always been disappointed with the life from my packs . . . . .

Lewis

 

PH

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2020, 10:04:46 PM »
Hello PH!

Lipstick sized power packs - giving life as good as that??

What make of packs are you using? I've always been disappointed with the life from my packs . . . . .

Lewis
Just the ubiquitous Anker PowerCore.  I have an older one about 3000 mAh (The numbers have worn off) and a more recent 5000. In my iPhone terms that's about 1.5 and 2 full charges.
Quote
I've always been disappointed with the life from my packs . . . . .
Life as in capacity or charge cycles? 
I think the capacity is always optimistic - ideal conditions, new cells and no losses - even new I think 80% of the stated capacity is realistic.
I haven't worn one out yet, they're supposed to still be at 80% of original capacity after 500 full cycles or 1,000 partial.  I'm doing one or the other, three or four times a week, so that should be decades of use. I did have a larger one die after it'd been stored for several months, apparently that's not an uncommon failure, best to find a regular use for them.  I've also lost two, but that's more to do with me than them...
« Last Edit: September 30, 2020, 10:06:43 PM by PH »

in4

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Re: Which USB charging system do I choose???
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2020, 04:24:37 AM »
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anker-PowerCore-20100-Capacity-Technology-Black/dp/B00VJSGT2A

I use this one every day, both on the bike and off it. It doesn’t ‘through charge’ but hold multiple iPhone charges.