Author Topic: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?  (Read 39684 times)

Pavel

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excellent and informative thread.  Keep the details comming!

Danneaux

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Thanks for the encouragement, Pavel; much appreciated!

I had planned to install and test the Tout Terrain The Plug2 Power Amplification Technology Extra Power (TTTP2PATEP!) cord this weekend, but got off on a bicycling-vidcam tangent. Went with a brand-new-to-market Samsung HMX-W300. Did.not.work. in a bicycle application and the software is extremely buggy. Despite using computers far exceeding the minimum specs for editing and playback, video results are terrible, with many artifacts, distorted video, frequent video mosaics, green-screening, poor audio syncing, and undocumented automatic file splitting every 15:59:00. Definitely not a good buy at this point, despite being rechargeable on-bike using The Plug2 or similar means. Battery life is atrocious and the battery is embedded (not user replaceable), so once it goes flat...no camera till it is recharged. The sorry little pamphlet/manual indicates waterproofness is only assured so long as all gasketed door seals are replaced annually...parts that do not appear in Samsung's inventory. Without a doubt my example is one of the least-developed products I have tested in the last decade or so. It feels as if it was released to market very prematurely. Mac users take note: The embedded software is not Mac-compatible, and completed files are only intermittently compatible with any media player (WMP, VLC, Brasero); sometimes they sorta-kind work with freezing and artifacts, other times...not at all.

Not a good deal. The one good thing out of it all is my vidcam clamp-mount for the Thorn Low-Loader Mark V pannier racks. That worked like a champ, so the test was worth it.

Back to pushing the on-bike charging envelope this coming week.

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2012, 11:00:52 PM by Danneaux »

Danneaux

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Hi All!

Getting started on my last two USB charging adapters...one for the phone (critical) and the other for my electric shaver (very much less so, but still nice; it is good for two weeks' use once fully charged).

The nice thing about the homemade adapters is one only has to deal with two conductors and no shrouding is needed, as the cables aren't carrying any data streams that could be corrupted by interference. Just a little tedious to dig through the outer insulation and shielding to get to the very small-gauge wires inside. I am keeping all my adapters as short as possible, since the main power lead from the Tour Terrain The Plug 2 is a retractable-reel USB Type A, M-F pair. Note to others looking at retractable reels, use care; a poor-quality choice here will adversely affect the efficiency of every device charged...some units I tested had such high internal resistance due to poor solder connections and partially broken wires, they accounted for a 63% loss between The Plug 2 and the device being charged, leading to extended charging times and shortened battery life.

More updates as I get my gadgets complete. So far, I'm looking to charge:

- Panasonic Lumix TZ-5 digital camera (separate USB charger from China that is really clever)
- GoPro Hero2 video camera w/video back (in-cam USB charging via cord to TTTP2)
- Mini-vidcam with flash storage (in-cam USB charging of embedded battery via cord to TTTP2)
- Panasonic electric shaver (in-shaver USB charging of embedded battery via cord to TTTP2)
- MP3 player (in-player USB charging of embedded battery via cord to TTTP2)
- AA/AAA high-capacity, charge-holding (Eneloop/Sony) batteries via Eneloop "smart" USB charger for:
   -GPS (AAx2)
   -SteriPen water purifier (AAx4)
   -LED headlight (AAAx3)
   -LED bike blinkies (AAx2/per)
   -AM/FM/Weather radio (AAx1)
- Direct-power of Garmin Oregon 400T GPS for unlimited real-time tracking while moving; default to internal battery power when stopped thanks to Garmin Spanner settings.
- (eventually) a buffer battery for powering high-draw/drain items like a netbook

I have also picked up three 30mm-square Tech&Go 5.5VDC/1A output AC adapters with retractable plugs for quick-charging three items simultaneously in a motel room, and a similar miniature Tech&Go 12VDC->5.5VDC/1A auto adapter so I can top-off the phone or whatever as needed from a car, providing I could find a friendly driver who would let me. Belt-and-suspenders backup for quick topoffs.

I deliberately decided not to go with a 3- or 4-outlet AC->DC USB charger because multiple-outlet chargers split their 1A output between all the devices being charged, leading to longer charge times. Discrete, individual units maintain their full 1A output and charging time is less overall. Allows for greater flexibility in motel outlets shared with a coffeemaker of microwave, as two chargers can be stacked at one outlet or split to allow for another appliance in the same outlet pair. I'll also be taking a little adapter that screws into a light socket and provides an outlet from any room light source with a replaceable bulb.

Being able to recharge on-bike will greatly reduce the weight/bulk of spare batteries, though I intend to take at least one extra set pre-charged in the event I either have a stayover or don't make the expected time/distance needed to charge batteries. For example, the shaver requires 5.7VDC/1A to charge fully in an hour off the mains. Via the TTTP2's 4.98VDC/0.5A, I can expect it to take double that time -- two hours -- to get a full charge. Similarly, the 5-minute quick-charge for a single shave will be extended to 10-minutes of actual riding. Having 1A in reserve whenever I am at an AC outlet will let me bring everything up to full charge more quickly than on the bike, and with three cube chargers, I can do it three at a time.

More pics and another entry when the adapters are complete.

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2012, 11:43:25 PM by Danneaux »

keleher

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2012, 12:16:37 PM »
Danneau,

Any word on how the Plug II + PAT is working?  I'm guessing, since this thread has lain fallow for six months, that not all is positive.

I have the SON28 on my nomad, and have used both the biologic recharge and the pedalpower+, neither working very well. The first eventually was stolen, and the latter cable got trashed in a slight mishap. I've been waiting to see how the plug turns out to jump back in. Very nice form factor. Also waiting, of course, to see how it interacts with the iphone 5, which I will be ordering tomorrow morning :-).

Thanks,
pete

jags

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2012, 02:50:46 PM »
Dan is there a video i can watch  on how to install the plug start to fnish
thanks in advance.

Danneaux

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #35 on: September 13, 2012, 04:45:57 PM »
Hi Pete, Hi jags!

Pete, I've had no trouble at all with the Tout Terrain The Plug 2. The reason the thread has lain fallow is because there were no problems, and no news is good news, thank goodness!

At the time I purchased The Plug 2, the "ExtraPower" (PAT or Power Amplification Cable) was rumored but had not yet hit the market; I purchased it separately later. Now, the lot is available as a bundle if desired. On a test installation, the PAT worked fine, but rather than just soldering or crimping the wires together, I decided to go with a different, modular wiring scheme tht would make future fork removal/headset service easier, and had to wait for the connectors to arrive. By the time they did, other matters had taken my attention and I did not get the PAT fully (re)installed as I would have wished -- the PAT went back on my desk and The Plug 2 remained in place on the bike, working as before.

The Plug 2 continued to work brilliantly. It was reliable and produced the required nominal USB voltage with no problem and recharged my (dumb)phone, my MP3 player, my AA and AAA cells in their charging adapter, my camera batteries (via an eBay universal camera battery adapter), and my electric shaver.

I removed the The Plug 2 from Sherpa and have it here on my desk, awaiting installation on the Nomad. I have been waiting to confirm the handlebar height and Rohloff shifter position and installation of my cross-top interrupter brake levers and handlebar padding before installing it, as the fork may need to be partially removed to shift spacers and it is more awkward to do so when The Plug 2 and related pieces are in place. I intend to install it on the Nomad as soon as possible. I just need to order new taillight wire and connectors and the new bracket needed to mount the headlight on the Nomad.

All's well.

jags, I don't know of an instructional video that shows how to install The Plug2 from start to finish, but I can make one when I reinstall it on the Nomad. It really is easy, and a video isn't really even necessary.  Here's the steps:

If one were to install only a headlight and taillight on a bike with a dynohub, the wiring is simplicity itself: Just crimp a connector on each of the two headlight leads and plug them onto the dynohub leads. The taillight wire plugs into the headlight, and you're done.

Once a light is installed, the only extra work with The Plug 2 is to crimp a couple piggyback spade connectors onto the ends of the two Plug wires. Slide those onto the dynohub and attach the light connectors onto the piggyback at the hub. Lead The Plug wires up the steerer, plug the end into The Plug, secure the cap as you would any other, and you're done.

The PAT is also easy -- it just goes between the dynohub and The Plug and stuffs into the steerer. The fit is tight enough with the long included cord folded over to prevent any annoying rattles.

Pete, I'm sorry to hear your biologic recharge was stolen, and the pedalpower+ cable got trashed. I've no complaints about The Plug so far, and chose it because it was such a compact, fully-realized solution and leaves no wires hanging and it simply bolts in place. The only drawback I would point out is it produces the same voltage and current as an average computer USB port (for compatibility). Many of today's newer devices are pretty power-hungry, and are designed to work primarily with 1.0A chargers for a speedy recharge. Recharging these devices from a 0.5A USB port (like on your computer or The Plug2) will double charging time compared to a mains charger with 1.0A output, so keep that in mind.

I can't predict how The Plug might work with the new iPhone 5, but I am hopeful for you, Pete. It has a larger screen and some other advancements that should make it a wonderful smartphone.

All the best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2012, 11:40:29 PM by Danneaux »

keleher

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2012, 03:46:44 PM »
Sounds great. I just order the Plug II Plus from SJS. I expect it to charge the iphone 5, as electrically it differs little from the iphone 4. Even if not, I expect to use one of my trent batteries as a buffer on tour. No sense in waiting another year for a compatible update when the battery approach works fine.

A few months ago, I did a week-long tour w/ a friend who had the Plug II, but not the PAT. Still worked brilliantly for all his (admittedly low-tech) toys. Even charged up my dinotte 300R a bit. I've been lusting over it eve since.

Danneaux

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #37 on: September 14, 2012, 04:09:12 PM »
Hi Pete,

I think you'll be pleased with the Plug 2 Plus...it certainly is a clean installation and looks as close to "factory original" as possible on a bicycle.

There are two suggestions I can offer on installation:

1) If your star-fangled nut "petals" aren't aligned properly, it can be a struggle to get the wires through. I decided instead to go with the Tout Terrain removable nut. If you go this route as well (they're available stateside from Peter White Cycles), I've posted a very short visual tutorial on quickly and easily removing the original star-fangled nut:
http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=3800.0

2) Be sure to gently test-fit The Plug 2 top cap with the connector and lead attached. With the wire plugged in, there is a bit less clearance than with the top-cap alone, and you may need to fit a thin spacer to prevent the connector from being crushed when tightening the top bolt.

Hope this helps everything go smoothly for you; installation should be a breeze otherwise.

Best,

Dan.

keleher

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2012, 02:09:01 AM »
Thanks, I'll let you know how it goes.

Note that both the biologic and the pedalpower "worked". On a flat century ride I used the recharge to keep a GPS track, and to dynamically show me the map (oriented the direction I was going, so it constantly swiveled) the whole time, and I finished the ride w/ the phone at 97%.

However, I needed to be at a good speed for it to work, something like 12 mph (19.3 kph), and I got tired of all the wires. I wouldn't have replaced it if it hadn't had been stolen, but given the theft.....

Not sure which of my new toys I'm anticipating the most!

Danneaux

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2012, 05:02:25 AM »
Quote
Not sure which of my new toys I'm anticipating the most!

 :D I know the feeling, Pete! I'm always like a kid at Christmas, awaiting Santa Claus (and put out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, hoping it will help speed delivery). Planes and trucks are *never* as slow as when you're waiting for something electronic or bicycle-related!

I found my Tout Terrain the Plug 2 (sans PAT) green "ready" LED was coming on as low as 8mph or so, which was really nice. It also charged my little MP3 player very nicely at that speed. I did find it took a bit longer to come on when I had my electric shaver plugged-in for charging...about 9mph, so 1mph higher speed. On my trials with the PAT, I found the green ready light came on almost immediately when starting from a stop, and the MP3 player was charging nicely at 4.2mph.

Hopefully, this will bode well for you, but remember...it only charges at a nominal 5VDC and 0.5A...and so it will take about two times longer when used with devices one usually charges from a 1.0A USB wall plug. Since most of my devices at present are low-draw and designed for 5VDC/0.5A charging, I find they recharge just as fast as they do from their dedicated chargers or when plugged into my computer USB ports. I made my own pigtail adapter from a spare charger I had for the shaver. After checking the voltage and current requirements for it, I found Panasonic had made it USB compatible without providing a plug.  The adapter fills that need, and saves having to carry a fairly large dedicated wall transformer. I usually carry three little 1"x1"x1" 5VDC/1.0A USB wall adapters so I can quickly recharge anything that is flat when I get to a motel. I also carry a lightbulb-to-wall-plug adapter in case there aren't as many free wall outlets as I need.

Really looking forward to hearing how all this works for you, Pete. Best wishes on all this; hopefully my good experiences will also soon be yours!

Dan.

simonthebum

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2012, 09:20:53 PM »
Hi Danneaux,

I have the same system as you and the green light on the plug 2+, when under load, goes on for a few seconds then off for a few seconds no matter how fast I am going. Is this normal or do I have some kind of problem?

With no load it stays on from a fairly slow speed as you describe.

Any advice you may have would be very helpful.

Cheers Simon

Danneaux

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #41 on: October 16, 2012, 10:57:33 PM »
Hi Simon!

Welcome to the Forum; nice to have you aboard!

You asked...
Quote
the green light on the plug 2+, when under load, goes on for a few seconds then off for a few seconds no matter how fast I am going. Is this normal or do I have some kind of problem?
You also mentioned...
Quote
With no load it stays on from a fairly slow speed as you describe.

Simon, you've done a great job describing the problem. Cutting to the chase, it sounds like your TTTP2 is behaving normally, but your connected device is drawing too much power. Read on for a fuller explanation and some suggestions on how to overcome the problem...

Yes, under no load, the TTTP2 should come on with a solid green light from a low speed. This means it is operating normally, there are no breaks in the wires, and it is producing a nominal 5vdc +/- 0.2vdc and is ready for charging. This makes me think your unit is operating properly.

However, the blinking green light under load indicates the device being charged has power requirements that exceed what the TTTP2 can produce. More and more devices (particularly smartphones and tablets) will charge from USB 5vdc/0.5A power (when the device is off, and charging will take longer), but draw far more than that when operating. Recent devices will charge in about half the time when powered by a 5vdc/1.0A wall charger...and take twice as long when charging from a 0.5A USB-standard computer port (same as provided by TTTP2). I suspect this is your root problem, and the TTTP2 just cannot produce the power needed to actually operate your device. If this is the case, you can still charge your device if it is powered off, then after it is charged sufficiently, you can turn it on and operate it from its internal battery when and as needed. Some smartphones take a *lot* of juice to operate.

Overall, there's a range of causes and solutions, and I'll list them below.
Some cost nothing, others are more expensive...

1) All these bicycle-mounted charging devices are out in the weather, and so are subject to corrosion. Anything that increases the electrical resistance of the connections can reduce the capacity of the charging unit, so check for any frayed wires, dirty connections, or surface rust. Along those lines...

a) Very light surface rust can form in/on the USB port; a quick swab with 90%+ isotropyl alcohol should remove it and leave a better connection.

b) Though I don't recommend it at the USB port (it is messy and can transfer to clothes), I highly recommend use of a high-dialectric silicone grease at the hub connections at at the cord-to-TTTP2 head cap terminal connection. This greatly reduces the possibility of corrosion, and makes disconnecting the hub leads a breeze.

2) If you have a voltmeter, it can be helpful to check if the TTTP2 is actually producing the proper voltage at the USB port. When testing, wires 1 and 4 (left to right, looking at the USB port) are the ones that provide power.

3) For maximum charging, the TTT2 (like other such devices) really should be used alone, meaning when your lights are *not* also running. Yes, the power draw for LED lighting is minimal, but if you have a high-draw/high-drain device connected, available power can be marginal, and this could explain why you are getting an overdraw/intermittent power indication under load. If the lights have been on while charging, try turning them off and then check the behavior of the green light.

4) If your device does draw too much power for the TTTP2 to charge reliably, then there are a number of solutions...

a) Ride faster. I'm not being facetious; because the output of the dynohub increases with speed (they are unregulated), the power produced at low speed may be sufficient under no- or low-load conditions but inadequate for high-draw/high-drain devices. Try connecting your device and then riding along at, say, 15mph/24kph. This can often solve the problem...except it can also be a speed higher than you wish to maintain.

b) If this proves to be the case, then you will need to consider adding the Tout Terrain PAT (Power Amplification Technology, or "ExtraPower") cable. This does not increase the actual voltage produced by the TTTP2, but it does lower the speed at which maximum power is produced. The order would be dynohub > PAT > TTTP2 > USB cable > charged device.

c) Another solution, either with or without the PAT is to use your device with a buffer battery. The order then would be:
dynohub > TTTP2 > USB cable > buffer battery > USB cable > charged device. The idea here is the TTTP2 can trickle-charge the buffer battery, which can supply either greater voltage, greater current, or both to the device being charged...more than the TTTP2 could produce on its own. Of course if you power your high-draw/high-drain device all the time, the buffer battery will eventually run down, but in practice, what happens is the buffer battery is charged continuously, then is drawn-down only as the device being charged is used. Some buffer batteries can be pre-charged from the mains before use or topped off periodically from a household electrical outlet, so you start out ahead of the game. High-drain appliances like laptops/netbooks/tablets intended for use in camp benefit from a buffer battery that can be trickle-charged with a day's riding; the battery then powers them in the evening and the cycle starts anew the next day.

A buffer battery also provides an uninterrupted, continuous flow of power, so sensitive devices like GPS units and cellphones done's enter hibernation mode when you stop at an intersection and the dynohub momentarily stops producing power. Without a buffer battery, you risk losing data/tracking/satellite acquisition with a GPS or you cellphone goes to sleep. In either case, having to restart them manually can be an annoyance, so the buffer battery helps there as well as helping supply an adequate amount of voltage and/or current to the device being charged or powered.

As a final check, try charging your device with a different USB cable. These things vary widely in how well assembled, and the soldered connections can be pretty iffy, showing evidence of cold or disturbed joins, which greatly affect electrical resistance. Similarly, check your dynohub connectors to make sure they're in good shape and routed properly. I always solder mine to the wires, using the crimp tabs to secure the insulation as is proper to relieve strain on the wire strands. I then cover the spade terminals with one or two layers of heat-shrink tubing to provide a good electrical insulator and protect the connection from weather. I've seen problems occur when the dynohub electrical connection terminals are set vertically. A better way is to set them about 7 or 8 o'clock when viewed from the right side of the bike, and route the wires so the spade connectors approach from below. This forms a "drip loop" to prevent water from running down the wired and directly into the connection. The same practice applies at home when routing electrical transmission or telephone lines outdoors...you want the water to drip off, rather than run right into the terminal connection.

A couple of remarks and additions before wrapping this up:
1) Tout Terrain have recently revised their installation and operating manual. The latest version is available as a PDF here:
http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/fileadmin/media/pdf/deutsch/dokumentation/bedienungsanleitungen/Anleitung_tout_terrain_theplug_06_2012_web.pdf

2) The "Plug 2 Plus" referred to on the Tout Terrain website is the The Plug 2 with the addition of the PAT cable.

3) According to the chart on the Tout Terrain website (and my own experience), The Plug produces a full 5vdc@.5A at about 18.75kph/11.65mph. The Plug Plus (The Plug with the PAT) produces the full  5vdc@.5A at about 13.75kph/8.54mph.

I hope this helps. If you're still having problems after trying the above solutions, give a shout and I'll see what I can do.

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 01:28:15 AM by Danneaux »

Matt2matt2002

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2012, 06:32:11 AM »
Great thoughts Dan.
Any advice on type / brand of buffer battery to consider?
Never drink and drive. You may hit a bump  and spill your drink

Danneaux

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2012, 09:05:30 AM »
Quote
Any advice on type / brand of buffer battery to consider?
Hi Matt!

good question! I'd have to know the kind of device one was powering in order to make a recommendation, as the buffer battery very much depends on what you're trying to power.

There's a whole range of buffer batteries that will do, depending. If all one needs is uninterrupted power to keep a GPS or smartphone going while stopped at a traffic light, then the B&M e-werks can be had pretty reasonably. It mounts to your frame or can be simply placed in a handlebar bag and is pretty small and fairly light. It is even possible to make a buffer battery of your own, using NiMH AA cells in a holder with a few diodes and place that inline between the charger and the phone to take over power duties during bried outages/stoppages. The key thing is to keep the voltage above the hibernation threshold for an operating device. That way, it will keep goig and you won't lose data or have the hassle of restarting it manually after every stop.

In the middle range, if you need a high-demand appliance to keep running throughout the day and it's power requirements exceed what the bike charger can supply directly, you'll have to use a higher-capacity buffer battery. You'd need one you could trickle charge and still had enough reserve capacity for all-day or multi-day operation. The size/model/brand would depend on the device being charged.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you're seeking to charge something like an iPad, netbook, or laptop, then you'd need a considerably larger battery, stored in your panniers. Typically, those are best thought of as "range-extenders" for when you use your high-draw/high-drain devices in camp, either recharging the device's internal battery or boosting its run time. The nice thing about a large buffer battery like this is you can pre-charge it from the mains, then plug-in your other, smaller devices and recharge them in camp. If you need to, you can trickle-charge it as you ride along, but it could easily take a couple days' riding to charge it fully from flat. It is nice to be able to charge AA cells, GPS, MP3 player, etc, without riding at the time...or waiting till the next day to pedal juice into them, a big buffer battery can be really useful.

Best,

Dan.

StuntPilot

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Re: Battery-charging: Any experience with Tout Terrain's Plug 2 Extra Power?
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2012, 10:13:31 AM »
Matt - I have been looking for an ideal buffer battery too. I keep coming back to the PowerMonkey Extreme ...

https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/powermonkeyextreme/

Reasons that it continues to stand out for me are:

- Large capacity (9000mAh)
- Shockproof and waterproof
- Can be charged from The Plug II while two devices are charged from the battery (1 USB & 1 DC port suitable for tablet/iPad computer)
- High efficiency (17%) rugged solar panel to continue charging while you are stationary
- Continues to receive good reviews in low light/cloudy conditions (the only light conditions in the UK for most of this Summer!)
- Received industry awards
- After sales service has received some good reviews from purchasers

I also like the Freeloader Pro Globetrotter ...

http://www.solartechnology.co.uk/shop/globetrotter-pro.htm

I have had it for some years for walking and it works well. Much smaller capacity (1600 mAh) hence the requirement for a larger cache battery. I would still take it on tour to charge camera and digital SLR camera batteries as it has a 9.5 v setting and caddy to do so.

For me its seems the PowerMonkey Extreme will fit the bill. Its expensive at 120.00 but that includes the solar panel, lots of adapter bits etc and a sturdy case. I must admit that the price is making me research even more for an alternative before splashing out.

Dan is right about the B&M. This is a good option for various devices with differing voltage requirements. It has a 1400 mAh capacity. I prefer a larger capacity to keep me going on non-cycling days.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 10:19:48 AM by StuntPilot »