Annie has been at me to blog about our electronics set up for weeks, so here it is. Stand back for exciting blow by blow content! I hope it is useful for anyone intending to tour, we’ve been happy with it so far.
We use a portable 16,750mAhr battery pack from Zendure. It was selected based on Amazon reviews and has been excellent so far. The alternative was a hub charger, which I wanted because it seems like sensible engineering – free power! BUT it needs expensive parts including a current regulator to avoid frying your various batteries. We also heard they break and power packs are cheap these days. K.I.S.S.!
I’ve tried very hard to make every item we have that requires charging use a micro USB port. The only exceptions are our speaker, our satphone and apple products. (iPad and and Annie’s iPhone).
The pack come with us when we’re off the bike on day trips. It can also charge the phones or speaker when we are cycling along.
The HooToo and Lamprey light (described later) also advertise as charging packs and have 6000mAhr and 3300mAhr respectively.
Paddy: HTC One M8. Micro USB. ~2600mAhr
Annie: iPhone 5C. Lightning cable. ~1507mAhr
The HTC takes a 64GB micro USB. The iPhone looks nice but is, in my opinion, crap. Both it’s hardware and software prevent it interfacing with things which give us headaches all the time, too many to list. It has no storage ability and it is slow… I think Apple make nice products and user interfaces, but the product is restrictive rather than enabling. My 2c!
Both phones are unlocked which each of our UK service providers did for free on request before we left.
I use a local sim in the HTC for calls and data when needed. (Skype credit is best for international calls when needed)
3. iPad. Lighting cable. 6470mAhr
We have an iPad mini, also unlocked and could put a sim in there. We really only use if to watch films or TV programs. Nothing else.
4. HooToo trip mate. Micro USB charge. 6000mAhr
This clever little thing creates a local Wi-Fi network to let us watch films from a USB hard drive on the iPad. Plug the USB into the unit and when it is turned on it creates a password protected Wi-Fi signal. We then put the iPad on that network and use the TRIPMATE app, which is a file explorer, to select and play a file.
It plays .avi which was initially a worry. My little brother Johnny gave us a LOT of films, music and TV which we will never get through.
We could use either of our phones instead of the iPad for this, and we might yet send the iPad home…
The HooToo days it can be a battery charger with 6000mAhr but it need a lot of juice to play a film and we keep it plugged in if possible when in use.
5. Kindles. Micro USB. 1420mAhr each.
We have two kindles and use them for reading books which works well. They have not been great for guide books though since guide books have lots of maps and pictures.
We have ended up using the Kindle apps on our phone for this.
I have gotten to grips with getting free downloads and non-Amazon purchased books onto my Kindle and the HTC phone Kindle app. The iPhone is harder for this, so far impossible for files which are too large to email – that is all guide books! Any tips out there?
6. Speaker. Mini USB (annoying). ,1570mAhr
It is a Monster Clarity Bluetooth or headphone Jack input speaker. We have the speaker taped under my seat to the frame of our bike with a double Jack cable that Annie can plug either a phone or her iPod into. We get a good sound out of it and it will last a day on battery. We leave it in place and bring the battery pack to it to charge. The only risk is rain!
We carry the satphone and will use it in the central Asia Stans. The model is an Iridium 9555. It has been used by George and my dad crossing the Atlantic by boat and on long trips. I have a sim from ‘Mail-a-Sail’ which I believe I can activate and pay around £35pm when the time comes. So far it hasn’t been used in anger, so I can’t comment further.
We did manage to find a USB charging cable for it to replace the bulky 3 prong plug.
8. Light. Micro USB. 3,300mAhr
We have a lamprey light from Alpkit which has been really great. Small, big battery capacity and good illumination. It has been charged twice in the last 2 months and can be used as an emergency battery pack.
We also have 2 pretzel mini head torches.
Wherever we go we have been able to plug into a socket and get charged up. We took along a Skyross multi adaptor which had 2 USB ports included. This was handy but the USB socket attachment broke a few months in.
We purchased some American pinned USB plugs – these are tiny and have been great. Not sure whatever sockets are for the rest of the trip but the American pins work in every place so far.
10. Camera. Micro USB. 2500mAhr.
We have a Cannon 550D camera and 3 batteries (2 spare at any time). We can charge them now from a micro USB thanks to the new charger we sourced. We threw away a bulky 3 pin charger in its place.
11. iPod. Old iPod cable. 930mAhr
We have Annie’s old 80GB iPod which had it’s own cable to play music from.
12. Cables and 4 sets of headphones.