Thursday, 23 July 2015

Power is everything

"Power is everything" - so goes the quote from 'Apollo 13'. Much of today is about power, as we prepare to set off.

I used to be a motorsports photographer - oddly enough, one who didn't drive a car and cycled all over the place to photograph people who did! Photography is important to me and all the more to us as a family because of the very limited time we get to spend with Thomas Ivor. As such, we are in the business of creating and recording memories that will encourage and inspire him.

Inescapably, trying to take pictures and film, whilst using modern technology to navigate and sometimes to entertain the residents of the trailer, all uses power. We take it for granted at home and yet when we're on the road, whilst not life-or-death, it does become a preoccupation when battery levels are running low. We are always on the lookout for the next socket, and rationing our usage to match our charging expectations. Depending on the circumstances, it swaps places with food in the hierarchy of needs!

Hub dynamos would be nice, but putting out maybe 500mA and only whilst travelling at a decent pace, isn't enough on its own. Solar chargers are a lovely idea, but they do seem a bit of a faff and very expensive. I keep looking at them but I've yet to be totally convinced.

Last summer, we made it through the Hebrides with just one 15,000mAh battery pack, which takes all night to charge on a 2 amp charger. We also had the benefit of being able to use all our regular chargers without adaptors.

This time, we want to shoot more film, and with a DSLR rather than a separate video camera. I've bought some more GoPro batteries and a twin charger, which will daisy-chain off the camera battery charger, for which I found a continental mains lead in our household's 'box of random cables that came with various things and might come in handy one day'. Meantime, I'm waiting on two important items from Amazon - a 20,000mAh battery, and a 40 Watt, 5 gang USB charger, so that our other USB-charged devices can be hooked up to a single socket and juiced up as the opportunity arises.

It sounds like a lot, and it may even look like it as Ruth and Rhoda sagely survey the tech stuff before it is packed away into various places on our bikes, but we've managed to slim the weight down significantly from previous trips whilst still having some useful fire-power, and if Amazon Prime is as good as it usually is, before long I will have some confidence that we can last the distance!

Meantime, I am working on navigation, which these days is intrinsically linked with power, too. At Darren Alff's suggestion, we are going to run Maps.Me on our iOS devices, with GPX data hacked from Google Maps in there, and also on Cyclemeter, which is my weapon of choice when out riding.

Some accommodation to tie up at the end of the trip, which has got a little messy, but we're getting there. It looks like Katie and I can celebrate our wedding anniversary tonight by finishing off the packing of the panniers, and we can get this show on the road.

Come on, Mr Amazon Prime. Let's have that knock on the door, and I can breathe easy...

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