At least in a blinking lights, screen lighting up, charging icon kind of way…
Here I am, on a ledge above the ocean, typing away while the sun charges my laptop.
I’ve had some serious doubts along the way, what with the expensive stuff and warranty issues and returns and everything it’s been a rough road at times…but watching the elements come together has been really fun and now that the systems up and running I really can’t complain.
Here’s what happened…I set the long term goal of being able to backpack unsupported (no resupplies) for a week, with a DSLR for photos and film making, and a solar charger that can keep everything going. Pretty quickly this spun a little out of hand though…I needed to be able to travel like this for months at a time, and finding food is one thing but finding a computer for backing up massive amounts of HD video footage was looking like a pain in the ass…besides I go through 64GB SD cards pretty damn quick…so long story short digital storage space was looking like an issue.
I simply couldn’t buy and carry enough memory cards, external hard drives seemed like the only logical option, but the only easy way to go from the cards in the camera to a hard drive was through a computer…ugh! Carrying a small laptop could work, then I’d only need to find an outlet in town as opposed to an actual computer…but I didn’t like the idea of carrying such a heavy fragile expensive piece of gear just to move video files when I got to a town.
There are of course a number of options for solar panels that can charge a laptop, but these are all much larger, heavier, and more expensive then I needed for my camera. So adding a heavy computer AND a heavy solar charger was concerning.
Eventually I settled on a hybrid laptop/tablet…it charges like a tablet, by USB, and it’s small and light and the battery last ages…it also uses a full 32bit version of Windows 10, which means I can use normal computer programs as opposed to apps (I hate apps). Beyond that, it sucks…it’s a shitty flimsy little computer that tips over backwards and has a detachable keyboard which I will never ever need to detach. But I love it!
It was definitely not intended for the uses I’m putting it to…it has loads of features I will never need, and it’s lacking in so many other ways…it’s horribly slow, the glare is so bad I can barely see out here as I type, and every time I open the video editor I worry the thing’s going to catch fire…but it’s still outperforming every other computer I could find…at least in this tiny niche I’ve discovered. So yes, I’m totally happy with it!
So…the solar charger charges it’s battery…and DSLR (camera) batteries can charge of the solar battery thanks to a $5 USB adapter…and the laptop can also charge of solar battery. The camera shoots onto SD cards, and the computer only takes micro SD cards…but so far shooting onto the micro cards preloaded into normal card adapters seems to be working fine. On top of that are the two external hard drives, one primary and one backup, which can connect via the computers USB port as well as a second micro USB port with a handy micro-to-female-USB dongle thing…yup, it’s a whole lot of adapters and little black cords.
And…it totally works! This past weekend I was backpacking with two friends, it’s a long story, but suffice it to say I was able to shoot photos and video, then load them onto an external hard drive by way of my tiny computer, and it all worked fine. My solar charger had no problem keeping everything charged as well.
This might seem like a small win, but for me…it’s taken months of pretty steady messing about on top of a year or more of casual research…and so…finally…it’s alive! And I’m stoked! Hell yeah!
Here I am, on the side of the ocean, as the sun sinks behind the trees and my hands slowly go numb as I’m typing away…it’s like I’m at the office…and at the ocean…and there’s no where else I’d rather be :)