A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs - On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

My videos are on these two youtube channels visionontv 3,832,876 views and undercurrents 22,689,976 views

 

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Entries with tag gadget .

Cheap travel/small screening projector

LED bulbs, cheap lithium battery’s and high power USB charging have changed what a projector is. Its now easily possible to have a full cinematic experience in your pocket and run it for hours on very cheap USB battery’s. The days of expensive, power hungry and fragile projectors are over for all but the most demanding permanent set-ups. The are hundreds of these “micro” projectors available, they vary in quality a lot, here is a review of a good one.

If your looking for a very cheap travel/small screening projector I can recommend this one

ECsee-ES130-Mini-DLP-Projector

Tiny, relatively well made, lots of ports and did I say very cheap.

LED bulb so robust long life and low power.

Plays videos from HDMI, USB thumb drive, micro SD card in many formats (it will not play surround sound audio files). As with many embedded playback devices it can get the aspect ratio wrong this is a normal problem. Will work fine by HDMI with image and sound from a laptop etc.

Used it at a recent all night illegal rave party under a railway bridge to provide background images, plunged into a small USB battery (5000mah) it easily lasted the night on loop.

Fits in your pocket and has a built in battery which last 1-2 hours, charges/runs off standard USB up to 2amps.

Its no were near its rated 800 lumen, more like 50-100 which is normal for a projector this size. You would have to pay something like £500 for a 500 lumen LED projector. Its brighter and the sound is louder if you plug it into a 2amp USB battery/power supply rather than run it off its internal battery.

Sound might be an issue when running on mains power due to hum.

In darkness it creates a large bright (somewhat over saturated) image, like all micro projectors it will struggle to overcome ambient light.

Specification:

Display Type DLP Technology
Resolution 854x480
Highest resolution supported 1080p (this is acturly only 854x480 and will be dowen scaled)
Brightness 800 Lumens (this is not true)
Contrast 800:1
Aspect Ratio 4:3 ,16:9
Built-in battery 3.7V 1500 mA
Focusing Manner Manual Focus,F=125
Image Size 14 to 150 Inches
Projection Distance 35.5cm-430cm(short throw)
Lamp LED Lamp
Power consumption 10W Max
Speakers 8Ω1W
Lamp Life 20,000 Hours
Interfaces HDMI/USB/AV/SD/3.5mm earphone jack
Supported Video Format 3GP(H263, MPEG4) / AVI(XVID, DIVX, H264) / MKV(XVID, DIVX, H264) / FLV(flv1) /
MOV(H264) / MP4(MPEG4,AVC) / MPG(MPEG1) / VOB(MPEG2) / RMVB(RV40)
Supported Audio Format MP3 / WMA / ASF / OGG / AAC / WAV
Supported Picture Format JPG / PNG / BMP
Supported Document  Format TXT
Color Green, White
Dimensions 78*71*24.5mm (L x W x D)
Weight 130g

 

Have been testing it for a week, so far I would say a buy.

7/10 value for money

 

Review of Goalzero adventure pack - Solar power

UPDATE: they sent a replacement panel and battery pack and am awaiting a bag to send back the old ones so they can test them. Good company.

Nomad 7 (7 watts) Solar Panel and Guide 10 Plus battery pack

This is a high power 5V usb solar charger that works as well as plugging your phone into the wall in good sunlight. With 1 amp of power it will efferently charge all but the latest huge phones such as the note II which it dose struggle a bit at.



An excellent products that I have been using for the last 2 years. In that time with about 9 months of hard use both parts of the set-up have finely failed.

It had been well used in over 7 country’s and over the summer of its failer was used for 6 months In Poland, Slovakia, Crimea before finaliey failing on a 2 month trip to the Canary islands.

The Guide10plus battery pack melted the plastic rappers off a set of Mignon Hybrid NiMH AA 2100mAh battery’s. They were finger burning hot, then with a fresh set of battery’s it gives off pungent white smoke from one of the internal components and dose not charge or function.

The panel failed at the same time, this time the failer was less final. Originally the panel worked fine in a good sunny position it could could charge 3 devises in a day with power to spare.

Now it is lucky to ¼ to half charge a devices in a days good sunshine. I think an internal cable may have broken if goalzero don’t come back with a solution might try to cut the fabric open and examine each join to check this. Both products had exposer to due and some light rain in north Europe in the south Europe the was a lot of fine blowing sand and volcanic dust. The panel had the cover folded back which might have stressed the internal cables? Neither had any “abuse” beyond normal hard use.

To sum up the products are excellent but not indestructible and am now reaching out to the manufacturer golazero to get feedback on what might have coursed both components to fail at the same time. Watch this space for a reply.

Mobile Solar power for a laptop

Am thinking about running a workshop on portable solar power.

This is 32w folding solar panel with a battery pass through DC to DC transformer and 13' video editing laptop running adobe CS.

All Folds up and fits in a laptop bag.

The solar costs £200-250 and you need a relatively expensive ultra book with 3D graphics card to do CS editing. Portable solar will struggle to power a full sized editing laptop. Total cost just over £1000

Offgride travel with Small Solar Power

If you are taking your small USB powered devices off grid for a week or so then you will need a way to keep them powered up. In this review I look at 2 small folding solar panels. Both will charge a "dumb phone" or a normal smart phone and can charge larger phones or tablets for occasional use.

We have the Goalzero Nomad 7 from the USA and the smaller and cheaper UK based Bimbalesolar panel (A badged china import)

Both have approximately the same power output but the is a large price difference. The Slightly lower powered Bimble panel (6W) is a few years newer than the US panel (7W) thus smaller due to the use of 20% efficient cells compared to 17% for the older panel

The Nomad 7 has a light wait plastic regulator/plug box and has both USB and a 12v output (3-4W) which could be useful for trickle charging lead acid 12v battery’s. But not much everyday use for this function.

  • Weight: 16.2 oz (460 g)
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 9 x 1.5 x 17 in (22.9 x 3.8 x 43.2 cm)
  • Dimensions (folded): 9 x 1.5 x 6.5 in (22.9 x 3.8 x 16.5 cm)

The Cheaper panel has a heavy folded metal box.

Extend Size: 200 x 400 x 20mm
Folded Size: 200 x 155 x 26mm
Weight: 250g

Is the size and large price diffrence worth it?

Nomad 7 £80

Bimblesolar £28

The build quality of the Goalzero panel is excellent, with custom components throughout, and it will likely survive for longer with hard use. While the Bimblesolar panel has good build quality and will like survive OK. The cheaper panel might prove to be easer to repair if it fails as it is made with standard components. Both will work fine to charge your small USB device.

On balance the price, and to a lesser extent the size differences makes the Bimblesolar panel the clear winner between the two.

How to use:

If you can turn your device off to charge it as this will reduce charging time. (some devices will not turn off while pluged in such as iphone's)

Use a power pass through USB battery pack to store power while your charging your devices. You must look hard for "power pass though" and pay slightly more for this feature.

Keep your expensive electronics dry, cool, in the shade and out of site.

Take care of your USB cables as they are fragile. If you can use the cable that the device came with as each cable is actually different and can alter charging times. Shorter cabals are better than longer cables in general.

Portable renewable power technology?

"The BioLite CampStove, designed for outdoor adventure and emergency preparedness, makes cooking on wood as clean, safe and easy as petroleum fuels while powering electronics off-grid."

I love tec like this, clever idea made real BUT it takes around 5 minutes to boil 1 liter of water and and will take something like 3 hours to charge a smart phone by USB, so you need to boil over 30 liters of water to charge one iphone - thats a lot of tea...

Find out more

Citizen journalism equipment update 2014

UPDATE

It seems this phone has issues with the adapter cable, so hold on any purchase for the moment.

UPDATE2

We couldent get the moto G to work with the adapter cable, we trayed every way for a few weeks. So tryed the nexus 5 that had simuler issues but finaly worked useing a 3ed party camera app.

For a cheap first citizen journalism phone/camera I would recommend the 2014 version of the Moto G

 

Then you need Audio Technica PRO24

 

And finerly a mic adapter to plug them togather

 

 

As technology keeps updating, I haven’t tested these just based on reviews, please message me with your direct experience.

You could try something like this to stabilise the mobile as they are small and light so and hard to hold steady.  You will have to reach and buy this yourself, report back if you find a good one.

DIY solar power to far

Many of the times I tell people how easy it is to build a small solar power set-up, I am given a dismissive and superior reply that I should be making my own panels not advising people to buy ones. This like many insecure replies is both wrong, dis-empowering and could be dangerous. Here is an article on the subject http://solarelectricityhandbook.com/Solar-Articles/build-your-own-solar-panels.html the article highlights its not a bad thing to actually make your own solar panel, just don’t do it as a serious way of generating DIY power. To give building a go try this article http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Solar-Panel

How to solar power your Tablet

You need a panel with at least 14W to charge a tablet, the are a lot of them out there, but, they get VERY mixed reviews. I have only used larger or smaller panels so can't vouch for any of these so please do some research before buying.

Here are a sample that fit the speck - click on the image for the ebay link for each

The is no guaranty that a naked USB power lead out of a solar panel will charge your device, to increase the chance of this working you need to buy a USB battery with pass-through. This is just an example, check the speck carefully very few USB battery’s do pass-through charging

This setup would work fine for a large smart phone or any USB powered device. Feel free to ask questions in the comments and feedback real life experience here please.

Basic solar power for lifeboat

Here is a list of components to get basic solar power working on a converted liveabord lifeboat.

Can get from here or here  for about £130 each, will need two.

Then you have a choices of 2 different type of charge controller, possibly unreliably but more efficient MPPT or a bog standard cheap PWM controller - to start out I would probably go for the cheap controller.

MPPT have to import from china here or here  for around £80

Or a very cheap basic controller here for around £12

Then you would need a length of 6mm cable and a pear of MC4 combiners

The boat currently has 4 starter battery wired up into 2 separate redundant 24V banks, I would re-wire one of these as 12v and use that for a while.

todo

Have to test a all the wires and find out what is 12v and what 24v

Have to find out which bank of battery is live

Fitting out

Then get some 3 way car cigarette splinters, good soled wire and 5m of LED lighting strip, more info here

 

 

 

 

Quality Refurbished laptops - Thinkpad

I recommend buying a Refurbished Thinkpad laptop to activists.

T series - are good soled general use laptops

X series are small and very low power for protest camps and solar power setups

Used ThinkPads are cheap because after businesses are done with them, which is 3-4 years after they’ve been released, they flood the market. 

Why ThinkPad?

  • They’re really cheap when you buy a used one
  • Splash-proof keyboard
  • Keyboards feel excellent while typing
  • Great Durability
  • Utilitarian design
  • Spare parts are easy and cheap to obtain
  • Easy to repair, upgrade and maintain
  • TrackPoint (that red thing on the middle of the keyboard), great for those who type a lot

Find out more here http://www.ktgee.net/post/49423737148/thinkpad-guide

Look on ebay for good prices it changes all the time here is a link that might still be good

 

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