My small-scale power infrastructure

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RonnyRonin
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My small-scale power infrastructure

Post by RonnyRonin » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:15 am

Thought I'd throw up an overview of my current kit, which has only recently become something very useful, to keep my small portable electronics powered.

My power needs for this arbitrarily defined catagory as I can list them off the top of my head are as follows:

1) personal lighting (flashlight, headlamp)

2) area lighting (lanterns, string lights)

3) tactical lighting (weapon lights)

4) navigation (GPS/phone)

5) comms (HT, AM/FM/weather radio, phone)

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few gadgets, but that is the bulk of it and my top priorities.

I've made a point of standardizing on AA whenever possible and I think this has paid off handsomely. Personal lighting is a AA pocket light and a AA zebralight headlamp, area lighting is some AA LED lanterns and some USB string lights, navigation is an old AA garmin, I have a AA radio for listening and in a bind could use the terrible AA conversion for a baofeng if needs must. Tactical lighting has been the hardest to switch, and as of now am still stocking CR123s like most folks.

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this is the majority of my kit, a pelican case (from my ACOG) for the less needed portion, and small dry bag with a closed cell foam liner for the more essential part. The costco brick of AAs is the bulk of my disposable battery stock.

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what wasn't shown above is my EDC kit in a small zippered silnylon pouch. The most used part is the small 6700mAh Anker battery which keeps my old phone topped off when podcasts drain my battery at work. It has a far better power density then most of the smaller lipstick chargers I've seen and has enough juice to charge my phone twice more or less. The black and white dongle to the right of it is a USB light that makes a decent task light assuming the power source can stand upright like the anker. A 12v car adaptor and a USB wall wart provide direct charging when I have the option, and the volt/amp meter lets me check sources and components in my system. The last bit can't be over emphasized, when I first got a meter I checked everything in the house and ended up throwing away quite a bit of stuff that was bottlenecking my power infrastructure. I've also used it to test used items (power banks, solar panels, and other chargers) and has saved me from many a puny device.

total weight is 9oz, of which more then half is the anker.

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next is the dry bag, this lives in my BOB/INCH and while a bit overkill gives some long-term peace of mind for extended outings. For starters I have a larger 10000mAh anker power bank, which actually has the best power/weight ratio of any of their batteries under 20100mAh, which are pretty huge. I have a pack of AAs for the CountyComm GP-5 (https://countycomm.com/products/countyc ... pose-radio) so I don't have to store then inside (I really need to replace these with lithium primaries or some rechargeables and will soon). At the bottom you can see my 21W anker solar panel and my Olight Universal Charger. Solar panel output is notoriously exaggerated, so I made sure to get one rated for more juice then I needed, with two USB ports at 5V I can push 1 amp out of each, even when working at half capacity. The Olight is certainly the best option for emergency battery charging that I've found, not fast or smart but tiny, light and works with any chemistries I use. I'm tempted to throw in a second one to utilize both USB ports on the solar panel, I suspect it would still be lighter then a single, dual cell charger.

total weight is 39 oz (oof)

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The pelican kit is mostly for home use, or for carrying when a vehicle is handy (even just a bike) but chances are slim I'd ever man pack it.

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I have more alkaline AAs (don't buy rayovac, they suck), a few lithium AAs, a few of the Most Horrible Battery Ever (AAA) and some CR123s and coin bats. The storacell battery holders aren't the lightest or least bulky option but I'm fond of them and think I will be buying a few more. Stocking up on more rechargables is a high priority, as of now I only have a few eneloops and Ikea Laddas, which are mostly all in regular circulation. An observant person will notice a single 16650 cell in the CR123 carrier, one of two that I am experimenting with for my rifle lights.
For chargers my workhorse is an Xtar dual cell USB smart charger, it is quite a bit slower then many of its contemporaries but the USB lets be steal power from more sources, and I like that I can also use the charger as a power bank to move power from one battery type to another device (for instance I could load it with cr123s and charge my AAs via the Olight or ikea charger if I needed to for some crazy reason). The crummy white ikea charger is just backup, and in case I want to double up off the solar panel in the other kit to charge 3-4 cells at a time.

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the pelican case is great peace of mind, but it is also 19oz empty. If I need to move this kit with something more calorically intensive then a car I can move everything over to the less secure but lighter 2oz padded zipper case from Sea to Summit.

the total weight of the contents is 38oz

Not pictured above is some of the area lighting I keep around the house or in my shelter duffle:

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USB "fairly lights" use very little juice and provide great soft lighting for a vehicle or a large tent, they are embarrassingly cheap and can be sourced in any number of lengths.

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I have two generations of Black Diamond Apollo lantern but prefer the newest one. It can be ran off of either AAs or the internal battery which can be charged via USB. I think it also has a power bank function but I've never tried it. The lack of a base means it works very well for hanging task lighting as there is no shadow directly underneath like the older apollo lantern (or most lanterns for that matter). by itself it was more then enough to illuminate a 20ft yurt.


The Xtar charger in particular gives me the warm fuzzies in that I can scavenge power from any odd sized, useless batteries I find and transfer it to a usable form. The Folomov A1 would let me do this at a lighter weight, but last I checked it won't charge Nimh batteries. If they could change this fact I'd buy several. Moving power around like this of course comes at a loss, but if I have no other way to use the juice (like say a D or C cell) then the loss is moot.

The main thing I need to improve is simply my total number of rechargeable batteries, and will probably load up at Ikea the next time I am there. I would like to pick up another small solar panel or two but the market seems a bit wonky right now so I might hold off till they settle down a bit. I am also a bit lacking in a way to recharge my Baofeng batteries via USB power, if anyone knows a simple turnkey solution let me know.
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raptor
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Re: My small-scale power infrastructure

Post by raptor » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:55 am

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

I agree with your strategy of standardizing on AA. There are a lot of products that use them and they are both inexpensive and readily available.

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Re: My small-scale power infrastructure

Post by Stercutus » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:55 pm

Looks really well thought out.
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Re: My small-scale power infrastructure

Post by JackBauer » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:33 pm

Great thread. Thanks for sharing.
This gave me cause to evaluate my small scale emergency power preps empire.
Inventory, function checks and obviously MOAR! shit.. See my thread in this sub-forum on requests for Headlamp recommendation

Added the XTAR PB 2 & Opus BT-C3100 chargers and more 18650 batteries. Great additions especially on having the added functionality that the OP discussed.
Note, the PB 2 is great but only accommodates unprotected cells.

O and another yeah! for the Black Diamond Apollo lantern. Its been a great piece of kit for me-infinitely dimmable and nice diffusion to softly illuminate an area.
A person should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog,. .., build a wall, set a bone, take and give orders, cooperate, analyze & solve problems, fight efficiently, die gallantly RH
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Re: My small-scale power infrastructure

Post by RonnyRonin » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:15 pm

That Opus looks pretty good, I'd love to add a 4-cell charger to my infrastructure. keep us posted on how it is.

Little update: More storacells on the way, added a second O-lite charger for my EDC and been plotting an Ikea trip to double or triple my rechargeable AA stockpile, turns out they want to charge an awful lot to ship a few batteries to my door.
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Re: My small-scale power infrastructure

Post by ghost792 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:55 pm

RonnyRonin wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:15 am

I have a pack of AAs for the CountyComm GP-5 (https://countycomm.com/products/countyc ... pose-radio) so I don't have to store then inside (I really need to replace these with lithium primaries or some rechargeables and will soon).
Worth noting that you can run the GP-5 from an external USB battery connected to the 5VDC-IN port. Just don't plug in a power source if you are using non-rechargeable AAs. The GP-5 will run just fine from an external battery and no AAs in the battery compartment.

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