Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

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Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby jbcorrelje » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:34 pm

Hello All,
Soon (July) I shall be starting my bike trip around Australia.
To be able to keep in touch, and for research, I would like to have internet access as much as possible.
I am carrying a laptop and an iPod touch.
I have understood that wifi spots are few and far between, and quite expensive to use.
Furthermore I heard a rumour that it is possible to access internet through the mobile phone network.

Does someone have the details? What would you do in my case? What is the best solution??

I look forward to receiving your advice on this, thanks very much in advance,
Cheers,
Jan C.
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by BNA » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:10 am

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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby pawnii » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:10 am

Hi Jan,

Firstly i am so jealous you are going around oz. My partner and i planned to tour for 6months around the top end this year but now we're having our first baby.
Telstra 3G network is the only way to go. If you have any other network you won't get reception at all for voice let alone data outside the major towns. If you are on the Telstra 3G network with a data and voice plan then you'll be set. I have an iPhone and when it's connected to my laptop it becomes a wifi dongle. Most smart phones can do this now. It's called internet tethering. Some of my friends are on other networks and have found it useless in the desert. When i crossed the Nullabour i found you couldn't get reception, unless you are on Telstra 3G, from Ceduna to Kalgoorlie. That's over 1500kms :shock:


I am on a $50 per month plan with Telstra (24mth contracgt with iPhone4). I get $400 worth of calls and 2Gig of data per month.
Typically i get around 200kbps download speeds through the 3G network 8)

I have a dynamo hub on my front wheel. I made a rectifier to charge my iPhone, iPod and AAA batteries.
I think your internet usage will be limited by your ability to charge you laptop.


Hope that helps :)
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby sogood » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:50 am

Unless you have a mobile phone to tether data, your choice would be limited to a USB dongle for your laptop. There are major carriers and independent companies selling data/dongle and uses the major's network. But given your need to ride around the outback, you'll need to seriously consider Telstra's (most expensive) services as they have significantly better coverage and data network than others. So be prepared to pay a bit more. Telstra.com has all the information. Alternative is Optus and companies that uses their network. Cheaper but less coverage in country areas. Lebara, Pennytel and Amaysim are some that uses Optus' network but cheaper. IMHO, forget about Vodafone for your needs.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby il padrone » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:27 am

pawnii wrote:I think your internet usage will be limited by your ability to charge you laptop.



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Foldable solar charger small enough to drape over your rear panniers, hook it up to charge a battery and then charge/run the laptop from it.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Kenzo » Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:30 am

If you don't want to use internet on your mobile phone (stuck in a plan holding you out of Telstra), then you can use
'Pocket Wifi'.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby sogood » Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:54 am

I note there's a duplicate thread on this exact subject and poster. Bad!
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby WarrenH » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:14 pm

I have a NextG 'blue tick' phone for a bush coverage. NextG network phones with the blue tick, will give the best regional coverage, supposedly ... excluding satellite phones of course.

Also I have a MAGM90T800 5.1dBi (gain) magnetic base antenna with a 3m lead, a patch lead and a patch lead adapter (ZTE phone) ... http://www.zcg.com.au/mobile_phone_ante ... c_base.htm This cost $96 for the antenna, 3m lead, patch lead and ZTE adapter.

Telstra has Next G network coverage maps ... http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile/networ ... e/maps.cfm These maps can be far from accurate and when told NO SERVICE or LIMITED SERVICE I have had service on several occassions, especially for receiving messages.

Satellite phones can be $1350 with a $750 rebate that can be applied for from the Dept of Communications ... for remote area users. Long distance travelers qualify.

Telstra have a 24 month satellite phone contract at $30 per month with calls at $1.98 minute.

Pivotal have a 7 month (at a time) $200 connection fee ($200 re-connection fee at any time) at $35 month with $10 month free calls and calls at $1.98 per minute.

Satellite phones can be hired at about $380 per month or about $250 per month for longer term users ... in my neck of the bush.

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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby pawnii » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:36 pm

il padrone wrote:
pawnii wrote:I think your internet usage will be limited by your ability to charge you laptop.



Image

Foldable solar charger small enough to drape over your rear panniers, hook it up to charge a battery and then charge/run the laptop from it.



This solar charger will not charge a laptop. It can only produce 5volts. Laptops are at least 18volts.
Even if the charger was the same voltage as the laptop, at 10watt output it would take a lifetime to charge the laptop to 10% (the minimum usable amount)

I've been looking into ways to charge a laptop while touring for ages. I have yet to find a cheap method.
You can get solar chargers to suit laptops but they cost a fortune. You can use readily available 12volt solar chargers with voltage converters but they take a minimum of 12hr to get 10% charge. (and it'll cost you hundreds for the solar panel)

The only workaround method i have is to buy a second laptop battery and carry it around. You'll always be able to find mains power at roadhouses, shops or caravan parks that will allow you to charge your laptop. It worked for me :)
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby }SkOrPn--7 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:15 pm

I use a Brunton 26w foldable solar panel which charges the laptop in under 8 hrs plus all your other devices draped over the trailer.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby pawnii » Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:30 am

the Brunton 26w foldable solar panel sounds like a great way to charge if you can afford it. I stand corrected :oops:
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby }SkOrPn--7 » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:38 am

Yeah Paw that is the down side there not cheap which is a shame because they really deliver but I guess if the demand for these devices is there then so is the price they attach to it. The real reason why I got the 26w was to charge all my Ay-up lights as they need the big unit to do so. I guess most foldable panels are robust but having used many of the brunton brands I keep going back they really do deliver in quality and longevity to being abused.

If the OP holds of his trip a little he will be able to connect to that fantastic service that is being rolled out so fast and millions of folks jumping on. I think it's called the NBN or something like it........ :wink:
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby DaveOZ » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:58 am

Personally I would ditch the phone, laptop, chargers and spare batteries and take a IPad 3G with Telstra SIM. You can then charge it with solar USB. Much lighter and satisfies all your communication needs, can run Skype or any IM. Can run many navigation apps too.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Baalzamon » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:32 pm

DaveOZ wrote:Personally I would ditch the phone, laptop, chargers and spare batteries and take a IPad 3G with Telstra SIM. You can then charge it with solar USB. Much lighter and satisfies all your communication needs, can run Skype or any IM. Can run many navigation apps too.

I too would use the Ipad 3G, however this is a sticking point for me. There is no app for Garmin Edge 705 to download history, so either a netbook or one of the new slates with Windows 7 installed on it is what I'll be getting. Upto 11hr battery life on these netbooks, will find out on the Acer Iconia personally as I'm going to be playing with one in a few weeks time, should last me quite a while with infrequent charges required.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby DaveOZ » Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:36 pm

You could always run this app on you iPad an load direct to Strava to keep you friend on track. http://www.strava.com/iphone

Just upload the Garmin logs when you get home.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby jbcorrelje » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:29 pm

Thanks very much to All for the contributions. Very helpfull. This trip is really going to be a big success!
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby nasigoreng » Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:34 pm

telstra t touch tab $199 at dick smiths, also known as huawei s7. bang for buck tab, loads custom roms if that's your thing. anything other than telstra is a waste. best thing is marketplace, amazing apps on offer, and galaxy tab eats icrap tab any day! the biggest con by apple was to say geeks use macs! last time I looked they were all linux...
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby jbcorrelje » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:46 pm

In the mean time I have purchased the Telstra solution. It was up and running in no time and works 100% Wifi solution to be able to use both laptop and iPod touch.

Thanks again for the good advices,

Cheers,
Jan c
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Dragon » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:49 pm

Hi,
I have some ideas on how to charge your laptop while you are biking. By laptop here I do not mean a small notebook-- I realy mean a big power hungry laptop.

I think the idea of solar charging is very good and the 26W Brunton Foldable Solar Array is excellent for this purpose. However I feel that there are some limitation
associated with this idea that you might want consider. 1) By using big solar (charging laptop requires big solar array) array, you have to stop somewhere to charge your laptop. You
can not do it while biking. 2) What if it is very cloudy and the sun is not available? Or you need to charge it at night?

Please don't get me wrong. The Solar Charging idea is excellent for bike touring however I will focus my discussion on the idea of using a bike dynamo (generator) to charge your laptop.
Now you may be thinking that the bicycle dynamo is not powerful enough to charge a laptop and you would be right. However there some options that I will discuss here:

1) If you charge your laptop battery pack by itself, outside of the laptop, the power required may be significantly lower. I have a Sony Vaio Z series laptop so I
will use that as an example. My battery is powerfull enough that I can use my laptop for 10 hours before it completely run out. To charge my battery at 12V (typical charging voltage for my battery) I need about 1.5 or 2 Amps. That is about 18W to 24W. OK here is what you do. You can buy bike dynamo that rated for 12V and 0.5 Amps or 6Watts. You need to buy there or
four of these (three will do), and mount them all on your bike connecting them in parallel to get 12V 18 Watts. That is enough to charge your battery. Now you don't want to connect your battery directly to the generator, that is risky. They have external laptop charger that you can buy. You need to get one for your laptop. These come with a plug for your battery and an AC adapter with power cable that you will not need. This item will help you connect the generators to your laptop battery. The external laptop charger are typically made in Taiwan and it come with a 2.1mm x 5.5mm barrel plug. You will need to make a female plug for your generator.

They have external laptop charger for most brand of laptops but if you cannot find one for your laptop-- here is what you can do. You can have the generator charge a 12V battery pack (this you can make out of AA rechargeable batteries). Then using a car plug charger that is designed for your laptop (they make these for most laptop), you can charge your laptop using the 12V battery. So the generator is connected to the 12V battery and the 12V battery is connected to the car plug charger and the car plug charger is plugged into your laptop. Make sure the Amps that the 12V battery can take is more than what is provided by the generator or you can use a charge controller to prevent the generator from overcharg your 12 V battery.

One last thing you need to know is --most bike generators are not DC generator so the voltage they producke are AC. You need to convert this to DC and you can do that by getting a rectifier from radio shack or some electronics store. Connect the rectifier between the generator and the 12V battery.

If you do not like the idea of mounting 3 or 4 bike dynamos to your bike, you can make your own dynamo. A dynamo is basicaly a DC motor, so you need to find a DC motor that is appropriate for this application. But that is the hard part, finding the right DC motor. A DC motor is basicaly a dynamo. Electrically they are indentical. What you need is a DC motor that operates more or less in this voltage range (10 V to 25 V) and more or less in this current range (1 to 6 amps). Also it should a max RPM (max rotation rate) of about 5000 RPM to 9000 RPM. It should operate at about 30 or 50 Watts. In addition, it
should be light weight -- like 1 or 1.5 pounds and no more. Finally it should be small enough to be installed on the bike --like the motor casing diameter should be no more than 1.5 inches (4.5 cm) and the casing length should be no more than 2.0 inches (5 cm).

If you can find a motor like that, you might be able to attach it to you bike like a conventional dynamo or you can attach it on top of the back wheel (you have to build some sort of supporting mechanism and you have to make a friction wheel) and have the friction wheel touch the wheel. Next you need to make a 12 V rechargeable battery pack. For this you can buy a small 12 lead acid motocycle battery or you can pack together 10 rechargeable D cells. Finally you need to buy a charge controller that can handle about 6 amps and 12V. At this point, all the hard work is done. All you have left is -- connectting them all up and it goes like this: First connect the battery pack to the charge controller (there is a place on the charge controller that
says "hook up your battery here" very easy. Second, connect the motor or dynamo's terminals to the charge controller (there is a place on the charge controller for that too). Then you buy a car plug charger that specifically designed for your lattop, (they do have them -- google and see) and don't forget to buy a female that goes with it too..
Plug the female car plug to the battery pack (or you can plug it to the charger controller too) and the male car plug charger to your laptop. Finally connect the female an male car plug and vola! you are ready!. Pack your laptop safely on your bike (make sure there is plenty of air ventilation so it does not over heat and power it off). As you ride your bike, your laptop should be charged. You don't need to worry about overcharging the battery pack; that's what the charge controller is for. So in summary, the dynamo is
charging the battery pack and the battery pack is charging your laptop.

After a lot of searching, I found that DC motors from cordless tools like power tools (like drill or saw) or garden cordless tools like cordless string trimmer have just the right size and mass. I think the one with high RPM and voltage should better for this application.

The advantage of making your own dynamo is that you do not have to convert the voltage to DC, it is already a DC voltage.
Another thing to note is that since you will be generating 30 Watts to 40Watts there may be noticeable drag. This drag depends only on the total power you generate so it should be more or
less the same whether you have one home-made generator mount to your bike or multiple store bought generators mount to it.
Finaly how long will it charge your battery? In my case, my battery has 8 Amp Hours. So if when I feed it a current of 2.0 Amps, it will take 4 hours
or if I feed it a current of 1.5 Amps, it will take 5 hours.
I think five or six hours of biking to charge your laptop is not bad. Especialy for serious biker is shouldn't be a problem.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Aushiker » Mon Sep 19, 2011 6:57 pm

jbcorrelje wrote:In the mean time I have purchased the Telstra solution. It was up and running in no time and works 100% Wifi solution to be able to use both laptop and iPod touch.


What solution did you go with?

Andrew
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Aushiker » Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:04 pm

Dragon wrote: You need to buy there or
four of these (three will do), and mount them all on your bike connecting them in parallel to get 12V 18 Watts. That is enough to charge your battery. Now you don't want to connect your battery directly to the generator, that is risky.


Are you seriously suggesting running three or four dynamo to charge a laptop is a good solution? Of course these will need to be tyre dynamo unless you have an idea as to how to run three or four wheels with hub dynamos.

Also why wouldn't a solar panel work when riding along? My Garmin battery extender worked in solar mode whilst I was riding so I don't understand why a bigger solar panel would be different.

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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby glennb » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:57 pm

A hub dynamo running off a 29" rear tyre will provide ample charge current at typical riding speeds.

It's a while since I did the calculations but from memory of the hub dynamo rpm/voltage graphs I saw they'd max out around 70v, which you'd achieve at speeds around 60km/h.

30kp/hr would yield 15-20w no probs.

I half considered it a while back but found a few lithium 18650 cells suffice for my needs (no laptop).

I measured for clearance and figured the best place for it would be attached to the seat tube sitting just behind the brake bridge.

A front derailer would make a good basis for an attachment bracket, enabling the dynamo to be engaged/disengaged via a bar-end shifter, and the engagement pressure regulated (i.e. to the point where it doesn't slip but not more).

I figured on running it 5 minutes at a time before letting it cool off, mostly just using it as a drag brake in hilly territory.

Only modification required to dynamo is gluing a strip of inner tube around the dynamo shell so that it'll grip the (slick-centred) tyre.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Dragon » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:28 am

I have been testing out many small DC motors, trying to make my own bike dynamo and I found out that this is not a workable solution. The reason is the max power is limited by your biking speed. The best I could get is 18W. Also figuring out how to mount it to your bike and making a friction wheel for it is way too much work.

However I found out that if you buy an external laptop battery charger (it charge your battery without the laptop), you can charge your battery with just two conventional bike dynamo (I use the Tung-Lin brand). The Tung-Lin dynamo are rated at 12V and 0.5 Amps or 6W. Thus two dynamos connected in parallel will give you 12V 1 Amp or 12W. This is about the right input for the external laptop battery charger.

This solution is much simpler than making your own dynamo, however there is a small electrical wiring you need to do. The dynamo give out AC voltage instead of DC so you need to buy a bridge rectifier and voltage regulator to convert to DC voltage.

Finally I think if you will go with solar and if you can get a small enough pannel to give you 12V 1Amp or 12W than it will work while ridding too.
In any case, be prepare to bike for 8 hours to charge your battery. You can shorten this time by using three dynamo (in this case it is 12V 1.5 Amps ) and it will take just 5 hours. Or bigger solar pannel but this means reducing your mobility.

One final note. One small complication that I have with the external charger is that it does not plug in securely enough to you battery so while
ridding, the plug will fall off. I solve this problem by making an aluminum clamp with some screws and it work great.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Dragon » Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:42 am

Things to keep in mind:

1) Check your laptop battery. It should say what the max voltage and Amps you should feed it while charging.
Do not exceed these value. For example my Sony Vaio battery can take a max of 12V and 2.0 Amps while charging
so I can charge it with 12V 1.0 to 1.5 Amps. It is best to stay a bit below the max Amps.

2) If you are using large solar Array, sometime you need to use a Charge Controller to prevent your battery from
overcharged. In this case make sure you know what the Amps that the charge controller feed the battery. For example
in my case, my Solar Array can provide 2 Amps but the charger controller feed the battery only 0.75 Amp. This
take longer to charge the battery. For this reason sometime I do not use the charge controller if I can be sure
the voltage and Amps will not exceed the max values of the battery mentioned in 1)

3) If you use the dynamo, it is unlikely that your voltage will exceed the battery so in this case, to monitor the status
of the charging process, it is best to use a cheap power analyzer. Power analyzer is usually not cheap but I found one
in the hobyist store that is definitely not a toy. It is called Watt'sup Power Analyzer. It is very lightweight and
very small so you can mount it on the bike handle bar - using quick tie or whatever. It will provide voltage, Amps,
Watts, and Amp-Hours and more.
In this ways you can see how the charging process is responding to your pedaling and you will know exactly when it is
done.


Advantage of Using Solar Array:

1) You don't need to pedal for your power. The sun does all the work.

2) Electrical wiring and connection is much simpler.


Disadvantage of Using Solar Array:

1) If your power requirement is large so that the Solar Array will not fit on your bike penier, you will not
be able to charge while biking. You will need to stop somewhere for this.

2) Will not work at night or cloudy conditions.


Advantage of using bike dynamos:
1) You can charge anytime anywhere.

2) You may have some controll of the charging process by changing your biking speed. For example if you use
a power analyzer, you can monitor the amount of charge that enter the battery in real time.

Disadvantage of using bike dynamos:
1) You may need to make your own especially if you don't have an external charger for your laptop battery.
In this case, it is a lot of work. You may not want to do this.
2) You have to pedal for every single Watts - it is hard work! You have to work against the drag for of the dynamo.
3) You may need to install at least two dynamos and up to three, in which case the drag will be significant! It is possible to install two dynamo
on one tire.
4) Wiring and connections are a little complicated.


In summary:

1) If you can not find a standalone external charger or you can not find a bike dynamo that can produce 12V and 6W,
You may want to go with the Solar Option, even if you may not be able to charge while biking. You can build
your own dynamo but it is so much work that I would say do this only if you are up to it.

2) All of the above consideration is for high power requirement. So if what you bring along on your trip is a small
notebook or an ipad or small taplet computer, then all you need is a small Solar Array. Small Solar Array will work
fine in this case. In any case check your power requirement.
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby biftek » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:54 am

nasigoreng wrote:telstra t touch tab $199 at dick smiths, also known as huawei s7. bang for buck tab, loads custom roms if that's your thing. anything other than telstra is a waste. best thing is marketplace, amazing apps on offer, and galaxy tab eats icrap tab any day! the biggest con by apple was to say geeks use macs! last time I looked they were all linux...


the telstra t touch tab is not a galaxy tab , they are two different models , the t touch tab is a cheap android tablet , cheap and nasty
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Re: Need advice on internet/telecom while cycling Australia

Postby Dragon » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:55 pm

Aushiher,

I have tested this out with 3 and 4 dynamos on my bike and found that 2 dynamo would be enough.
but even with 3 dynamo, the drag is exceptable.

Also what I have in mind is to charge big, power hungry laptop. In this case you will need at least
12V (AT) 1Amp or 12W. And any solar pannel that meet this requirement would be too big to strap on the bike
and also it would be expensive. For example the cheapest I could find is the Brunton 6W ---

http://www.amazon.com/Brunton-Watt-Fold ... pd_sbs_sg7

You would need two of these and connect them in paralell. Each of these pannel is 29"(74cm) by 9"(23cm);
Too big to be strapped on a bike.

Also I own several Brutton Array, so I know; They are not easy to use. You have to get
the right car plug adapters and even battery pack to get them to work right. Thus the total cost would be even more.
Also the thing come with very little instruction. It's not that the solar array does not work. They just did not tell you what you need
to make it work.
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