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smitchl
2007-10-09, 18:19
Hello, I asked the moderators for permission to post and it was ok'ed.

I am looking for outdoor enthusiasts to participate in a survey about their experience with battery life in electronic devices. The survey's purpose is to provide input for a new mobile power source product. I am a product manager for a small start up company in the alternative energy sector and I'm looking for feedback and discussion with respect to powering electronics while in the outdoors.

The survey takes about 10 minutes and is anonymous unless you would like to enter a draw for an Amazon gift card. The survey is here. http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e25gig0pf5fxczsz/start

Thanks in advance,
smitchl

dropkick
2007-10-10, 02:38
The survey site does drop a tracking cookie on you.

-I screwed up on a question on the first page but didn't see it till after I'd hit continue. Thought "Heck I'll just start over".
But the site knew what questions I'd already answered and started me where I'd quit the survey.

This bothers me, I don't see the need for them to track me. I quit the survey and wiped my cookies.

Sparrow
2007-10-10, 10:15
Actually, the cookie set by the survey site doesn't 'track' anything. It's not a 3rd party mechanism. If you look at the contents of the cookie itself, it is used for validating the user session so that the same person doesn't take the survey repeatedly.

Cookies aren't necessarily evil. They are a valid method of user/session preference management. Heck, even hikinghq sets cookies for forum preferences...

SGT Rock
2007-10-10, 13:28
I took the survey. I'm sort of interested to see what this thing really is.

smitchl
2007-10-10, 21:33
The thing doesn't exist yet except in some requirements documents and some prototypes. I'll be able to explain more in a few weeks.

As for the survey and anonymity, when I see the results, all entries come through with anonymous and a date/time stamp. I can see the email addresses of those who chose to share it and that list will be used for the draw in couple of months. Then, I will delete the list except for those people who agreed to be contacted for possible questions and beta use.

Thanks for participating. The feedback is really useful.
smitchl

SGT Rock
2007-10-10, 22:24
No problem. Remember - I am thru hiking next year ;)

GGS
2007-10-11, 00:17
Smitchl, interesting survey! I look forward to seeing what technology arises from this, especially if it can be applied to the cash-strapped lightweight backpacking crowd.

KLeth
2007-10-11, 01:50
Did the survey, never do surveys.
I am dreaming of methanol cells and secondary an affordable lithium or sulphur(for arctic conditions) powerpack 12/24V that can be stepped down to charge powercells :biggrin:

rbd
2007-10-11, 10:25
My responces were directed towards canoe travel in the Adirondacks - after all, I'm just a Pack Sniffer - who is learning more about traveling lighter from you guys.

Furlough
2007-10-11, 11:42
Interesting survey/concept. Curious to see where this goes.

GGS
2007-10-11, 11:45
RBD, I love your avatar! I used to have a breeding pair of chinchillas. The kits are the cutest things!

SGT Rock
2007-10-11, 15:29
I thought that was just a geek mouse.

rbd
2007-10-11, 18:27
No way! Chinchillas are not even "geek mouse Sniffers"!
That's Fernando. He's explaining the many health benefits of an "All Raisin Diet".

sailingsoul
2007-10-11, 20:01
Boy, I for one had the hardest time with that survey. How do I answer questions about a product, when I don't know the first "thing" about the product? "Things" like size, weight, cost,,,,. Any one of these, could change my answer. That being said, I took the survey, what a struggle. The less you know about what your being asked, the less value the answer has. SS :captain:

smitchl
2007-10-12, 02:48
My apologies about the length of the survey sailingsoul. It is meant to help me understand how potential users feel about battery life of their gadgets. Is it a real problem? Is it something can can be solved in a more convenient and/or economical way than it is currently (most people seem to use disposable batteries with rechargeables being a close second). Then it is also meant to help illustrate what are the most important attributes of the potential solution. The solution description is vague for a few reasons.
1. it's still being defined and designed so it doesn't exist yet
2. in the case that someone working for a competitor takes the survey, we don't want to give too much away.

I can tell you that it will be an universal charger that will charge personal electronics with rechargeable li-ion batteries such as phones, mp3 players, GPS units, cameras as well as rechargeable AA's. The main differentiators from battery based emergency chargers are; longer runtime (ie, > 1 charge before the user has to replenish it, we're thinking maybe 3 charges or 5 charges), cheaper per charge than disposable batteries, better environmental footprint than disposable batteries.
The survey is one tool to help test relative importance of these points and discussions like this help too. We're also doing phone interviews with potential users.

If you have more questions or comments, I'd love to hear them,
Thanks for your time,
smitchl

SGT Rock
2007-10-12, 08:36
Well I know you won't get into details about it but it would be interesting to know exactly how it would work.

For my end of what I would like to see - a device I can plug my electronic device into at night when I am down for the evening which would re-charge the Li-Ion battery for my camera/cellphone/mp3 player/PDA or whatever. Idealy it would weigh around 3 ounces or less.

I assume from what I have heard about fuel cells, there is some sort of chemical reaction going on here, so if the chemical is easy to get - say like some alcohol stove fuel, then that woud be even mo' better.

What would be really cool is if there was a cord with some device I could throw one end into a camp fire and plug the other end into my PDA and use convert heat from the fire to electricity for my electronic. Then whenever I lit my stove or ran a fire it could charge my device.

sailingsoul
2007-10-12, 14:22
Well Smitchl, what made it "hard" to get through wasn't the length at all. I don't prefer to do surveys, I do them occasionally but had no problem doing this one. As far as surveys go it seemed the standard length. Just about the time I wanted to bolt for the door, the end scrolled up, as usual. Must be in the design. I've felt like that before. Best wishes to you on your endeavor. SS:captain:

MrSparex
2007-10-13, 01:09
Of course your among a hiking community here. Most folks that are here or visiting have a narrow paradigm concerning this possible new product. We are interested in things that are absolutely needed and that justify space in our extremely limited packs. Campers for example are in a different world than us. Whereas campers may have a battery powered TV/DVD combo...that would be part of a joke to the hiking crowd. Even something as standard as a cell phone is an item soon sent home by most serious hikers. I wouldn't think we'd be the best group to inquire on about this product (I may be completely wrong). I think I could safely say that IF a hiker was going to carry such an animal that it would have to be very very lightweight, solar powered and easy to live with on the trail. It would have to be compact and likely would be used to recharge batteries for a head lamp etc.

Geo.
2007-10-13, 02:23
IF a hiker was going to carry such an animal that it would have to be very very lightweight, solar powered and easy to live with on the trail. It would have to be compact and likely would be used to recharge batteries for a head lamp etc.

This may be of interest - I spotted this small solar battery charger in a store here recently that'll meet some of that criteria. It was called the Freeloader. About the size of a small cellphone when folded. Two small solar panels slide out of it. It was $79 NZ (about $60US) Apparently will charge cellphones, GPS, POD's etc.
Here's a link I googled with some pic's and details. it's a Brit site but there'll be others...
http://www.solartechnology.co.uk/products/Solar_chargers/freeloader.asp

MrSparex
2007-10-13, 23:09
Looks like something off a 007 movie!

Nightwalker
2007-10-13, 23:12
If you have more questions or comments, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for your time,
smitchl

I use a charger that has 4 AA, 2500 mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries. I get 3 charges per battery set. My mapping GPS, Pocket PC and phone all use 3.7v Lithium Ion batteries.

Nightwalker
2007-10-13, 23:17
Even something as standard as a cell phone is an item soon sent home by most serious hikers.

Got any evidence for that other than comments on a website? Almost everyone I see out there now has a phone, and I hike 12 months a year, every year.

I'm not a "serious" hiker, however. I have lots of fun with it. :)

Geo.
2007-10-14, 01:08
Got any evidence for that other than comments on a website? Almost everyone I see out there now has a phone, and I hike 12 months a year, every year.


I seldom take a cellphone - kind of like to get away from that stuff when I go bush. GPS and a digital camera are about as electronic as I get. :call2:

MrSparex
2007-10-14, 17:03
Ken Clark "flip flopped" the entire AT. He lives in the Elkin, NC area. He's a friend of mine. He started at Springer. He got a ride from Harpers Ferry to Maine and then hiked back to West Virginia. One of the many things he told me was that cell phones were one of the first of items that got mailed back home by thru hikers. (he also touted titanium cookware) He said his pack was 35 to 40 pounds and he's a "tent man" rather than a "hammock man". I'm trying to be a "hammock man". He is very interesting to talk to about the trail. He went solo after retiring......
....anyway.....that's what I was going by when I wrote that. I always carry mine with me but like you said, I'm also not a serious hiker yet. I have "the stuff" but I haven't been able to leave my business yet but I'm working on it!
Ken also has a tent made by a man from Myrtle Beach which he said was just under 3 pounds. He said he'd bring it by and let me see how it's made.

SGT Rock
2007-10-14, 17:34
It makes sense if you think about it. Most areas in the southern Appalachians don't have cell phone coverage at all - and carrying a phone that uses all it's juice trying to get a signal is just insane. That said, I would rather carry one item rather than three. My camera phone gives you the option to turn off the cell phone part - so I look at it more as a 2.2mp digital camera that also plays Mp3s and is an FM radio. And when I do get to a town without a pay phone - I can use my camera to make phone calls.

smitchl
2007-10-17, 20:41
Well I know you won't get into details about it but it would be interesting to know exactly how it would work.

For my end of what I would like to see - a device I can plug my electronic device into at night when I am down for the evening which would re-charge the Li-Ion battery for my camera/cellphone/mp3 player/PDA or whatever. Idealy it would weigh around 3 ounces or less.

I assume from what I have heard about fuel cells, there is some sort of chemical reaction going on here, so if the chemical is easy to get - say like some alcohol stove fuel, then that woud be even mo' better.

What would be really cool is if there was a cord with some device I could throw one end into a camp fire and plug the other end into my PDA and use convert heat from the fire to electricity for my electronic. Then whenever I lit my stove or ran a fire it could charge my device.

That campfire idea is pretty cool. I don't think we can help with that though.

The unit would work anytime, whether you are down for the evening or on the move. The fuel packets would have to be available everywhere like batteries or at least in gear stores.

3 oz is a good benchmark. It's got to be as light as possible.

The other comments about whether cell phones are useful on the trail or just dead weight are interesting. Here in the Pacific Northwest, most people carry them to ensure they can call for help if necessary. My friends happened on an injured hiker last year and were able to call for help. (he was ok in the end) Obviously this is moot if there's no service but I'd only leave the cell behind if I knew for sure that there was no signal anywhere I'd be. I wouldn't consider myself a serious hiker, more of a day hiker with a little kid but eventually I hope to do a huge chunk of the Trans Canada Trail. Makes me sore just thinking about it.

smitchl

smitchl
2007-12-21, 19:55
Thank you to all participants for your feedback. The winner of the Amazon gift card has been notified.

For those of you who agreed to be contacted sometime in the future. I will send out a request for participants in a beta program where you'll get a chance to try out the device and rate it. This will happen sometime before the spring.

All the best of the season for now!

sailingsoul
2007-12-21, 20:40
I was wondering what ever became of this. Thanks for the up date SS :captain:

Amigi
2007-12-22, 08:14
Solar panels are around 65-75 milliwatts per sq in per hour. The freeloader looks like 6 sq inches. Thats 450 milliwatts per hour under perfect conditions. It might work, but I'm hesitant to say it will live up to its claims. I'd love to test one though.

sailingsoul
2007-12-23, 02:32
I believe it would work like: 1 watt for 1 hour is "1 watthour", 1 watt for 3 hours is 3 watt/hours. That said, 65-75 milliwatts = .065-.075 watt . So for 3 hours, it would be 0.195-.225 watt/hours produced . Not a lot. My Olympus Stylus camera came with a .750 watt/hour battery , that's 10+ hours to charge my camera battery ( there is always a little loss in the charge cycle). Not stellar by the sq, in. By the sq. foot or two,,, looking better. To bring the solar panels total costs down you could use mirrors or lenses to focus more light (photons) on the panel. Fresnel would be light + cheap lens. If you could block the IR keeping heat out and the temperature down on the cell, that would be about the best. Cell efficiency drop with temp rise. All solar panels take electric power to produce. In a strange way they are like a battery. You have to put electric power in before you get any out. After a point there's a net gain. I have 3, 110 watt panels on my boat. They run my 12 vdc refrigerator and 12 vdc, computer, fluorescent lights etc. I have 440 amp/hour battery bank. At 12 volts that's 5280 watt/hour. Gets me through 3 days, cloudy stint. I smell smoke, goto go my heads smoking, later. JAK take over.
SS :captain:

SGT Rock
2007-12-28, 13:35
I'm leaving in 4 weeks if you need a tester ;)