Browsing "Computer"
Jan 27, 2013 -

The Days Are Getting Longer

It’s lovely to be sitting here just past 6PM and for the sky to still be light. It gets dark very fast, but at least I don’t eat dinner in the dark any more! It also gets light earlier; the solar charge controller clicked on just before 7:00 this morning! And what a beautiful sound that is, might I add. The click off in the evening isn’t so nice. 🙂

The rain promised for today never came and I had a moderate charge coming in all day. I used my computer a lot, so my batteries are sitting at about 88% right now. Not great, but it’ll be sunny again tomorrow and I need to run errands, so the batteries will have a chance to get a good soak while I charge the computer in the truck.

One thing today made me realise is that buying a keyboard for my iPad wouldn’t be a frivolous idea. Most of today’s computer power consumption was spent on the writing of what might end up being my next ebook. I could have typed for twice as long on my iPad and still had plenty of juice left on it.

I’ll be heading out for a walk soon even though it’s windy and chilly out there. I didn’t get out much today, but an after dinner stroll to the trash bins is always pleasant. 🙂

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Countries, Electricity, iPad, Solar Panels, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA    10 Comments
Jan 26, 2013 -

A 12V Charger That Actually Works For MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air

While I have finally managed to charge my 17″ Macbook Pro through my RV’s whole house inverter, it’s a terribly inefficient way to do it. I researched 12V chargers and found only cheap Asian models that I knew wouldn’t work well, if at all. But in my research, a name kept popping up and I finally decided to look it up. That name was Mikegyver.

This guy offers a number of DC charging solutions that actually work for Macs. How? He hacks the Apple charger brick to connect the magsafe cable to a 16.5 DC charger. Sound confusing? It was to me and I’m quite knowledgeable about all things Apple as well as DC electricity. I went through the site and I just couldn’t make the information connect.

So I finally emailed Mike and he was kind enough to answer my questions until the light bulb went on. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a write up about his system with pictures that would leave no question as exactly what it’s all about. The following pictures are of the Compact Mikegyver Power Travel Kit w/USB port.

A Macbook Pro needs 16.5V to charge. The AC cable will take the 120V power from the grid and convert it to 16.5V. In an RV on an inverter, you start with 12V that become 120V through an inverter that becomes 16.5V through the AC charger. Using Mikegyver’s solution, your 12V are immediately converted to the 16.5V the computer needs. This is much more efficient!

To purchase this system, there are a few options. I went with one of the more pricey ones, which was to order from him a brand new Apple brick to be hacked, at a cost of $160.90 plus shipping. But if you can spend a few weeks without your brick and have him convert it, the cost is just $69.95 for the labour and DC charger. There is also an exchange option where you can send back your brick in exchange for the newly converted one. This is only possible if you have the newer bricks with an L-shaped magsafe. I don’t and couldn’t be without my brick for a few weeks, so I just ordered the whole kit and kaboodle. So I now have an extra brick in case the first one fails.

My number one question once I understood the system is why not just send the DC charger plus magsafe, forget the brick, and drop the price? The answer is so obvious I’m embarrassed to have asked it. The value in this system is in the magsafe cable, not the AC charger.

This DC charging solution for a MacBook Pro is as close to an Apple product as you can get and I can’t recommend it too highly for RVers who spend time off the grid.

The entire team at Mikegyver is professional and helpful. Unfortunately, there were a several problems with the processing of my order. I can’t hold it against them because they made it right and then some, plus their product works! They might be the only folks offering this solution, but you’d never know it from the way they treat their customers.

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Communications & Electronics, Computer, Technical    4 Comments
Jan 25, 2013 -

I’m Charging My Laptop While Using It!

All right folks, I think we can say that Rae’s battery bank and whole house inverter set up is operating at full capacity!!! I’m sitting in partial sun with about 12.8V only on all the various monitors and I am not only charging my laptop, but also using it! The inverter does beep when the clouds get really heavy, but just for a second! I still think the DC charger I’m getting tomorrow is my best solution, but I feel soooooooo much better than I did yesterday!

I really want to thank everyone who has given me input on my battery upgrade woes. Every single comment I’ve gotten has given me just a little insight into why things weren’t working correctly, how to fix it, what to expect in terms of performance, etc. I really had all the knowledge I needed and the right tools. The problem was with the execution. Make good connections, folks!

Croft asked me how long I plan to stay here and what my plan is if the weather goes bad. I was able to go 13 days on my old batteries with fewer amp hours in mostly crappy cold super overcast conditions. Right now, I’ve got the rig plugged into the whole house inverter and am running the fridge and charging the computer, for a total of 2.8 amps going out. I have 0.9 amps coming in. My monitor is telling me I could run like this for another 43 hours before depleting my batteries. When I was just running a light last night, I could have kept going for 150 hours before depleting my batteries.

So I have a lot of reserve capacity for cloudy days, especially since I don’t have to run the furnace. I suspect I will run out of water and holding tank space before I run out of power. I can haul water from the icky public bathroom and dump grey water there and I can go about six weeks on my black tank. So unless the weather goes really, really bad, I should be able to last four weeks here as I had hoped to do.

This experiment is going to serve me well since I’ve decided I’d rather not put much money into my property next summer. So I’ll leave here knowing if I stand a chance of lasting the summer without plugging in.

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Black Tank, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Fresh Water Tank, Grey Tank, Personal, Plumbing, RV Pad, Solar Panels, Technical, Texas, Travel, USA    6 Comments