Solar Power Review - Keeping Your Tech Powered While Camping

I recently picked up from Harbor Freight Tools the following solar power kit: 45W Solar Power Kit (#68751) for just over $150 (including tax).


Over the course of the last couple of months I've been able to try out the kit on several camping trips were there was no easy electrical grid access.  The camping environment was pretty sunny but not always 100% full sun.  The time of year for all the trips was summer and the location was Southern California.  I ended up setting up the kit on the top of our small camper.

The main reason I picked up the kit was to keep all of my tech gear charged so I could keep tabs on email, news, and any tech issue with my sites.  This was usually less than 1 hour a day which worked out well for my needs, and expectations related to being on a camping trip.

The gear I was able to keep operational using the kit included: cell phone, tablet, WIFI card, and a laptop during trips lasting up to 7 days.

I was suprised during the main daylight hours that the inverter could charge directly: the cell phone, tablet, and WIFI card.  To keep my laptop charged I needed to capture to an emergency car battery system, and then use 3rd party car charger/inverter to get the right power levels to keep the laptop charged.  I was also able to keep charged a USB battery pack so I could run my WIFI card during non-daylight hours when needed.

One other lesson learned, was to turn off all electronics while sleeping.  This helped keep all the devices more readily available the next day then keeping them in standby/sleep mode overnight.

All in all the system worked very well and I'd recommend it.

Updated: 3/16/2014

@technewsradio Roundup Posts for May 7th, 2011

The following is a summary of @technewsradio posts to Twitter:

  1. ASIS Bookstore (security pro organization) has announced over 26 new books via their online store
  2. SWFTools is a collection of open source utilities for working with Adobe Flash files (SWF files)
  3. Amazon online cloud services has a bunch of demos available - including Travel Log (Sample Java Web Application)
  4. Google has fixed a SketchUp 8 "dreaded shadow bug"
  5. Franklin Covey's PlanPlus for Outlook (version 7) is now on sale for $80 (vice $100) 
  6. Looking for a open source mind mapping tool?  Then check out Free Mind
  7. Microsoft Press has announced 3 more books in their Step By Step series: Microsoft Word 2010, Excel 2010 & Project 2010 
  8. has an interesting article "Wired—Geek Power: Steven Levy Revisits Tech Titans, Hackers, Idealists"
  9. Listening to "A Witness to a the Egyptian Revolution" by Doug Kaye (Executive Director, The Conversations Network) via
  10. Per Kevin Devin at - A good tool for finding Creative Commons (CC) images on Flickr is here
  11. the Microsoft & Nokia deal seems to leave HP WebOS, BlackBerry, and Intel out of the loop with Apple (#2) & Android (#1) being top dogsDelete
  12. red5 is an open source audio/video (FLV & MP3) server that also supports H.264 
  13. Steven Levy's classic "Heroes of the Computer Revolution" has a new 25th Anniversary Edition

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #370 | 2010-07-14 | Portable Audio Recording & Podcast Distribution

 Listen! (Size 4.1 MBs, Running Time 4m05s)

Today's podcast examines portable audio recording options and some podcast production and distribution technologies.  Links mentioned in this podcast include:

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: TwitterFriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

Twitter Updates - Google, Amazon, Windows, Chrome, TweetDeck, iPad

The following is a summary of tweets posted to TechNewsRadio@Twitter over the last week:

  • This WEEK in GOOGLE42 Check out: Ribbit, Android Kindle app, Google Reader Play, Diaspora, Google Wave open to all
  • Per @LeviathanChrons the podcast novel "Leviathan Chronicles" has a big update on 5/26
  • Amazon has announced a Asia Pacific Region AWS datacenter in Singapore (EC2 S3 SimpleDB RDS SNS CloudWatch Cloudfront)
  • Roundtable is today - Sat. May 22nd at 1pm PT / 4pm ET - Stitcher Radio, Green Screen HowTo, 5 Top Windows Utilities
  • standardizing all my computers with Google Chrome as the default browser - it seems to be faster, more reliable, etc than Firefox
  • TweetDeck seems like a nice upgrade: more meaningful icons, location, scheduled updates, translations, etc
  • is looking for proposals their 10th year conference in Budapest, Hungary from 08/31- 09/03/2010
  • Checking out Apple's "iPad : The Missing Manual—New from O'Reilly" - new book $25 -
  • Mark/Space has announced Android Calendar Sync Version 1.4 Beta
  • The new Apple OS X Snow Leopard Security Guide is now available online via PDF
  • has released AnyDVD6.6.4.2 with support for Avatar, more encryption updates & other fixes
  • Willow Garage has a new open-source initiative for institutions and universities to build upon a robot platform
  • OpenBook Specification for ePub (xhtml, css, etc) - some tools: Calibre & Adobe InDesign
  • Just installed the new VMWARE 3.1 for Mac -- reports about Bootcamp VMs being faster seem true - more info:
  • PhatWare has announced WritePad for iPad - an advanced handwriting recognition software
  • Checking out Tweekdeck v0.34.2 (upgrade from v0.34.1) --- I wonder what is new?
  • Checking out PersonalBrain 5.5 (visual information management) for Mac, Windows, Linux [free 30 day demo]
  • is now the new "centralized" home for MacTech, Now Software, MacNews, MacsimumNews, MacMinute, etc
  • Manager Tools Effective Manager Conference at Denver Marriott City Center has been announced for June 7, 2010
  • SitePoint's newest book "Create Stunning HTML Email That Just Works!" looks like a good HTML intro:
  • How to Upgrade Your MacBook's Hard Drive -- Is a good reference!
  • Anyone interest in an Apple iPad meetup in San Diego, CA - Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unboxing Newton MessagePad & Apple iPad - TechNewsRadio Special Report

Steve Holden at and his family do a dual unboxing of an Newton MessagePad 100 and a new Apple iPad 16-GB.

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: Twitter, FriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.  You can also get other great podcasts and content at

You can also watch the video on YouTube if you want.

More information about the topics, products, etc can be reviewed via:

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

Twitter Updates - Evernote, SimpleDB, Beatweek, Dynamism, Python, Etc

The following is a summary of tweets posted to TechNewsRadio@Twitter over the last week:

  • checking out an old reference from my Evernote library - Digital Home Recording Tips, Part 1 - O'Reilly Media []
  • For all you database guru's out there - Amazon SimpleDB now supports "consistent reads and conditional puts & deletes" []
  • How to get Windows updates in an ISO image so you can burn them to DVD for systems not connected to the Internet []
  • if you do internet based research & data analysis then you might want to check out Context Discovery
  • There is now a video library of content for that is scheduled for March 1-5, 2010 across 60 locations on 6 continents
  • Checking out the new Beatweek (formerly iProng - music, new media, podcasting, mobile gear) fan page on
  • has announced iMacros for Chrome - automates common tasks such as posting feedback, checking visitor statistics & downloading info
  • has the new viliv S10 tablet computer with 10.1” HD LCD, multitouch swivel screen, Intel Atom CPU, 10 hour battery, optional 3G
  • the other "Steve Holden" is offering an online course Python 1: Beginning Python ($199) 
  • has announced the AnyDVD (HD) Update - this is a great Windows DVD copy/backup program that works well with Handbrake
  • Mark Minasi has shared some great Microsoft Active Directory tips related to ADSIEdit & LDAP 
  • VIZIO’s XVT Series HDTVs now come with integrated & upgradeable Internet Apps (Demand, Flickr, Netflix, Rhapsody, VUDU & Yahoo TV Widgets)
  • Oracle recently released VirtualBox 3.1.4 with improved stability & bug fixes.
  • Conference (OOoCon) will be from 08/31-09/03/2010 in Budapest, Hungary

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #362 | 091215 | Parallel Development, RFID, Ubuntu & Conference Pointers

Listen! (Size 7.1 MBs, Running Time 9m47s)

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

Today's podcast examines the following topics:

Links mentioned in this podcast includes:

We also play a promo for's Christmas Special that is expected to be release on Monday, December 21, 2009.

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: Twitter, FriendFeed, and/or Delicious.  For tech news only updates follow TechNewsRadio on Twitter.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST and Amazon.

Twitter Updates - Microsoft, Outlook, Power, Mobile, Server, Mac, Security

Over the last week the following were posted to TechNewsRadio @

Twitter Updates - InfoSec, Tech & Kids, Storage, Tips, Research

Over the last week the following were post to TechNewsRadio @

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #353 | 091006 | Cloud Computing Services, NEC Projector, iPod Case, Conference Pointers

Listen! (Size 6.5 MBs, Running Time 9m19s)

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST (SeV) - makers of fine tech clothing.

Today's podcast mentions the following links:

We are giving away a Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer in the Black/Steel color pattern with a 15" laptop compartment to celebrate the start of our 5th year of podcasting.  Listen to the podcast for directions.

We also played a promo from the Geek Cred Podcast.

Sorry, no microbrew recommendation or podcast recommendation.  Hopefully next week.

Feel free to follow along with Steve Holden at: Twitter, FriendFeed, and/or Delicious.

This podcast is sponsored by SCOTTEVEST (SeV) - makers of fine tech clothing.