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

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #347 | 090113 | Jobs, Aircell, VMWARE, Displays, Tom Bihn, & Conferences

Listen! (Size 5.2 MBs, Running Time 11m22s)

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

Today's's podcast channel examines the following topics: IT job & skill forecasts for 2009; Aircell Internet access for airplanes; a VMWARE open source play with Infrastructure Toolkit; top displays with Samsung 245T & Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP; a short review of Tom Bihn's Checkpoint Flyer Travel Bag & Briefcase; and then a run down of some potentially interesting conferences that are coming up soon.

Other links mentioned in this podcast include:

The microbrew recommendation for this show is the Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

TECH NEWS RADIO PODCAST #343 | 080322 | BlackBerry Enterprise, eWeek Top Tech For 2008, DOD Conferences Pointer, WordPress Update, and Interview on Virtual Teams

Listen! (Size 12.7 MBs, Running Time 27m26s)

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

Today's show covers: #1.) RIM's latest enterprise news; #2.) eWeek on 2008 technologies you should check out; #3.) a pointer to DOD conferences in the Washington DC area; and #4.) news about the very popular blogging tool WordPress.  Once we get through the news, there is an interview I recently recorded with President/CEO Eric Basu about how his company Sentek Consulting uses the latest technologies to enable effective virtual teams.

Links mentioned during the news portion of the podcast include:

Links mentioned during the interview on virtual teams includes:

Our microbrew recommendation of the show is the Widmer Broken Halo IPA. And if you have any tech questions post them to:

TECH NEWS RADIO #291 | 060606 | Tom Bihn, Brain Bag, Brain Cells, Areonaut, and Archetype

Today's podcast is all about Tom Bihn and the awesome products they offer those that have to carry technology gear.

But we also touch briefly on our iTunes comments competition, Podcast Academy 3, and TechNewsRadio's Frappr Map.

Links mentioned in this podcast include:

This podcast is sponsored by O'Reilly and Associates Safari Bookshelf online technical library.

 (Size 4.3 MBs, Running Time 9m10s)

TECH NEWS RADIO #279 | 060412 | MINI TECH RAG TEAR OUTS with content from Maximum PC, PC Magazine, and PC World

Today we are going to look at some "gear and gadget" recommendations from Maximum PC, PC World, and PC Magazine in a mini Tech Rag Tear Outs podcast format. The official beer of the show was Racer 5 India Pale Ale from Bear Republic.  The gear items mentioned include:

In addition, we mention the following links:

This podcast is sponsored by O'Reilly and Associates Safari Bookshelf online technical library.

 (Size 5.9 MBs, Running Time 12:45)

TECH NEWS RADIO #268 | 060313 | eTech 2006, Mapquest, OpenAPI, Developer Contest

This podcast covers news from eTech 2006 with regards to Mapquest's recently announced Open API and Developer Challenge Contest.

If you'd like to discusss this or any topic related to eTech then check out the eTech 2006 Forum at

This podcast is sponsored in part by: - your source for technology resources, and the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT.

 (Size 2.1 MBs, Running Time 4:30)

TECH NEWS RADIO #254 (Mobile Projector, TabletPC, Windows Mobile, GPS, and BlackBerry)

Today's podcast looks at some mobile tools for mobile warriors that caught my eye in Mobile Enterprise Magazine published for Feb. 2006:

This podcast is sponsored in part by: - your source for technology resources, and the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT.

TECH NEWS RADIO #247 (Carson Helps Me Podcast About Mobile Gear)

Back in October I did this segment without "help" in standard Tech Tidbits Daily fashion.  But the truth be told I originally had a "helper" with the prep.  Here is the "helper" version:

Mobile Enterprise for October 2005 had a special feature that highlighted eight new technology cases for laptops and handhelds.

Learn more about GotoMeeting's webconferencing solution from


More on Tom Bihn &

On Thursday I did a hands-on review of some very nice products from Tom Bihn.  I forgot to include once additional item that was also sent out: the Snake Charmer (aka cable organizer bag.)  It is actually very well designed and I have all my cables that didn't have a good place to go in my previous bag, organized in this bag.

Also ... please listen to the Thursday podcast if you want to get in on the special deal from Tom Bihn with regards to these two prodcuts: Absolute Shoulder Strap and Monolith.

Tech Tidbits Daily Podcast for December 8, 2005

Today's podcast is a hands-on review of a customized dual-laptop backpack bag solution from Tom Bihn.  Thanks to Brendan for coming up with the segment idea, and for Darcy for putting the package together. So this is what I got to evaluate:

What I have been using for the last two weeks is the: Brain Bag + Brain Cell Size 5 (iBook) + The Soft Cell Size 2 (Tecra M4).  And I have to highly recommend this setup for transportation of two laptops for my situation.  I have also posted some pictures on my personal blog.

Listen to the podcast for details on a special contest from for listeners of

Support the podcast with a financial donation if you can via Amazon or Paypal.

The next GotoMeeting & is this coming Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005 and will focus on Cool Holiday Tech Gifts.