Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Travel Gadget: High powered USB charging AC DC Adapter

Category: [Travel Gadget]

For the purpose of continual space and weight reductions for personal and environmental reasons, I have embarked on a focused effort to analyze each parcel which accompanies me when I pack for a trip. This includes both the personal and business trips. I keep a different packing checklist for each to ensure I did not forget to bring anything. The checklist has some clauses within for each season rather than multiply out the number of checklists. For dual purposed trips I just use two checklists.

Today's article will show a decent size and weight reduction for charging USB devices due to a new-ish (is it?) product on the market. The product is an ACDC adapter which converts to dual USB charging ports with each port capable of offering up to 2.1 Amps (2.1A or 2100mA) up to a combined total of 3 Amps (3A or 3000mA) at 5V (5 volts). Wattage is 15W (5V x 3A).

Pictured here:

To calibrate what that verbose description means, usually tablets with their massive batteries are asking for 2.1A x 5V for charging. Especially the new iPad (iPad 3, but unofficially so named) with it's huge battery capacity will want as much juice flowing as possible. Smartphones typically like to see 1A x 5V for charging as they have 1300maH - 1500maH batteries. At 3A, this charger can handle a tablet and a smartphone reasonably well.

Previously I was carrying the items on the left side of these two photos (quarter shown for size comparisons):

The single USB port item shown is the Apple charger which has high wattage charging capability. The two black adapters are 1A x 5V converters. These three have now been replaced by the innergie on the far right, since I don't need to charge the tablet at the same intervals as other devices I carry with me. With a quick look you may observe volume savings exceeding 70% with this new gadget. Quite pleased with that savings alone.

This gives me comfort in enabling me to rapid charge a tablet and a smartphone together using one electrical socket. Many hotels have been short-sighted in providing power strips or multiple charging sockets. Internationally, many have no or limited socket adapters. Packing many space consuming socket adapters is also far from elegant. This device helps to alleviate much of that.

Later posts will show another useful area and weight saving that I was able to attain from this gadget. The only thing I would alter with the innergie, if possible, would be for retractable or fold-able prongs. It's a solid A grade for this contraption, the plus was reserved for making the prongs more compact.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Travel Gadget: USB Charging helper

Category: [Travel Gadget]

Long time since I have seen this blog! Recently I have been coming across some electronics which are charged by USB or it's smaller form factors. I only wish my point and shoot digital camera could also charge by USB to reclaim the space occupied by its charger in my luggage. But I have digressed...

I bought and then re-purposed this device:

The USB spec discusses four pins, one for grounding, one for 5 volts of power, and two data pins. The spec also mandates that charging devices should short the data pins for compliance. Many charging devices do not follow that spec and leave the data pins unshorted. This limits me from charging some devices unless they're plugged into a computer, which can complete the USB host/client discussion.

In order to future-proof myself from misc power sources and also to avoid occupying much space in my luggage, I found a USB extension cord. More accurately it is called a USB flexible adapter. The original purpose for it is to enable someone who couldn't position their USB device horizontally to bend the adapter and have it positioned vertically.

As you have read along, this was not my use case, so I did a little surgery to make it suit my needs. It was successful and now has an unexpected positive new use for me, which will be discussed in a later post.

  1. Soldering Iron (optional)
  2. Wire Cutter (optional)
  3. Hobby Knife
  4. Hot Glue (optional)
  5. Super Glue
  6. Small pliers (optional)
  7. Multimeter (optional for continuity testing)
  8. Electrical tape
  1. Using the hobby knife carefully cut the crevice on the edge of the plastic near the part that reads BELKIN
  2. Cut the other side (One side will be MUCH easier than the other)
  3. Remove the plastic outer casing
  4. Cut the wires which map out to the D+ and D- pins while leaving enough space for splicing or soldering.
  • You can use the multimeter for continuity testing if you're unsure. Alternatively, look at the device and see the four wires that go into the USB connector fixture. It's the middle two wires from that set of four. The fifth wire is connected to the outside of the USB connector fixture.
Continued below the picture.

  1. Strip enough wire to solder or splice
  2. Solder or splice these two wires on the side of the USB fixture together
  3. Cover with electrical tape and/or hot glue
  4. Cover the unconnected leads of the other side with electical tape individually
  5. Affix them to something somewhat stationary
  6. Test out the contraption is working as intended. Use something you don't care about in case you messed up and somehow connected a hot wire to an unintentional place.
  7. When satisfied, snap the fixture back together and add super glue to secure it
Now with this between my non compliant USB charging device and the USB cable attached to my electronic device I am able to guarantee a charge. This guarantee also does not use much space in my luggage. When I am no longer tired you will find out another great use case I was able to get out of it.

Final Result: