eco-gadgetery... attaching crank-handles to spokes/solar panels to the top pannier

Anybody have any experience with green electricity when riding distances? personally I can't ride without music and i've seen a range of solar battery chargers "1-1.5 hours to fully charge 4AAA batteries in full sunlight, £16.79" for example, or the Trevor Baylis wind-up mp3 player - 1 minute winding for 45 minutes music with an integrated torch, e-book reader, MP4 player, and radio - at about the same price as an iPod.
Could this stuff be fitted into general cycling? Could a wind up device with a crank handle be attached to a fork and spoke and charged while riding? Could a solar-panel be attached to the top of a pannier rack and left to charge all day?


Cheers!
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
Solar panels, yes. These will work fine as trickle feed chargers, and I've seen it done on long rides.

Cranks on spokes, not so sure. You'd have to align it perfectly, and then disconnect after 30 seconds riding anyway. Makes more sense here to use a dynamo (hub or tyre wall) and a kit.

Both solutions work best when there's an intermediate battery between the power source and the unit you want to use. When I've seen it, they work like this:

Power source (supplies varying charge to) rechargeable battery bank (supplies fixed charge to) device (which may have its own batteries too).

USB is a good start. 5V on a standard connector is achievable from either.
 

andym

Über Member
Most of the posts I have seen about solar panels are from disappointed users - and that includes the PowerMonkey. If you do go down the solar route get a charger with a decent output (eg at least a couple of watts - look at the Solar Gorilla or Silva) IME this will charge 4 AA batteries on a good sunny day in northern Europe. I would partner it with a PowerChimp.

The alternatives to consider are dynamos (Busch and Muller and pedalpower). Or just get a humble USB charger and partner it with a Powerchimp - the vast majority of campsites have a power socket somewhere.
 
Thanks guys, I've seen the same myself, it seems green technology is still taking baby-steps at the moment. You can get 10 and 20W output solar panels which roll away... they seem perfect but cost hundreds of pounds. The disadvantage with the powermonkey is that it itself needs charging. Can you get dynamos which connect to a more general output like USB? I've only ever seen them hook up to the front light, and it's such an open concept.
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
mrfacetious said:
Can you get dynamos which connect to a more general output like USB? I've only ever seen them hook up to the front light, and it's such an open concept.
There are plenty of kits and instructables (http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=dynamo+usb+bicycle&meta=&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=) as well as top line manufactured solutions that'll provide USB charging from a dynamo (http://www.starbike.com/php/product_info.php?lang=en&pid=12413) but most assume you already have a dynamo in place.
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
mrfacetious said:
Ithanks for the second link though! Despite the hefty price tag...
Generally, B&M stuff is very good. IMHO, its the up side of 'you get what you pay for'. At the unknown end of the scale are alternatives such as this for £25. Might be worth a punt.
 
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