Thursday, June 27, 2013

Light and Power

In keeping with the mission of this blog promoting how fun and awesome bikes are;  the expressed intention of the upcoming bike tour is to demonstrate the advantages of bicycle travel.  One aspect of traveling by bicycle is that peddle power doesn't burn petrol on the journey from point A to B and onto C;  all the while enabling more intimate interactions with the landscape.  
It's hard to hug a tree from inside your car, or smell the rain coming over the next hill with the AC on.

Admittedly, burning the 1000's of gallons of jet fuel necessary for airline travel abroad is not necessarily "ecoconscious", but much can be done to minimize one's overall carbon impact and use of resources through the small choices made in day to day life.  

Bikes can viably substitute many typical methods of transportation, from getting groceries, to hauling firewood; under certain circumstances rendering the American icons of the SUV and truck unnecessary.  

With this goal of a low carbon impact trip, all the electronics necessary for the upcoming adventure will be 100% human powered, including lights, GPS, camera, and blogging.  
Don't want to miss those perfect post card pictures along the journey. 

This requires a few pieces of specialized equipment: dynamo generator hub, dynamo compatible lighting, and USB power source for GPS, phone, and camera charging.   There are a handful of products available to accommodate this.  

For an excellent write up on all the various dynamo USB charging/ battery-pack options I highly recommend jumping over to CyclingAbout and reading what Alex has to say.

One home-gown option is the Revolution from Bright Bike Labs.
It is great in it's simplicity, weight, price, and waterproofness. Additionally, this nice little device is designed and built by a couple cycle geeks and fellow fat-bikers from Cambridge Mass.  

 Weights only 38 grams, and fully charged my phone in it's inaugural ride two nights ago.

One caveat of the Revolution, is it only transmits power as the hub generates it, and has no battery storage.   Once you add a front light and an external battery pack, the full kit isn't too bad for self sufficient power source and ability to store energy for use at a later time. 

Monica's bike will likely be equipped with this little gizmo, the aptly named Bank Light from the Sheng Li corporation of Taiwan,  it is an all-in-one LED dynamo head lamp, power-bank consisting of 3 rechargeable AA batteries, and a USB charging adapter that allows you to charge other devices.
This  is still the beta-testing stage

The best feature of this option, in my opinion, is the unit's ability to be easily detached from the bike mount and function as a hand held flash light! Will likely come in handy for setting up camp.

 Not exceptionally heavy. 

The rigors of the next month will show how well these products actually function in the real world. 

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