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Solar Power Pre-Deployment To Afghanistan?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the flash-memory-beats-moving-parts dept.

Input Devices 184

dAzED1 writes "My little brother is heading for training at 29 Palms as a Navy Corpsman with FMF. He gets a [Sailor|Soldier|Marine]'s pay, so while he can't afford gadgets, I can; since he'll be in a LAR unit, I was thinking of getting him a small video camera, an iPod, and some sort of solar recharger. Whatever he takes, he'll have to be able to carry in his pack, which is already going to be heavy with his medic gear. Other than the weight issue, I am having problems finding a solar recharger that doesn't get wildly differing reviews as to basic quality. He'll have plenty of sun and few clouds, but it needs to be lightweight, effective, and robust. With price not being much of a concern, what would you suggest for accomplishing this? Advice on a small robust video camera would be appreciated as well."

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Foldable solar charger (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106717)

This foldable solar charger from treehugger is great http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/01/foldable_solar.php

Forget the charger... (5, Insightful)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107077)

As a former infantryman, I can tell you that you are really over thinking this. Rugged means more than just hard to break. It also means that it is a single piece (so he can't loose part of it) and that those pieces are easily replaceable.

Forget the charger, and get him something nice that runs on AAs. Lots of military equipment, such as the AN/PRC-14 night vision goggles or the little radios that squads carry around, run on AAs and so he is sure never to have a shortage. You literally have boxes of these things just floating around where ever you go. They aren't that heavy, they are virtually unbreakable, and he will have to carry some anyway. When I was in, guys bought electric shavers that ran on AAs expressly for this reason.

Besides, his unit will appreciate him not flipping a mirror out for all to see whenever he wants to listen to music.

Re:Forget the charger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107765)

"literally have boxes of these things just floating around where ever you go"

lol

Re:Forget the charger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108023)

So no one will say "Don't snipe me, bro!"

Re:Forget the charger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108159)

Solar chargers aren't mirrors, they're non-reflective so they can catch light.

Looks pretty shiny to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108185)

Re:Looks pretty shiny to me (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108905)

Wait, you think they're going to be hauling around a glass-laminated rooftop panel?

What's being discussed is something more like this [google.com] .

Re:Forget the charger... (3, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108535)

AN/PRC-14 night vision goggles

Sorry to be a blue falcon and spotlight a fellow Infantryman...but it's AN/PVS-14. PRC's are radios. Now go get me a Prick/E-7 and a box of grid squares. (:

Re:Forget the charger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108697)

As a former infantryman, I can tell you that you are really over thinking this. Rugged means more than just hard to break. It also means that it is a single piece (so he can't loose part of it) and that those pieces are easily replaceable.

Forget the charger, and get him something nice that runs on AAs. Lots of military equipment, such as the AN/PRC-14 night vision goggles or the little radios that squads carry around, run on AAs and so he is sure never to have a shortage. You literally have boxes of these things just floating around where ever you go. They aren't that heavy, they are virtually unbreakable, and he will have to carry some anyway. When I was in, guys bought electric shavers that ran on AAs expressly for this reason.

Besides, his unit will appreciate him not flipping a mirror out for all to see whenever he wants to listen to music.

They are not AA batteries they are 3.6 V lithium. you will probably fry the ever loving crap out of anything you put these in.

Love,
THE

Re:Forget the charger... (3, Funny)

meyekul (1204876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108807)

"What do you mean the radio is dead?"

"Sorry sir, these iPods really suck the batteries!"

Re:Forget the charger... (1)

CaptYossarian (962928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108883)

'prc' is a personal radio. an/pvs-14 is the monocular night vision device.

Re:Forget the charger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108921)

This is a fantastic point. If you want to get your geek on, solder him a AA-USB recharger: http://revision3.com/systm/usbcharger2/
Otherwise, I'm sure you could find one if you poked around amazon. Good luck, and thank you for your brother's service.

Re:Foldable solar charger (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108097)

You skipped this part:

but it needs to be ... effective

Your best option is to save a ton of money and buy him a couple years worth of batteries.

Pay (4, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106721)

He gets a [Sailor|Soldier|Marine]'s pay, so while he can't afford gadgets

Unless he has kids or liens, he should be able to afford gadgets since his housing is free and He'll get a lot of tax-free combat pay if he deploys.

Anybody who's visited a larger military base such as Lackland AFB or Fort Bragg knows the many junior enlisteds driving pimped out ridez and sporting gadgets and bling. When younger recruits get out of basic training they're like kids in candy stores, especially since base exchanges have the latest stuff at low prices.

Also, given his unit, I hope that he dosen't plan to listen with headphones while on duty.

Re:Pay (0)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106801)

LOL. Yeah right. Have you looked at the enlisted pay scale lately?

When I went into the Corps in 93, I made more the summer before going in than I did my entire first year in.

The American enlisted fighting man gets paid exactly jack and shit until they have 5+ years in.

(now, all that said, sure, it's not impossible to save up money for a few months to buy an ipod or whatever, but most don't)

Re:Pay (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106879)

I just looked at it.

1399.50/month for an enlisted with 4 months of active "experience". It's not a lot of money on the surface, but it's plenty of money when you have no expenses.

$1399.50 is more money than I spend in any given month, if I exclude rent. It's much more money than I spend in any given month if I also exclude food. Given that enlisted can do both, if they wish, they're not destitute.

I'm not saying you'll ever make a lot of money as an enlisted man, but you wouldn't need to save up for "months" to buy an ipod. You'd need to save for about a week.

Re:Pay (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107083)

It's more than I spend in a month including rent and food.

Re:Pay (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106885)

You're exaggerating.

According to this [afmentor.com] chart, E-1's with less than 2 years of service make 1400 bucks a month. Without having to pay for food or rent. Without spending more than $250 of that in the first month of basic training.

So if an E-1 makes so little money that it takes them "a few months" to save up for an iPod, then that's one expensive iPod - 1400 * 3 = 4200 bucks. That's enough for a small used car and a new wardrobe with money left over for iPods and Xboxes. Do the math.

Re:Pay (5, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106933)

I just got out of the Navy as an E-4. Sorry, but your assertion that young enlisted men can't afford a bunch of gadgets is just plain wrong. I was a contract E-2 going in, made E-3 nine months later (automatic), and made E-4 six months after that. Here's the current pay for each grade (pre-tax, but you're only taxed on your base pay, all allowances are tax free):
  • E-2 (less than 2 years of service): $1,569.00
  • E-3 (less than 2 years of service): $1,650.00
  • E-4 (over 2 years $1,921.00

Unmarried Sailors get galley rations, comprehensive medical and dental care, an annual clothing allowance (doesn't completely cover uniforms, but it's pretty close), plus any special pays for rate designation (submarines, etc). While they're at sea they receive sea pay as well. Married Sailors received a housing allowance, commuted rations in their paycheck, and all the other standard benefits.

Virtually every young Sailor I knew in submarine school had, at minimum, a video game system, decent sized TV, fancy cell phone, laptop, various games, a CD/DVD collection, and more in their barracks rooms. All without going into much unsecured credit debt, if any.

Of course, there's always a few idiots who overextend themselves, and there's always a few who are more conservative with their money (a roommate of mine finished sub school with over $20,000 in his checking account). My primary point still stands.

In any event, thank you for your service!

Re:Pay (4, Funny)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107603)

Wait, universal health care, Government ID Cards, government food, housing and clothing assistance? .... COMMUNISM!!!! THEY'VE TAKEN OVER OUR MILITARY! GRAB YOUR GUNS! :D

Re:Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108091)

Well, since by joining the military you sell them several years of your life for about $1500 a month, you'd damn well better get all of those things.

Re:Pay (4, Insightful)

freebase (83667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108955)

Semper Fi, Jarhead.

I got out in '93, mainly because I was tired of working two extra jobs plus keeping up with everything with the Corps, just to support my family. I was a Cpl at the time, living in base housing, with one kid, one car, one wife, and not much else. As I recall, my total gross from my military pay was right at 13K that year. I made almost that much working part time at McD's that year.

I got out and took a job with a defense contractor doing the same thing I was doing in the Corps (TMDE repair/calibration), and immediately was grossing more than 25K.

While I was in, everyone I knew below the rank of Gunny or SSgt, and had a family was on food stamps and WIC.

And for the other poster commenting on the tricked out cars and crap he saw on the air force base... Stop and think... There's not many places to spend money when you're deployed to a combat zone. I suspect most of those 'kids' you saw that you thought were right outta boot have been to the sandbox and back.

Also, for your further education, the military doesn't pay all your expenses as an enlisted man... at least not when I was in the Corps. No one drew a pay check for the entire 12 weeks of boot camp, but when we got our initial pay, we took that $900 check they gave us, and spent most of it paying for our uniforms, our PX bill, and our travel to take our 10 day leave. While I was in school at 29 Palms, I didn't get paid at all for three months because of a payroll screw up. When I finally got paid, I owed for uniforms, haircuts, etc. When I was in school at MCLB Albany, GA, I ended up spending more than an entire months take home on a complete new issue of uniforms just so I could pass the Junk on Bunk inspections to get weekend liberty and not spend all weekend picking up trash on the CG's detail, or doing something equally banal on orders designed to give me something to do to keep young Marines out of trouble.

I'll end the rant this has become by simply saying this... no matter how much members of the military get paid, especially young enlisted men and women, they've made the choice to put their lives on the line, to shed their blood, just so other people back home can continue to make statements and assumptions about things they truly don't and will never understand.

It is by the blood of these men and women, my brothers and sisters in arms, that this country, as bad as it may be at the moment, is still the place people such as yourself gladly call home.

Re:Pay (0, Flamebait)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106871)

After rent, I still make 5 times as much as him...and I live in a nice area. Thanks for the offtopic, though.

Re:Pay (-1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106911)

Shut up, you stupid fuck. You're probably some spoiled little rich kid and you are obviously ignorant, even condescending to the military.

Little faggot.

Re:Pay (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106951)

(feeding the troll...)

did you get mod'd up, or did you just start at 3? I was an 0311 back in Desert Storm, would re-enlist now if I could, I'm in my late 30's, and I'm hetero. You've got a lot of fail going on there - wrong on every count. No, as the ask-slashdot says, my little brother is heading to Afghanistan, and I'd like to get him gadgets he can't afford. The fact that I make more than him doesn't mean I'm ignorant, or condescending...it's just reality. Not sure why you have a problem with me wanting to buy my brother gadgets...?

Re:Pay (0)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106965)

Wow, this comment deserves a Slashdot recode to include a +10 Insightful...

Re:Pay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106973)

thanks for showing righteous indignation by trashing all the gay people out there. Nice one.

Dickhead. Fucking Son of a Bitch.

Re:Pay (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107865)

Awww...how cute! you got owned and you ended up insulting someone who was in the military. God forbid, he use his money for a send off for his brother. What a spoiled activity!

Re:Pay (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106989)

That post was not offtopic, because you mentioned it in the summary, which is condescending and betrays your ignorance. If you weren't so ignorant then you would have at least consulted Google for the pay rate and opened up the options for more expensive and possibly better solutions to your brother's problem instead of arrogantly stating that you're gonna have to buy all of his stuff. I bet you know everything, right?

Nobody cares where you live or how much money you have. In fact, you probably have a special relationship with one of the editors, or the editors are not doing their jobs checking basic facts. That's why Ethanol-fueled's "offtopic" comment is now at +4. But thanks for letting us know that you have money. Good for you.

Re:Pay (2, Interesting)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106873)

You do realize that a new soldier is the prime target for credit card companies, right? After all, they can't quit.

Re:Pay (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107805)

But never the target of insurance companies. How strange.

God bless these brave soldiers!

Re:Pay (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108037)

> But never the target of insurance companies.

Whatever gave you that idea? Soldiers can and sometimes do purchase private life insurance to supplement their government-sudsidized insurance.

Re:Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107051)

Just because you may HAVE enough money to buy something does not mean you SHOULD buy it.

I have never understood people who take their whole paycheck and waste it on nonsense. What's wrong with saving money? The little brother may not have kids or liens now, but he might have them someday.

Anyway, I applaud the two brothers... the younger one for joining he military and the older one for being so generous.

Re:Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107371)

Do you have anything useful to share with this guy? Or are you just here to show everyone how smart you are by educating them on how much enlisted men get paid. Were you born retarded, or did your mother attempt to kill you during your childhood by feeding you lead based paint chips dissolved in high-fructose corn syrup and red-dye #2.

Re:Pay (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107909)

Or are you just here to show everyone how smart you are by educating them on how much enlisted men get paid.

Yeah, I'm trying to show everybody I'm smart from stating well-known facts and linking to charts on google, as others are doing in this discussion and being modded up for it. In fact, all slashdotters are trying to show others how funny/informative/insightful/interesting they are. That's what makes visiting this place a net gain for everybody.

Even so-called "offtopic" comments may also be informative. Moronic summaries are not new to slashdot, but if the writer has the gall to show up in the discussion then they'd better be ready to face facts. People here have made me look stupid so many times I've lost count, but the important thing is that I learned something. I don't go cry about my -1 score and fill the void with ice cream and Lost reruns.

Re:Pay (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107401)

You should see the first term Airmen tooling around McChord in a variety of hot muscle cars or fast imports, latest game console, iPhone or similarly priced phone thingy... You have to remember, these guys HAVE NO EXPENSES, so for most of them, that $1500 to $1900 is cash in the pocket to spend. On toys. On alcohol. On the opposite sex. On alcohol. On alcohol. On alcohol...

Re:Pay (3, Informative)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107409)

Right on. When you compare military pay to the salary of the average 19-year-old with only a high school diploma, the miliary pay wins out. And that's even before you consider that food, housing, health care, and education expenses are already paid for.

My first year in active duty left me with enough money to buy a new $4,000 computer and a slew of fun electronic gadgets. And I still had more left over that I honestly wasn't sure what to do with except save. Even though I wasn't rich, I sure felt rich because everyone in my life up until that point had told me about how difficult it was to pay bills and taxes when you're an adult.

Now, if I were smart, I would have invested it and kept saving. It's not a secret that if you invest a few hundred a month, every month, you can retire a millionaire by the age of 65.

(I threw that plan out the window when I got a girlfriend.)

re: Solar Power Pre-deployment To Afghanistan? (1)

burgessms (464499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106733)

Better PV panels are glass, which is not recommended to be packed into a duffel bag on a military (or commercial) transport. Foldable or roll-up panels are quite a bit more pricey. What are the chances you could ship him one (PV panel) after he gets settled ?? (or is he always going to be on the roll). Solar is not very compact, and the glass is, well, glass. Dust gathers and needs to be cleaned off, with water, to not scratch or haze the glass. Disposable batteries, or a 28V vehicle charger may be a better option.

Go for the better battery.... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106747)

Skip the solar. You can't anticipate weather in the field like they get. Or even, where in the field. Go for the better battery.

http://www.sfc.com/en/man-portable-technology-jenny.html

Re:Go for the better battery.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106797)

You are an enigma. I keep having to flip between modding you friend and foe. Modding you troll and insightful. I honestly have no idea what category to put you in. Congratulations.

Re:Go for the better battery.... (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106857)

Troll / insightful...I honestly have no idea what category to put you in. Congratulations

I am a writer, is what I am. Thank you.

Re:Go for the better battery.... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106869)

He should have power wherever he is anyway. How do they power their communication gear? It should be possible to get either 12V from vehicles or mains AC from generators.

Re:Go for the better battery.... (2, Informative)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106917)

forward light-armor recon in Afghanistan; we're talking luxury items anyway, so if it's raining...well, no juice - he'll live. Batteries are hard to get, heavy, and expensive. He generally will be away from camp, for days on end. And since he's a medic and not a Marine...he won't be point.

"With price not being much of a concern..." (5, Interesting)

Hertne (1381263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106771)

Money may not be much of a concern, but what about time and skill?

I had family overseas recently and had the same thought, but didn't have as much money to spend. I decided to go the DIY route and made one of these Solarize your backpack and power all your gizmos [instructables.com]

It's handy because it's lightweight and can be strapped (as the description says) to nearly any backpack, including most military ones, or taken off and set up somewhere stationary.

It also adds more of a personal touch to the whole idea. Buying something nice and expensive for a soldier is nice, but I've often times heard from them that having something personally made (even if it's a letter) is worth gold over there as well. Reminds 'em of home and all, y'know?

If you know how (or know someone that does) I would recommend making one of these.

Re:"With price not being much of a concern..." (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106887)

This is an excellent idea, probably the best thing he can do. As a Marine in Iraq at the moment as long as he doesn't need to get full power everyday he'll certainly be able to power himself especially if he can charge up a USB battery device (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16800997042 [newegg.com] ) continuously and then use that to power his IPod etc as long as they will charge from USB (a consideration for the camera).

Re:"With price not being much of a concern..." (2, Insightful)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106935)

And gives a really nice target for enemy snipers.

Re:"With price not being much of a concern..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106979)

If the medics are getting sniped, nobody is just standing around.

Re:"With price not being much of a concern..." (5, Insightful)

Lokinator (181216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107061)

More survival-oriented, but.. Operation Helmet [operation-helmet.org] , Operation BoreSnake [projectboresnake.org] (defunct but offers useful information for troops), and comfort kits all help out. Check with your brother about his armor vest quality - this has been an issue in Iraq, though some reports report it as resolved. The solar kit will help, but recall that most solar panels *reflect* in sunlight (see: "Iraq", "Desert Climes") and reflections have an unfortunate tendency to *draw fire*. This is an un-good thing in a combat environment. Think this through.

Re:"With price not being much of a concern..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107207)

Maybe it's time to set up well-dressed dummies that a) attract sniper fire and b) determine the source by measuring the impact vector. Make sure that the dummy is 'sticky', so bullets do not bounce; it throws off the measurements.

For bonus points: c) return fire instantly.

Scout vs Sniper (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107551)

For bonus points: c) return fire instantly.

Return fire to shoot a sniper? No, you take cover instantly and hide damn well first! There's no chance to measure the impact vector on the dummy, so you'll have to approximate the origin of the rounds (bullets).

If you have countersniper measures, you stay damn well hidden, then locate and shoot him, using either a sniper scope and rifle, or grenade launchers and machine guns. If not, you throw smoke grenades, stay low, and get the HELL out of there!

Subject Wrong (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107651)

Please ignore the subject "Scout vs Sniper". Just realized his brother is a medic. Sorry, my bad.

Medics don't use thin needles like our everyday hospitals. They use THICK ones, like the inkjet refill syringes that we use!

Also, medics inject one another on a regular basis during their medic training. Almost all of them have arm veins that have collapsed from too many injections!

(True for the Singapore army anyway.)

Re:"With price not being much of a concern..." (1)

tcolberg (998885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107475)

It also helps if you go the DIY route when things break, since he'll intimately know how it went together in the first place. Or, when he gets in the field, and something doesn't perform exactly the way he'd like, he can upgrade the system on his own.

GoPro camera is a great small durable camera... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106773)

I don't know about the solar re-charger, but as far as camera's the GoPro is really nice small and durable: http://www.goprocamera.com/

Flip video camera (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106787)

I've got nothing to suggest re PV but the Flip video camera sounds like it would fit the bill quite well. Simple, robust, tough, easy to use. Probably want to give it a different paint job, though. Kinda bright colors from the look of it.

PowerTraveller maybe? (2, Informative)

GCsoftware (68281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106791)

Whilst I haven't used their solar products, I do have a v1 PowerMonkey and love it. Their solargorilla product seems to do what you need:

https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/solargorilla/

Video Cam (4, Insightful)

cc_pirate (82470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106793)

Make sure the video cam you get him is flash memory based. HD based ones will certainly die with the shock and vibration they will take in the field. I recently got Canon Vixia HF10, which is flash based, HD and works quite well. However, for something the field he may prefer something a bit more robust like a Sanyo Xacti or a Flip HD.

Re:Video Cam (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106891)

I've spent time comparing different camera models at an electronics store and didn't even see one with a rotating drive - likely for the durability reason you mention. Flash memory is extremely cheap and small compared to the rest of the camera, so the added capacity probably not worth the risk.

Admittedly, I was shopping for a photo camera with a video clip feature, not a camcorder. It's plausible the latter come with more memory (and hence occasionally HD), since video takes more space.

Kindle (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106811)

Get him a Kindle and lots of ebooks for it. I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

too fragile (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107661)

E-Ink screens have a front layer that is very thin glass. They're incredibly sensitive to even general shock or pressure on the screen. Go read the mobileread.com forums, there are tons of reports of people literally just setting a reader down on a table and the screen breaking or developing dead segments. There's no way in hell a soldier would be able to physically protect the device enough, unless it came with a completely hard shell of some sort.

Re:too fragile (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107949)

unless it came with a completely hard shell of some sort.

Hey dAzED1, if you have money... Two words: Panasonic Toughbook!

And several earphones (mix of noise-cancelling and ordinary ones). I'm guessing the wires will break sometimes, due to the rough treatment of these gadgets. (A soldier wearing 80 pounds of gear won't be willing to treat the gadgets gently.)

(For the laptop: Be sure that all games and apps inside don't require Internet activation. Include an image of the hard disk, non-syspreped.)

Re:too fragile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108631)

having killed two panasonic toughbooks in two years i can't really recommend them.

/ on the job // i am the cable guy /// spreading the fiber on a daily basis in tokyo

Wind up? (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106835)

How about a wind up power supply instead? I read that the US Military was actually considering procuring and deploying these to combat the "battery problem."

Oh, wind up power supplies are powered themselves by . . . MREs.

Mod parent up (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106923)

This is a good suggestion. Wind up dynamos are now available that provide 5.5V at up to 0.5A, and it is difficult to get this out of a small solar panel if you cannot mount it easily at the right angle. It should certainly be considered as a backup. Of course the other gadgets need to be chosen to be compatible.

Re:Wind up? (1)

marcus (1916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107085)

I have good results with Brunton Solar [amazon.com]

There is a wide variety of sizes and shapes and Brunton [brunton.com] has a pretty good rep.

Re:Wind up? (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107341)

I read that the US Military was actually considering procuring and deploying these to combat the "battery problem."

I've been watching "Generation Kill" on DVD. These poor guys are always scrounging for batteries for their night vision gear. The silly thing is that they spend half their time charging around in HUMVs — that presumably have huge alternators. Funny that nobody thought to equip them with a supply of NiCads and a changing station.

But out on a mission, away from such sources of power, I can't see grunts finding the time to lay solar cells in the sun or to wind up a charger.

Bling? In Combat? (3, Insightful)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106851)

Anything that makes noise or is highly reflective won't go over very well in a combat scenario. What with giving away his unit's position and such. Get something decent that can be used back at a basecamp that he won't need to lug around. He'll appreciate your thoughtfulness when he comes home alive to show you his vids.

Re:Bling? In Combat? (3, Informative)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106945)

Good advice. Our medic was sniped in the glow of his iPod.

Re:Bling? In Combat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107029)

Is this documented anywhere? I'd imagine it'd serve as a good warning to soldiers that are too bored making war and need too listen to some tunes.

Re:Bling? In Combat? (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108951)

I interviewed a guy who was a gunner on a WW2 bomber for a history class a few years back. He said that on a clear night with no moon, you could spot someone lighting a cigarette from whatever cruising altitude was.

Video? Get a good compact (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106855)

Srsly - any compact camera from the last three years also makes an excellent video camera. How about the Canon PowerShot D10 [dpreview.com] , which is also waterproof and drop-resistant?

Re:Video? Get a good compact (1)

DJGrahamJ (589019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106915)

Agreed, my Canon Ixus 60 takes better video than some hard disk-based camcorders I've tried and it's tiny. Just get the biggest SDHC card you can find and he'll be fine. I believe some newer PowerShots can do HD video, too. I think they also have a new ruggedized version which may be handy for his situation.

Of course, staying home may be a better option than dying to protect non-renewable resources.

Re:Video? Get a good compact (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107069)

That's the ruggedised version I linked to :-D It's a bit big. But I think it's smaller than an Ixus/Elph in a waterproof housing.

Re:Video? Get a good compact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107075)

Agreed, my Canon Ixus 60 takes better video than some hard disk-based camcorders I've tried and it's tiny. Just get the biggest SDHC card you can find and he'll be fine. I believe some newer PowerShots can do HD video, too. I think they also have a new ruggedized version which may be handy for his situation.

Helpful advice

Of course, staying home may be a better option than dying to protect non-renewable resources.

Being a cunt.

Re:Video? Get a good compact (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107081)

And I use my Ixus 50 (PowerShot SD400) as a video camera all the time. It's fantastic. Sound is pretty good too.

Re:Video? Get a good compact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107011)

Been there. Get a waterproof, shockproof digital camera. Waterproof = dust proof and mud resistant. Shockproof = marine resistant. Figure out where he's really going to be before spending anything on solar panels. If he's at any sort of FOB, he'll have 220V AC power available. USB is the charging of choice; the commo guy will let you recharge your Ipod. If it's really, really got to be solar, give hima way to rig up a piece of space blanket to shoot more light into the solar panel.

John

He's a ReThuglican Jew and I hope he dies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27106901)

Your little brother is a ReThuglican Jew and I hope he dies.
If we can defeat America, we can defeat The Jew-puppet George Bu$Hitler Chimpy McHaliburtain
Every dead soldier is one more Democratic vote.

Powerfilm (3, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106905)

http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/ [powerfilmsolar.com]
Flexible, thin film cells.
I use their components for rocketry.
Very tough stuff.

Pimp My Trooper (-1, Flamebait)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#27106919)

Make him stick a hole bunch of tiny solar panels onto his helmet and chest. Entertainment > your actual job. If I was him I'd hold a solar panel umbrella with one hand and replace my M4 with a stereo and hold it with the other hand. And replace his ammo with mixtapes.

Also, don't they have, you know, electricity in camps? Or does every soldier who wants to listen to his iPod has to bring his solar rooftop with him?

Re:Pimp My Trooper (1)

J05H (5625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107231)

He's a Navy corpsman medic attached to a Marine recon unit. When he gets deployed he will spend extensive time in the field. Solar backup makes a lot of sense.

Have you seen the kind of kit these guys sport? It's pimp in it's own way.

VHoldr helmet/mount cam and power (1)

J05H (5625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107053)

http://www.vholdr.com/

VHoldr has a pretty nice and affordable helmet cam. The lens is self-leveling and has a little laser-pointer (might be combat issue) but it has a dull black housing, uses microSD cards and has several mounts available. The mounts include helmet, handlebar, goggle and it'd be pretty easy to hack a mount to a Gorillapod (3 arm bendy tripod). Not to sound like a commercial but I've been looking @ that camera for a while.

Combine that with a solar-battery gadget/pack, extra memory cards and a Netbook with card reader and he's good to record indefinitely. APC makes a laptop distributed-power system, easily combined with solar panels or use the above posted "solarize your backpack" info. Not sure on using iPod w/ netbook but not impossible. There are more expensive helmet cams that include video out and other recording solutions.

Best of luck to your brother.

Re:VHoldr helmet/mount cam and power (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107425)

Um, no.

1. He's not wearing the helmet 24/7
2. The laser pointer makes that a non-starter.
3. Far too much gadetry. The guy isn't a filmmaker on location, but rather a medic who may have a few spare minutes to grab some interesting/fun footage.

Any regular late model digital camera can shoot enough video to be interesting. Pick one that uses AA's, and he'll never be THAT far from new/recharged ones.

cheapo solar panel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107167)

I spent $15 and use one of these to keep my tractor battery charged:

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=44768

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=41427

Keep the batteries in the shade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107183)

The kind of chargers that charge the batteries in a holder directly under the solar panel are no good, because the batteries are destroyed by excessive heat. This was my experience near sea level in equatorial Africa. Although a friend that lived nearby but in the mountains didn't have this problem because of the cooler climate.

I wish I'd had something more like this. [elexp.com] I haven't used it, but it looks more like what would have worked best for me. I would buy separate battery holders and use the alligator clips.

Keep batteries out of the sun!

Holy Crap People~ (1)

likuidkewl (634006) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107265)

This guy asks for some input and you guys go off on your tangents. Did nobody read the links embedded before they shot their mouths off? His bro is probably an E1 or E2 the pay scale doesn't change much until +4 yrs, he doesn't get hazardous duty pay until he is actually in theater. Sure $1400 doesn't seem too shabby, but if you live on base/post (as is assumed here) you don't get allowances for housing and food, you still pay federal and sometimes state taxes. Unless you want to eat Mess hall food everyday you still need to supply your own food, you also need to buy your own uniform items most of the time(granted with a little extra coin after a few years in, but not at first), pay for your own luxuries like cable/internet/phone/cell/personal grooming items etc. If you have a car then that comes out too, not to mention old loans\bills etc. So it is not a walk in the park. LAR units also move around a ton and with it being AFG the amount of power is actually and issue. And no matter how funny it may sound the power issue in Iraq is actually better then Afghanistan. I would also recommend getting him a vehicle charger versus the solar panels. Although the ones posted here may actually be fairly versatile(One setup at camp to charge may be a good idea too) Sorry I can't help with the camera though. But it looks like the helpful people here have given some good info. HTH

Re:Holy Crap People~ (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107457)

Sure $1400 doesn't seem too shabby, but if you live on base/post (as is assumed here) you don't get allowances for housing and food

$1400 is base pay. Housing and rations are on top of that.
Deployed to SWA is ALWAYS 'living on-base'.

Small solar charger (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107391)

Small, should meet the power requirements, and is meant for travel.

5oz and 9x5 folded.
http://www.rei.com/product/770230

Solio Magnesium (1)

Atticka (175794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107505)

Not sure about the reviews, but if I had a choice I would get this...

http://store.solio.com/Solio-Magnesium-Edition/ [solio.com]

Light, durable and can power almost any gadget (phone, gps, camera....) and has an internal battery so you have reserve power available at night.

D) None of the above (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107573)

Don't get him any gadgets at all.

He and his fellow soldiers will figure out things to do during their downtime. Let him be immersed in his job without modern distractions. Let him get a taste of what it's like to be completely cut off from modern conveniences. When he's older, he'll look back on it and it will give him a sense of pride that he was able to survive in a hostile environment for months without all the luxury gizmos and gadgets that are currently so popular with his civilian peers.

While I was certainly no Marine, I did spend 8 years in the military and I can say that if I were in the little brother's place, all I would want is a couple of paperback books and a disposable camera. Anything expensive is either going to get broken or will be a liability in terms of distraction.

Re:D) None of the above (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107617)

I wasn't able to record anything to share with others when I was in; while I don't want to detract from his experience, I do selfishly want to share in it. Also, the mother involved would like to see such things.

Posterity and those not in the moment with you are also a consideration, after all ;)

Re:D) None of the above (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27109007)

I'd recommend buying a load of AA Eneloop batteries and recharger. Unlike most rechargeable batteries, they retain a charge for over a year, so your brother could charge up a bunch of batteries whenever he has access to power.

www.solargorillia.com (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107615)

Check out the solargorilla [powertraveller.com] . You can get different tips for it for laptops, ipods, phones, etc. You can also get this little battery pack that can solar charge all day, then you run your devices off the battery pack later. That way you can run things at night, or have a reserve source of power.

Re:www.solargorillia.com (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107645)

Oh, the battery pack is called "powergorilla" and is a separate item so get both.

Ipods and video cameras... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27107699)

.. obviously the most important equipment for someone serving in the military. After all, how else can you brag [youtube.com] on [youtube.com] youtube [youtube.com] about all the war crimes you commit?

Freeloader. (1)

Rufty (37223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27107975)

I got a freeloader [solartechnology.co.uk] . Just long weekends at festivals for me, but so far so good.

Some Real Advice from a Marine (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108083)

Having 2 years deployment time in Iraq, I'll assure you that the solar charger is overkill. Your brother is more likely going to need a high wattage, 220v converter and a power strip. The solar cell is a great idea, but unless these guys are going out for a week at a time, I doubt the solar cell is going to do much. However, if he is, I would recommend finding some kind of 12v power converter so he could hook it to the HMMWV's battery.

Also, keeping in mind that your brother's a corpsman, he usually will have access to a generator, unless he is on patrol with LAR.

When I look back on it, if I were to list the things that were most useful:

Solar Shower (if your brother is moving all the time)

Baby Wipes (When you don't have enough water to take a shower)

Utility Knife (Eating MRE's suck unless you cut them down the middle)

Water Heater (the MRE heaters suck, so we used to just heat them in this)

Condiments (Tapatio, Texas Pete, Salt and Pepper, etc.: life is unbearable if you have to eat an MRE plain [tray rations are worse])

Febreeze (because your neighbor probably didn't bring baby wipes or a solar shower [attack him in his sleep!])

Snacks (send a lot throughout the deployment [tuna, canned chicken, whatever]; keep in mind that he'll probably go weeks without packages).

New TV shows, music, movies. Keep him updated, because it sucks trying to catch up. Send it to him on disk (divxed and burnt on DVD) or better yet, cheap flash media.

I would say the best gadget I had on deployment was my Share Steno hard drive. It emulates a computer and will allow you to transfer media to and from devices [probably not an Ipod though].

Also, I bought a cheap little COBY DVD player that can play divx/xvid on a 9 inch screen. Cost something like $120 and I liked it a lot better than an Ipod [too small], PSP [pain in the butt to get media going on it] or laptop [too bulky, power hog when traveling].

Anyways, I hope this helped. I wish you brother good luck and I hope he returns safely.

Re:Some Real Advice from a Marine (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108875)

he will indeed be with a LAR unit, doing seek-and-destroy of drugs in areas troops haven't yet been, from what he knows so far. He'll be a part of history, something that people will read about 500 years from now; being able to make little videos of what he sees seems almost something he's duty bound to do, at this point.

Backpacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108503)

Although I have no anecdotal advice, I still would suggest a backpack that has solar panels. To avoid sounding like I'm plugging a company I'll refrain from adding a site.

A multifunctional item couldn't hurt.

Simple Solution, I've Done It Before! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27108717)

I use this for hiking all the time. My gadgets recharge while I'm hiking and a small panel is on my backpack!

I bought a sparkfun solar panel capable of putting out about 9V@310mA (http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=7840) and added a USB charger from this company here: http://www.onehalfwatt.com/index.php?crn=218&rn=418&action=show_detail

All of my gadgets are USB (including a small flash memory digital video camera) and this company has a small adapter to make one of the ports compatible to charge your ipod (http://www.onehalfwatt.com/index.php?crn=218&rn=420&action=show_detail) which I needed too. I bought the 4 port one and just have it in a pocket of the backpack with the device cords fed through a slot into the other pockets where the devices reside. It was incredibly easy to get it setup.

electrical goodies (1)

CaptYossarian (962928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27108939)

why bother with a solar charger when he can tap into AC from the generators, DC from the LAVs and trucks, and 7-tons have a cigarette lighter port! also, MRAPs have AC outlets on them. idk about the LAV, but on the AAV, i know of trackers that tap into the lighting for AC (idiots) and then folks who just mount an inverter on one of the batteries. get him an inverter and hell be fine.

Fucking great. Best ever amazing recommendation!! (-1, Troll)

anonymShit (1415181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27109021)

Yeah, we're giving advice to someone going to war. "War is funnier when you have an ipod", "Bring your eye-blinders to not see rapings", "bring a nice solar cell not to see blood". What the hell are you talking about?? For Darwin's sake, as if that were normal, invading another country for the reason X. Gladly, I check that I am the only one saying, don't go to war. But, yeah, sorry, I don't know of a technical solution for your war problems. I shouldn't be here in slashdot, where the brains of the country(ies) recommend a piece of animal to go to war with the highest tech in order to make it a lighter experience. God bless you bigots.
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