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Charge Your Mobile Device With Fire

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the burn-it-up dept.

Power 126

Iddo Genuth writes "If you love to go on camping trips and want to charge your mobile phone, tablet or even camera there is a new solution on the way which can do that anywhere day or night and all you need to do is light a little fire and have a few drops of water. The FlameStower efficiently captures excess heat from a gas burner or campfire to charge almost any USB-powered device: cell phones, GPS units and even cameras by using the thermal deferential between the fire and water and the whole thing is already collecting money on Kickstarter (and if you are really handy you can even make a DIY version yourself)."

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mmm... (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45021339)

Guessing it uses the peltier effect. Well, I see three problems here, which is probably why it's on Kickstarter and not in a t-mobile store. First, if you overheat it, your goose is cooked. Second, it looks like the solution to the overheating problem is to use water. Third... fire + water + electronics generally end badly. Usually because water causes fire which kills electronics, but really, any combination of the three usually ends badly.

Just buy a solar panel like a normal person; Don't risk it tipping over and killing your (likely) only means of communication in the wilderness. And while you're at it... buy a shortwave radio. They're cheap, low power, have long range, and you can easily run/charge them with a hand crank in minutes. And unlike a cell phone... many models are made to be waterproof and the simplicity of the design means they likely could even survive an EMP from a nuclear weapon. I'd rather have one of those in my "oh shit" bag than some complex contraption like this...

Re:mmm... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021411)

Yes but less you forget, fire + water+ electronics + earth + wind + heart equals Captain Planet!

Re:mmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021747)

And lest you forget yourself, you can make a do-it-yourself version yourself if you are really handy yourself or if you're good at making things yourself.

Re:mmm... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#45023305)

... using a 3D printer, of course.

Re:mmm... (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#45022701)

Oh but I do remember Earth Wind and Fire. Especially the twenty-first night of September. We were dancing the night awaaaaay...

Re:mmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021501)

And while you're at it... buy a shortwave radio. They're cheap, low power, have long range, and you can easily run/charge them with a hand crank in minutes

Shortwave broadcasting has been declining drastically worldwide. When it has been losing its audience to the internet and many businesses are only concerned with the bottom line, cutting out shortwave broadcasts is an appealing way to save money.

Re:mmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021949)

fire + water + electronics generally end badly

They have these things called wires that allow you to keep your phone away from the fire + water.

Or just a battery. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022263)

You can get a battery the size of a wallet that will recharge the average smartphone half a dozen times with ease. I have one, it's great. I mean, why the fuck would you need to charge your smartphone half a dozen times when camping, wouldn't you be missing the point of something at that point?

* As for those who are bound to wonder why you would even have it, for some people it's their only camera (I don't understand these people) and fuck you, that's why. I like my phone.

Re:Or just a battery. (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022389)

Although you're posting as AC, you make a decent point to which I would like to see a riposte.

Have you ever climbed Denali or Everest or Chimborazo? I can bet that the folks who do today will love having longer-term charging power.

Looking at it, I bet it weighs 4 or 5 oz. I've not attempted any of the mountains I've mentioned, but I like outdoors and live in Alaska. I've trekked for as long as three weeks and don't trust *phones nor GPS devices for trips like that, but wouldn't mind one for a backup. This, or something like it, would make a trustworthy secondary to my primary map and compass if the weight is right.

Re:Or just a battery. (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022405)

oops. I just noticed that RobinEggs [slashdot.org] says that it weighs 7 oz. I still view this as a favorable weight, given that I can put it over the fire of my choice.

Re:Or just a battery. (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#45023135)

Although you're posting as AC, you make a decent point to which I would like to see a riposte.

Have you ever climbed Denali or Everest or Chimborazo? I can bet that the folks who do today will love having longer-term charging power.

The folks who do it today have things like this: http://www.amazon.com/Innovative-Digital-Hand-Crank-Emergency-Charger/dp/B0089QB2KY/ref=pd_sxp_grid_pt_0_2 [amazon.com]

They're more reliable than fire in a strong wind (strong winds occasionally happen on Everest, and I should know, I've climbed it 16 times).

Re:Or just a battery. (0)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45024789)

Do they? If you actually did climb Everest, you should no that energy is precious and calories are important. A device that requires you to manually crank takes calories. How would you wind that while wearing gloves?

and Everest is a cake walk today. IT about 1 step removed from just selling tickets and having a guid on hand to take you to the next camp. Yawn.

Re:Or just a battery. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023757)

Do you actually think this thing will provide any appreciable power output? There's a reason it doesn't state the power output, it is probably lso low it would useless for actually charging your device any real amount.

I'm starting to the kickstarter is becoming a suckers bet...

Re:Or just a battery. (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year ago | (#45024173)

Except you can't actually call anybody from the world's tallest mountains...they don't have a cell tower on Everest, do they?

Re:Or just a battery. (2)

countach44 (790998) | about a year ago | (#45024449)

Except you can't actually call anybody from the world's tallest mountains...they don't have a cell tower on Everest, do they?

Apparently, there is coverage [gadling.com]

Re:mmm... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45022285)

And while you're at it... buy a shortwave radio. They're cheap, low power, have long range, and you can easily run/charge them with a hand crank in minutes.

::Yawn:: Where's my coffee? Yep, I catch anyone using my percolator firewood for their cell, we're going to have problems. Oh, hey, Genius: The sun's not up, so use the handcrank dynamo for the phone. Derp. Fuck it, I'm going back to bed, this is dumb. Wake me when the government reboots.

Re:mmm... (2)

mestar (121800) | about a year ago | (#45022747)

"...water causes fire..."

Those firemen bastards!

Re:mmm... (1)

pyster (670298) | about a year ago | (#45023407)

http://www.biolitestove.com/campstove/camp-overview/features/ [biolitestove.com]

It works just fine, and took forever to come to market. Its on kick starter because not every good idea can get funding. Sounds like you are nay saying just to nay say.

Re:mmm... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45024721)

"Kickstarter and not in a t-mobile store"
it's on Kickstarter becasue they need funding before going into production.
Do you think their is a production fairy that just waves her wand and you shit it made?

". First, if you overheat it, your goose is cooked."
So? that's true if you misuse pretty much any product

"Second, it looks like the solution to the overheating problem is to use water."
Yes, like every other way to generate electricity

"Third... fire + water + electronics generally end badly. "
No it doesn't.

"I'd rather have one of those in my "oh shit" bag than some complex contraption like this..."
You consider the complicated? seriously?

This is a device the converts waste heat into electricity. Heat you going to create anyways. The device is light weight.

"Just buy a solar panel like a normal person;"
More expensive, heavier and more fragile. And who are you to define normal?

"; Don't risk it tipping over and killing your (likely) only means of communication in the wilderness."
Are you really that lame? DO you use paper phone? YOU could dump that little water an pretty much any phone and it will still work.

You're the sort of person who think everything that can be invented has been invented.
Stupid short sighted dimwitted hater.

If you want one right away... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021345)

There's at least one similar product out that has been available for well over a year: BioLite Camp Stove - http://www.mec.ca/product/5031-449/biolite-campstove/?f=10&q=USB%2Bstove

Re:If you want one right away... (2)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#45021623)

I was also going to point out the BioLite stove (direct link to the product on their site [biolitestove.com] ). I see a couple advantages of the BioLite already. It doesn't consume / require water, and can operate off of a wide variety of fuels (little sticks and leaves and stuff) since the combustion takes place in its own combustion chamber. The Biolite appears to operate off a smaller heat source (and thus less fuel) because of the efficiency of burning the fuel in a controlled manner, instead of merely sticking it over flame you have to produce and manage manually in some way.

Re:If you want one right away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021631)

Thinkgeek sells something similar.

Re:If you want one right away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021635)

Yes, I have one, works really well as a stove. The power is a bonus.

Re:If you want one right away... (1)

drgould (24404) | about a year ago | (#45021851)

There's also the PowerPot [thepowerpot.com] .

Re:If you want one right away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022035)

Or build it yourself :
http://www.instructables.com/id/Charge-Your-Cellphone-Using-Wasted-Heat/

Many advantages of FlameStower over BioLite (4, Informative)

RobinEggs (1453925) | about a year ago | (#45022289)

The BioLite is 2 lbs 1 oz; the FlameStower is 7 oz. Using most canister stoves, you could carry stove, over a week of fuel, and the FlameStower for 8oz less than the BioLite.

You can use the Flamestower where you're not allowed to gather fuel, when there's nothing to burn, or when everything is too wet to burn. One or more of those things is true in tons of national parks, wetlands, deserts, mountains, etc.

The FlameStower is starting at $80 and could still come down; the BioLite is $129.

I've seen at least 3 posts that just said: "Why, you could just get a BioLite?", 1 that pointed out the advantages of the BioLite, and none that pointed out advantages of the FlameStower.

I'm quite disappointed that a group of people who laud critical thinking and informed opinion are so unimaginative about this device's usefulness, and speak as if quite uninformed about the practical necessities of backpacking / survival equipment.

Re:Many advantages of FlameStower over BioLite (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022429)

You are spot on. I made a close guess on the weight above, and didn't make the point quite as well as you do. Where weight counts, when you're not living out of the house or the car, FlameStower is much better than BioLite. Weight is precisely why I've not already bought a BioLite.

Re:Many advantages of FlameStower over BioLite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022827)

but when you have a biolite, you don't need to bring a gas burner. The weight of a gas burner with one extra gas cartridge is about the ssame as the weight of the biolite.

The BioLite has an advantage too. (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | about a year ago | (#45023503)

It exists in production and is available for purchase.

Re:Many advantages of FlameStower over BioLite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023779)

And the power output of Biolite sucks. (looks to be about .5 amp)

FlameStower will probably be worse...

Re:If you want one right away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022431)

Cooking using the biolite leaves a lot to be desired, IMHO. It's a nice novelty product, but it's not as practical as thought it would be. On the bright side, with this you can use any stove type (it seems to be quite a lot cheaper as well).

Re:If you want one right away: Biolite (4, Informative)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#45023025)

Cooking using the biolite leaves a lot to be desired, IMHO. It's a nice novelty product, but it's not as practical as thought it would be.

Well, I used Biolite for 6 weeks (total), drawbacks are :
- need *dry* wood (using not so dry wood pieces needs full power position and dry pieces mix)
- need *small* pieces of wood (set up a workshop aside the kitchen to cut wood)
- need to be fed constantly, 30s-45s intervals is a good timing, each time lift the saucepan to drop the wood
- can't simmer, power is medium or high, not low
- efficient mobile phone charging can be optimized but this is tricky

However I'm fine with that and I continue to use it, it's still fun and usefull.

We already talked about that on /. [slashdot.org] a few weeks ago.

Re:If you want one right away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022897)

Was also about to point this out:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/biolite-campstove-787851

Re:If you want one right away... (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year ago | (#45023043)

I think Biolite looks like a more practical solution - provided someone is able to collect twigs off the ground or carry hexamine tablets or whatever around with them. This FlameStower thing may work but it's clearly very inefficient and comes with its own problems, namely the stove can't be used while someone is charging their phone and the whole set up looks fiddly. Maybe a better option than either would be to buy a solar panel that attaches to a backpack, a few spare batteries and a second emergency phone.

Uh.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about a year ago | (#45021355)

No.

BioLite (5, Informative)

Steven Brent (3366707) | about a year ago | (#45021367)

Not sure why someone would back this rather than support BioLite, who have already gone to market: http://www.biolitestove.com/ [biolitestove.com]

Re:BioLite (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#45021415)

biolite's store doesn't work even with scripts enabled (I don't permit google analytics, and a lot of people have designed their sites to fail if you do that, so fuck them sideways) and TFA isn't loading so I guess I won't bother to support either of these incompetents.

Re:BioLite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021435)

The only reason I could see is if it is significantly more efficient than the biolite stove. I didn't RTFA to see if they offer any stats on this. From what I've heard, the biolite stove will basically take you all day to charge an average smart phone.

Re:BioLite (1)

Steven Brent (3366707) | about a year ago | (#45021485)

You could be right about that (charging time) - I'm thinking more in terms of topping off a battery or keeping something running rather than doing a full charge. BioLite had a cool demo setup at Maker Faire, and their position seemed to be that the USB power thing was more of a value add than the main selling point of the stove (clean burning and compact).

Re:BioLite (1)

sjwt (161428) | about a year ago | (#45021647)

Could be because

a) the store link on their page doesn't seem to work
b) Its $129 vs $80
c) the FlameStower seems to lit a max output of 3W vs 2W

Re:BioLite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023817)

Could be because

a) the store link on their page doesn't seem to work
b) Its $129 vs $80
c) the FlameStower seems to lit a max output of 3W vs 2W

2W PROVEN OUTPUT

vs

3W CLAIMED OUTPUT (for a vaporware device, at least at this point)

fixed that for you...

Re:BioLite (2)

paramour (110003) | about a year ago | (#45021893)

Because it weighs 7oz as opposed to 33oz, is a fraction of the size, and has the same power output (2W at 5V, continuous). True, the BioLite is also a stove and this isn't, but there are many high efficiency light weight stoves that should work with FlameStower, or apparently an open campfire if you're in a place where that is permitted.

If you're car camping or day hiking you may not think saving over a pound in pack weight is important, but then again you probably don't need a USB recharger either. For multi-day back country hiking lots of people pay attention to this level of weight difference (not just the ultra-light types).

I have no connection to the FlameStower people, other than considering getting one.

Re:BioLite (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#45024569)

Thing's been on the market for years. Why can't editors or posters do the tiniest bit of research before declaring that something is NEW?

Another One (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021417)

another one? This isn't a new idea and if you have a quick look on instructables you can find many DIY instructables, I don't see this as being any better and isn't any more efficient the the DIY's.

You can charge with fire today (3, Interesting)

starburst (63061) | about a year ago | (#45021431)

You can purchase a BioLite camping stove that has USB charging today. We have one at our office for emergency off the grid charging. In our test we recharged an iPad and and iPhone.

Re:You can charge with fire today (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | about a year ago | (#45021641)

Next time, you should just buy a ups or power inverter for your car...

Re:You can charge with fire today (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year ago | (#45021711)

And what's the first thing you'll be unable to get in a power outage? That's right, gasoline.

Sticks and twigs tend to be more plentiful, since you can't run your car on it.

Re:You can charge with fire today (2)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about a year ago | (#45021811)

Hmm... an array of BioLites... & Tesla car... sticks & twigs propulsion!

Re:You can charge with fire today (1)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#45022051)

Hmm... an array of BioLites... & Tesla car... sticks & twigs propulsion!

Isn't steam power easier?

That said:

Folks in Germany were using sticks & twigs propulsion on their cars during the war, when petroleum was unavailable to them, using the same internal combustion engines that they had run on gasoline previously. Google "Wood Gas" for more.

It goes something like this:

1. Make a vehicle-mounted anaerobic wood burner to smoulder wood in.
2. Feed the resultant oxygen-deprived flammable gas to the carburetor, where it mixes with air and becomes even more volatile.
3. Spark happens, ignition occurs, pistons move, crank turns.
4. Run errands, deliver sheep to market, etc.

I suppose that, depending on construction, you could also get charcoal as a by-product. This can be used in a primary chamber to heat the wood gas-generating secondary, or maybe cook a meal once you get back home. Or, you know: Sell it.

Re:You can charge with fire today (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022441)

. . .introducing the first Kickstarter to show up after Tesla begins selling their SUV.

Re:You can charge with fire today (1)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#45022135)

One of the first things that happened in the June 2012 power outage here, which lasted a week, was that the corner gas station brought in a huge portable genset and had it wired to their building. It didn't go off-line again, and operated more-or-less normally (one of the refrigeration compressors died, but the beer was still cold, so they moved the milk and cheese and other perishables over to the beer cave and everyone was happy).

Meanwhile, headline topic is "charge your mobile device with fire." I don't know about your car, but mine will keep a mobile device running for a very long time (at least a week, in my testing) and still be able to start, with the car battery recovering fully in 30 minutes of idling (faster if driving).

How much gas does that use? Unless you tend to run on empty, I might hasten to say: In a developed country, not enough to care about. Even with a temporary gasoline shortage, chances are good that you'll be using the car periodically anyway to go get more food from the grocery store that is has their own generator, or from the Red Cross encampment, or whatever, and the battery can be recharged at that time.

In a longer-term outage (weeks/months), it still doesn't matter much, as long as you've still got enough gas to go "acquire" more ammunition and gasoline.

YMMV, but I've got a very conservative month worth of mobile-device charging sitting in the driveway at all times without doing anything special.

Re:You can charge with fire today (1)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#45021955)

The camp stoves are cool: A buddy of mine has one. Probably is a useful thing for camping, but I don't think I'd care to have one around the house or office.

My own emergency charging rig is simpler, in that it does not require fire: A small, cheap solar panel, and a cheap OEM microusb car charger [amazon.com] that is happy with up to 24V.

For night-time use, I also keep an inexpensive jump-start pack charged and ready. It can keep phones charging for a long, long time, or can run small power tools from an inverter in a pinch. I have a 12V CFL light with a long cord that I keep in the car for emergencies, and it will keep that thing going strong for hours.

I can also recharge its SLA battery from the solar panel.

We were without power for a week in June 2012, as was much of the region. It was an interesting time finding/wrangling fuel, dealing with a heat wave, trying to minimize use of a generator, and trying to keep the food (and the beer) cold....but charging phones, day or night, was never a problem with the above kit.

More recently, I've picked up an inexpensive USB backup battery [slashdot.org] . It's a cute little gizmo, and there are many others like it. This one is special because it has a solar panel of its own (which is nearly-worthless except to prevent self-discharge), and has an adjustable voltage output: I can set it to 12V and power a home router-box or a switch or some other small thing.

And each part of the kit is also useful by itself, for other things (the USB battery lives in the car, and it's been very useful to save a dying Droid more than once: I can charge my Droid 4 from near-flat to full at least twice from it).

A camp stove with a 5V USB socket really only seems useful for camping, since fire is required. And without tallying it all up, I'm inclined to say that my kit (solar panel, one big battery, one small battery, and an adapter) is cheaper and more versatile.

Thermovoltaic cell... (1)

midifarm (666278) | about a year ago | (#45021467)

Couldn't you just use the heat from direct sunlight?

Re:Thermovoltaic cell... (1)

sjwt (161428) | about a year ago | (#45021655)

Thermovoltaic works on the difference between hot and cold, you will get much more power on a few hundred degrees difference rather than 10 degrees

Re:Thermovoltaic cell... (1)

midifarm (666278) | about a year ago | (#45021807)

I was thinking like desert or throw a magnifying glass in front of it.

Re: Thermovoltaic cell... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022397)

why do people say they were thinking, when i is obvious they weren't?

Re:Thermovoltaic cell... (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022453)

Sunlight isn't reliable. Fire from a small stove, or a few dry twigs, or even moss can be counted on with planning, though.

Just think... (3, Funny)

klingers48 (968406) | about a year ago | (#45021487)

...Of how many iPhone charges you could get out of those pesky rainforests...

Re:Just think... (1)

caseih (160668) | about a year ago | (#45021975)

But ironically, burning wood to charge your phone is pretty close to carbon neutral, at least if the entire world isn't doing it and deforesting the planet in the process. Provided the fire is from dead wood in a healthy forest, this is completely carbon neutral. Big ifs, sure. But combustion is not always a bad thing.

Re:Just think... (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022469)

. . .from dead wood in a healthy forest. . .

. . .or from wood in a well-managed forest. . .

So much serentiy (2)

jmhobrien (2750125) | about a year ago | (#45021489)

This will make it more convenient than ever to leave civilisation behind when I go camping.

Re:So much serentiy (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year ago | (#45024251)

Tell them I ain't comin' back

Re:So much serentiy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45024765)

Burn the land and boil the sea

Efficient (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021509)

If it's using the seebeck effect (opposite: peltier effect) it's not efficient.

Re:Efficient (2)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a year ago | (#45021703)

Does it need to be? True sitting there and running a torch/burner or having a campfire specifically for this device would be idiotic. But fire in one form or another is pretty normal in a camping setting. Simply setting this device next to an already active heat source isn't going to effect what it is already doing, and your going to get a little extra use out of that heatsource at the same time. Seems to be a win/win to me. Though I do think it needs a bit of a redesign, having an open water source next to electronics is a bad idea. Enclosing it somehow (similar to a cloths iron?) and maybe getting the USB connector a little further from the heat source would seem prudent.

water defers to fire? (2)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about a year ago | (#45021523)

using the thermal deferential between the fire and water

News for nerds, homophones that matter?

Re:water defers to fire? (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#45021555)

You must show proper difference to the editors!

Re:water defers to fire? (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about a year ago | (#45022479)

The parent to your post is good. Your post, however, made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

Here's How I would Do It (1)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about a year ago | (#45021531)

I would boil water over a fire to create steam, I would feed the steam through a turbine that would turn a rotor in an magnetic field, and then that would charge some caps and other charge storing circuitry and ultimately feed to a VR circuit that feeds the battery. Probably could be done for less than $5. Disclaimer: I'm not an EE

Re:Here's How I would Do It (2)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a year ago | (#45021669)

Microturbines have been researched for years, I don't think there has been one (known, quite a bit of the research has been military) design that wasn't horribly inefficient, maintenance intensive, and prone to failures. If they can ever do it I'm sure they will replace many applications, but despite many claims to have achieved it there have never been any production runs that I am aware of.

Re:Here's How I would Do It (1)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about a year ago | (#45021717)

Darn. And here I was pretty sure I invented something without moving from my desk chair.

This oversight might have somthing to do with my lack of "EEness". I am but a lowly firmware engineer.

Re:Here's How I would Do It (1)

confused one (671304) | about a year ago | (#45021769)

turbine small enough and sturdy enough for camping use, and light enough to spin under low pressures you could generate would be at least 10x your price estimate. The VR circuit (DC-DC) alone would eat your $5 budget.

It doesn't scale down well (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45021933)

Really small turbines have the problem that friction etc consumes a far more significant amount of the output than really large turbines. The seebeck effect in thermocouples and presumably this thing does scale down to small sizes without large losses so eventually there is a crossover point where it makes far more sense than a tiny turbine.

Here's how I would do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022613)

I'm only a day-hiker, so I just make sure the phone is charged before I go out. It's no good in a lot of wilderness areas anyway. If I were out for several days on remote trails I'd invest in one of the many fine emergency beacons. You hit a switch and it sends out a signal via satellite. You'd better be DAMNED SERIOUSLY IN NEED OF HELP when you hit that switch. Guys with helicopters may go in the air, and unless you seriously need evac, you're gonna have some splainin' to do. You might have to cough up $thousands for making them fly for frivolous reasons.

If you want to update your FaceBook status from the back country, you're doing it wrong.

If you can't haul enough batteries and/or charge solar during the day then we're getting into some edge cases. For light, you're probably going to be using a lantern in those edge cases anyway. There are thermal devices like this you can clamp onto lanterns, which apparently are hot enough to generate power too.

Terribly inefficient (3, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | about a year ago | (#45021597)

Peltiers are terribly inefficient in the best case. The only one I've seen that makes sense is a wood-stove heat circulating fan, since the fan does double-duty.

If you want to recharge your batteries or phone off-grid, you really can't do better than solar. Here's a $20 charger that'll charge batteries from and to USB, or from solar. Only thing it's missing is a tiny white LED for backup flashlight use:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042Z14FO/ [amazon.com]

Or you can go a little cheaper if you don't want the USB functionality, and prefer more flexibility:

  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0098SWJUE/ [amazon.com]

Both will give 4 AA batteries an 80% charge in a day of sunlight, which is enough to charge your phone from zero. If you need faster charging than that, you'll need to spend a bit more. Something like this 7 watt panel should suffice:

  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CJJ4OUW/ [amazon.com]

Re:Terribly inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022761)

One cannot rely on sunlight. When you're outdoors and need that little bit of extra juice, it's usually dark and bad weather.

Re:Terribly inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45024803)

Then get one with a built in LED light and use that to charge it, duh!

I'm a big fan of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021613)

The Power Pot as an alternative. I like the idea of charging my GPS while cooking dinner or boiling water for coffee in the morning. http://www.thepowerpot.com/

Re:I'm a big fan of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45022419)

Why as an alternative? This seems to accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the weight and cost.

But don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021633)

do what this kid did: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/boy-severely-burned-after-cellphone-explodes-fire/nbDgG/

solar (1)

confused one (671304) | about a year ago | (#45021791)

This is going to be horribly inefficient and eat up your camping fuel supply. Just stick one of the numerous available solar panel kits on your backpack...

Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45021929)

Uhh... Why not link to the kickstarter page directly? I tapped a link and ended up redirected to pr0n...

Igne Nexus Renovatur Integer (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about a year ago | (#45021979)

My Nexus will be fully recharged by fire.

Re:Igne Nexus Renovatur Integer (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45022493)

Not really, it provides a nominal power output of slightly less than a standard USB port. About 1/4 of the wall charger your Nexus came with.

Re:Igne Nexus Renovatur Integer (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about a year ago | (#45022697)

Sigh. This is what I get for making a joke which will primarily be appreciated by alchemist techies.

40k (1)

darthdavid (835069) | about a year ago | (#45022091)

Did anyone else immediately think of LasGuns from 40k?

efficiently captures excess heat (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#45022209)

0.5% efficiency

Kind of cool (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year ago | (#45022347)

Does anyone know how these work? Does it use a Peltier thermoelectric generator? I assume the water acts as a heatsink for the "cooling" side.

I had to configure a blackberry today (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year ago | (#45022351)

And something to do with fire definitely came to mind, but it nothing to do with charging the battery.

originality fail (3, Interesting)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45022481)

www.thepowerpot.com
It may cost more ($149) but it provides twice the power and is already commercially available.

I'm sure there are more around, but that was the first one google found.

Bit of a tangent (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about a year ago | (#45022879)

But it reminds me of a VERY old game captive. When one of your androids was low on batteries you could as a last ditch attempt use fire to recharge your battery partially.

Real nerds... (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about a year ago | (#45022947)

Real nerds get a Stirling engine (built from kit acceptable) and hook it up to a DC motor from an RC car to act as a generator. Voltage regulation to 5 V or 12 V via a simple resistor network is similarly acceptable.

-1, Flaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023153)

I heard that throwing your iPhone into fire makes it fireproof.

My 2 cents (1)

drolli (522659) | about a year ago | (#45023191)

If ites really about power everywhere, use a hand generator. In Japan i bought one for 3000Yen, with radio, pocket light, a charging port, and a buzzer (in case you are somewhere in the rubble after the earthquake its much easier to turn on the buzzer than to shouth all the time). Dont remeber if it charged USB back then, but had connector for all usual phones in Japan.

http://www.amazon.com/CUTEBEAT-TY-JR11-waterproof-charging-TOSHIBA/dp/B005FB4CG2/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top [amazon.com]

Otherwise if you insist in using heat:

a) small temperature difference (thats why they need the water) -> small efficiency. If you have no effective way of cooling the required temperature rises, thus making it less a reuse of unused heat but more a normal generator

b) if its a normal generator, then an open flame is the least efficient way of using the heat. Internal flames are much better

deferential? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023389)

Oh wait. This is Slashdot. Home of Slashdot's editors.

this is a fucking thinkgeek advert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023529)

fuck you dice.

Crazy Arthur Brown says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45023687)

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE, AND I BRING YOU...

A grossly inefficient way to charge your sodding iPhone.

Pedal power FTW (1)

jimbodude (2445520) | about a year ago | (#45023759)

Pedal powered generators have been used to power remote communications for a long time: http://www.antiqueradio.com/traeger_pedal_07-99.html [antiqueradio.com] That's possibly better than wasting your camp fuel to achieve a charge. Maybe the trick is not to charge the phone, but to run the generator when you need the phone, as these pedal powered radios were operated.

Finally! Perpetual charging. (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about a year ago | (#45024377)

Awesome! Now I can charge my Dell laptop using my Dell laptop. http://explodinglaptop.com/laptops.php [explodinglaptop.com]

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