×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Traveling with Too Many Chargers?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the mitigating-the-proliferation-of-wall-warts dept.

Power 131

MotorMachineMercenar wonders: "I just took a roadtrip over a long weekend and noticed that I need to lug around too many chargers. I have a charger for my cell phone, Nintendo DS Lite, my two digital cameras and an iPod. Sometimes I will have one for a portable HDD and laptop. In addition I have to carry a plug converter as some of them have been bought overseas. That's up to eight gadgets just to give juice my power-hungry devices, and they take precious space and weight in my bags. Is there any way to limit the number of chargers without gimping my roadwarrior gear? Most devices have more or less fixed batteries, 'smart' chargers and proprietary plugs, but is it possible as DIY, or is there an existing product? I'd like to see a universal charger for which plugs for any current device with the flexibility to add more in the future. What are the limitations and caveats with 240 vs 120, wattage, cutting and connecting cables, and so forth?"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

131 comments

Easy! (5, Informative)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058476)

I use Igo [igo.com] and USB cables to charge my devices. Igo junk is available at a lot of retailers. There are varying power source and wattage ratings of the chargers, including air/car/110~/220~ power supplies that automatically adjust voltage and current, and can charge four or more devices at once if necessary. It is based on tip adapters that deliver power specific to their respective devices. They are pretty fast to make new connectors.

There are also the alkaline/lithium battery powered auxillury chargers, most of which are universal with multiple connecters. You can also use the solar chargers, most of which include a DC car socket.

I think that sooner than later, everything small will charge from USB and everything larger will have automatically switching power supplies that can run from any typical power source without adaptation.

IGo and others (Re:Easy!) (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058536)

Yes... There are other "multi-chargers" too, and eBay sellers peddle plenty of them.

Re:IGo and others (Re:Easy!) (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058766)

One assumes you meant "eBay sellers pedal plenty of them."

Yours etc.,

Slashdot Martyr Brigades, Inappropriate Homophone Encouragement Division

Re:IGo and others (Re:Easy!) (1, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058822)

No, "peddle":
The verb peddle has 1 sense (first 1 from tagged texts)
1. (2) peddle, monger, huckster, hawk, vend, pitch -- (sell or offer for sale from place to place)

Re:IGo and others (Re:Easy!) (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058930)

Guess he is encouraging you to use an inappropriate homophone.

Re:IGo and others (Re:Easy!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17059254)

BLASFEMURS MUSSED DYE!

Slashdot Martyr Brigades, Inappropriate Homophone Encouragement Division

Re:IGo and others (Re:Easy!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060118)

Well, it's one way of charging them.

Re:Easy! (2, Insightful)

penguinrenegade (651460) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058904)

I absolutely recomment the iGo. You can charge 2-4 devices at once, and they have models that will even power up to midrange notebooks. I have one as does my wife - and they are invaluable. Get a new cel or other device? $10 for a new tip - RadioShack and others have them in major malls, you can even buy them in airports if you lose a tip. eBay often offers them for $10 per tip from various sellers.

I even have a tip that works with my battery charger - works with AAA, AA and 9V batteries. Best present I have had in quite a long time. It's got a carrying case, takes as many different tips as you need, and works on AC (US), DC (car charger) and airline charger. It's awesome to charge up my cel between flights - ON the flight!

Re:Easy! (2, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059008)

And as an alternative to iGo, Ziplinq has a variety of tips for your 5V items that plug into standard USB ports and chargers. I started with the iGo, but now that my PDA and bluetooth headphones both have Mini-B sockets for charging, I've switched to Ziplinq. One thing though- iGo was always high quality, and I'm not impressed with the quality of Ziplinq- I've got one cable from them that the ends came off, and another that for some strange reason (perhaps a short?) draws power from the USB as a surge as soon as it's plugged in, even with nothing plugged into the other end of the cable.

USB-based charging rocks for cellphones (2, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060292)

My old Nokia phone supported a simple cheap charger cable with USB on one end and the phone's power connector on the other. No brick, no wall wart, uses a laptop for power, and the phone could run a long time even if I couldn't plug in the laptop, and any time I was going anywhere for business, I'd have the laptop and didn't need more clunky parts in the laptop bag (the USB-powered Ethernet hub also rocked.)


Unfortunately, my next Nokia phone couldn't use it, because it needed more amperage or some other undocumented quality. Now that I've got a cretinously stupid Motorola phone, I'll have to see if I can find the cable again.

Re:USB-based charging rocks for cellphones (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062852)

Same here for my SE T610, the cable was less than 10GBP at a local computer fair. Also permits connection to a PIM eg Float's Mobile Agent.

Re:Easy! (1)

jesboat (64736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060724)

Keep in mind that you may just have had bad luck. I bought a Juice, and both my AC input and DC output cords broke (at different times.) I don't, however, treat my eq particularly delicately, and iGo replaced both for free (including shipping) in what were the easiest warranty exchanges I've experienced.

Re:Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058914)

Looks good, but I stay away from anything with name starting with an 'i'.

Er... except iRiver.

Splashpower (1)

serodores (526546) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059150)

Splashpower [splashpower.com] seems like another solution that may work for you. Wirelessly powers devices that you just sit on a tray. Since the recent article about wireless power that also mentioned this solution, I've thought about giving this a shot (as it seems more realistic).

Re:Splashpower (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059596)

Yeah, but where's the beef? Their websites didn't offer any products, any accessories to add to you existing devices to enable them to use SplashPower, or anything of any substance. Are there other companies with a product already on the market?

Re:Easy! (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059172)

Thirded

The iGo gets expensive quickly, but it has some major advantages. Once you buy the base unit, adding another tip is easy. It's much easier to keep track of where one power adapter is plugged in rather than five or six, and most of your devices don't need to charge at the same time.

The iPod tips are fidgety, though... the cheaper wallpower8 wall wart doesn't seem to have enough juice to wake certain iPod models up to the idea that they're being charged. You'll want to spend the extra 30 bucks for the more expensive everwhere 15.

Oh, and be absolutely sure where you plan on keeping your tips. They get lost easily.

Proprietary (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060556)

Companies like to make these proprietary connectors so they can sell you overpriced chargers, cables, etc.

Re:Easy! (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060610)

Thank you so much for this, this is exactly what I'm looking for! The only two devices I couldn't find tips for were for my digital cameras, but that's understandable since they have (proprietary) li-ion batter chargers so a mere tip isn't enough.

Asking the wrong question (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058544)

I don't think you are travelling with too many chargers - but that you are traveling with too many things that require chargers.

Re:Asking the wrong question (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058760)

> I don't think you are travelling with too many chargers - but that you are traveling with too many things that require chargers.

What - he should take things that use replaceable batteries? Would you say that if he only needed 1 charger for all of them?

I think it'd be nice if everything ran off a Nokia phone charger. That's one charger I always carry (when going away) no matter what else I take. It's 5 or 6 volts (can't remember!) so it should do for stuff that you power (as oppose to charge) as well as charging stuff.

Re:Asking the wrong question (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058858)

I think the poster meant that you may be travelling with too many damn gadgets. Or, at least that's my opinion. When I travel, I often bring along something called a "book". It doesn't require any power source, whatsoever.

Re:Asking the wrong question (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059034)

Or alternatively- I've replaced all of the original poster's gadgets with a T-Mobile MDA and an Anycom Bluetooth Stereo Headset. I probably paid just about as much for it though- but it does EVERYTHING his set of gadgets does in much less space, and charges off of standard USB ports.

Re:Asking the wrong question (0, Redundant)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059170)

that is damn annoying.. USB was not ment as a damn power source it was 5v .5 A for a total of 2.5 watts.. now shit is taking too much power and trying to use the USB port for power .... why the hell would i plug my phone into my laptop just for power.. i could see if it is a data cable and power was a plus .. but power only.. that is crap..

and they are shoving them on everything.. i recently boguht a boster box.. (a self contained box to jump cars) and it had a damn USB port on it.. why.. someone tell me who's bright idea this was.. mabey we can plug them into a USB port....

Re:Asking the wrong question (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059440)

Hint: It's likely the other way around on your car charger- in that you can use it to run your phone off of.....ZipLinq also makes 12V->5V car power converters for you to plug your phone into, and also wall plugs for a variety of countries. The idea is more to use a very common standard connector for as much as possible.

Re:Asking the wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17059434)

Great, another ambient light leach.

Re:Asking the wrong question (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062310)

It's kind of hard to take pictures, write emails or listen to music on a book, however.

What grabs my wagger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17063390)

Is the power ratings and permitations of connectors (prorpiatory connectors add to the problem). There are a shedload of things that take 4 AA batteries. Alkaline or rechargeables. That totals between 4.8V and 6V (or a little over). However, they ALL say "please use our charger otherwise you'll blow up the kit". Then look at the voltage of that wall-wart: 4.5V, 4.7V, 5V, 5.5V, 6V have all been on different items that ALL take 4 AA's.

WHY!!!!

http://www.igo.com/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058600)

I've been intrigued by www.igo.com, but haven't actually purchased it.

use usb (2, Insightful)

lavaface (685630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058602)

i think your best option is to use devices that charge via usb as much as possible. my phone uses usb to charge and i thought ipods did as well (don't have one though.) I know there are cameras that use usb to replenish their batteries. incompatible chargers is an enourmously frustrating experience so i am happy to see that more devices seem to be focusing on using usb. i know that radio shack sells kits with different adapter sizes and voltage switching as i used one to charge my minidisc player a few years back. this is not as good of a solution to me as usb charging so i look for that in devices i want to purchase. i realize differnt devices have dfferent amperage requirements but why, oh why, must cell phone manufacturers make so many different interfaces and amperage settings for what is essentially the same device! can they possibly be making that much money ripping people off for chargers? anyway, demand usb charging and hopefully more manufaturers will get a clue.

Re:use usb (3, Insightful)

kwalker (1383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058714)

I agree with this. If the original poster is asking for a wonder-device to charge all the stuff he has already purchased, then best of luck, I can't help. I've been on a quasi-quest over the last several years to make sure all my portable devices can charge and/or run over USB, so I only need to lug around two chargers: one for my laptop, and one that spits out a USB-power connector (Something like the iPod chargers I've seen).

I did have to purchase a couple of USB-power adapters for devices that didn't already have one (e.g. my phone), but those take up minimal space, especially if you can find them in something like a zip-link auto-winder.

Re:use usb (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059202)

I'd advise going with USB for as many devices as possible.

I carry along a USB hub and power supply as my "charger". I can plug 4 devices into it for charging. Works great.

Powered USB hub == cheap iPod charger (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060340)

For some reason, some iPod models get grouchy about plugging into computers that don't want to talk iTunes and aren't set up to accept them as a disk drive, even if all you're trying to do is suck down USB battery power. You can get an overpriced iPod charger that doesn't have this problem.


Or you can get a powered USB hub for about $10, and if you don't plug it into your computer, the iPod's happy. USB 1.1 hubs have become really cheap now that USB2 is out, and for low-speed devices like mice, keyboards, and DC power they work just fine.

After-market business plan (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059694)

i realize differnt devices have dfferent amperage requirements but why, oh why, must cell phone manufacturers make so many different interfaces and amperage settings for what is essentially the same device! can they possibly be making that much money ripping people off for chargers?

That's about right. By changing the specs just enough to require new accessories they've created an additional market that they can control. They could make a slight modification to their power interface, patent it, and then license the use of it to the after-market manufacturers. This creates them a recurring revenue stream. Creating cheap accessories that break, wear-out, or have a limited-life non-replaceable battery (Bluetooth headset) also create another recurring revenue stream for these companies. Personally I'd rather buy from a company that showed a little ethics but that's just me.

I agree on the USB thing. Nothing but USB for me. The guy that created USB didn't charge Intel enough for it when he sold it back in the early 90s.

Re:use usb -- too slow (2, Informative)

PleaseDontBeTaken (604130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060666)

USB charging is great for leaving your blackberry in a cradle. But for on the go, it's not a good solution. For one thing - too slow. Plus it doesn't completely solve your carry one charger problem.

When you charge on the road, you want to get fully charged as fast as possible. Being able to charge two things at once is even better. Basically if you travel a lot, the iGo is the best solution. A gift you give yourself. There is a competing product from Kensington but afaik it's only at Circuit City and just as expensive.

Re:use usb (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062912)

Both the iPod (assuming it's not an ancient one, and even then it will just charge off firewire instead) and the DS will charge off USB, certainly. As for the digital cameras, it depends on the model, sadly.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058646)

Sounds to me like you need a new laptop. Get one that you can easily carry. Now get a thumb drive instead of the HDD. Do you really need the DS... I'm sure if charging is a problem you can get by with phone and laptop games. Get a picture phone, and charge your IPod off your laptop. Now you only need two chargers, which shouldn't really be a problem.

If you really need a camera with quality, find one that will let you charge from your laptop. I can't think why you'd need two seperate cameras if you're using digital anyway. In the end for convenience is going to cost you one way or the other. To save room you'll have to replace most of your devices, and that's going to cost you... you're probably not going to be able to buy a simple cable to fix your problems.

I doubt you'll find a universal charger since many devices will need different voltages, or will draw widely different currents. You'll probably be charging them all at the same time anyway! If your problem is plugs, buy a power strip.

As for the America/Europe issues... it would be awesome if both could agree on one standard. I know I'd be willing to pay to change my own plugs and buy a few converters until I got new electronics... unfortunately most people wouldn't be willing to do that. Not to mention finding all the old grannies out there and getting them to change everything before the power changes and fries their heater and kill them...

Re:Well... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058770)

They aren't going to standardize the voltage. The current electronic region encoding on things like DVDs wasn't the first time that people wanted to break things from other countries for their own industry's advantage. PAL/SECAM/NTSC, 120/240/50hz/60hz all this stuff was because of people that don't believe in free trade, that believe that protectionist policies are best.

Proprietary (3, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058794)

My phone, mp3 player, gps, and camera all charge and interface using miniusb. Perhaps you should consider purchasing products a little less proprietary?

Re:Proprietary (2, Insightful)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060384)

Well, at surface this sounds like a reasonable suggestion. But why would I want to limit my choice of gadgets to those who use a certain type of power source. It's just one feature and it's not even a feature that's pertinent to the gadget's function. So, even if I have to lug around 5+ chargers I'd rather do that than use a sub-par camera, for example.

Besides, I don't know any dSLRs, portable gaming devices or phones which use (mini)USB for charging.

Motorola (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060602)

Motorola phones use USB - at least, several (including the RAZR) do that I know of. That was a consideration when I bought mine, since being able to charge the phone off the laptop is a big help when traveling.

Sony W850 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17061178)

Sony W850 too charges from USB - but you do have to carry the prop. USB cable. Given that that's along anyway for the laptop, though, it works out.

Not sure about other Sony models, but I presume ones of a similar vintage do the same thing.

What about all the wall-warts... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058812)

The mess of a million wall-wart power supplies is not just inconvenient - the idle power supplies still draw current - it's a big draw on the grid when you add them all up.

USB charging as a standard is a great idea, but I'd like the world to move to a high-voltage + low-voltage standard.

Imagine: You have your standard outlet (by the conventions of your nation, of course), and you also have a low-voltage tap at each outlet. That low-voltage puts out a standardized voltage, has a standard current rating suitable for everything from a phone charger to a laptop battery recharger. Best yet: set it up so it's not drawing power from the grid when you're not charging anything.

All the manufacturers need to standardize on a common charging spec for this to work at all...

Re:What about all the wall-warts... (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059420)

Imagine: You have your standard outlet (by the conventions of your nation, of course), and you also have a low-voltage tap at each outlet. That low-voltage puts out a standardized voltage, has a standard current rating suitable for everything from a phone charger to a laptop battery recharger. Best yet: set it up so it's not drawing power from the grid when you're not charging anything.


How do you provide the low voltage to the tap in a more efficient manner than what could be done with a wall-wart?

Re:What about all the wall-warts... (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060228)

The idea is that a common DC circuit would eliminate 5 or 10 or more wall warts. Also, a dedicated device could be designed with more sophisticated circuitry to drop its idle current down to nearly zero.

Re:What about all the wall-warts... (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061020)

So where does the circuitry come into play which provides the 1.5 - 12 volts required by DC appliances?
So at what point does the idle energy saved pay for the expense of the dedicated device, the additional wiring, the line losses pumping low volt DC from my basement up two stories to my bedroom? If every room in all buildings aren't so wired, the benefits, the flexibility of cheap wall-warts are lost.
There is no reason such sophisticated circuitry could and would not be designed into wall warts come the time when energy becomes more expensive.

Overvoltage (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058856)

What are the limitations and caveats with 240 vs 120

Well they're pretty much the same. In both cases you've got about a 9% overvoltage condition.

Re:Overvoltage (1)

PayPaI (733999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059256)

Huh? Overvoltage compared to what?

Re:Overvoltage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17059358)

The real RMS voltages are 220/110

Re:Overvoltage (2, Informative)

JackHoffman (1033824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059532)

In 1995, Europe has switched to a unified 230V standard with a tolerance of -6% to +10% (216V to 253V) and later +-10%. Since all previous voltages fall into the tolerance range, not much has changed as far as actual voltages go (220V in Germany, 240V in the UK), but devices are built to the 230V standard now.

Re:Overvoltage (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061578)

In both cases you've got about a 9% overvoltage condition.

Did you fall asleep in the 80s, and just wake up? It's been 120V in the US for many years now.

Re:Overvoltage (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062344)

What are the limitations and caveats with 240 vs 120

Well they're pretty much the same. In both cases you've got about a 9% overvoltage condition.

Or in my neck of the woods, it is called "well within normal tolerances".

It has to get up to 133V-ish before they will do anything about it. :/

When travelling only? (4, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17058910)

If you haven't noticed, you've got the same problem at home too. I've got five computers and assorted battery chargers and cell phones and gadgets in my home office, and the fucking things have filled up 6 power strips. And I'm even using the 6 inch extension cords on all the bricks so I'm not wasting any spaces on the power strips. It's fucking out of control.

We need a power standard. We need standard plugs, and two or three standard DC voltages. Say 12 volts and 5 volts. Maybe 9 volts too. That way we can buy a single large power supply to power all these little devices from one source. Even if we used a regular power supply that a computer uses, we could probably run everything off that. Scanners, USB drives, cell phone chargers, switches, hubs, Linksys firewall appliances, EVERYTHING.

And, it should be a standard that every device has an IN plug and an OUT plug so not everything has to be plugged directly into the main DC power source. You should be able to chain a few USB drives off your little 8 port ethernet switch, all of them drawing power from the big DC power supply.

I think that this is something I could make some money with. Put a computer power supply in a box. Sell it with some connectors and adaptors. You're done, and you've got lots of plugs and much less wire tangle.

Re:When travelling only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17059538)

We have Ethernet-based power. We call it Power over Ethernet. It's not so useful if you don't control the network, or you're getting the cheaper switches and devices that don't do PoE, but the standard is there.

Though, why would you want to chain USB devices off your Ethernet switch? That's what USB is for. Just try to get stuff that works off the 100mW or so that you get across unpowered hubs, or save a few powered plugs for the larger things.

I don't think your power supply ideas would work. Daisy chaining is out: DC requires a lot of current at these small voltages pretty quickly. Daily chain a few devices and, provided the power supply doesn't burn out, the wires will. Switching transformers also require a certain amount of load to operate properly, so you get unpredictable tech support issues when the thing is lightly loaded.

Re:When travelling only? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060020)

The reason I want to chain some other devices off my ethernet switch is that on one shelf I have two 8-port ethernet switches, a wireless access point, a hardware firewall device, and a DSL modem. That's 5 different devices, with 5 power wires, with 5 different bricks occupying almost a full power strip.

A DC power supply in a computer can put out a lot of power. A random 480W ATX power supply I googled for puts out 36 Amps at 5 volts, and 16 amps at 12 volts. A Linksys hardware firewall device needs approximately 1 amp at 12 volts. That means that if all the other devices on the shelf also need that amount of power (and they definitely don't) then I've got an awful lot of power to spare to run my 4 USB drives, my Epson scanner, my LCD monitor, my external DVD burner, my speakers, my cell phone charger, my battery charger, and the the other switches and hubs. One nice ATX power supply can do it easily.

And as far as wires burning out, bullshit. Absolute bullshit. A skinny little piece of copper can carry 1500 watts easily. I've got one on my hair dryer. Another one on my toaster.

Re:When travelling only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060994)

Oh, I rather doubt that. Your hair dryer and toaster use AC, which has less transmission loss than DC, at 110V, which requires much lower amperages, and they're running only like 20 minutes continously, tops. 1.5 kW? That's an entire house, which runs on AC so it's like 15A, and the cable for that is still rather thick.

Actually, at these currents, you probably don't have to worry about the wires themselves burning out, but I was thinking about the rest of the house, too, and having some way to regulate the voltage. Have you ever wondered why motherboard power connectors have so many wires for so few voltages?

However, I'm sure you can run all those devices on a PC power supply. I even ran my 8-port switch and DSL modem off a single 1.5A wall wart for a while, because a mouse chewed through the power cables and destroyed their original power supplies. It's just difficult to make successfully because a standard home doesn't have the 2 8-port switches and the DSL modem and the home router running continuously making sure it has enough load to run properly. Even then, I'm sure you've heard of the troubles some power supply makers have had recently, because they design them to run with a certain amount of 5V load to go with the 12V load, and modern CPUs and video cards use disproportionate amounts of 12V power. And if you're confused about electrical safety, just imagine the average customer.

That's not even getting into the trouble of getting others to follow a standard.

Re:When travelling only? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062000)

That's an entire house, which runs on AC so it's like 15A, and the cable for that is still rather thick.

Wow, if you've got a 400A supply to your house you should get it upgraded. That's like 1950's standards. What's 15 AMPS? Oh yea, that's what a single socket is rated at, at 90 volts RMS. We're not going to even come close to the limit of a single socket with out 500 watt ATX power supply. I don't know why you're worried about the house wiring. That's got a circuit breaker on it, and my 500 watt power supply has never tripped it.

but I was thinking about the rest of the house, too, and having some way to regulate the voltage. Have you ever wondered why motherboard power connectors have so many wires for so few voltages?

Have I proposed anything else? I'm not talking about chaining everything together. I'm talking about reducing the number of fricking bricks on power strips. I've got about 20 bricks right at my feet. I'm talking about stringing 5 devices out, drawing maybe 3 amps total.

That's not even getting into the trouble of getting others to follow a standard

So sell adaptor plugs in a variety of forms. Each plug would fit the power socket on the device, and would have two connectors for pass-through power connections.

Have you ever wondered why motherboard power connectors have so many wires for so few voltages?

My big power source is an ATX supply. I'm not proposing cutting off any of the wires coming out of it. Just make all of them separate plugs, and fuse each one of them. Simple enough. These aren't big problems.

Seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17058918)

It's really simple -- don't take so much shit with you. Who needs TWO cameras, AND Nintendo, AND a laptop, AND an iPod...

Sorry, but your problem isn't chargers - it's that you're a gadget freak who can't pack sensibly.

Universal Power Adapter (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17059036)

I used to sell these things at the electronics/computer store I worked at called (review) [the-gadgeteer.com] I-GO Juice. There were a few different models out at the time, but one had pretty much any proprietary plug I had ever come across (believe me I've seen some odd ones) as well as adapters for foreign outlets and car outlets. It also auto-sensed input and output voltages and wattages/amps. Neat little thing and my customers always came back to tell me it did everything they wanted anywhere they were, and it's not often you get that. Hope that helps, I'm sure there are other companies that make a similar product, but this is the only one I've seen. Cheers, Phil

Firewire portable HDD (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059128)

Firewire portable HDD can run off of bus power.

Re:Firewire portable HDD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17060592)

Well, yes, unless you only have a mini Firewire port (which doesn't provide power), or you need to use it with a laptop that is incapable of supplying enough power.

Re:Firewire portable HDD (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061096)

LaCie makes a nice bus-powered hard drive [newegg.com] that is sufficiently low-draw on the USB port that it works on *all* of my computers (even my laptop), and several of the aforementioned computers are incapable of supplying various other bus-powered drives that I've tried.

And people laugh at me for this... (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059134)

A very, VERY, VERY standardized solution to your problem already exists... One that will work in any device from any country on the planet, regardless of local voltage, frequency, and even reliability of AC power availability:

Make sure to only buy devices that take AA/AAA batteries. Then you just need to carry a few extra NiMH recharcheables, and a single charger will take care of all your portable electricity needs every night while you sleep.

You can also get AA-to-12VDC converters, which will work with anything that can accept a car cigarette-lighter plug (make sure to get one that works with rechargeables, though, which for NiMH run at 1.2V rather than 1.5V... That doesn't matter much for up to four batteries, but at 8+ batteries, it can make some unprepared devices fail).


It amazes me that so many people put up with devices that have their own built-in non-replaceable incompatible-with-everything batteries. Rechargeables do eventually die. In exchange for five minutes of research up-front, you can save yourself a dozen different chargers and the need to replace various portable products (*cough* early iPods *cough*) yearly for no better reason than a dead battery.

Personally, I follow the above advice religiously. If my phone dies, I pop open my GPS and bam, I can call for help. If my GPS dies in the middle of a long hike, my camera makes the (temporary) ultimate sacrifice, and I can once again find my car. If my camera dies just as a UFO full of Elvis impersonators lands in front of me, always have an 8-pack of spares available, compatible with every device I carry. And when I get home or back to the car after draining every battery I own, a single charger restores them all to life in just a few hours.

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (3, Funny)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059252)

WTF ... your phone runs on AA/AAA batteries? Is it made by Fisher Price?

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (1)

Denyer (717613) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059474)

You can get very cheap emergency chargers that will funnel the juice from a set of batteries into your handset.

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059506)

WTF ... your phone runs on AA/AAA batteries? Is it made by Fisher Price?

WTF ... your phone doesn't have a car charger? ;-)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

My phone I will admit doesn't directly take AAs. But it lasts about four days on a charge, and has a car charger (but even if not, you could get an I-go or Energi for about $20) that works just fine on any 12VDC power source - Such as the one I mentioned in my previous post.

Perhaps I should have phrased it as "get things that take AA, or 12VDC, or have a cigarette lighter adapter (aka 12 to 18VDC, internally regulated)".

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (2, Funny)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059778)

AA/AAA batteries can't take care of everything you have. I bet you wife has a tool or two that requires at least C batteries... If C batteries were an option I bet it would go something like this:

bzzzzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzzt ...silence... "Honey, can you hand me another rechargeable battery? Thanks, sweetie." Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060442)

I replied to another poster suggesting sticking to miniUSB-powered/charged devices and the same counter-argument applies: sticking with battery-powered devices is a ridiculously limiting factor. There are no dSLRs, cell phones or Nintendo DSs out there which run on alkalines. And switching from an iPod Nano to something AAA bulky is out of the question.

I'd rather lug around the 5+ chargers than limit myself to a very small subset of each device category based on its charging scheme alone. Features such as compactness, usability and battery life are more important to me than how its charged, but it would be nice to be able to have just one for all of them.

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17061812)

Actually, Digital Rebels (DSLR) have an additional grip that can take 6 x AA batteries (including NiMH) and provide far greater capacity than the internal proprietary battery. The grip plus a $20 charger plus a few sets of Energizer 2500mAh batteries cost less than the equivalent proprietary batteries, and my $20 charger uses the same generic power cable as my laptop, my PDA, my portable radio/CD, ....

Of course, I already had the charger, since everything from my mp3 player to my LED flashlight uses AA.

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (1)

jthayden (811997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17063144)

My Nikon D70 came with it's own battery but also a holder for two AA batteries that fits in the same slot. Works great.

Re:And people laugh at me for this... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17063182)

There are no dSLRs, cell phones or Nintendo DSs out there which run on alkalines. And switching from an iPod Nano to something AAA bulky is out of the question.

Then you have chosen your current problem, and voted with your wallet to perpetuate the everything-has-its_own-wall-wart and $100-non-user-serviceable-battery-replacement scams.

You couldn't get by with a plain ol' GBA, which did take AAs? You couldn't pick any of the literally dozens of non-Apple portable music players that take a single AAA (bulky? C'mon, talkin' bout a device the size of a pack of gum, here). And as for a dSLR, if you need that level of quality, you've already resigned yourself to lugging around a bag full of lenses and filters (not to mention the increased size and weight of the camera itself), a charger makes little difference; if you don't need quite that level of quality, then as with the music player, you have literally dozens of rather high-quality-but-not-SLR choices to pick from that will run on AAs.


I don't mean to put down your choices - No doubt you chose each of your toys, just as we all do, for the features they offer that you found valuable. But if you don't (or didn't) consider how it feeds itself as a purchasing criteria, then you have to live with the array of chargers.

Unfortunately, Li-ion batteries (usually built-ins use Li-ion) take fairly complex charging circuitry. Although we may some day see standardized replaceables for it, at the moment, every shape, size, and capacity has its own special requirements for how to safely charge it without turning it into a little bomb.



I'd rather lug around the 5+ chargers than limit myself to a very small subset of each device category based on its charging scheme alone.

I'd point out that, for the rare product that you really really want but can't get either a version without its own wall-wart or with a car adapter (aka very forgiving 12-18VDC unregulated input - very easy to provide), you can still buy it. You don't need to live a spartan existance based around power sources. You just need to realize that every time you choose "compactness" and single-charge battery-life over "standardized power input", you have also chosen to lug around another custom noninterchangeable charger.

I wish I never ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17059218)

read Papillon.

Common denomonator... (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059272)

A few years ago I found a device at Best Buy that plugs into the wall and gives you a standard car cigarette lighter socket. It is rated for very low amps (designed to charge cell phones), but since I am mainly charging cell phones, iPods, and other low-draw devices, it works well. I just buy car charging cables for each device (which are significantly smaller and less bulky than their A/C counterparts) and carry them.

In a car? No problem, just use the car charger straight. Inside with an outlet? Just plug in the inverter and then the car charger cable.

It means I can only one device at a time, but as long as I time things well, this is not a bad problem with most devices having Li-Ion batteries with the fairly quick 80% charge.

I also have a generic cigarette lighter -> USB adaptor which also makes for a nice generic piece to charge from. As others have said, standardizing on USB to charge from makes things nice.

Re:Common denomonator... (1)

dthree (458263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060056)

Thats a pretty clever idea. I think I'll look around for one with 3 outlets. My last bluetooth headseat (blueant x3), charges off USB *and* came with both 110->USB and lighter->USB chargers, so I can use the 12v one with your solution.

Kensington Smart Plug (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059352)

Pick up one of these http://us.kensington.com/html/6368.html [kensington.com] it comes with the 9 most common tips including an Ipod one and if you have some wierd device it doesnt support they will send you the extra tip. It also includes air and car adaptors and comes with a nylon back to carry it all. Even with all the tips and adaptors its still smaller than most laptop power supplies. I just carry it with me when I travel and round robin it with all my gadgets for charging. It sure beats carrying 15 pounds of power adaptors.

Re:Kensington Smart Plug (1)

IL-CSIXTY4 (801087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059938)

Oh yeah! I picked up one of those when my laptop's power brick died and I carry it in a little pouch with all the tips. It sure beats carrying a bunch of chargers around!

Isun Battpak solar charger (AC/DC/Solar) (1)

Glooko_Archive (1034144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17059710)

I've used this for some time and it worked quite well. It can take 10 batteries to charge at once but it does not have a auto cut off timer and other charging protection but then again it's more for 50/50 outdoors and indoors use. http://21st-century-goods.com/page/21st/PROD/iSunB P [21st-century-goods.com] That is the unit I use. Here is a review I did a while ago on this. http://outdoors-magazine.com/s_article.php?id_arti cle=109 [outdoors-magazine.com] One idea is to see if the devices you have, have cigarette chargers sold for them. If they do then take some color labels and write the name of the device that charger is for or use color sticker dots and put one color dot on the cig-port end and the other on the adaptor end. Now take all the cig-chargers you have and zip-tie or gun-tape or put into one of those wrappy coil things to keep them all together. Now all you have to do when traveling is only reach for that multi-adaptor you just made and the Isun Battpak with its AC/DC charger and you're good to go. So that would mean you only carry 4 extra items on top of your devices. You can make that 3 extra items if you take away the DC charger for the BattPak and have an invertor in the car. IMHO I find the AC charger better to have just incase the DC fubars or something you can still charge the batteries at any 110 outlet. The Battpak will also charge N cells as well without an adaptor (which is not mentioned anywhere and very useful for small lights or blinkies on a bicycle). You can drop 10 fresh alkalines and get ~15-16v and run an small inverter if you want and if you come across a bulk buy AA pack. Glooko_Archive

Minisync (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17060924)

The boxwave people make small retractable USB charging cables for a lot of devices. www.boxwave.com

I have a handful of these for most of my gizmos, and since most devices need only an hour or two a day of charging, a single laptop USB port is probably plenty.

My 12'' laptop with charger and all devices USB (1)

hunte (455338) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061030)

For any trip, I take with me my 12'' laptop with a small USB hub. My first mobile phone (also mp3 player+radio+decent camera) is a Sony Ericsson w800i, with USB charge support. My second mobile phone is an HP Ipaq 6300 series (also PDA with windows mobile 2003 and GPS with an external bluetooth receiver), with USB charge support. Also the GPS receiver have the USB charge support.
So, with one powered device (my laptop), I can charge all my others devices :)

Not enough current (1)

klossner (733867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062328)

A USB port cannot supply more than 2.5 watts. A quick survey of my house shows that all my chargers supply about that much power.

If you connect an unpowered USB hub to your laptop, then the total power supplied to all the ports on the hub cannot add up to more than 2.5 watts, minus a fraction to power the hub itself. You can't efficiently charge more than one device at a time through this hub.

If your USB hub is powered by a wall wart, then each of its ports can supply the full 2.5 watts ... but now you're schlepping another wall wart around.

Universal AC adapter? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17061566)

I have a charger for my cell phone, Nintendo DS Lite, my two digital cameras and an iPod.

I have a question for you... Has everyone in the world forgotten about universal AC adapters?

Seems like they were pretty common in the 80s, but somehow everyone has completely forgotten about them.

It's pretty simple, you buy the universal AC adapter [shop.com] , select the voltage and polarity, and plug-in the tip that fits your device (for some odd plugs, you may have to buy the appropriate tips seperately).

Sometimes I will have one for a portable HDD and laptop.

The laptop is going to be the only problem... Laptops use so much more power than other devices, that it is prohibitively expensive to get a universal adapter, or even replace your bundled adapter. If you lost or destroyed the original though, it might be better to go with a universal notebook AC adapter [targus.com] too, but the price is prohibitive.

Re:Universal AC adapter? (1)

CaptKilljoy (687808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062778)

>I have a question for you... Has everyone in the world forgotten about universal AC adapters?

Don't do this. The ones I've seen are rated for less than 1000mA (usually only 500mA for the cheap ones) which isn't even close to enough for any recent gadget. For example, my MP3 player draws 1500mA, my PDA draws 2400mA. If it is not rated for the current necessary, the adapter may overheat, possibly enough to start a fire.

The universal laptop adapter is a safe bet, but, as the parent poster pointed out, is kind of pricey.

Re:Universal AC adapter? (1)

bebemochi (772144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17062818)

I see what you mean, but those adapters, while very practical for older electrical devices, are no longer truly "universal." The "tip" you need for a Nintendo DS (I have one) is unlike anything available in "universal" sets, and then there are the fantabulous inventions cell phone makers have come up with. It seems like each one is different from the other -- I had a friend who had to replace his cell phone charger, and to our surprise, the same manufacturer had different charger models for their different cell phone models (it seemed to change by model family). You can't just buy the tips separately, I'm afraid. (That said, I would be happy to be proven wrong, since I have the same multiple-charger problem as the poster.)

Too many DC plugs (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17063058)

There are too many chargers and plugs, you're absolutely correct. This problem will probably get worse and worse until a gov't has to step in and regulate the power plugs. More and more businesses are building proprietary plugs for simple 5V, 9V, 12V, and 19.6V adapters. Witness Dell with the needle thing center electrode and octogonal shell, and Nintendo with it's odd trapezoidal plug. It's quite obvious that they're doing this because of buyer lock-in, and not for anything approaching the real needs of the product.

DIN, ANSI, and all the other standards bodies have long ago defined reasonable specs for these plugs, which brought prices down because of manufacturing en masse. Now that it's so cheap to custom make these plastic bits, businesses are looking at it on the long term and realizing that buyer lock-in provides them with more money than they'll save by chosing the cheap standardized connector.

The problem is, how to go about this? Gov't regs for technology are Bad (TM) things, and certainly prevent innovation. However, Dell is hardly innovating with a plug that is *more* likely to be broken or bent. Maybe one or two good class-action suits would scare them back into line so that they only develop a new DC connector when there's real innovation in it. Like DC connectors with seperate grounds or magnetic power plugs on laptops. (Apple does this, although I have no idea if they were the first or not)

Re:Too many DC plugs (2, Interesting)

todslash (1025980) | more than 7 years ago | (#17063648)

Perhaps people like Dell and Nintendo are using their own proprietary plugs so that people don't buy a cheapo universal charger which is shoddily designed and blows up their equipment.

They would argue that it's a matter of quality control

Re:Too many DC plugs (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17063792)

They could, but, to dredge up the ol' car analogy, GM doesn't get to tell you what brand of gas you put in your car, even though some gas sometimes is not good. Likewise, Dell cannot tell you what brand of batteries to use in its laptops, and printer manufactures cannot say whose ink cartridges you can use in their printers. It's not that hard to design a system that works with el cheapo power bricks. (And having seen the quality of my aftermarket Nintendo DS charger, I think that those DSs are pretty robust.)

Solio - Solar Power / Mains Chargeable too (1)

raist_online (522240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17063806)

Greets!

I have a Solio [www.solio.com] - it is sold as charging via solar power, but you can also charge it from the mains - it comes with specialised tips (iPod, phones etc), but also a standard USB female - great for when you don't have a laptop around or, indeed, no outlet socket at all :)

I Highly recommend them both for their utility and ecological low impact.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...