Solar panel troubles

solar panel

Our Brunton solar panel which has for past year kept me effortlessly powered up on my walking trips, has unfortunely developed a fault… We spent most of our rest day yesterday trying to get it working again, we even took it to a pissed up old car starter and alternator mechanic to test the power output at various points. In the end the solution we came up with (by accident) was to half roll it up and put a shoe on it! I don’t know why that works, but it does.

Obviously not the most reliably solution, so we’re looking into somehow getting a new one out to us on route.

3 thoughts on “Solar panel troubles

  1. Hi Mark,

    The reason we had the solar panel was mainly to charge our phone (we did occasionally charge my carcorder and paul’s digital camera too). We’d been ‘sponsored’ by Nokia, they gave us the phone and and paid for all the calls and data (so we could blog) etc in exchange for us to use their new SportsTracker software to plot our whole trip with GPS. You can see the ‘workouts’ here:

    As you’ll be able to tell from the list we weren’t very successful at tracking the whole route… The problem was SportsTracker was very battery hungry, we couldn’t even record a whole day on one battery. So we’d plug it into the solar panel each time we spotted for a rest. This worked ok for a bit, but the solar panel would get bashed around a bit and start charging slower and slower each day, until we had to get a new one (went through 3 solar panels). We were also using the phone to take pictures and write and upload blog posts en-route, as well as call back home and look up info on google maps when we got into town. We didn’t want to run out of battery so ended up not SportsTrackering very much…

    Anyhow, the video was shot on a Sony HDR-SR12 camcorder, I considered long a hard about the ‘lightest option’ but was worried about running out of memory so plumbed for this one because it’s got a 120GB hard drive, biggest I could find. In retrospect, I didn’t take half as much video as I thought I would (60GB), knowing what I know now I would get a small/light memory card camcorder like this:

    And 60 GB worth of memory cards, expensive but light.

    We only posted pictures en-route, our phone had a British sim card and very rarely could it find a network that we could use outside of big towns. We uploaded most of out content through the phones wifi connection at the motel we were staying in town or the library etc. The application we used to connect to my WordPress blog was:

    You can view all our blog posts in chronological order here:

    Blimey that was a lot longer than I’d expected, hope it answers your questions,


  2. I wondered how you had continuous power for the trip for your video camera. What kind did you use? Also what was your solution for memory? Did you buy a gazillion memory cards and mail them off when you went home? Also did you actually post these along the trail as you went? Where/how?

  3. “In the end the solution we came up with (by accident) was to half roll it up and put a shoe on it!”

    lol :)
    Good luck guys!

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