Solar UMPC ToDo list.

I’ve been making another list! Its the big one. What do I need to do to prepare for the Solar UMPC tour which could start in under 4 weeks if all goes well. Below you’ll find a summary of the things I need to sort out before I go. I’ll be going into detail on each of these topics over the coming weeks.

UMPC. I already have a very shortlist of UMPCs. I’ve chosen VIA as the platform (who are now my sponsors) and at the top of the list of devices is the Samsung Q1b HSDPA. Luckily this is available in Germany now. I am also considering the OQO Model 02 but I will definitely need a full keyboard in addition which negates the advantage of the thumbboard on the OQO. Amtek T770 is also in the running.  There’s a question of extended batteries and I also have to take availability and price into the equation. What about ruggedness too. Hard drives can fail and I’ve already experienced that. I’m also thinking about a backup solution if the UMPC fails. N800 could be well suited as its got no moving parts.  I need to sort this out as a priority and while I’ve been writing this I’ve been talking to TheTabletStore in Munich who might be able to get hold of the Q1b HSDPA for me. Fingers crossed.

Solar equipment. At the moment I’m looking at a number of rollable solar panels ranging from 6W to 24W. I have been recommended a P3 Solar panel because of its ability to drive 19v – the native voltage for my battery pack and the Q1. Voltage conversions cost energy an require extra components which can go wrong so simplicity is the key. I will be looking at various connectivity methods, charging methods and need to add up the average daily power budget to decide on how much solar power I will need. I will probably be getting a P3 rollable solar panel from SelectSolar to test in the next few days.

Power storage. I already have the TabletKiosk MP3400 battery pack which has worked well in the past and so I would like to continue to use it. If it fails, I’ll have to fall back to the other power storage method – storing in the UMPC and driving other devices through the USB port. Very inefficient but a possible last-resort solution.

Mobile phone/Cellular Internet connectivity. If I get the Samsung Q1b HSDPA then Internet connectivity is going to be a breeze. The only thing I’ll have to do is get a second SIM card so that I can take/make voice calls on my mobile phone. If I don’t get a UMPC with built-in HSDPA, I’ll use my Nokia 6280 as a modem via Bluetooth or USB,. Its only 3G but having used it for 5 days at CeBIT, I know its going to be enough for my needs.

Keyboard solution. I don’t want to use a Bluetooth solution as, again, its got too many things in it to go wrong. USB keyboard will be fine. If I go for the Q1b, the organiser pack makes a perfect solution to this problem.

Bike. I don’t have a bike yet. Well, actually, I do have a bike. In fact I have three here to choose from but I don’t fancy doing 8 days on either a mountain bike, a Dutch shopper or a Finnish army bike. I need something stable for sure and will need to think carefully about panniers and loading. All my camping equipment needs to go on it. I hate suspension on bikes and as I’ll be on flat asphalt all the way, there’s no need to waste money and energy (those things sap energy from the bike) on it.

Tent + Camping equipment. This one is a list in itself! I have most stuff but I found out last year that my little 2-man tent has finally given up and started letting the elements in. That means I need a new tent. Damn. I’m wondering whether it needs to be a one man or two man tent. A one man tent will be smaller and lighter but if it rains, I need to store my equipment so a two-man tent is a better option. Will test some solutions out soon. As for the other camping stuff. I’ll make another list for that!

Logistics. I have a rough idea of the route now. Its probably going to start from Strasbourg on the French border. I’ll take the Rhein Radweg north and hopefully make it back to Bonn. The main problem though is weather. I will need to make a final decision as near as 48 hours before the start of the journey in order to get an idea of the weather for the next week. This means I cant book a train down there and can’t tell friends to meet me on the way. Annoying but necessary.

There are are a lot of different little things to sort out too. Bike clothes, shoes, rechargeable batteries, blogging plan, PR work, website preparation, and, oh, one more big thing.

Fitness. Fortunately, I’ve got an in house personal trainer. My wife’s company, Power-Balance, will get a training plan together and I’ll start it this weekend. Running, biking and arm exercises are the order of the day. This is the bit I’m not looking forward too!

12 thoughts on “Solar UMPC ToDo list.

  1. Have you considered a trailer? I think one of the beneits of a trailer is you can put the solar panel on it while riding, and if you just want to go for a ride after setting your stuff somewhere, you can just detach and go.

    I plan to ride with a small handlebar bag, and the trailer. For my folding bike, getting pannier racks and pannier bags would have been quite expensive, I think more expensive…

    I am curious why have you got a Finnish army bike??? I thought you were joking before!!! hehe

  2. I agree, you should get a trailer for you bike. In that way you can put the solar panel to recharge the battery of the Power Source that I recommend you to buy here

  3. Hi Guys.
    Firstly, Its not a Finnish army bike I have. Its a Swedish one. Kronan make a bike based on an old Swedish army bike.

    I have a trailer that i’ve used before but I i’d rather not have to pull another 10KG behind me. The solar panel will go on a mount behind me and should be enough. I plan to keep power reuirements way way down so i’m talking about LED lamps (not 60W bulbs Ctitanic. Thats 80% heat and 20% light!!) Remember its light until 10pm here and then light again at 5am so there will be no real need for much light.

    I calculate that 100W per day is more than I need. In fact, I think 60W per day will be enough. 4 hours on a UMPC, photos and mobile phone. Job done!

    What do you think?


  4. Yeah, that does look like a Finnish army bike! Put some good quality slick tyres on it and it would probably make a good touring bike, depending on its overall condition…

    A tip I read somewhere about touring bikes is, the simpler the better, less things to go wrong…

  5. Wow. Its almost the same and its given me the idea to use my army bike now. Its in top condition although probably needs new tyres. The reason i bought it was becuase it was simple. No gears. Back pedal brakes. I’ll take a picture and post it up in a gallery.
    Funnily enough I also have a trailer almost the same but somehow, taking a trailer feels like cheating. Also a very heavy combo.


  6. The advantage of the trailer is that you can have your solar panel working the whole time and more efficiently.

    I was thinking about going with a full AC voltage. But I like the idea of going with DC because you can save more energy on that way using LED lamps and stuff like that.

  7. I reckon your army bike is quite up to the job! And the colour is quite groovy too!

    The trailer looks very solid. It would do the job, but something lighter would be more convenient.

  8. Army bike without trailer perhaps. 15kg of beeres on the front without any problem!

  9. Hi! I am the Finnish guy who cycled through Australia last year with the Finnish amr bike.

    Trailer wasn’t nearly as solid as my bike. Actually, it was annihilated by a car that hit me after 2100 k’s.

    Before that I had repaired trailer about five times and I was more happy than sad to lose it. It served its duty, to carry enough water (40-50 litres) for the deserts.

    Bike itself was a total success and I would choose an army bike for any long trip.

    After 3 weeks I begin my North-American journey. I try to paddle down The yukon River from Whitehorse, Canada to the Bering Sea, USA. That includes 2100 kilometers across Alaska and 800 kilometers in Canada before entering USA.

    If you have some guestions, feel free to write,

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