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!