Weekend Warrior

When you’re on the go, sometimes you don’t always have the luxury of an outlet to plug-in your laptop or portable devices.  There are a multitude of external power sources that could be used in those dire situations. If you consider yourself to be pretty handy, you can create your own battery, if not, there are solutions that you can buy. With either option, you should always have what you need to power up all of your toys on the go.

First, the handy do-it-yourself small battery-powered USB charger that uses an Altoid gum tin, and two AA batteries. You’ll need some soldering tools, but the website that I gathered the instructions from, Instructables, says this is a project that beginners would be able to do. Instructables divides this process into 26 different steps with pictures to guide you along the way (which is why it is so easy). Here are some numbers which are actually rather impressive — using the charging device:

  • iPod video –  (tested using alkaline batteries) – 3 hrs video which is equal to 1 full recharge
  • iPod mini (tested with rechargeable’s) – 25 hours of battery life which is equal to 1.5 full recharges
  • iPod shuffle – 60 hours of battery life (5 full recharges)

You can also buy the “Minty Boost Kit” from Adafruit Industries if you don’t feel like tracking down all of the supplies on your own. It will cost $19.50

Another way to make use of external power support is a USB Battery charger.  The USB battery charger uses your desktop or laptop computer to charge AA or AAA batteries so that you can power up your digital camera, MP3 player, etc. All you have to do is plug the device into your computer (via USB of course) and a few hours later, you’ll be fully charged. Cost: $11.99


Next is the USB Battery Box.  This would be an alternative to the Altoid Tin.  If you want the fun of bragging to your friends that you charge your iPod with a self-made charger in an Altoid Tin, this isn’t for you.  If by chance you could care less about impressing your friends with a self-made device, the USB Battery Box is perfect.  There are two different options, with one taking four AA and the other taking four AAA batteries.  It has a USB connector on the end, and after inserting the batteries into the box, you’ll be all set to charge your USB compatible device. And for $5.99 plus the cost of batteries, it’s not a bad deal!

The final power source is the CTA Digital LT-ULB Universal Notebook External-Polymer Battery Pack for laptops. Because it’s powerful enough to charge your laptop, or power it for several hours, the price will certainly be more than the AA, and AAA options mentioned above for smaller devices.  Newegg sells it for $138.99 which seems to be a good price.

It’s compatible with a variety of different computers with some of the more popular brands being Dell, IBM, Compaq, Acer, Gateway, Toshiba, Winbook, and Apple. There are several other brands that it is also compatible with.  It won’t take up too much additional space, or add too much weight with dimensions of 9.1″ x 6.5″ x 0.6″ and weighing in at 1.6 lbs.

Now for battery life, it has a capacity of 66.6 WH (Watt Hours).  To give you an idea of how long this might be, my laptop with an extended battery is 80WH and I get anywhere from 6-8 hours of battery life. This external battery has a capacity of 66 WH, so you’d probably get around 4-5 hours.  Not only could you use this in addition to the battery life that your computer already offers, you could also use this as a way charge the built-in battery on your computer. It plugs right into the AC power jack, and comes with a variety of different adaptors to work with nearly all laptops.

Other features:

  • Powerful and portable
  • Widely compatible
  • Super thin design
  • Excellent security and reliability
  • High efficiency of power conservation
  • Electricity saving function
  • Memory effect free
  • Long cycle life
  • Rapid charge
  • Energy level light indicator  (lets you know how much battery life you have left)

Whether you’re looking for an external battery source for your laptop, or a portable device, there are lots of different options available from the do-it-yourself, to the already made and ready to go methods.