If you really need to surf while kayaking

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2013 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: solar power, SolarFocus, battery charger, Solar Mio Pro

The unfortunately named Solar Mio Pro does have something to do with juice but nothing to do with coloured water.  It is a series of solar panels measuring 18.1" x 8.7" unfurled, 8.7" x 3.3" x 1.4" when rolled up; which charges a 3.1" x 3.4" x 0.6" battery that can then recharge any device which can be charged via USB.  The whole package weighs less than a pound which makes it perfect for camping and backpacking.  The battery is a 3.7V lithium-polymer battery rated for 2650 mAh and provides 5V output at up to 1A which was enough to charge the Nexus 7 and iPad which The Tech Report tested, though not up to a full charge as the battery was exhausted before that.  There are some small disadvantages to this $125 charger which are revealed during the journey down the Pacific Rim.

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"Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are handy accessories in the wilderness, but charging them can be challenging. We look at the Solar Mio Pro USB charger to see if the sun can be of some assistance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Solar Impulse HB-SIA Aircraft Completes Its Tour Across USA On Solar Power Alone

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2013 - 11:52 PM |
Tagged: solar power, solar plane, solar impulse, hb-sia, aircraft

The long range Solar Impulse HB-SIA solar plane landed safely in New York at the JFK airport yesterday night around 11:09 PM. In doing so, it successfully completed its tour across the continental United States. Operating on solar power alone, the single seat aircraft was piloted and developed by Berrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg who switched out piloting duties for each leg of the trip.

The Mission Across America tour began on May 3, 2013 in San Francisco, California and ended in New York City, New York. The aircraft made interim stops in Pheonix, Arizona, Dallas Fort Worth, St. Louis, Missouri, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington D.C. Note that the tour time line also included a couple of weeks of rest for the two pilots, so the flight was not continuous. In all, the aircraft flew 3,511 miles at an average speed of 28.8 knots for 105 hours and 41 minutes.

Solar Impulse HB-SIA Solar Airplane.jpg

The HB-SIA is definitely not going to break any speed records, but the prototype craft is speculated to be able to fly continuously for up to 36 hours (though flights so far have been less than that, for safety reasons and to give the pilots rest). The best part of the Solar Impulse is that it accomplished the continental tour on solar power alone, which is quite the feat.

As a refresher, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA is 71.7 feet long with a small fuselage below the main wing with room enough to hold one pilot. It features a 208 foot wingspan. The plane is covered with 11,628 photovoltaic cells rated at a total of 45 KW. The plane also features four 10 horsepower electric motors that drive twin bladed propellers. During the day, the solar cells power the engines as well as charge up four 21 KWh lithium polymer batteries. The batteries are then used to power the engines during night flights.

The HB-SIA can take off at 22 mph and has a cruising speed of 43 mph. Its service ceiling is rated at 27,900 feet.

The Swiss research team is already working on the successor to the HB-SIA called the HB-SIB. The new prototype will be used to travel around the world on solar power alone.

This is an awesome project that should help increase awareness of alternative energy sources as well as further research into improved battery capacity and solar cell efficiency. The tour around the globe should be happening sometime in 2015, which cannot come soon enough! In the meantime, the HB-SIA will be on display to the public at JFK later this week.

More information on the solar plane project and its past missions can be found on the Solar Impulse website.

IDF 2011: Intels Shows a PC Running on Solar Power

Subject: General Tech, Processors | September 13, 2011 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: solar power, solar cell, idf 2011, idf

While on stage during today's opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel CEO Paul Otellini showed of a prototype processor running completely on a very small solar cell.

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Paul on the left, Windows 7 in the center, prototype ultra-low power CPU on the right

Running Windows 7 and a small animated GIF of a cat wearing headphones, the unannounced CPU was being powered only by a small solar panel with a UV light pointed at it.  Though Intel didn't give us specific voltages or power consumption numbers they did say that it was running at "close to the threshold of the transistors".  Assuming we are talking about the same or similar 22nm tri-gate transistors used in Haswell, we found this:

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My mostly uneducated guess then was that they were able to run Windows 7 and this animation on a processor running somewhere around 0.1-0.2v; an impressive feat that would mean wonders for standby time and the all-day computing models.  This is exactly what Intel's engineers have been targeting with their transistor and CPU designs in the last couple of years as it will allow Haswell to scale from desktop performance levels all the way to the smart phone markets on a single architecture.

Keep in mind only the CPU was being powered by the solar cell; the rest of the components including the hard drive, motherboard, etc were being powered by a standard power unit.

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You can see the solar panel and UV light on the right hand side of this photo.  Interestingly, when the presenter moved his hand between the light source and the panel, the system locked up, proving that it was indeed being powered by it. 

Source: PCPer