Ever since I bought a camera, batteries have been an issue specially while traveling. A fully charged DSLR battery is enough for up to 1000 photos or more if used properly. But in places without electricity like when camping and cold weather, battery charge is an issue. I found out during my last trip to Lahaul Spiti that batteries lose their charge in cold weather much faster even when not in use and specially with long exposure shots. So I’ve been looking for a way to charging DSLR batteries while traveling without access to electric supply. There is some information on internet, but nothing really useful. Most people just prefer carrying 3-4 extra batteries or a complicated setup of wires and adapters for the purpose..

But I found 2 gadgets which make camera battery charging much easier with minimal amount of work and expense required. So there is no cutting, joining wires or similar work, just simple plug and play.

1) First is a portable solar panel easily available from a number of online retailers. I bought a 21 W capacity panel like this. These panels have 1 or 2 USB ports for output and weigh less than half a KG. Mine came with 4  carabiners and has 4 slots which makes it easy to just sling across the backpack or any surface. The USB slots are inside a pocket which is pretty handy of storing cables and charger or to keep them away from sun while charging. There are multiple type with different capacities and weight, but it’ll be preferable to get one with maximum wattage possible. It seems to be water resistant and strong. While hiking, it can be just attached to the rucksack and charge batteries while you walk. It will probably be useful on some DIY projects in home too.

2) 2nd is a DC input charger for the camera battery. Canon and Nikon DSLRs both have different batteries and will have different chargers. Mine is Nikon D7100 with EN-EL15 battery and I got EN-EL15 DC charger. Most Canon DSLRs will use LP-E8 batteries and these chargers will work LP-E8 DC charger. None of the chargers available are manufactured by camera companies themselves and the build quality is not great. Atleast the one I got is Chinese made and looks like one. But it’s working while it works. It has slots for two batteries as visible in picture below, but I’ve used only one till now. While charging the display shows a level and blue backlight. For some reason, it fluctuates while connected to solar panel and stable if connected to a phone charger, but charging seems fine either way.

These chargers use DC as their input supply unlike the normal chargers which use AC. If you have a normal phone charger or a power bank, these battery chargers will work with those too. If you’re willing to carry a high capacity power bank like these with you, you can use the setup to charge your batteries even at night. There are also some solar power banks available with an attached solar panel. But it’s another KG or so of additional weight with lower capacity.

Next step is just to plug the USB cable of charger in to the USB slot of panel and place it in sun. As I’m writing this, this setup charged my Nikon EN-EL15 battery from 60% to 100% in 150 minutes. But it took 3 hours yesterday to charge the battery from 20% to 62%.  So even with good amount of sunlight, there seem to be some fluctuations. It’s also a good charger for other gadgets like phones, tablets etc. My 4 years + old Samsung tablet gets fully charged in 70-80 minutes with this panel.

The pictures below is the charging setup in action. Taken by a phone camera in very bright sun , so not very clear but good enough for the purpose. The red LED inside pocket lights up whenever the panels are exposed to sun.

Solar charging for camera battery

Solar panel pocket

These are some pictures I took in Shillong Air Force Museum. There was a lot more other stuff, but this is all I’m going to upload for now and is also the more interesting of the lot.

30 mm Aden Gun -Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

30 mm Aden Gun

 

30mm GSH Gun - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

30 mm GSH Gun

 

Artouste Engine III B -Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Artouste Engine III B

 

Bombs, Rockets - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Bombs, Rockets

 

Chakor Pilotless Target Aircraft - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Chakor Pilotless Target Aircraft

De Havilland Canada DHC4 Caribou - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

De Havilland Canada DHC4 Caribou

 

GSH 23 Cannon - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

GSH 23 Cannon

Hawker Hunter fighter Engine cavity -Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Hawker Hunter fighter Engine cavity

 

Hawker Hunter fighter - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Hawker Hunter fighter

Iskra Fighter Trainer, Air Force Museum Shillong

Iskra Fighter Trainer

Iskra Information Board - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Iskra Information Board

Mi-4 Helicopter - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mi-4 Helicopter

Mi-4 Helicopter Tail Rotor- Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mi-4 Helicopter Tail Rotor

Mi-4 Information board - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mi-4 Information board

Mig-21 Cockpit and Engine - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mig-21 Cockpit and Engine

Mig-21 Information Board - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mig-21 Information Board

 

Mig-21 cockpit - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mig-21 cockpit

Missile Pylon and Bomb Rack - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Missile Pylon and Bomb Rack

Multiple Shackle Bomb Rack - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Multiple Shackle Bomb Rack

R-27 Air to Air Missile - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

R-27 Air to Air Missile

SAM - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

SAM

Scale models of air force planes - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Scale models of air force planes

Utpal Barbara Information Board- Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Utpal Barbara Information Board

Utpal Barbara Information Board 2- Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Utpal Barbara Information Board 2

 

This is last post in this series of posts describing my visit Mcleodganj. Other posts are on this link.

Day 5 was supposed to be the last day of my stay in Mcleodganj, but I had to stay one day extra as all the bus tickets had been sold out.  Although I wasn’t exactly annoyed,  I had no idea about what to do with all the spare time either. I had seen and done almost everything that I wanted. Only thing left was a complete trek to snow line via Triund, but it needed much more time than I had. So I decided to just wander around.

 For breakfast I entered one small eatery run by a lone Tibetan woman and ordered Tibetan butter tea and an exotic sounding dish called Then Thuk . It was a kind of noodle soup, with noodles being of thick flat type. The shop was small and had place for seating only 5-7 people, but as with most Tibetan run places in Mcleodganj, it was very clean and the owner friendly and helpful. Continue reading

This is 6th post in this series of posts describing my visit  Mcleodganj. Other posts are on this link.

The day begun with An joining  me for a breakfast of parantha, omelette and  tea in a small eating joint. She wanted to sample only Indian food that day. Parantha was too salty for my taste and tea too sugary for her. Most foreigners don’t like the sweet milky concoction which passes for tea in India.  Tibetan tea is mostly a mixture of herbs in boiling water or they drink salty butter tea.   Start wasn’t good enough but we had  a lot of time to sample food from other places.   Our plan for the day was a trek to that waterfall in Dharmkot. It isn’t even mentioned in most tourist guides but whatever I had inferred, it promised to be one of the best places to visit. I had thought about seeing it twice in previous two days but it had proven elusive.  I know, elusive isn’t the right word for something stationary, but still… Continue reading

Other posts in this series of posts are on this link.

On day three I got out of hotel room and walked in market for a while before entering a cafe for breakfast.  Took the road to Dharmkot again and met the same man I had asked for directions in lower Dharmkot village previous day. He had come this far just to get some work done in a bank.    He gave some more tips regarding shortcuts and paths.

Easier part of the trek

Easier part of the trek

 

I found another trail and took it which led to a canine breeding compound full of menacing looking dogs. A pair which looked like Pitbull was in a steel wire enclosure. They didn’t seem very happy to see me and and I hurried on my way. Continue reading