Friday, 10 July 2009

More Power!!!

The Satmap Active 10 lithium polymer battery arrived today and is now safely installed inside the unit. I confused the nice folk at Satmap by declining their 'Power Pack' which included a whole set of adaptors, chargers and international plugs in addition to the battery that I actually wanted - I saved both the clutter of all this stuff and £20. Without the adaptors I'm stuck with the unit recharging from its micro USB connector but as I'm looking to standardise my kit around this connector and it is the new international mobile phone recharging standard I think this should be fine.

The battery was a little fiddly to fit in that it needs the AA battery caddy removing from inside the Active 10 (a little 'persuasion' required), a rather small connector disconnecting (easy) and the new battery connecting (somewhat more difficult with big fingers - probably most easily done by a junior member of the household). The original back panel of the unit goes back in place and all is done!

The benefits - no more opening the unit to change batteries and a claimed 30hrs runtime. I don't really intend to test that limit but I guess that means it should be good for 3x 10 hour days on the hills away from power but I do have a handheld solar charger (£10 from eBay) that I'd take with me to top up the charge in such circumstances.

Oh, and another benefit - this battery brings the weight of the unit (including lanyard) down to 259g (from 300g with NiMH AAs). That compares rather favourably with a single stock Landranger map coming in at 100g!

I'm sure there will be those of you who don't approve of sat-nav gadgetry but as a road-going cyclist I've found it quite a revelation going from riding memorised routes (with the map in a pannier 'just in case' only to be checked at tricky junctions) to being able to prod a box and bring up the map centred on my current location. At least at times when the batteries are full and the satellites are working...

It isn't like this unit is doing the navigation for me, none of this 'turn left, turn right' rubbish - it is a real map and real route planning is still required, it is just automation of putting the 'X' "you are here" on the map and no fighting with the wind and mapcase to get the appropriate piece of paper uppermost without the case cord acting as a noose. Riding at speed with a mapcase flapping behind and the cord getting tighter and tighter is maybe an experience only shared with windy day high mountain walkers!

Maybe once I'm used to this device I need to have a proper 'retro' day and try remembering how to do things 'properly' off-road with map and compass!

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