"It's been an hour since my last bout of addiction..."
Yes, I have been home for about a half hour and realized that I had not done a new blog entry in a couple of days, so I figured I would talk about what I have been up to. In the last couple of days, I have made a small biomass stove out of two tin cans of slightly differing size, and did a spot of shopping at Dollarama. Truth be told, i have probably spent nearly $100 there this week, between grocery items (lots of canned and bulk items there, mainly brandname or their own store-brands, which are actually not bad at all), and as well, a few house items and bric-a-brac. I even discovered that in their electronics section, they now sell Minty Boosts, although they are under a different name (their store electronic brand, with a nice little plastic casing, and sleek design). A Minty Boost (for those of you that do not know) is a small circuit that is a mix of capacitors, resistors, an inductor, diode and 3 volt to 5 volt booster, soldered to a silicon board, and then a USB female port is added. The kits were usually installed in Altoids tins, the frequent 'go-to' for many hobbyists. It was only a matter of time that one was made on an industrial scale for cheap with the same scheme, more for people who are 'on-the-go' and do not have time for soldering and the like.
The $3 Charger, complete with Sunbeam rechargeable Ni-Mh
batteries ($2 in Dollarama for two plus separate charger, which i have).
The charger is simple enough, with a small slide cover for the batteries, a 3 position switch: off, a useless flashlight function, and USB, meaning it isn't a passive switching system, so you would need to switch it on to use it. The batteries they sell in-house are a 2xAA rechargeable Ni-Mh (Nickel-Metal hydride) for $2 a pack, as well as a $3 2xAA 110v charging unit of the same price (I didn't buy the charger, as i already have a Ray-o-vac Platinum charger, that does the same thing). So you can easily make a cheap rechargeable USB kit on the cheap ($3 for the USB charger, $3 for the AA charger, and around $4 for two packs of batteries, around $10 for a 4 x AA kit with all you need). This kind of thing is a lifesaver (literally, in some cases) when you are either suddenly without power, on a road trip and have no USB inverter to charge lil Timmy's handheld video game, camping, or work in a job that has you away from the ability to charge your phone for hours at a time.
So, what can it charge? Well it has a power conversion of two AA batteries (1.2 volts a piece for my rechargeable Sunbeams, but a stock alkaline battery is 1.5 volts) so it steps it up from roughly 2.4 - 3 volts to a full 5 volts @ 500 mA (milliamperes, about a half of a full Amp), so a lot of your gear. I tested this with my iPhone 3GS (with it's Mophie Juice Pack Air charger, which gives the iPhone a standard Micro A USB socket to charge and sync with), my Acer Iconica B1 tablet, PSP, PS3 controller, and pretty much anything i had that is USB. It works. Now this thing is not the quality of kits you would buy online in some respects, but really it is a no-brainer when it comes to this thing. Whether it is being stuck in a dead car with a storm incoming and you need to call a tow truck, or you are camping and want more time with your video games before bed, this would be what you want!