Can anyone recommend a waterproof portable power pack for charging small items on board such as phones and tablets? I would consider making one myself if I thought I could source the parts easily enough.
I must say that I don't have any experience of a waterproof power pack because my own boat has a tiny cabin where I do all this kind electrical stuff but since no-one has answered yet, here's my four penneth.
It looks like Amazon has at least one "waterproof" powerpack but I think it uses standard (non waterproof) USB connectors which have a plastic cover when not in use. So when you are charging, wouldn't you need to seal both units in a waterproof box, anyway? The waterproof box solves all the problems.
Unless you invest serious money no electrics are truly waterproof in a boat. As others have said, a sealed box to put everything in is a pragmatic solution.
Sealed gel batteries, the type used in alarms, are waterproof. However they do have a valve to release pressure when very hot.
Some have solder terminals, which gives you a chunky 12V supply. 12V to 5V converters are all over Ebay. Find an old USB charging lead and solder everything together.
That eliminates all plug/socket pairs that could corrode.
Avionic companies used to cast small electronics in epoxy, to eliminate vibration and condensation.
A quick option is wrap everything in a biodegradable plastic bag. Tie a lanyard to the bag handles to keep it on the boat.
My dinghy has a very small 12 volt battery in a wooden box. It is not completely waterproof as it needs to breathe, but is high up so it is not normally immersed. It has switches for lights, pump and aux. I use the aux socket for a solar panel and for accessories, such as cell phone and VHF. The battery is only 2.1A-h so it can't fully charge these items but will get you out of trouble, and is enough for LED nav light and bilge pump.
I have a mains charger for the battery because the solar panel is very small and takes two days to fully charge the battery.
The switches on the unit are standard toggles with waterproof shrouds, from CPC, and there is a flap over the switches to give protection from gross masses of spray and rain and also mechanical damage. This flap is made from plastic window material.
All connectors are Bulgin type, which are beautiful and the only ones to consider.
ThankYou for posting this. I have been cashing materials to run a permanent wire up my mast. I have a similar sized battery which, until now, I suspend at the top of my gunter. My plan was to keep the battery in a plastic bag in the forward locker. It was semi sealed in a plastic bag on the gunter without a problem. I wonder if the breathing issue is more for high discharge applications? I would like to know more. I only use the battery for the light. I have had ideas of using it for other applications, but reality requires me to keep it simple! Hope you're well.
Hi Justin - don't know whether this helps or not - but on Arwen - I went a different option - visit www.arwensmeanderings.blogspot.co.uk and search for small boat electronics blogs; also go to youtube - search plymouthwelshboy and click on videos list - somewhere I've posted a video of how I do electronics charging on arwen
Hope they help
It is in any case very difficult to make a hermetically sealed plywood box. The lid of my box has slight gaps. The battery has a vent which will blow out hydrogen of it is overcharged, so the manufacturer says the housing must be ventilated. If water continually gets in to the box, then corrosion will be an issue, but the electrics will continue to work if you capsize. Like all things engineering, it is compromise.
The USB connector is pretty small and easily corroded. 12V cigar sockets corrode, even the waterproof ones. So I made another engineering compromise. I have a Bulgin power socket on the box, which is reliable, and I have a cigar socket with a short cable and a Bulgin plug on it. This is kept in a Tupperware box and gives me a reliable cigar lighter into which I can plug chargers for phones, VHF, cameras, USB etc. In this way it is a bit complicated when charging but reliable. All these chargers and adapters are kept in my Tupperware box, with a silica gel sachet, and are mainly for use when camping.
If you go back to the original message, Justin was looking for a pack to charge small electronic items
Mobile phones and the like.
Unless you are intending to specialize in nights underway, a plain, all-round white is the simple answer for a navigation light; it can also double as an anchor light. It is the regulatory requirment for vessels up to seven metres, proceeding at less than seven knots.
If your Mirror dinghy is doing over seven knots, it is time to reduce sail. More seriously, compared to most motorized vessels, our speeds are so negligible as to make us simply an obstruction to be noted and avoided.
In this day and age there are small, all-round, LED lights that are as bright as anything you could reasonably require. I have a camping light that clips onto the peak of my lugsail yard, just drop the yard, clip, switch, hoist and away. It's been years and I have yet to use it. To me, switched boxes and wires up the mast are a complication too far -
You have achieved perfection in design, not when there is nothing more you can add, but nothing more you can take away - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
You have a point, and apologies Justin for hijacking your thread.
"You can shine a torch on your sail,"
Yes but the light above my sail, makes me feel official, I know it is only psychological protection, but it feels great, I have also sailed without it.
The battery I have is massive, and the light, although LED, is brighter, and drains more power than I would like, I have found one that uses less juice, but it has a different fitting and I need to adapt my light.
I don't do it yet, but I have in the back of my mind to use the big battery to charge a power bank for the smart phone and GPS. This would be useful on longer cruises and using the power bank as an intermediary would protect the phone....
Yes running a permanent wire up a gunter rig is probably a bit silly, I intend to use two lengths that will clip together, and until I get there, will continue tying the lamp at the peak pretty much like you suggest.
It may help for the light to be brighter underway than what one might want at anchor. I normally anchor on dry mud so a light is rarely necessary.
Is that 7 knots speed through the water or over ground?
I don't think I need be concerned about gas as I won't be charging it on the go, yet, (I'll keep it at the back of my mind).
I think you mount your light at mast head, which is probably ok with your gaff arrangement, but for a gunter sail under way, I prefer to have the light above the peak which makes things a little more difficult!
I have been known to dip the peak with battery attached in the soup when lowering sail and you have already told me that a topping lift will solve this, you are undoubtedly right, and I must address this!