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Discussion: Solutions for Event Power: Battery Pack options

in: Orienteering; General

May 18, 2024 11:48 PM # 
Our club is looking at battery pack options for powering our event set-up (2 tablets, hotspot, results monitor, and occasionally a printer). We may be interested in having 2 monitors if we are running a NRE.

We are looking at the following 2 products: Jackery Power Portable Station Explorer 500 and Jackery Explorer 1000 (link at bottom).

I am curious what others are using or any feedback on these options.
May 19, 2024 12:37 AM # 
Mr Wonderful:
We are using a smaller jackery than either of yours and it works fine to run the splits printer, an lcd display, and the laptop. Probably not enough for careless use over a long day but within reason.

If anyone in your sphere has a similar device, you can get the usage reading and do an informed calculation.

Or buy once, cry once, get the 1000!
May 19, 2024 12:49 AM # 
We use a 1500 watt inverter that we connect to a car battery with jumper cables and leave the car idling. Powers everything we've ever needed. (The reason we went with this is that I got it for free because it wasn't up to spec. And I don't know if we need to leave the engine running, but it uses almost no fuel to do so, and it's easier than dealing with a dead battery.) We also have a small generator if we need to operate in a place where we can't park a car. A 500 watt inverter is only $36 on Amazon.
May 19, 2024 2:41 AM # 
i use a smaller jackery for research and love it. I agree with Mr W to go for the 1000. should be enough. can always get their solar connectors too.
May 19, 2024 3:01 AM # 
After a great tip from Eric at, we use a marine battery on a folding pushcart with a 1500w inverter because the total setup is way cheaper than a jackery and it has so many more Amp hours. Also after 5-6 years you just recycle the battery rather than junking the whole jackery. But it is heavy hence the pushcart and needs a battery charger. Car batteries aren't designed to deeply discharge and supply continuous power which is why jj needs to idle a car which would not be popular here even though it is oil country.
May 19, 2024 8:24 AM # 
If your club has a member with an electric vehicle which has V2L or V2H capacity and they are willing to help out on a regular basis then maybe you don't need to buy a battery.

A fairly small power pack is adequate for normal events: this 300W25AH unit is what we use. It easily powers 2 laptops and splits printer.
May 19, 2024 8:18 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I have been running all my events since 2016 using Tesla power! It is just 150W from the 12V inverter, but that is plenty to supply both my laptop and splits printer.
Wintertime or when it is very cold I leave the car in camp mode, setup PC and EMIT unit in the passenger seat and stay inside the entire time.

I have my window rolled down far enough to get the EMIT tags when people check in before the race and to read out the splits after they finish.
May 20, 2024 12:12 AM # 
Costco currently has a sale thru 6/9 for a Jackery 500 for $299. Also has option for a solar panel.
May 20, 2024 7:07 PM # 
Apologies if you have been through this thought process already, but how much power do you actually need ?

With SI timing, we can run events of up to 200 competitors using one tablet running SI-droid software and a small bluetooth receipt printer. The limiting factor is the size of the queue which forms at download. Both tablet and printer have batteries which will last more than 5 hours in air temperatures above freezing. You can add a small external power bank to the tablet for another few hours power using an "OTG Host Power Splitter Y Micro USB Male to USB Female Adapter Cable Cord" from Ebay. The bluetooth splits printer can also take an external power bank, such as someone might charge up a mobile phone with.

To reduce power consumption the small bluetooth splits printer doesn't have a powered cutter on it, so downloaders might need someone to rip it off and hand it over. We also have a spare printer in case of trouble with the first one (each printer cost about $50).

Because our tablet has a phone sim slot (unused) and can therefore generate a hotspot we don't need a separate wifi router device.

In order to display results we can use an old solid state (eMMC) laptop which originally could run for 10 hours on a full charge; it's still good for 7 to 8 hours. With SI-droid generating a remote results URL, the laptop is connected to the tablet hotspot and then runs only a firefox browser with the "ResultsScroller" extension from the same developer as SI-droid. Our tablet's hotspot could feed results to up to 8 independently powered laptops or tablets within 20 meters range.

Our system, therefore, can handle a good number of competitors and rarely needs any external battery, which can then be provided by standard cell phone USB power banks (of which we had several lying about in drawers).

Once the event entry size goes over the capacity of SI-droid then you have to start thinking about networking download units, split printers and laptops and then the power requirements jump a bit. Using low power consumption, solid state, laptops would still help though.
May 20, 2024 7:33 PM # 
Our biggest power sink is probably the old TV we use as a display. I should look at the back to see how much power it uses. Sometimes we also have a laser printer on hand for if we need extra maps.
May 21, 2024 1:52 PM # 
You might consider getting a meter (just the first one that popped up) to use for an entire event or few, and see what kind of power you're using. If it seems high, you could look at individual devices to see which are your bigger power draws, and think about alternatives. @Tinnishill's lean system (and thoughts in general!) looks pretty sweet! That setup could easily run from car 12v + 5v USB ports for a long, long time.
May 22, 2024 6:44 AM # 
We use a marine deep cell battery and an inverter that Bob Cooley put together years ago. The battery has lasted us a long time. As Tim said, marine batteries are designed to put out a constant current, unlike auto batteries. I can get the specs tomorrow if anyone is interested. Typically we run two laptops, an Epson receipt printer, and sometimes an inkjet printer. No screen or laser printer.
May 22, 2024 3:09 PM # 
The TV we're using as a display is 150W (like the inverter, it was free). The splits printer says 120W (but it's hardly ever running), and the laptop power supply is 45W. So that's 215W max. We're way overpowered even if the 1500W inverter is only halfway to spec and we're also running a laser printer.
May 23, 2024 2:29 AM # 
Thanks all for this input! We have had a few folks from our club digesting it. It is great to hear what others are doing. We are likely to go with the 'buy once, cry once' approach for the Jackery. Our goal is to make our set-up easy for folks to transport and use.

The car options, while interesting, won't work in many of our venues and would limit our arena location options.
May 23, 2024 8:51 AM # 
We have been using a Yeti 400, now replaced by the Yeti 500 and it looks similar to the Jackery 500.

You can do the maths on your own devices, but we use it to run multiple laptops, router, splits printer, inkjet printer.
Now that battery energy/kg has come down a bit I might consider something that would power a laser printer next time round, or just use a V2L mechanism from an electric car (we often can't get a car close to our results set up).
May 23, 2024 5:18 PM # 
The good thing about the Jackery - and a significant advantage over lead batteries or generators - is that it is incredibly light. This is very handy if your race arena is not accessible by vehicle. I used one a 240Wh/3kg couple of years ago to run "full-service" download for an event that was 3km and 400m of ascent from the nearest road.

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