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  1. #1
    Big "T"
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    How to: build a portable charging station?

    I travel to and provide pit support for a lot of 12 & 24 hour races. I would like to build a portable charging station. Something I can keep in the pit tent. I travel with a full size truck, so hauling a bulky or heavy item is no problem. I DO NOT want to use a gas powered generator. Too loud, too much hassle. My thought is to use a few automotive batteries or a deep cycle battery and an DC to AC power inverter.

    I would like to put something together that will allow me to use my quick chargers (I use Nite Rider HID Systems). I would need to be able to completely charge 6 batteries over a 12-15 hour period, two batteries at a time.

    I'd also like to use it for lighting my pit tent, using a couple of standard DC low wattage florescent bulbs.

    I'm a novice at this kind of thing. I'm hoping somebody out there has some good advice or can point me in the right direction.

  2. #2
    Not dead yet, just playin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottytheoneandonly
    I travel to and provide pit support for a lot of 12 & 24 hour races. I would like to build a portable charging station. Something I can keep in the pit tent. I travel with a full size truck, so hauling a bulky or heavy item is no problem. I DO NOT want to use a gas powered generator. Too loud, too much hassle. My thought is to use a few automotive batteries or a deep cycle battery and an DC to AC power inverter.

    I would like to put something together that will allow me to use my quick chargers (I use Nite Rider HID Systems). I would need to be able to completely charge 6 batteries over a 12-15 hour period, two batteries at a time.

    I'd also like to use it for lighting my pit tent, using a couple of standard DC low wattage florescent bulbs.

    I'm a novice at this kind of thing. I'm hoping somebody out there has some good advice or can point me in the right direction.
    One of these is absolutely what you need: http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/gensup.asp


    This ain't your old man's noisy generator

    op
    www.msmtb.org - Mississippi Mountain Biking

  3. #3
    Big "T"
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohpossum
    One of these is absolutely what you need: http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/gensup.asp


    This ain't your old man's noisy generator

    op
    That's what I want. But they're too expensive. $2,000 for the 2000w model. I could buy a new custom frame for that.

  4. #4
    Not dead yet, just playin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottytheoneandonly
    That's what I want. But they're too expensive. $2,000 for the 2000w model. I could buy a new custom frame for that.
    2kW?! Thats huge overkill to just charge some batteries and light up your pit area. You can find the u1000i on ebay for $500-$600. Yes its more expensive than 4 SLA deep cycles, but well worth it.

    op
    www.msmtb.org - Mississippi Mountain Biking

  5. #5
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    Reputation: Walt Dizzy's Avatar
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    Add it up...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottytheoneandonly
    I travel to and provide pit support for a lot of 12 & 24 hour races. I would like to build a portable charging station. Something I can keep in the pit tent. I travel with a full size truck, so hauling a bulky or heavy item is no problem. I DO NOT want to use a gas powered generator. Too loud, too much hassle. My thought is to use a few automotive batteries or a deep cycle battery and an DC to AC power inverter.

    I would like to put something together that will allow me to use my quick chargers (I use Nite Rider HID Systems). I would need to be able to completely charge 6 batteries over a 12-15 hour period, two batteries at a time.

    I'd also like to use it for lighting my pit tent, using a couple of standard DC low wattage florescent bulbs.

    I'm a novice at this kind of thing. I'm hoping somebody out there has some good advice or can point me in the right direction.
    If you're looking for price/performance then an inverter plus one or two big automotive batteries would probably be cheaper than a generator. You will need to add up the mAh of the batteries, multiply by the number of charges, and add in the conversion efficiencies of the inverter and charger to be sure you have the battery capacity to cover your needs.

    The RC guys have this figured out as well as anyone I've found:

    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=197410

    These guys seem to use chargers with power supplies that use 12v batteries as a source.
    That approach might bring the costs up to near that of a generator though.

    Also you might want to consider the reliability angle. I've never owned a gas powered generator, but if it doesn't start, you're screwed. Same applies to the inverter. But with two batteries and two power supplies plus two chargers you have redundancy (not to mention that your car is also a potential current source). Not sure how the costs add up though. Good luck, but remember to check everything before you head out!

    Walt

  6. #6
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    You might also want to do some research on websites designed to building up "Expedition" vehicles - self supported for days at a time. Cooking, radios, GPS, fridges, their lists of mods go on and on. They are pretty good at figuring out what can be run off of 12V batteries and for how long. Usually these are guys/gals that understand what you are going to be looking for. Try http://expeditionportal.com/forum/index.php poke around and maybe repost your original question over there. (Might add a little more detail about the chargers and space available, and your vehicle there.)

  7. #7
    Big "T"
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    I've decided to go with one of these:

    http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/63/p/1/pt/10/product.asp

  8. #8
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    How much is that sucker? I just use standard deep cycle auto batteries with an inveter and it's plenty for race day.

  9. #9
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    If you want a cheap and cheerful solution, listen here...

    Get yourself a cheapy computer UPS. This is an all in one unit containing a 12v lead acid battery a charger (driven from mains) and a matched high capacity inverter.

    I've taken one of these and unclipped the internal battery to swap in a deep discharge 110Ah battery as the backup. This has allowed me to run a 30 inch LCD television and a small format media computer in a tent for 6 hours at some mountain bike events.

    The one I use is this one from a UK supplier...http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?...4811&doy=29m12

    I gave up on all the rubbish consumer level inverters that were on offer that always seemed to cut out, didn't have sufficient power ratings and demanded higher input voltages than a battery can supply without it being actively charged by a vehicle alternator.

  10. #10
    ballbuster
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    Inverter...

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottytheoneandonly
    I travel to and provide pit support for a lot of 12 & 24 hour races. I would like to build a portable charging station. Something I can keep in the pit tent. I travel with a full size truck, so hauling a bulky or heavy item is no problem. I DO NOT want to use a gas powered generator. Too loud, too much hassle. My thought is to use a few automotive batteries or a deep cycle battery and an DC to AC power inverter.

    I would like to put something together that will allow me to use my quick chargers (I use Nite Rider HID Systems). I would need to be able to completely charge 6 batteries over a 12-15 hour period, two batteries at a time.

    I'd also like to use it for lighting my pit tent, using a couple of standard DC low wattage florescent bulbs.

    I'm a novice at this kind of thing. I'm hoping somebody out there has some good advice or can point me in the right direction.
    ... and a couple of deep cycle (Marine/RV type) sealed lead acid batteries? Like AC Delco M24MFs or M27MFs. We use tons (literally) of these batteries at work to power emergency siren systems for refineries. IIRC, they go for like $120 each. Use these with a regular 12v inverter. A volt meter and a way to charge the SLA batteries would be good too. Use deep cycle batteries instead of standard car batteries. Car batteries are designed to deliver lots of current over a short time (to crank a starter), and deep cycle batteries deliver less current all at once, but for longer periods of time.

    Are you going to have somebody working your pit? You can charge them up directly from your truck's alternator if you leave the engine idling. I wouldn't do that unless you have somebody nearby to baby sit your truck.

  11. #11
    Big "T"
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    ... and a couple of deep cycle (Marine/RV type) sealed lead acid batteries? Like AC Delco M24MFs or M27MFs. We use tons (literally) of these batteries at work to power emergency siren systems for refineries. IIRC, they go for like $120 each. Use these with a regular 12v inverter. A volt meter and a way to charge the SLA batteries would be good too. Use deep cycle batteries instead of standard car batteries. Car batteries are designed to deliver lots of current over a short time (to crank a starter), and deep cycle batteries deliver less current all at once, but for longer periods of time.

    Are you going to have somebody working your pit? You can charge them up directly from your truck's alternator if you leave the engine idling. I wouldn't do that unless you have somebody nearby to baby sit your truck.
    I run the pit crew for a solo racer. I need a power supply that will allow me to recharge 8 NHiD batteries, run two 15w CFL bulbs in the tent and possibly a computer, and an occasional air compressor and power washer.

    I was getting close to buying deep cycle batteries and trying to go the DIY route, but it looks like the Power Pack will be cheaper. For a DIY set-up I'd need two Deep Cycle batteries, an inverter and a battery charger. Then I'd have to wire it all up and build some type of crate to keep it all in. The Power pack has the batteries, charger, inverter, etc all combined and it has 60 amp hours of battery life. That's about the maximum I'd need to run the pit crew for one 24 hour event. The one I mentioned above sells online for just under $300, which is less than a DIY set-up would cost. And it has wheels and a handle for moving it. So far, it's the most simple option I've seen.

  12. #12
    Singletrack Daydreamer
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    I bought a $20 100w cigarette lighter inverter at Checker Autoparts a while back and it's completely up to the task of running one battery charger. I know it's not the most sophisticated solution, but two of these and a deep cycle battery would seem to be adequate and the price is right...
    Train 'til you puke. Cheat to win. Party like a rockstar. We miss you, Jan!

  13. #13
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    An inverter was my first thought. (an old UPS my 2nd, done that, but the beep drove me nuts)
    I used an inverter in my car for years, to play mp3's on an old pc, connectet to the car stereo.
    That was way before mp3 playback was available on car stereo.
    The thing still lays around somewhere in my garage, and was able to convert 12Vdc into 220Vac at 300W. That should be enough for charching and some lights in your tent.
    With your solution you have battery and inverter in one package. But 1500W still sounds like overkill to me.
    How long does it last on one battery ?
    Belgian beer and Scotch whisky.

  14. #14
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    My dad used to have a Chevy van 30 ambulance built as a RV. That one had a full sinus inverter to 230 volts (europe) and a second set of lead batteries. The inverter was also the charger for the second battery. (that battery was a backup one in case the first was shot). That system worked great. During travel the inverter charged the battery and on your destination the battery was used for lights etc. And always a backup power source.

    I dunno how far you can park your car from the pit site. If it aint too far I would suggest the setup as above and run an extension cord from your truck to your tent. The truck serves as a charger for the battery during travel and the inverter will deliver power during the race. Just remember to keep the systems separated.

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