Solar Electricity for BlackBerry Storm

Solar Electricity for BlackBerry Storm in Uganda
I think Uganda uses 220, however truthfully I am not positive because the electronic devices I have work both ways. The electricity went off about 24 hours ago and just came back on, it was a good experience for me, I got to play with my two solar panels.

Ishaka, Uganda
East Africa
Thursday, May 7, 2009


Solar Panel in window of Park House Hotel in Ishaka, Uganda

I have two solar panels, I have never used them, I have been carrying them for just this type of occasion.
“Did they work?”

However, maybe I learned enough today to whereby the next time the electricity goes off I will be prepared. I am rather lazy, or possibly I am effective, I do not cloud up my brain with extra information, I learn when there is a need. The acuteness of a problem motivates me to apply myself and learn, therefore today the subject was Solar Panels.

The goal is to create a 12 Volt off the electrical grid system, this panel has 10 AA 1.2 volt batteries and the output I hope is 12 Volts.

This is the solar panel, my friend Hot Springs Freak Chris purchased for me when was in Africa last time. I think the system cost less than 75 dollars because I gave him strict guidelines, a backpacker would be crazy to pay more than 75 dollars for these toys. I cannot find a brand name on the solar panel; the company does not seem to what a free plug from users like me.

10 AA Battery Pack, Cigarette Lighter Adapter, and the BlackBerry Storm, this appears to be a good combination. The probably today was the Batteries were not already charged; therefore, it would not power the BlackBerry in real time. I need to leave this in the window to charge for a day or two to be prepared.


1. There is no LED light or any notification that the solar panel was working. Luckily, there is a light on the cord of the auto adapter cord of the BlackBerry that proved there was electricity.

2. I cannot charge the 10 pack of batteries directly from normal on the grid power; it appears this requires me to use solar.

3. I have no way of knowing when the battery pack is fully charged.

4. I should have had two or three BlackBerry batteries; I only have one and should have found a way to charge outside the BlackBerry Storm.


1. It appears I need to buy voltage meter to test this equipment.

2. Pay 2000 for roundtrip ticket to the USA, get two BlackBerry batteries and come back.


1. The solar panel without battery storage is close to worthless.

2. When it rains, the electricity tends to go off; there is almost no sun today.

3. I need to study and make a charging system for the 10 pack of AA batteries; Solar is truly ineffective in compared to normal electricity.

4. I also should be able to charge this 10 pack of batteries from an automobile cigarette lighter or all the power of a motorcycle.

5. The Battery of a BlackBerry Storm with heavy use last about 5-10 hours, and a Computer last about two hours.

6. I may be able to charge my BlackBerry from the USB port of the computer, however may be tricky.

I hope that BlackBerry sells a ready out of the package solar system for less than 100 US Dollars.

Blackberry, - Mobile Office, - Computer, - Electricity

Solar Electricity for BlackBerry Storm in Uganda


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If the pack really is AA batteries, either NiCd or NiMh then what I would do is take the batteries out of the pack. Get a simple plastic holder for them and wire this into your solar pack. They sell ones that hold 8 cells in many electronic stores, but you can make up your own if you like. Rewire this for the 10 cells, although, you might be better off making it 12 cells as that would be a little closer to the voltage you need. Remember, a car battery is more than 12 volts to start with, and when the car is running it is arround 14.5 volts. There are losses in all parts of the system, so go with 12 cells. Anyway, take these out and charge them in your AA battery charger, then put them back in the solar pack.

Another possibility is to take the batteries out all together. It is unlikely that the open circuit voltage will be too high for the Crackberry. Generally, the battery in the device keeps the voltage where it belongs. If you are really concerned about this, you could put in a 12V Super Capacitor, but those will be hard to find where you are, unless you hit a big city, and even then....

Yes, I would get a voltage meter. They make super small ones, but a quality small one is expensive. You want to be able to measure voltage and amperage. For the Crackberry you should not need one that measures more than probably 300 mA, but check your Wall-Wart (AC Chaarger), that will give you the absolute maximum.

Your solar panel output will be significantly reduced if inside of the glass window. Even more so if there is a screen (unlikey where you are). ANY shadow on the panel will pretty much wipe out any output. Even if one tiny section of the panel is shadowed it will reduce to worthless.

It is a great idea to have multiple phone batteries. Just use the phone to charge them. Thats what I do. Charge one, switch, charge, switch etc. This can be done on your puter too. Carry more than one battery to get better up time during an outage. Better than trying to carry around a motorcycle battery.

Forget about trying to keep the computer charged with solar, unless you want to carry a BIG panel. Yeah, if you are only going to use it for a very short bit every day, but otherwise....

As I understand it, charging the Crackberry off of the puter USB is pretty much automatic, but that assumes you have power for your puter. Here is a link to one guys view. Look around, should be easy.

With a bunch of acceessories, including external chargers, etc:

And this for USB charging. I think it is really just a plain cable, without any real power conditioning. I would think this came with your phone.

There are ways of travelling light that some people do, but it is risky since if one link in the chain fails, you are screwed. You get a power supply for the puter that works on 12VDC or international AC. You use the USB port to charge your phone, AA batteries etc. Forget solar. The only thing I can see using Solar for on the road would be a Sattelite phone if I was going to be FAR away from power for a long time.

Find out how much a Motorcycle battery costs in your area, and a charger. If you are going to stay in an area with intermittent power for a LONG time, it might be worth buying one, then dumping it when you leave. You dont need a fancy charger if you are not planning on keeping the battery for a long time. Just a cheap one. Maybe get one that works on both 220 and 110 AC. This is assuming you have a way of using your laptop off of 12 VDC. The power supplies that do this as well as 110 are not known for their reliability or low cost. You can use an inverter, but that adds yet another thing to carry. There is NO PERFECT solution.

Of course, you could always just relax when the power goes off and do what the locals do. Nothing.

Bob, I fell out of bed laughing.
... Do nothing...
Yes this is standard operating procedure.

Id recommend you go native and do nothing. You are making things unnecessarily complicated. Screw being online all the time. Do nothing.

I think the easiest solution is to charge the Blackberry off a set of AA batteries.

The 2 battery cellphone charger Turbo Charge Unit does this. This charger connects to the cellphone power port and charges it off its onboard AA batteries.

You can replace the AA batteries from the charger with NiMH ones. The charger has multiple apdaters available for various Mp3 players, the iPhone etc.

The company claims up to 3 complete charges with the 2 AA Batteries. I guess this would depend on the mAH rating of the NiMH batteries. High capacity NiMH batteries would make more charges possible.

Price is $24.95.

2 battery cellphone charger Turbo Charge Unit User Manual


Figures. The one thing I didnt get you was a crank cell phone charger. The best ones are made by Freeplay Energy of the UK, US and S Africa. They are solid sturdy crank units. They make the best and most reliable gear anywhere.

BTW, Freeplay now has a new line-charged Cell phone charger called the ZipCharge that should make Andrew happy :) You have to specify for what voltage you are charging for the right power supply for your area. They are good about sending out an alternate voltage power supply free if you write them at: .


- Chris from Boquete, Panama

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