Archive for January, 2015

XP-10 Jump Starter Review

January 28th, 2015 by MTBBill

I’m planning on doing some solo adventures in the not so distant future and while I believe I have the being sufficient aspects of mountain biking out on the trail figured out, I assessed that I needed to shore up my solo base-camping and exploring with my truck self sufficiency a bit.  I always carry a set of jumper cables in my truck which are great if there is another vehicle around but what do you do if you are out in the middle of nowhere and your battery goes dead?  Luckily it has not happened to me yet but I have had a couple of scares.    The Rainbow Rim Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for examples qualifies as an out in the middle of nowhere ride.   You lose cell coverage at least 20 miles before you get to the trailhead and you could be waiting a day plus for someone else to come along if you are out there in the middle of the at certain times of the year.  I wanted a way to jump start my truck should the battery go dead without having to resort to install a second battery and isolator system in the truck.  I also did not want something that was bulky or weighed a ton. Additionally, I wanted a method to recharge my various gadgets I would have around the truck base-camp (laptop for futzing with photos, DSLR and GoPro Batteries, etc…)

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So after a bunch of research and gawking with various offering I bought the Micro-Start XP-10 Jump Starter/Personal Power Supply from Antigravity Batteries. I have had it now for a few months and the XP-10 fits the bill for my needs and then some.   The Lithium-Ion Jump Starter/Battery Pack is quite small for the power it provides.  Its 9″ by 3.2″ by 1.2″ and weighs just 1 lb. 2 oz.   It comes in a simulated leather carrying case with an assortment of plug in and out cables.  It regards to its primary purpose of jumpstarting my truck, it has that covered in spades.

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The Smart Clamp Jumper Cables

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It comes with a diminutive set of battery clamp cables (14.5″ Long) that plug into a specific port on the end of the battery.    Antigravity calls them “Smart Clamps” since they check for things like reverse polarity and how bad off the battery is discharged.   To use just hook up the clamps to your car battery, plug the clamps into the XP-10 battery and turn it on, if you get a green light on the clamp, hop in your vehicle and start it up.  The XP-10 provides 300 starting amps with a peak current of up to 600amps!  The directions tell you to disconnect the battery clamps within 30 seconds of starting your vehicle.    I have disconnected my truck battery completely and this thing was able to start my truck.  I did this several times and the battery still showed a full charge.  There are videos of folks starting six and eight cylinder trucks dozens of times on a single charge.

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Now for the personal power supply features. The unit has two USB Outputs that can provide 2A and 1A of charging current for whatever USB devices you may have.  At the same end of the battery as the USB ports is the connection for the battery clamps (normally behind a rubber cover) and a LED flashlight that has High, Low, Strobe and SOS modes. The company’s website list the battery as 18,000mA capacity and the back of the case list it as 66.6WH which I’m not sure how many smart phone recharges that will get you but a lot seems be in the right ballpark. More importantly the amperage it can provide is impressive.  The literature does not give a lumens value for the “Hi-Power” LED flashlight.   The beam on the light is more a flood than spot.   Comparing to some of my other flashlights I would guess this is around a 100-130 lumen light.   While the light can be handy it is was not one of my needs when looking for a jumper starter.

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The kit includes a short 4 way USB cable that has iPhone lighting and 30-pin plugs along with USB mini and micro plugs.

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On the side of the unit are 5 LEDs that give an indication of the unit’s charge level.  The power of the battery is such that I can use the battery for other things and still be confident that it could start my truck as long as I have 3 LEDS left.  The single button that operates the unit is located on this side as well.  Once turned on, the unit can detect if the devices are not drawing any power and will automatically shut itself off.   One of the outputs its provides is a 12V 10A circuit that can be used for a wide array items.  The kit does not include a female cigarette socket to the 5.1mm DC plug cable which would be quite handy.  This was not a deal breaker for me as you can get it for about $11 on the companies website.  But in my case I had one already from another piece of gear.

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An additionally output is a 19V circuit that can handle up to 3.5A.   The majority of laptop makers in the world seem to have settled on 19 volts as the charging voltage for their devices.   The kit includes a small DC plug jumper (5.1 mm that fits both the 12V and 19V ports) and 8 adaptors that fit the majority of the laptop manufacturer’s offerings.   Note for you Apple folks, the MacBook Pro and Air laptops use different voltages (16.5V or 14.5 based on various models and years) so making a custom adaptor is not a simple task for your equipment.

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Charging the XP-10 is as simple as using the provided AC-DC charging adaptor or the 12V cigarette plug adaptor. The XP-10 also has built in overcharge as well as over-discharge protection circuitry.  Amongst the other devices of this genre, the overcharge protection and the ability to be charged from a vehicle (12-14V) were huge selling points for me.    Some of the other units could not be charged from a cigarette lighter port or did not have overcharge protection.  The ability to charge the unit in this manner allows me to use this battery around camp and I can recharge it from the truck while driving to the next location.   Additionally I have a portable/backpacking solar panel (which I’m going to review later) that can output the correct voltage to charge this battery as well.   This means I can let the sun charge up the battery over the course of the day while I’m out playing on the trails and not worry about it being overcharged (which can damage batteries).  I can then use this battery to recharge my toys back at camp without having to be concerned about draining down the batteries in my truck.

I don’t have fancy official testing stuff like graphs of voltage/amperage over time stuff.   Here are some practical things I have done with battery pack.  All of the following was done on single charge.   I disconnected my Toyota Tacoma’s (4.0L V6 Engine) battery from the truck and started the truck three times.  Yes, this battery pack  jump started my truck three times with no battery in the truck whatsoever.   The following day I recharged a coworkers Blackberry from 5% to 70%.  Later that day I recharged another Blackberry from 8% back to 100%.   During this time the charge level on the XP-10 battery went from 5 lights (which I assume to be mean 80 to 100% full) down to four.  The following day I recharged my ASUS Zenbook Laptop (quad-core i7 Intel processor) from 11% back up to 96% (while I continued to use it) before the XP-10 shutdown as it was discharged.

I’m pretty freaking impressed with this gadget.  The MSRP is $209.99 and I paid around $150 for my unit.  I consider it well worth the investment for the versatility and piece of mind it provides.

 

Chasing the Sun at Lake Hodges

January 25th, 2015 by MTBBill

I have been hitting up Lake Hodges as the after-work ride as of late.   It is right on the way home at it only take a handful minutes to be out on the trail after getting off the freeway.

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Here is Nichol working a log ride.

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Critters seen along the trail.

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Views from the trail behind and above the boat launch.

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A mechanical on the Tuesday ride turned me into a reluctant single speeder.   Of course it happened right after the apex of the ride.

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So I have not dusted my night-time riding gear in quite sometime.  As an after-work ride in January chasing the sun is always part of the equation.   The sunsets have been pretty awesome as of late so “losing” the race with the sun is its own reward.

 

Greenery at SCST

January 19th, 2015 by MTBBill

I spent an afternoon this weekend showing Nichol around the San Clemente Singletracks (aka San Onfre State Park aka “The Weed Patch).  The trails are in great conditions and the winter greenery is in full effect.

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It is really awesome that the state park legalized the majority of the user-built trail network out here but I always find the “Cultural” names they gave the trails funny.  (And nearly unpronounceable to boot).  The Pacific Ocean is off in the distance here along with the Oregon and Ho Chi-Min trails.

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Climbing “Stitches” which I think the park calls “Yuma’ukawichum Pompe”.  No matter what you call it, it is a nice bit of trail.

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Cruising “No-Tools”.  This trail got its name because no tools were used in its original construction.  Folks just rode the route enough that a trail bedded in.  Off in the distance in Santiago Peak and the San Ana Mountains that are home many a trail such as.  Trabuco and Holy Jim, the San Juan Trail and West Horse Thief  just name a few.

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Nichol working a turn on “Holeshot”.  It is really hard to ride all of the trails in a single visit as you would have to double up on a few loops to reach all the trails .  I estimate you would do nearly 30 miles with a healthy dose of elevation change.

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We only a did fraction of the trail system, but certainly earned post-ride beers and a stop by one of my favorite burger stops in the area, aptly named Burger Stop.    We are definitely going to get back here a few times over the winter just to enjoy all of the greenery on these excellent trails.

Winter in San Diego

January 14th, 2015 by MTBBill

My how time flies.    It been a while since my last post.  I would like to say that I have been too busy riding my bike to post, but that is simply not the case.  Between work, family, the holidays and a handful of the other things getting to the keyboard has just not been happening.

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However I have been getting out and about and doing some research and just seeing stuff.    Valley of the Moon out near Jacumba is really cool and I am planning to spend some more time out there.

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I have also been riding some trails that I’m obliged to not publish.

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The recent rains have certainly greened this up around the county.   Above is Raptor Ridge just east of Lake Hodges.

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Some more of the greenery.

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Cruising the Del Dios Trail

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One of the latest chasing the sun after-work rides

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We did not leave any daylight unused on this ride.