Well, it’s taken a while and a lot of tweaking, experimenting, lackluster results and disappointments, but I finally charged my phone from 70% to 100% entirely off my 2-watt solar system. I had been playing with a single 1 watt panel charging a pair of NiMH AA batteries. The results of those tests were mostly successful. With a full day of pretty lousy sun (probably pulling about 1/2 watt, if that) I was able to charge the pair from completely dead to enough to power my portable CD player for over an hour. I was impressed, but underwhelmed, so I went out and picked up a second 1 watt panel and put them together in series. After about a day and a half of very slow charging, I was able to build up the power in my 4 cell NiMH pack. The 4 cell NiMH pack is perfectly suited to charge the phone all by itself. I had been planning on using a 6 cell pack through a 7805, but I noticed that was pretty inefficient by all the waste heat in the IC. The 4 cell puts out just under 5.5V which is absolutely perfect for direct charging. I was going to limit the charge current, just to make sure the phone wasn’t stressed, but I checked, and a direct connection from the pack to the phone caused the phone to only draw about 0.4A which is well within what the batteries can deliver, and well under the 1A the phone normally fast charges with. As I suspected, the phone handles its charging very well. After the charge was complete and the phone’s light turned green, I saw the charge current drop to essentially 0. Awesome.

So from here, while I am impressed and very happy, there are a few improvements I’d like to make. For one, while I have been able to get a few hours of solid 12V out of the array, the current is still far under what would make it 2W. Currently, I’m using bare panels that I don’t think were designed to stand up to the elements like my old panel. The old panel came off of an outdoor motion light, so it was sealed and ready for outdoors. I’m planning on building the panels (possibly with the addition of 6 more) into something like a fat binder and hopefully give them some protection from the elements. Right now, the array sits vertically in my window, which is good, but not great. The angle could certainly be better, even if they don’t actually track the sun. Basically, I’m free to go for as much as I can, since I believe the output current will never be more than ~160mA which is well under the 250mA limit I’ve decided on for my pack (10% of the 2500mAH pack).

Yes, there are improvements, but I think I’ve been at this for quite a while now, so it’s very exciting to get meaningful results. I mean, my cell phone is something I use every day!

We’re All People

I have what will hopefully be a quick rant (that I’m sure others have touched on elsewhere). Do you know what I really hate coming across on the internet? Articles/websites/blogs/etc that more or less talk about all the “secret” or “clever” ways you can get women fawning all over you. To that I vehemently say: “for christ’s sake…they’re fucking people!” You’re not going to the store to buy an ipod here. It’s massively frustrating to happen on these things because when I do, I’m usually looking for advice or ideas on how to better myself, or new ideas for dates, or whatever. I’m sure these sites just exist…and I don’t know how many people actually seek them out, or attempt to implement the “tips” they seem to offer. It’s just really frustrating to me for a few reasons. First, it’s pretty disgusting. Second, it reinforces so many of the awful things about relationships and dating that observed in college. So, as I answer so many different arguments out there: we are all people. That’s the bottom line. Men, women, adults, children, teenagers, people on the east coast, people on the west coast. You can think of it however you want to, but it’s not some game. Fears, concerns, insecurities, quirks, and things? Everyone has those, men and women included. It should never be about “gaming” various situations in some attempt to “win” something. I mean, to each his own, but that’s a pretty messed up view of life and relationships. If these were methods to just get you hooked up for the night, ok, I think I could concede that, but most of them really aren’t. I’d love to be able to meet someone who thought this way as well. When you realize we’re all people, all looking for the same things, all possessing the same fears, there’s no need to “game” anything. The world is an ugly, confusing place. It doesn’t need any help there. So why don’t you bloggers/writers/etc just take your bullshit and stow it away somewhere where those of us trying to exist in this ugly, confusing world with just a little bit of happiness can never see it again.


Non-Applicable Internet Advice

Alright, I want to write my first heavy post. From time to time, I find myself roaming the internet for articles on topics I sometimes struggle with. Topics such as being single, making more friends, learning how to date, etc. I’ll admit, it’s mostly a losing endeavor, since roughly 80% of the articles are utter junk. But there’s just enough helpful stuff that I do keep looking around. There’s one piece of advice I’ve seen more than a few times that I want to repackage with my own spin. That advice is advice on living a fulfilling and happy life as a single person. One of the primary arguments is that it’s good to be by yourself and learn what you want, and to develop your own interests and skills independently of someone else. Hell, a few authors even go so far as to declare that they’d prefer to remain single indefinitely.

To all of them I say: Fantastic. And I really do mean that with utmost sincerity. If you can find what you want in a way that works for you, congratulations. You’re already ahead of most people. But thinking on it, I didn’t like the way that advice applied to me. I’m willing to bet that those authors making those arguments were not always single. In fact, most of the articles clearly stated that they weren’t. Well, I have always been single, and aside from the fact that “learning to be single indefinitely” isn’t my preference, it’s completely against my nature to decide on something before experiencing both, or all sides of it.

I know my generation is supposed to think we’re all unique snowflakes, but I have a hard time believing that my situation of 24 (and counting) years of singleness is so unique that I can’t find any of these articles written from my perspective. I think that’s what this blog is for. Now I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but it’s definitely in my nature to want to experience things before I completely write them off. In this case, being part of a relationship. In some ways, I think it’s almost more important that people in my shoes get that experience. It seems all too easy to get to a point where your cynicism about it becomes so great, you abandon hope and move on for that reason alone. I know I’ve certainly brushed up against that in the past, but I don’t think it’s right. I’m not sure what my spin on the advice would be beyond that. There is certainly tremendous value in bettering yourself, learning new skills and developing new hobbies on your own. And I’d be lying if I said that learning to do things by yourself wasn’t a valuble skill. The flip side of the coin, however, is that like me, I think you’re bound to come to a point where you start to ask “how much more can I better myself?” or “what more things do I really want to do?”. I’m not saying that you become perfect, and incapable of being improved. I’m saying that eventually, the whole thing starts to become monotonous. You start to wonder, how many more times should I better myself? To what end? For that matter, what if you’re already pretty satisfied with yourself? One thing I will say for sure is that while you are bettering yourself, and embracing being an ‘always single’, remember that that status is completely unrelated to how much you’ve bettered yourself. Discounting various x-factors and random parameters, being single or not (other than as an active choice) is fundamentally a function of numbers and uncontrollable events. But for a few things happening differently in the past, you might be in a situation completely opposite of the one you’re in now.

The whole business is a sticky problem. I’ll concede that for people who’ve been part of a relationship in the past, part of one presently, or part of them perpetually, the advice I’ve come across is probably very pertinent. But for people like me, I think my advice would be to think carefully and slowly about it, and remember that you shouldn’t really knock something before trying it.