Mark, this is fascinating stuff. The adventurer in all of us is drooling with envy. Best of luck with this project.
Cheers Steve, have been staring at the maps and how to makeit work for three or so years now. The response by some people has been incredible. Lots of logistic options offered on site too so happy with that. Seems like a lot of the simpler elements are straightforward. It's also cool to have kept contacts good and intact since my past time there.
Will post more soon. Here's something to drift off to. This is an aerial image of location Green Circle 4:
I checked around with some of my friends who make their living doing very remote shooting, and they recommended this power solution:
apparently they'll build custom solar rigs, including backpack rigs. This is apparently the secret sauce, for some of the most talented remote shooters whom I've met, anyway.
Batteries and power will be big challenges. This may help. A generator seems too risky - needs gas, may crap out, heavy.
REDVolts don't have much life to them, but the ease of charging and lower power draw could be huge advantages.
This currently gets my vote for most exciting thread on reduser. Thanks for letting us tag along.
I see no practical way of operating a computer, hard drives requiring 110v power and endless charging of batteries. Power requirements are far beyond just charging redvolts....and a system like this is not only expensive, but also relies of sun (not always there); batteries, charge controllers, power inverters---now talk about reliability or unreliability vs a gas generator? I have a large off the grid base camp with sun and wind power and it works beautifully when we have wind and sun. BUT, it's hugely expensive as an initial investment and not very portable with the amount of 12v. battery storage. That said, when i'm on islands in mexico my EU1000 and ten gallons of gas can last me two weeks....charging batteries, running my computer at night doing transfers, coloring and editing....Can't do that with a small solar station like powernenz....that is something that looks good for charging your batteries and maybe running your computer during the day...but battery storage is always the big problem. If Mark does plan to setup a big base camp and drop a bunch of $$$ then a solar/wind combination is great---but very expensive & heavy. I think the EU1000 weighs about 35lbs or 40lbs...gas is about 7lbs per gallon. why is a generator risky? I'd argue glass solar panels, and numerous electronics within a charge controller and inverter pose far more risk of going bad in a humid and wet environment.
not sure if this has been said...but, honda generators 2000 and 2000 companion can be linked together and then run off a single gas source that is 6.5 gallons, which last 72 hours on one tank..here is just one of many comapnies that make them...go to westmarine to buy in person, buy online and save...
i have used a similar system with exceptional results for years..
one other thing to note which is contrary to some of what has been said on this thread, the honda generators need to have their oil changed every 100 hours, 20 hours for the first change and then every 100 hours thereafter...it is very important if you want to have the generator last a long time.
Not going to argue with you, Johnny - moreover, I wasn't arguing against genies - or against anything for that matter....
but Mark mentioned months, not weeks, in terms of his power needs...and powerenz works with military applications, so they may have a little wisdom to share....stuff we don't know.
so I asked around, and these systems have been put to work at extreme altitudes....one was put to work on a Grand Canyon shoot, which is a very tough, watery environment....just passing it on, trying to offer possibilities. I know solar is far from efficient, but genies have their issues, too. Probably some combinations of systems is what is called for....lightweight backups to your systems is not a bad thing.
Thanks for the vote on the thread, this deal has been in my mind for the past three or four years, always there just gnawing away at the imagination. It's that project that pops into mind whenever there's down time, a moment of rest, burning to be endeavored and goading you to find a way to do so.
Whilst I strongly prefer the idea of a completely sustainable and natural way to get the job done, a la Solar option, I think the best and sure fire route for reliability will be to go with the Genie's. At point Red Circle 1 I will have to meet with what is called the 'Council of Pilung' this is basically a traditional Council of Chiefs, of their legal representatives of the main island groups in the territory. At that time I have to suggest which islands I am planning on visiting and for how long. As is also tradition I must say what, if anything, I will be taking as a 'gift' to the paramount chief of each location. The option to donate the genie(s) at the end of the stints could be an ultimate sweetener. The humidity in the region is pretty high so the machine will eventually seize, I feel however that there will be much more benefit derived in the short term from the Genie than maybe confusion as to how to get power from the solar array once I leave the location.
This is Green Circle 2 location. One of the largest Atolls in the region, 46 islands, 4 inhabited. As mentioned the yellow small circle shows the island I had previously visited.
Length, North to South is around 40km, width at the widest point some 17km. Landing strip is located at the largest island in the north east of the formation.
Just to throw some thoughts in the mix. We are preparing for a year overland through africa and need to be completely self contained. And we have done some remote shoots as well, so here are some thoughts from research and experience.
1. Convert as many/ all of your devices to use DC directly, so you can avoid the loss from inverters. Get everything to 12v power, because even the best inverters lose 15+% in the conversion. The red brick charger can take a 12V input directly, have a cable made, same for laptop.
2. Solar is going to be rough, but you can get a ton of power out of the latest systems. The thin films "load" under heat and lose efficiency, vs. a traditional panel. Powerenz will set up a nice system. You will basically solar charge a battery (ies) and then charge from that source.
3. For drives, skip the big arrays and the desktop solutions. We did a month long remote project in haiti, and we brought 30 1TB seagate USB 3 portable bus powered drives. We offloaded to two bus powered drives at a time. Then created proxies (ProRes Proxy 720p) to a third, working drive for editorial (Caldigit RAID Mini set to raid 1). We then sent one of the originals back to "base" and the worked with the proxy files off the 3rd drive. When confirmed safe at "base" and copied to the SAN, we put the second drive back into the pool to be erased/ used again. But we never erased until we had to. And 30 of the drives packed down pretty small. This approach also allows a 1 plug approach for your editorial system. One plug and your computer, drives, monitor, all up and running. Assuming you are going with a MacBook Retina?
4. For SatCom, get a Delorme Inreach for simple tracking, messaging (can link to your ios or android device), and SOS, and go with an Iridium Satelite phone. I use the new extreme handset daily, and its never let me down. If you need data and have deep pockets, then you go BGAN from inmarsat. But whatever you do, dont get their phone (isatpro). If you want uber redundancy, you can get a PLB as well (no monthly fees for that one).
5. For Gen, get the honda EU2000i, its not a fulltime 2000 watt gen, its actually like 1600 watts, but that should cover you. The 1000 will be a little small, and you wont be able to effectively use the ECO mode to extend the life. In addition, get a tank "extenstion" kit, to be able to draw gas out of a larger jug if you dont want to change fuel that often. Also, learn how to change the oil and clean the air filter. If you use it everyday for hours on end, you will need to do both. They are not maintenance free, though you can run them hard and they just keep ticking.
6. For camera batteries, I wouldn't go with RedVolts. One the charger doesnt seem to take a DC input direct, and two they are just too small. Get a backpack and go with bricks. Fair larger power capacity and not actually that much larger when mounted on a backpack. And the charger is slimmer and takes DC direct.
7. If you are going to stay for a month, then you can really set-up camp. If thats the case, look into going with a lithium battery in your set-up. They are pricery, but you can discharge them down to 90% vs using only 50% of a traditional battery. We are working with the guys at smart battery on a 350ah system. If you want to calculate your actual power usage and such, you can use the worksheet here. http://www.solar-electric.com/elloevwo.html
I vote for a sailboat as well, then you can really get crazy! For fun, here is a rough sketch of our electrical system for the Van we are going to live and work out of for a year across africa. We have solar (2 types), alternator, and gas generator, and i am still worried a little about power. We've updated the batteries in the diagram below to a a total of 350 Ah of lithium power. Keep us posted! sounds cool!
Thanks for that very comprehensive and concise breakdown. A lot of food for thought there, I will be printing that out to go along with the other pointers I have to pore over extensively.
Where about in Africa are you headed? Sounds like an incredible trip. Have spent many great adventures around southern Africa and some not so good times around the Horn of Africa in a previous chapter of my life.
Hey Mark! We are headed starting in Morocco and going down the east coast and potentially up the west coast. It's absolutely nuts right now getting it all together. I am going to post another thread when we are about to set-off, its going to be an epic trip and a ton of field learnings on using Epics in rough environments, unsupported...
What troubles in the horn of africa?
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