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« They’re Phone Adapters; They’re Toast; WiFi Did It | Main | Ubiquitous Power for Traveling Nerds – The Cigar Lighter Inverter »

Power for Traveling Nerds – A Puzzle

We can’t get power wirelessly – yet. The outlets available vary from country to county; perhaps not with quite as much variety as phone adapters but you still need a pretty good kit to make sure you can connect to wall sockets everywhere. Moreover, of course, the power that come out of the wall isn’t all the same either. Voltages as well as the frequency of AC power differ from place to place. Some electronics can handle these differences; some can’t.

You’re a nerd so you’ve got a pack full of stuff that needs to be recharged or even plugged in to work: computer, of course, mobile phone(s), camera, iPod, GPS, video recorder etc.

Here’s the challenge:

You’re not allowed to take your adapter collection on the next trip; you’re not allowed to buy, borrow, or otherwise acquire adapters as you travel nor will you be buying all new toys which work on local power. You can’t bring a solar charger or a crank driven one or a small windmill (if such are available). You can’t take wall plates off or stick probes into them. What ONE device is essential to preserve your ability to use your toys?

I’ll answer tomorrow but I’m sure some of you will beat me to it.


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The one power source that I think is consistent around the world is the 12v power (cigar lighter in older vehicles) in most vehicles. So, maybe a 12v to 120v inverter? Of course, that assumes access to a vehicle.

Ben Metcalfe

Wall-to-USB adaptor. Kingston do a nice one.

Then everything powers/charges from USB.

Michal Altair Valasek

I don't know if this is the expected answer, but in reality it works for me all around the world:

All the things (at least the ones I own), except computer, can be powered and/or charged from USB port. And my laptop has power supply which will accept almost anything: AC/DC 100-300 V and has shaving-machine end.

So basically I need only the right cord. I have two: EU and US and was able to use it everywhere.

Tom Evslin

Nope, Daniel. I should have been more explicit but that's not allowed either.

Multiple attempts are allowed, though.

Daniel Markham

I'm striking out so far on these nerd quizes, but I'll give it another go.

I have a universal power adapter. Works on planes, at home, in the car, overseas. Comes in a nifty case and has all kinds of plugs.

Does that count as the one device?

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