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Here's an interesting and flexible way to always have recharging power at hand for your portable electronics.

The Callpod Fuel Tank is flexible and versatile and stores lots of recharge power.

 
 
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Callpod Fuel Tank Portable Electronics Recharger

Recharges most modern electronic devices
 

The Callpod Fuel Tank is a rechargeable device that can be used to in turn recharge most modern electronic devices such as cell phones, MP3 players, etc.

Dual outlets enable it to recharge two devices simultaneously.

 

 

Our lives are increasingly filled with more and more battery powered portable electronic devices.

Cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, MP3 players, maybe eBook readers, cameras, and all sorts of other devices; all battery powered, and all potentially running out of power at the worst possible moment.

Here's a very flexible unit that carries a generous store of power that can be used to recharge most portable electronic devices whenever and wherever they need a quick power top-up.

What you get

Each Callpod Fuel Tank comes nicely packaged in an easily opened cardboard box.

Inside is the unit itself, of course, displayed through a clear plastic window, plus a range of accessories.  Most important is a multi-voltage charger to keep the unit itself charged with power.

There is also an included device charging adapter, which ends with a USB mini connector, this being a common adapter that many devices use for charging purposes.  In addition to this 'standard' adapter, there is a voucher which you can use to get, free of cost, any second adapter you might want (you simply order it from Callpod's website and use the special code on the voucher to zero out the cost of the adapter).

A small manual, measuring 3" x 4" and with 24 pages of instructions is included.  This might seem like a lot of instruction, but many pages have large illustrations and only a little text, so it is an easy and quick read (with good proper English rather than some sort of Chinese variation of English) to understand how to best use the unit.

A zip topped and gusseted nylon carry pouch is also provided.  You can securely keep the unit, its charger, and as many of the charging adapter connectors as you need inside this pouch without risk of losing any component.

The unit itself measures 3.3" x 4.8" and is about 0.75" thick.  It weighs about 7.1 oz.  The 'brick' style power supply weighs about 2.9 oz, and for travel purposes, the unit, power supply, and three different device charging adapters, all contained inside the nylon pouch, come to a total weight of around 12.2 oz.  Of course, generally you'll travel on a daily basis with the unit and adapters, but not with the power supply, so that brings the travel weight down to 9.3 oz.

A Callpod Fuel Tank, complete with the supplied Mini USB connector and voucher for a second connector lists for $69.95, and is available from Amazon for about $49.95.  Extra adapters are all priced at $9.95 each, and may also be available from Amazon at varying discounts, or, if not found on Amazon, can of course be purchased from the Callpod website at full price.

How Universal Chargers Can Work

These days just about all portable electronic devices are powered by Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries.  Sure, some of the batteries are a different shape to others, and they all have a larger or smaller capacity, but they are all some variation on a Li-ion battery, with the same 3.7V output, and the same charging needs/characteristics.

The only exception is some high power devices such as laptops that may use not just one battery, or several in parallel, but two, three, or even four connected in series so as to provide a higher voltage output (ie two in series would be 7.4V, three would be 11.1V and four would be 14.8V).

But for most devices, ranging from tiny Bluetooth headsets up to large sized camcorders, their power source is some type of 3.7V Li-ion battery.

Now for the wonderful benefit that can flow from this commonality of battery type.  If any charger for any device can physically be connected to any other of these devices' charging socket, it will be able to recharge that other device exactly the same as any other device it can connect to.

So a universal charger is simply a regular charger for Li-ion batteries with a range of different connectors to fit to different devices.  Nothing else needs to be adjusted or changed, just the physical connector.  This makes it practical to develop truly universal chargers, such as Callpod's Fuel Tank.

How it Works and What it Does

There are plenty of other multi-purpose chargers available.  The key difference of the Fuel Tank is that it allows for multiple devices to be recharged from its own built-in battery.

Most other devices have no built-in battery, but simply act as a multi-outlet source of power, and need to be plugged into the mains or a car cigarette lighter before they can then feed power on to the devices you wish to charge.  This is only marginally more useful than simply plugging each device's power charger into the mains individually.  It might save you a bit of space and weight, but doesn't add any convenience.

However, the Fuel Tank contains a high capacity Lithium Ion battery with enough power in it to recharge several different portable devices, several times.

The Li-ion battery in the Fuel Tank is rated at having 5300 mA/hr of capacity.  While the promotional literature refers to this as being the equivalent of about seven typical rechargeable batteries, that is probably a bit of an overstatement.  Depending on the device you're recharging, you're probably looking at things that have in the order of a 600 - 1400 mA/hr capacity, so there's perhaps enough capacity in the Fuel Tank for about five complete charges of other units you might be traveling with (or ten half charges, etc).

This is still a huge amount of spare battery life, and may free you from the need to travel with any recharger units at all, apart from just the Fuel Tank, depending on the number of electronic items you'll be using and how long you'll be traveling for.  But a typical week away, with perhaps the need to recharge your cell phone three times, your Bluetooth headset once, your camera once, and your iPod twice could probably all be handled by a single charge from the Fuel Tank.  You've saved yourself the need to potentially travel with four different chargers.

If you're traveling for longer, or with more devices and more recharge requirements, then all you need to do is add the Fuel Tank's 2.9 oz power supply and you can recharge the Fuel Tank as often as you need.

There's another benefit to the Fuel Tank.  When I've been traveling in the past, without a Fuel Tank, I've sometimes found myself needing to charge too many different devices, all at the same time, with not enough power sockets in the hotel room to allow for enough things to be charged, and end up having to juggle units to try and get enough power into everything I need charged to keep me going until the next time I'm at a power supply.

With the Fuel Tank's ability to charge two units simultaneously, and the ability to charge units at any time, not just when you're connected to mains power, this problem vanishes.

There's another benefit to the Fuel Tank.  Currently I generally travel with a T-Mobile/Google G1 cell phone.  This has an appallingly short battery life - I'll often run out of power halfway through a day if I'm making extensive use of the internet, email, and GPS functions.  Now, running out of power is never a problem.  Whenever the G1 starts to get low, I just connect it to the Fuel Tank for a quick top-up, no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

Using the Fuel Tank

Using the Fuel Tank is very simple, with indicator lights to help you see what is happening.

To charge the Fuel Tank

To charge it up, you simply plug its multi-voltage power supply into its standard Mini-USB charging socket.  A green light will go on, and will go off again once the unit has been fully charged.

To charge other devices

Simply plug an adapter cable into one of the Fuel Tank's two output sockets.  This will light up a blue LED to indicate that it is ready to charge whatever you wish.  Connect the other end into the device you're wishing to charge, and it will then charge up exactly the same as it would with its own charger.  Disconnect the adapter cable when fully charged so as not to waste the Fuel Tank's power.

Displaying the Fuel Tank's level of remaining charge

Simply press the button on one end of the unit, and you'll see anywhere from zero to six LED's briefly light up.  Six LEDs means a full charge, zero LEDs means no charge at all, and the LEDs between 1 - 5 mean varying levels of remaining charge.

Note that it is generally a good idea to not fully discharge and recharge any type of Li-ion powered device - it is better to top up the unit's charge on a regular basis.  This places less stress on the battery and gives it longer life.

Using the Fuel Tank with External Charging Devices

The digital camera I usually travel with (a Casio EX-Z850) does not have a charging socket on its body.  To charge the battery I need to place the camera in a base, which is then connected to a brick type charger via a cable and plug.

However, the brick type charger is just another generic Lithium-ion battery recharger, and so even in this case, the Fuel Tank can be used, with an adapter that simply plugs into the charging base.  Yes, I still need to travel with the charging base, but I save myself the need to also travel with its related power supply brick.

So if you have items that need separate charging bases, see if they too have detachable power supplies.  If they do, the chances are that there'll be an adapter available from Callpod to save you the need to travel with that item's power supply brick charger, too.

Testing the Fuel Tank

I tested the Fuel Tank with various different types of electronic device to ensure that it could fully charge the device in a reasonable amount of time.

A Blackberry 8800 was recharged from a totally dead battery to a fully charged battery in approximately 100 minutes from a fully charged Fuel Tank.

An iPhone when from about 50% to almost full charge in about 45 minutes, at the same time as I was also simultaneously charging my G1 phone.

My first attempt at charging a G1 was disappointing.  It started at 62% charged with a probably 65% - 70% full Fuel Tank.  While charging the G1 I also topped up an iPhone (mentioned in the previous paragraph).  After more than two hours, the G1 had only increased to 84% charge; I disconnected the Fuel Tank on a whim, then reconnected it, and now the Fuel Tank failed to charge the G1 any further.  The G1 didn't detect the presence of any type of charger connected.

I repeated the exercise the next day, with the Fuel Tank now showing four of its six LEDs, and probably with about a 60% charge.  The G1 (purely by coincidence) again started at a 62% charge.  After 30 minutes it had increased to 69%.  If this charging rate were to remain constant, that would suggest it takes almost 8 hours to fully charge the G1.

A Kindle 2 ebook reader also went from about a three quarter charge to a full charge, confirming

 

 

 

 

Accessory - car charger; universal charger

 

charging 62% from four leds at 7.22am

69% after 30 mins ie +7%

74% ie + 5% after the next 30 mins

78% ie + 4% after the next 30 mins

81% ie + 3% after the next 30 mins

85% ie + 4% after the next 30 mins

 

 

Is 5300 mAh the gross capacity or the net amount that is transferred to other units.  How much inefficiency in the charging process (including voltage step up, etc)?  What is the gross/net amounts

What is the actual

Why can't it use a regular charger?  Why is the charger only 1.5A - I have other chargers that are 2A

It says it takes about 2.5 hours to charge the unit, but if the charger is only 1.5A, this means a max of (2.5 x 1.5 =) 3750 mA/hr.  How is that compatible with the 5300 mA/hr capacity?

Can it 'pass through' - ie be both charging itself and passing charge on to other units concurrently?

Why does it not have a regular USB port that any other USB adapters that a person already has can plug directly into (saving the need to buy extra adapters)

 

 

Related Product - ChargePod

If you are looking for a direct multi-unit charger as a convenient way of managing the charging needs of the many different devices you have, perhaps for your office or home, then Callpod make a second device, a ChargePod.

This can charge as many as six different units simultaneously, and can also be used to recharge a Fuel Tank.

One of the benefits of the ChargePod is that it uses the same connectors as does the Fuel Tank, so you don't need to double up on two sets of connectors for the various units you have.

 

 

Are the two sides of the unit independent or connected together?

Does the unit truly draw power whenever a connector/adapter is plugged in?  If so, why?

 

 

Can you use it as a 'pass through' item - ie power in one end and out the other end to dual devices to recharge?

 

 

Summary

Someti

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Originally published 23 January 2004, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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