How to keep your EL8 Headlamp and your iPod 4GB or
8GB charged while solo hiking for a month
This is the full story on how the USB
adapter that, in combination with the EL8 Headlamp, charges iPods, was
developed, as a response to an experienced hiker's need, who was
doing a solo month-long hike in the Sierra, looking
forward to "no hassles with headlamp batteries", and
"could bring some music
(iPod 4GB or 8GB) was really appealing".
This picture is from a couple of hikers, that went for an extended
hiking trip, about 4 weeks, bringing two EL8 headlamps, one solar panel,
an EA6 USB adapter, and of course an iPod video 80 GB!!!
I've returned from my wonderful hike: From Bridgeport, on the east
side of the Sierra, just below Sonora Pass, to Mineral King. 270
miles, 25 days, 12 passes, all solo and incredibly wonderful.
My headlamp and the charging system for the iPod worked great.
I tended to use the iPod for only a couple hours or so (and not
every day), and I didn't bother trying to play and charge at the
same time, though you sent me the equipment to do that. It seemed
too complicated. Instead, I discharged the lamp into the player
(charged iPod) in the morning , then played the iPod and
independently I charged the lamp. I tied the panel
onto my pack on the left, center, and right, as I was walking south
and that was the way to keep the panel perpendicular to the sun.
At the end of the day,
it was fully charged,
and probably finished charging before that, but I didn't bother
taking it off.
I got some pretty envious looks from fellow hikers as they saw first
the ear buds, then the iPod clipped to my sternum strap, then the
little panel tied onto my pack!
One thing puzzled me: I noticed that the jacks, for both the panel
and the converter, would not fit flush into the lamp. On both jacks,
there's about 2 mm. of shaft that doesn't fit down into the female
part in the lamp. I couldn't remember if this was always so, and at
first it worried me, but the charging and discharging worked, so I
guess it wasn't a big deal. But I'm curious whether this is normal.
I didn't bring a camera (my pack weighed at times over 60 pounds),
but a hiker took some pictures of the panel and said he'd email them
to me. If I get them, i'll send them to your to post if you want to.
Thanks again for your help and patience all this time.
Janet, thank you so much for your tips! I will
add them as soon as I have some time.
Please, let me know when you get the USB adapter, and you try it with
your iPod(s). Second iPod charging suggestion: Use the
Charging an iPod nano 8GB, from the EL8 Headlamp and Solar Panel
at the same time, only when you are resting, etc., (not while
walking). Since it will give you just a 20% more charging time "WHEN
SOLAR PANEL IS PERPENDICULAR TO SUN LIGHT", it won't help much when
walking (hiking). You can charge headlamp with solar panel, at any time;
again, charge will be maximum when solar panel is perpendicular to
sun light, but ANY sunlight will charge headlamp successfully.
Solar Panel Holder, by Janet P., placed on
the side of my back pack,
then connected to the EL8 Headlamp to
charge it while hiking, and placed inside a pocket
Carlos, your tips are very clear. If you want to add some
information on attaching your solar panel to your backpack, here
is some text:
To attach your solar panel to your backpack, make a fabric holder for
the panel, which you can tie onto your pack at a convenient place.
Here's what to do:
1. Take a piece of sturdy fabric (heavy weight Cordura
is ideal) and measure 3 inches longer, and wider, than your solar panel.
Finish the edges by hemming them, covering them with bias tape, or using
a "pinking" shears (cuts cross-cuts that won't unravel).
2. Purchase a piece of Velcro that will stick to the Velcro
that's already glued to the back of your panel (for new solar panel
models you can use Velcro with sticky back and attach it to the back of
the solar panel). You'll need the "fuzzy" side. You can find it at
sewing stores or outdoor stores. Cut the Velcro to match the piece on
the back of your solar panel. Do not use the sticky-back piece that
Everlite sent you with your panel: It will come away from the fabric
with the heat of the day, and you cannot sew it down (your needle will
become hopelessly full of adhesive and snarl your sewing machine).
3. Sew the Velcro into the center of your fabric. Pay
special attention to tack down the corners well.
4. At each corner of the fabric, attach a grommet (if
you have a kit), or simply sew down a foot or so of flat nylon line.
Now you have a sturdy attachment piece, which you can
tie onto your pack at a convenient place. If you place a tent on
the top of your lid, tie it over the tent; if you don't, just tie it to
the lash points on your pack. No matter what you have on
your pack, and where the attachment points may be, with four ways to
tie-down your panel, you'll be all set.
Your question is not dumb, but a great one! I will add it with the
answer, in a special Support Forum Answer and Questions, very soon. I
also used your story (not your name) that helped us to develop this USB
adapter to charge iPods.
Yes you can play your iPod at the same time it's charging.
What a coincidence, the iPod nano 8GB Red that you see in my videos,
is the one that my kids (three) and I gave to my wife for her birthday
last February! Looks like the iPod 8GB is the "Moms iPod". She
also has audio books, webcasts, and music, and still a lot of free
Good afternoon Carlos! How nice to get your message. Clearly,
options 6 and 7 are
for me. Incidentally, my husband and children gave me an iPod 8 for
Mother's Day, so I'm really set with lots of music (and books on tape).
I'm looking forward to getting the adaptor and trying it out. I
warning about directly exposing the flashlight to the sun. I
wondered about that -- I, too, placed the panel on the patio on a hot
northern CA day, but I tucked the flashlight behind it. I guess I didn't
damage it, because it works. I hope that if I tuck it into my pack, it
will stay cool enough (if it's that hot at 10,000 feet, more than my
flashlight is going to have problems!).
This is a dumb question -- can I play the iPod at the same time
it's charging? You can see, I'm a novice at this.
Be sure to let me know which Nolo book you'd like. I'm also going to
send you my prototype for the fabric solar panel-holder
that I designed for the panel. It has its own Velcro
sewn down, plus grommets for lashing the piece to my pack. I tried
it out last weekend (quick trip to the Lost Coast), and it fit fine. I
didn't have a camera -- but I promise a picture from my Sierra hike.
thanks so much for your efforts and good cheer -- Janet
I mailed USB adapter that works great with iPods, today! You mill get
it around Wednesday.
I published a video today with the same USB adaptor I mailed,
and with the same iPod 4GB (silver) you have. You can watch it
I will e-mail you some tips for your hiking trip, later on. Basically
that video shows the most simple and recommended charging configuration.
You won't need to charge your iPod every day.
Carlos, thanks for the update. I look forward to testing the
iPod-panel charging configuration. Let me know when your video is up.
I finally unveiled the mystery of charging iPods with the
4Gb iPod takes two to three full charges of headlamp alone
(not paired with solar panel yet). That means you will be able to easily
keep your iPod alive during your month long
hiking trip!!! Since Music playback time is about to 24
hours when iPod is fully charged, 1/4 of charge will give you
about 6hrs of music. I hope you wont be listening more than that
I still have to try headlamp plus solar panel, which should
give more charging power. I will publish these results in my
website over the weekend.
I omitted something very important, that was your very concerned when
you read in my site: "a 4Gb iPod nano can drain completely the
battery charge of the EL8 Headlamp in about 10 to 15 minutes"; I
forgot to add "when EL8 headlamp is not
I'll keep you informed, and I will mail you the USB adapter next
week, after I finish my testing.
Thanks to your original inquire; we went l long and very positive way
into charging iPods with the EL8 headlamp!
That sounds fine, and thanks again. I await your results.... :)
Good thing I asked you which iPod you have!
I'm testing all these iPods to find out exactly, the capability that the EL8 (headlamp & solar panel) has to charge them.
Let me do some more testing with the 4GB iPod, until I find out if with
that charging configuration, you can keep you iPod "alive" for a month.
The manufacturer just mailed to me the new headlamp and solar panel,
like the one you have, to test it on my iPods. I also have a 4Gb iPod,
so I will find the solution to your needs!
I'll keep in touch. I will delay the mailing of the USB adaptor, to
complete my testing.
Good morning Carlos. I have the 4GB iPod nano. And I have a question
about this paragraph on your website:
2. A 4Gb iPod nano has a much greater battery capacity, therefore an
equivalent charging power demand. Preliminary tests, showed that a 4Gb
iPod nano can drain completely the battery charge of the EL8 Headlamp in
about 10 to 15 minutes, providing about 1/4 of the battery charge this
If this is so, what does this mean for me when I'm in the
mountains for a month and have completely drained the iPod?Is it possible to completely charge it up using any of the
configurations you've discovered? In other words, as long as I'm
willing to leave the charging setup in place all day as I walk, can I
eventually end up with a completely charged iPod?
As ever, thanks so much for your advice and all the work! --Janet
I made three new videos using the USB adaptor I will mail you
You can see how the USB adapter charges two different models of
Could you please tell me what iPod model do you have? I would like to
test the charging configuration that best serves the iPod you have, and
post the results in my site.
Janet, Thank you and I will
Carlos, congratulations! I'll look forward to your video. Thanks, and
let me know which book you'd like. --Janet
I'm very pleased to tell you, the
assembly using a "modified" USB adapter and the iPod's USB cable, works
perfect! I just tried last night.
I will make two or three videos showing how it works,
over the weekend, and I'll mail it to you next week.
You'll be the very first person to have this slick, simple, and light
weight system to charge iPods, especially designed for hikers/
Hi Carlos! I meant to reply earlier. I loved you video.
The new configuration you describe sounds very promising.
It would be great not to have to lug the converter into the
II will surely wait until next week (I don't start my hike until
Thanks again for the help, and I promise some pictures of my panel on
I contacted owner/inventor of the EL8 Headlamp today. He is sending
me a new USB adaptor next week. I will try a new configuration to charge
iPods that will include:
2. USB adaptor (lighter and smaller than 12 Volt Converter
3. iPod USB cable (the same one you use to sync it to iTunes)
4. Your iPod
With this assembly you don't need iPod's car charger.
Itís also much lighter than the one using 12 Volt Converter.
If you could please wait until some time next week, I will ship you
this USB adapter instead of the 12 Volt Converter.
I quickly checked Nolo website, and I found
the Patent books!
Thank you so much for your book offer; I'll definitely take it! (Is
there any book that talks about patents by any chance?) I'll take a look
to the website and I let you know my choice! I really believe and love
to interchange services and help!!!
I made a short video for you to see, showing the dual-charging
method, and posted in my website:
. The first video. If I have time I will add the written instructions.
I will also look into another way to charge you iPod, using the
USB cable instead of the iPod's car charger, and an USB adapter.
I'll let you know. (As you can see, I have a teacher's soul! I tough
electronics for 10 years in a trading college, and I love to explain
people how things work)
As a result of your inquire, I will add a page on my website "for
My address is
5469 W. 121st St.
Hawthorne, CA 90250
I'll keep in touch, and thank you once more for your generous book
Carlos, your offer of a free converter is
great. Let me suggest an exchange: I know a company that publishes books for
consumers on how to handle legal and other issues themselves, without a
lawyer. We have a lot of books for small business persons, like you. Go
to www.nolo.com, find a book that
you'd like, and I'll mail it to you.
My address is
I'm afraid I'm not taking a camera on the hike -- it's 300 miles,
with only one resupply spot, so I have to be careful with weight. I
will, however, take some shots of the panel lashed to my pack at home
(in the backyard, looking authentic) and I'd be happy to send them to
The dual-charging method you describe sounds neat. I
will definitely try it.
I've given some more thought to my attachment system. I might look
for some material like a sturdy fishnet, which I can sew into a sleeve,
and put Velcro on the open end to seal the "envelope." That would give
me a very secure holder for the panel, and I could use small caribiners
to attach it to loops or straps of the pack. This also gives me maximum
flexibility, because I can clip the caribiners to any place on the net.
Send me your address, and thanks again for being so incredibly
I didn't realize you have the Headlamp-Solar Panel already! The
$71.50 is the price of both: EL8 headlamp+12 converter or charger (both
converter or charger are the same, they name it differently).
The retail price I was given is $16.95, Real Goods has it at $12.00,
but if you send me your mailing address, I'll send it to you for free!
Are you bringing a picture/movie camera to your hike? If you do, do
you mind to take some pictures when charging your Pod in the wilderness,
or a short video, and send them to me? I am helping the inventor and
owner of this ingenious and environmental headlamp to promote it, by
posting pictures and videos on how to use it. This is not a catch for
sending you the 12 Volt Converter to you. I just love to show hikers
using the solar panel charging iPods!
Scratch on the panel is not important. If the straps do not cover a
significant area of the panel, it shouldn't be any problem. I like your
panel attaching system. Definitely I would like to have a picture of
your panel attached to your back pack.
I have another wonderful idea, I just tried it last weekend. You can
charge headlamp and iPod at the same time! while walking - hiking, or
when resting. 12 Volt Converter comes with a "T" adapter. Set up is as
follows ( I will make a video and send it to you):
1. Solar panel connected to one female end of "T"
2. Other female end of "T" to 12 V converter
3. Male "T" to headlamp
4. Plug iPod car charger to 12 V converter
5. You are charging both devices: headlamp and iPod!!!
What about that! Headlamp is so efficient, that you do not need so
Please, let me know if you have any other question. I would like to
help you to have light and music on your hiking!!!
I'm doing a solo month-long hike in the Sierra this summer, and am
really looking forward to no hassles with headlamp batteries.
Realizing that I could bring some music is really appealing.
My panel has a scratch on it (it came that way).
I assume that's not an issue?
Also, I'm thinking about how I'll charge it, and realized that I
probably don't want to use the velcro. The top of my pack will have
stuff lashed onto it, depending on the weather and the fullness of
my pack, so attaching the Velcro will limit the lashing (and the
charging). I'm planning on sewing a holder for the panel, using
quarter-inch straps, which will mean that there will be two straps
crossing the face of the panel, at right angles. I'll attach clips
to the straps at the edges, and that will enable me to place the
panel anywhere I can attach it. Will the presence of the nylon
straps damage the panel -- is there a problem with covering the
panel this way?
1st, EL8 Headlamp
2nd, EA1 12 Volt Converter
3rd, your iPod car charger
4th, your iPod
Play movie and stop when you can see all 4 components. You plug 1 Volt
Converter to Headlamp (deices you buy). Then connect iPod car charger to
your iPod as you normally do. Finally, instead of plugging in iPod car
charger to car's cigarette lighter, you plug it to the EA1 12 Volt
converter. Your iPod will start charging immediately.
Just replace EL8 Headlamp with Solar Panel, included in kit, and follow
connections above. 12 Volt Converter comes with necessary adaptor to
connect Solar Panel to it.