Expedition iPod and iPhonePower Supply

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 13, 2006      

Shop for expedition batteries.

Please note, this is a legacy post, instructions below will not work for later model iPods and iPhones. Post remains for historical value only.

Backcountry battery cases are where you find em, and so is hot chocolate for backcountry skiing.
It just so happens that a 30 oz Nesquik package makes the perfect case for two 6v lantern batteries — the stuff makes good hot chocolate as well!

About time we had a mod post, yes?

Our son is headed down to the Mexican backcountry for two weeks on a school trip. You know kids and their iPods — gotta have it.

But what do you do when the iPod battery dies and you’re away from walls and electricity — or you’re on a Mexican bus for ever? Sure, you can bring an expensive auxiliary battery pack, but how about hacking an expedition battery pack together for less money, one that probably has more juice than commercial offerings and connects to the Ipod with standard “firewire” connectors?

Ipod expedition power supply completed.
Completed iPod expedition power supply fits two 6 volt lantern batteries in a case made from a Nesquik container, and connects with firewire to charge Ipod.

What we did was wire two 6 volt “lantern” batteries in series and connect a female connector to the batteries. The connector is on a pigtail that connects to the batteries with a cheap 2-wire trailer connector, since the batteries are disposable but we want to re-use the pigtail. We only used the power leads of the connector. Turns out the iPod will charge with anywhere from about 8 to 30 volts, and will not charge with a 6 volt source, so using two 6 volt batteries in series yields 12 volts — perfect. (Note that later model iPod and iPhone devices charge from USB power, which is around 5 volts.)

Batteries wired in series, ready to insert in case.
Batteries wired in series, ready to insert in case. This amount of juice would probably run an iPod for a month.

The tricky part was making a pigtail with a female 6 pin firewire connector (the type of connector used on early iPods. We salvaged a firewire connector from a device we had laying around. Soldering leads to the connector was tough. A better way would be to simply buy a firewire extension cable, chop, and wire the correct wires to your battery setup (see resource links below).

I’d recommend using a volt/ohm meter every step of the way with this project, to check both voltage and polarity (positive/negative), and also to figure out which wires connect to pins in the extension cable.


Backcountry skiing workshop in the kitchen.
For some unknown reason the workshop ended up on our kitchen counter instead of in the garage. Perhaps so we had nearby hot water for our Nesquik cocoa? The bigger the mess the better the project, correct?


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


3 Responses to “Expedition iPod and iPhonePower Supply”

  1. IpodLESS March 13th, 2006 7:31 am

    well, tried this about a year ago for a grand canyon trip. Actually used an altoids container to make a back-up. This is a tricky party, Gotta actually get the m.amps correct with the voltage you need for the ipod. consistant voltage to m-amps is tricky, Your amperage drops your ipod will eventually start knocking or worse. Melt the battery!

  2. dave downing March 13th, 2006 11:24 am

    Best post ever. can i get one of those in green?

  3. dave March 14th, 2006 2:27 pm

    I agree, solar is the way to go. You can get a foldable cell you can just set up on your backpack. Light, relatively cheap, and no toxic batteries to throw away. I’ve had good luck with mine.

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