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  #1  
Old 3 Feb 2003
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Pelican boxes

The Pelican boxes always come out as one of the best solutions if you want to take you labtop with you on long trip.

I have an Ibook and want to take it with me on the next trip around the Baltic Sea (digital pictures, logging the route, writing a journal,...). We are planning on taking as much gravel and dirt roads. So the ride might get bumpy.Since we are planning to ride in September it might also get very wet and muddy.

I had a look at the Ortlieb products and they have some 'case like' product that are for sure waterproof. But I worry about the shock absorption and protection.

Thus... a pelican case it will be I think. But I have some questions and hope there is somebody out there who has experience with them.

I am considering the 1470 or 1490 attache computer case. But I am afraid the 1470 is too small for an Ibook (35x30cm). And if I have to believe what they write about the 1490 the Ibook wouldn't fit inthere...

So first question: wich case should I buy to put my Ibook in? Can I modify the inside easely so that it will fit my Ibook?
There should also be place for the 220V adapter and the 12V car adapter. Further there are the cables to connect to the GPS.

Then, I am taking my labtop with me all the time. Also when I am using my bike at home. Therefor I wouldn't mind if the box was fixed 'permanently' to the toprack of the bike. Has anybody done this? Or is strapping it down the only way to go?

I am planning to charge the labtop when I am riding. I have 12 V plugs on the bike and a 12V adaptor for the labtop. I can think of ways to get the electricity wire going into the box without many risks of water entering the box (unless you throw it into a river). Especially if the wire is entering from the bottom side.

Has anybody ordered Pelican cases online yet? How are they on delivering? Or does anybody know if there are any shops around Belgium where you can buy them?


Any feedback or info more then welcome.

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  #2  
Old 5 Feb 2003
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Well, I can only answer a few of your questions as I’m using Pelicans but not the laptop models.

If I remember correctly the laptop cases come with some sort of high-density foam molded to the shape of the laptop. I guess these can be modified but I wouldn’t go overboard since they’re the vibration-damping element of the case. Why not just get a case that’s a bit bigger with foam insert? Use can use the extra space for your digital camera for example.

I’ve seen Pelican cases fixed with bolts and nuts to different fixtures with no problem. The Pelican has a strong thick wall construction and they can handle this pretty well. I’m actually thinking of doing this with my big 1650 on my Jeeps rack.

Spread enough bolts evenly, keep the bolts heads inside the case and use large washers. Make sure the holes are round, smooth and clean to prevent promoting cracks. The bolts should fit snug and shouldn’t have threads where they go through the case wall so that they don’t damage the case composite material and promote cracks. Alternatively machine some sort of aluminum or mild steel inserts in the holes to protect them and use full thread bolts. For security tack weld the nuts to the fixture where you’re going to mount the case and cut off excess thread. With the bolt head inside the case and a Peli Lock on the outside it’s a bit safer.

By the way I’ve only seen this done with the foam inserts, which is usually too thick to be bothered by the bolt head inside the case. I don’t know if this could be done with the laptop case.

Heat buildup inside the box would be a problem if you charge the laptop on the road. I would charge it overnight if I had a chance. Otherwise at least keep the 12v charger out of the box and open the case to cool often. Batteries get hot while being charged too not only the charger.

Just popped into my head; since you’re into modifications, get the case with the foam insert, cut out a the foam strategically around the battery and power supply, drill tiny holes in the case and install a small fan and wire it to the charger while charging. Not a waterproof setup anymore but it might not be that important for you. On second though, this sounds a bit too much but what the heck I won’t use the backspace key .

Tell me how you’re going to run the wires through the wall? I want to build a portable electric water filter in a Pelican box and I still haven’t decided how to do that.

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  #3  
Old 5 Feb 2003
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Hi AB,

Had another look at the cases. I can't use one of the labtop desings. The biggest one (1490) is 3cm too small. That's a bit too much to sqeeze I guess.
So I should go for the 1520. The outside measurements are pretty much the same though.

I am reviewing the idea of bolting the case to the bikes rack. If I want to take the labtop inside, or work on it while sitting under a tarp in muddy terrain... Better to keep in in the case then.
So strap the case down really tight.
I will secure it to the bike with a luggage-securething. One of those nets in thing ironwire.

The heat while charging is something to think about I guess. Didn't realise it myself. But I also know these 12V chargers aren't too shockproof either. I would prefer to place it in the case while riding.
If I would charge it overnight would it drain the battery? I couldn't find any specs on the adaptor on how much energy it takes.

Still checking around on how to get the wire through the case in the best way. But one simple solution might be to use a very very very littlebit of expansion foam around the wire. It's the thing they use around windows when they place them. When dried out it is hard as stone and waterproof.

The case desing should be something like this in the end:
* Outside wire that can connect to a 12V socket on the bike.
* 1 12V socket inside the case
* room for 12V Labtop charger and labtop
* room for 220V labtop adaptor
* room for 12V double A battery charger
* room for wires to connect GPS to labtop

Organising the inside correctly will be key.

It is true that a venting system would top it of. This should be doable by some kind of air-intakes I guess. But how will you avoind raindrops and dust of flying into the case?

Not sure wich colour I would order it in. Black is just black. Orange is shiny and attractive for theft I guess. Same goes for yellow. .... Hmmm, boring black I guess.

Where did you buy your case? Any idea where I can find them in Europe?

Pieter

PS: The digital camera won't go into the case. I am gonna place that into my tankbag. Together with my discman.

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  #4  
Old 5 Feb 2003
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Your bike’s battery cannot charge your laptop over night. It will be completely discharged, as it doesn’t have the capacity to do so. Note that regular batteries can only handle a few complete discharges so the battery will become a paperweight in a matter of days. I meant charging from a hotel wall socket if that’s an option. Sorry about the confusion.

I don’t know if that’s what you had in mind but a flush mount socket on the case wall would be best. You can easily plug the ‘case’ that way and have nothing hanging out when not plugged. I’ll do a search, maybe I can find some sort of weather proof flush mounted socket with cable locking..hmmm.. I hope I’m not asking too much here.

Definitely get black; the cases already look too cool, bright colors would attract more attention.

I got my cases in Egypt from the local dealer. Sorry, I have no idea where to get them in Europe. Try out camera and scuba diving stores. The cases are very popular with those crowds. They’re much cheaper in the US, so if you or a friend were heading that way then it would be best to buy it there. A friend bought a couple from the US threw out the foam and used them as his luggage on his way back. He bought local foam afterwards.

I haven’t done the venting thing before, I’m thinking out loud with you on this to try to come up with a solution so take what I say with a grain of salt.

If you go with the venting thing then the case will definitely no longer be waterproof. But the venting holes can be on the bottom. Even if it will rain heavily it won’t get in. Perhaps a thin rubber lid fixed with Velcro would be good idea, or simply a vinyl sticker over the holes when it rains.

Dust would be a problem though; either:
1) Forget the venting thing and keep the charger on the bike: The 12v chargers I’ve used in the past weren’t that fragile so I would fix one somewhere on the bike itself and just plug it in the case as mentioned earlier. You can open up the charger and coat the components with epoxy to make it withstand vibration better. There was a good discussion about this elsewhere in the forum. Take an extra charger as a backup. Usually they’re not that big.
2) Only vent the charger: Take the charger out of it’s casing and get a small electronics project box big enough for the charger and a small fan. Cut the bottom of the project box and glue or fix it to the bottom of the case and seal it with silicon or a peace of rubber. Make an array of tiny 2mm or 3mm holes in the bottom of the case right under the fan. Make sure that the fan blows out of the case and not draw inside. The idea is to get the hot air out of the case. Take a look at your desktop power supply. This will also help keep the dust out while in use.

Perhaps we should contact pelican about this. Their cases are used to case electrical and electronic equipment all the time. They might be able to shed some light on what works best.

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OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
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  #5  
Old 5 Feb 2003
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TIP: Strengthen power supply
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000021.html


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  #6  
Old 6 Feb 2003
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Hmmm, so using the labtop while he is hooked up to the bikes batteries ain't no option either.

I am gonna redo the whole extra electrical wiring I have and will need in the futere.

Already have fog lights front, fog light back, GPS, 2 12V sockets.
I wonna ad a thermometer. I am gonna split the 12v sockets, move one to the back of the bike for the lab top charger and AA battery charger.

Untill know I have simply bought what I found or what folks suggested. Never done any research on wich components are best. How and where to place the plugs,...and so on.

I'll keep you posted.


PS: I found a supplier for Pelican cases in Belgium!!!! Yippieee.
I dropped them (Pelican Spain) a mail and they answered within 24 hours.


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  #7  
Old 6 Feb 2003
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AB,

Just had an idea to solve one of the heatproblems.
First reinforce the 12V labtop charger by filling it with epoxy. This also makes it waterproof if I am not mistaking?
Well once it is waterproof simply attach it to the ousite of the Pelican case. And if you make a little housing for it you can have the powersupply cable entering the pelicancase directly from the adaptor-housing. This could make this quite waterproof. Certainly good enough for on a bike I guess.

Now there is only the heat from the battery left to take care of.

I also called the Belgian Pelican dealer. Hopefully I can go and have a look tomorrow.
Prices seem to be ok:
The 1520: 188 Euro's excl. taxes
The 1490: 143 Euro's excl. taxes

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  #8  
Old 6 Feb 2003
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I wouldn’t fill the power supply with epoxy I would just coat the components with a 3 or 4 mm coat. I also wouldn’t coat any heat sinks since they won’t be able to dissipate heat as they’re supposed to.

I would keep the adapter fixed on the bike and carry the connecting lead (case <> adapter) in the Pelican with the laptop. Fixing it on the outside of the case will make it vulnerable, not to mention the cable will be a hassle. I would fix it somewhere on the bike and just hook the case in when needed.

Be sure to post some pictures of the setup .

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  #9  
Old 6 Feb 2003
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I was into the same chain of thought when planning our PanAm trip three years ago, and after looking at all the different options ended up with .. nothing.

I stored the laptop in a regular top box, lying on a net in the lid. I tried to keep some space under the net, so the laptop could move slightly up and down and hence dampen the shocks. For charging, I found it easier to bring an extra large battery and charge in hotels.

If you don't plan to wild camp a lot(Norway has lots of small cabins on camp grounds, with power outlet), and don't plan to spend hours in front of the screen every day, an extra battery should be all you need.

Less connections - less problems!


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  #10  
Old 7 Feb 2003
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The regular top box is no option to me. It is more or as expensive then the Pelican case and offers less protection.
Also I can't use the bike's top case for any other purposes. And I use my labtop on quite a different occasions. In the car for ex. So the pelican case seems to be a good all round solution.

I do like the simplicity by simply bringing an extra battery and charge it from power outlets in houses, cabins,...
But I am afraid that won't work in Russia. Also we do plan to camp quite a few times. Quite possible we'll camp 5 days in a row.
I am not planning to sit hours in front of the screen, but I will need it to upload prepared routes to the GPS. Not that the trip would stop if the labtop fails. Don't worry I still know how to use GPS, map and compass without prepared routes :-)))

I am gonna do research for the following set up:
* pelican case with labtop and extra tools.
In the case we have: Ibook, 220V adaptor, GPS cables and a spare battery.
* 12V outlet somewhere on the back of the bike, maybe under the saddle?
* prepare the charger with coating (only 3-4mm, avoiding the heat sinks, thanks AB ;-) Not sure yet were exaclty to place it. But I think it might come under the back rack, behind the saddles (place where honda place the alarm normally).
AB, if I coat the adaptor do I need to waterproof it in any other way then? Duck tape the whole thing for ex.?
* prepare the charger-cable and pelican case to make some sort of quick-connection to power up the pelican case.

Somwhere along the system I wonna place a 12V charger for AA-batterys.


Now, I am starting to realise that the weak point in this whole system is drainig the bikes battery. Do this couple of times and you have a serious problem somewhere in the Russian whatever....
So...
I read about the Honda heated handgrips. They have a special unit that checks the battery power. If it is too weak it won't allow the heated grips to take power from the battery and thus protect the bikes battery from being drained.
Well if I can place this nice unit in front of the labtop and AA-batery chargers I would safely avoid this problem.
I already heard it can't be hard to make this thing yourself. But I still have no clue. Gonna make a visit to the local electronic-shop, with all my idea's and stuff. See what they say.
(I'll start by drawing some kind of scheme I guess)


I will surely keep you all up to date the progress I make. But don't expect it quick. I tend to go slow on this kind of stuff.

Pieter.

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  #11  
Old 7 Feb 2003
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"* 12V outlet somewhere on the back of the bike, maybe under the saddle?"

If you simply have a loose cable with a 12V socket (buy it from a boat shop, with rubber sealing) in the end, you could tuck it away under the saddle when not using it.

"* prepare the charger-cable and pelican case to make some sort of quick-connection to power up the pelican case."

Have a small 12V plug hanging loose from below the pelican case. An advantage with loose connections is less chance to break if you bump into it.

The voltage control unit is just another electronic unit that can break. Why not make a on/off switch on your handlebar for the setup and include a voltage meter among your instruments. Then you'll see for yourself when voltage drop below a critical level, and let you decide when to charge.

All in all though, I do think your setup sounds a bit too complicated and vulnerable. And the Pelican box will stick out as more exlusive than a regular top box, drawing more attention than you might like. Just my 2c...

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  #12  
Old 7 Feb 2003
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The switch and voltage meter is probably a better idea!
I suppose you wonna place the voltage meter before the switch.

* "If you simply have a loose cable with a 12V socket (buy it from a boat shop, with rubber sealing) in the end, you could tuck it away under the saddle when not using it."
Exactly what I ad in mind!

* "Have a small 12V plug hanging loose from below the pelican case. An advantage with loose connections is less chance to break if you bump into it."

Yep, sounds like the way to go. Cut the cable from the charger. one ends goes from the female 12V socket to the labtop. The other end gets a male 12V socket and goes from the charger to the pelican case.
If you are not using it you can tuck it away onder the sadle where the charger is sitting.

Keep on brainstorming!


Pieter.
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  #13  
Old 8 Feb 2003
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If you coat it correctly then it will be waterproof. But since you can’t coat the heat sinks, complete waterproofing might be difficult to do depending on the design. In any case install the whole think in a project box. I wouldn’t trust duct tape. Better make some sort of aluminum project box with drilled tabs and bolt it somewhere with lock nuts or lock tight.

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  #14  
Old 25 Feb 2003
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I haven't used a peilcan as a laptop case but we've had several of the larger models for camera equipment.
Most models have reinforcements molded on the outside. You can drill holes in these without compromising the case, and use them to attach it to your rack with wingnuts and a padlock- secure but removeable.
You are better off getting a size bigger than you think you need. Like a helmet, most of the protection work is done by the foam inside, so you want a larger case with more foam.
I agree that charging in the case might cause a lot of heat, and many of the foam products used to line cases are highly combustible, but if I wanted to run a cable into it I would remove the pressure equalization knob and drill out that hole to make space. Pull the wire out of the hole, put the knob back on and it's water tight again.
I think the grey/silver color is the most subtle once it gets some dirt and scuffs.
-Ed
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  #15  
Old 20 Mar 2003
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For all those wondering how the plans are developping.
In the next weeks I am gonna redo the electrics and prepare stuff to hook the labtop charger up.
Wonna change my dashboard a bit. Find a fuse-casing and place it. Place a Volt-meter,prepare the charger,... Eventually buy the case and give it a try.

I'll keep you posted.

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