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Satmap power options review – July 2009

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Joined: Mar 20, 2009
Posts: 22
Location: North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:47 pm    Post subject: Satmap power options review – July 2009 Reply with quote

Hi there,
Since I bought an Active 10 earlier this year, I have been investigating battery and solar power options for walking: everyday use, weekends away, weeks away staying at B&Bs/campsites, and weeks away wild camping.
I have gathered many useful points from various postings on this forum – well done guys, excellent advice. My apologies if I have missed any crucial information out.
I have added the results of my own experience and research.
I hope that what follows is of use to people considering purchasing the Active 10, and also of use to existing owners who might be considering using it for longer durations away from base. Many of the comments are relevant to other users as well as to walkers.

Battery durations stated below are based on optimum power saving options:
Power Control:
- Automatic Power Saving – Always on
- Automatic Screen Turn Off – Off after 15s (or 30s)
Advanced Power Control:
- Power Saving Mode – Advanced (GPS map screen updates every 4 seconds)
Setting 40%

Satmap Li-Pol battery “Power Bundle”
Cost: approx £50
Capacity: 2,700 mAh
Weight: 54g battery and 102g charging lead/3 pin plug
Size: Battery is 42x58x12mm
Hours in use: 20-22
Hours to recharge: 4-8
I have found that there is negligible loss of charge when out of the Active 10 (fully charged 4.20 v; after a month 4.18 v), or when left in the Active 10 with the unit switched off (fully charged 4.19 v; after 2 weeks 4.15 v).

Although the Satmap FAQ states that it takes approximately 8 hours to recharge the battery, there have been reports on the Forum that the battery can be recharged in 4 to 5 hours.

Energizer AA 2,450 mAh NiMH
Cost: £7 on the Satmap site for a pack of 4 cells
Capacity: 2,450 mAh
Weight: Set of 3 cells is 88g
Size: AA
Hours in use: 8-12
Hours to recharge: 1 hr charger

1 hr charger & 4 of the above cells
Cost: £20 on the Satmap site
Weight: Charger and lead 227g
Size: Charger is 73x113x29mm, mains plug is 45x72x45mm not including the pins

My test results using these cells are as follows:

Usable voltage range:
Cells fully charged read 1.41 v to 1.39 v. After the Active 10 had shown a single red bar followed a few minutes later by automatically shutting itself down, the average reading per cell was 1.14 v. So the usable voltage range was from fully charged to a drop of about 0.26 v per cell.

Self discharge of a single cell when out of the Active 10:
Fully charged, 1.41 v
After 1 day 1.38 v Percentage of usable charge lost to date 12%
After 2 days 1.36 v 19%
After 3 days 1.35 v 23%
After 4 days 1.35 v 23%
After 5 days 1.34 v 27%
After 7 days 1.33 v 31%
After 12 days 1.31 v 38%
After 14 days 1.31 v 38%
After 21 days 1.29 v 46%

Loss of charge when left in the Active 10 with the unit switched off:
Fully charged: 1.39 v, 1.39 v, 1.39 v
After 12 days: 1.23 v, 1.24 v, 1.24 v
Percentage of usable charge lost after 12 days was about 62% (compared to 38% for the cell that was left to self-discharge out of the Active 10).

These cells can be fully recharged in 1 hour using the Energizer 1 hour charger. Most of the capacity is recharged in the first 30 minutes (I have carried out a test and found that about 86% of the usable voltage range was recharged in that time).

Duration in use:
If you fully charge the cells before setting off, you should get a full day’s walk on one set of 3 cells. I have achieved between 8 and 12 hours on one set, depending on how often I looked at the screen, scrolled around, zoomed in and out, and checked the Trip Log.

Duracell Supreme AA 2,650 mAh NiMH
Cost: £8 for a pack of 4 cells on various websites
Capacity: 2,650 mAh
Weight: Set of 3 cells is ?g
Size: AA
Hours in use: 11-14?
Hours to recharge: 1 hr charger?

As used by Dave-the-hiker. See the topic "Compass, how accurate?", his post on 6 Feb 2009:
“Although NiMH AA cells have historically suffered high self discharge rates this is not so much off an issue with the latest designs. The Duracell Supreme 2650 mAH cell has a self discharge rate of about 5% in the first 24 hours and a somewhat lower self discharge rate after that. These figures will be slightly higher at higher temperatures. The self discharge rate certainly will not be an issue for a weekend away.
The big advantage of the UNiROSS HYBRIOs is that you you don't have to worry about the self discharge rate at all and if you are an infrequent user of the Satmap they are probably the best option.
I get 11 hours use using the Duracell Supreme 2650 maH AAs. That is with the backlight permanently on and set at 80% brightness. I will, of course, generally have charged them the night before. They will easily do two full days if the backlight is set to time out after 30 seconds.”

Agreed by GB5 later in the same topic, in his post on 13 Feb 2009:
“I use Duracell 2650mAh rechargeable supreme batteries like Dave they fit in my Satmap unit and under test produced similar results.”

Lostmike commented about voltage drops in these cells in the topic "A10 battery drain on new software",
in his post on 19 Apr 2009:
“I have been using rechargeable AA batteries for some time (currently using Duracell 2650mah NiMH). But since the latest software upgrade [v.1.323] I thought I had noticed that they were starting to drain more rapidly when the machine was off.
With the previous version I had charged them and left them in the switched off machine ready for the next walk. But this has caught me out with the latest software and a surprise change of batteries was necessary on one occasion.
As a test I charge up four cells a few days ago, put three in a switched off A10 and one on the window ledge the % drop in voltage from day one was
Batteries in the A10 10%, 13%, 22%
Battery out of A10 3%, 5%, 6%
On the fourth day I switched on the A10, got one red bar, was told the battery was critical and it then shut off before I could do so!
I know this is not a very scientific study but it does warn me not to store the batteries in the unit.”

Panasonic Infinium 2,100 mAh NiMH
Cost: Currently on offer at £6.49 for a pack of 4 cells at www.Eurobatteries.com
Capacity: 2,100 mAh
Weight: Set of 3 cells is 82g
Size: AA
Hours in use: 7-10?
Hours to recharge: 1 hr charger?

Although lower capacity than the standard NiMH cells listed, it is claimed that they retain around 80% of their charge after 12 months. Therefore it is more likely that you can just fit a set into your Active 10 and go for a walk (assuming that the cells had plenty of charge left in them after you last used them!).

Uniross Hybrio 2,100 mAh NiMH
Cost: £9.78 for pack of 4 cells at www. Eurobatteries.com
Capacity: 2,100 mAh
Weight: Set of 3 cells is ?g
Size: AA
Hours in use: 7-10?
Hours to recharge: 1 hr charger?

Same comments as for the Panasonic Infinium cells.

4ndynorfolk uses Uniross Hybrio cells. See the topic "Compass, how accurate?", his post on 5 Feb 2009:
“I have found that the so called "hybrid" or "ready to go" rechargables are much better [than standard high power NiMH cells] despite only being 2100mAh compared with a high power 2800mAh cell.
The reason being the self discharge rate on standard nimh batteries which is often quoted as being 20-25% in the first 24 hours then 10-15% per month. The "hybrid" cells are claimed to hold 80% charge after 12 months.
So, unless you can use these high power cells straight from the charger, that extra capacity is lost within a day.
I have these in My Fuji 9600 bridge camera. It can sit in the cupboard for months, but always has loads of power when I come to use it.
Google "Uniross HYBRIO" to find the best deals.”

Energizer AA Ultimate Lithium disposable
Cost: £4.74 for a pack of 4 cells on the Satmap site. £6.89 for a pack of 4 cells at supermarkets, etc. Boots the Chemist are currently offering Buy One Get One Free on a pack of 4 cells. £6.73 for a pack of 6 cells at www.battery-force.co.uk
Capacity: Approx 3,100 mAh
Weight: Set of 3 cells is 44g
Size: AA
Hours in use: 16-22

Disposable but only half the weight of NiMHs, so worth considering for long distance walks.

Almost as many hours of use as the Satmap Li-Pol battery.

A time of 16 hours was reported by marty-w in the topic "Satmap Fully Coast to Coasted", in his post on 22 Jun 2009 (but he was also plotting routes on his Active 10 at night); longer was achieved by satmapian as reported in the same topic, in his post on 23 Jun 2009:
“I get the same battery life out of my AAs as the Li Poly battery, but I use Lithium Energizer Ultimate AAs. I used Advanced power saving, screen set to 40% brightness, and screen off after 15 secs. I only used the unit when needed (eg quite frequently in farmland, but infrequently on a long ridge stretch).”
Satmapian reported achieving 22 hours in the same topic, in his post on 11 Jul 2009.

marty-w reported that there can be a problem with the accuracy of the bars of the on-screen battery meter, in the topic Satmap Fully Coast to Coasted, in his post on 22 Jun 2009:
“The only downside with the lithium batteries is the full or not issue which I believe u just have to live with - the battery charge guide is really a waste of time as it just goes straight from full to zero when they run out.”

Satmapian replied in the same topic, in the following post:
“Agree with that, although I found that in the end I could predict within an hour or so when the AAs would run down. Then I'd keep a close eye on it, and spot the drop in battery level. Basically if it's just dropped a bar it's time to change as you've only got about 15 minutes left - even with screen off.”

U2o iWalk 5400 (www.u2o-uk.co.uk)
Cost: £45
Capacity: 5,400 mAh
Weight: 148g plus lead
Size: 106x40x24mm

Can get 2 full charges of the A10 out of it, with some charging capacity left over.
As discussed by several people in the topic "Removing power pack v's AA batteries", starting with Mike Alder in his post on 24 Apr 2009.

U2o iWalk 6400 (www.u2o-uk.co.uk)
Cost: £50
Capacity: 6,400 mAh
Weight: 192g plus lead
Size: 128x75x12mm

Larger capacity than iWalk 5400, so will get 2 full charges of the A10 out of it, with more charging capacity left over than the iWalk 5400.

Energizer Combined solar and mains charger (for two AA cells)
Cost: £50 to £35 on internet sites, £35 at Maplin.co.uk – not avail until August
Capacity: Two AA 2,000 mAh NiMH cells
Weight: 260g
Size: Similar size to the Uniross Solar charger (see next item in this list)

Due out in Aug 2009. From the information that I have gathered from the Energizer website and a couple of traders’ websites, it only charges two AA 2,000 mAh NiMH cells (so you would need to carry two of these units at once), and may take about 21 hours to charge them fully. It will charge the cells from a mains supply, but take 8 hours to do so. It is claimed to be weatherproof but there look to be open ports for the charging leads.

Uniross Solar charger only (for two AA cells)
Cost: £21
Capacity: Two AA cells, type and capacity to be confirmed
Weight: 125g
Size: 150x185x27mm

Uniross have produced a similar unit to the Energizer solar charger for about £21 with a slightly larger solar panel. It only charges from the sun. It doesn’t look as weatherproof as the Energizer unit.

Solio Classic (solar and mains charger for its internal battery)
Cost: £50
Capacity: 1,600 mAh Li-Ion internal battery
Weight: 156g plus lead
Size: 119x33x64mm

Claw of Doom uses this. See the topic “Removing power pack v's AA batteries”, his posts on 24 Apr 2009:
“I use a solio charger when I'm on the fells for days on end. They’re great bits of kit. Kept my GPS and mobile fully charged when I was on Kilimanjaro last year.
I just strap it to the top of my rucksack with a thin bungee.”
“I pre charge the Solio internal battery before I go onto the hills and then I get 2 full charges of the lipol satmap battery before it runs out, bearing in mind that I can get 2 1/2 days use out of the A10 in powersave mode and the backlight turned right down which potentially gives me 7 days use.”

Solarmonkey with Powermonkey eXplorer (solar and mains charger for its internal battery)
Cost: £60
Capacity: 2,200 mAh
Weight: 165g plus lead
Size: Powermonkey eXplorer 90x45x38mm, Solarmonkey 110x70x10mm

Reviewed by Darren Griffith at
See the topic “Power Pack Discharge”, his post on 24 Mar 2009:
“I have used my PowerMonkey to top up my Active10 whilst on walks where I had forgot to re-charge before-hand and it worked fine though.”

Apparently it is waterproof.

Freeloader (solar and mains charger for its internal battery)
Cost: £27 at Ryedale Rambler, Pickering
Capacity: 1,000 mAh Li-Ion internal battery
Weight: 185g plus lead
Size: 123x62x17mm

From Ryedale Rambler’s website: “The Freeloader takes power from its fold out solar panels or via a supplied charge cable that plugs into a computer's USB socket. Once charged, Freeloader’s internal battery can power an iPod for up to 18hours, a mobile phone for 44 hours or a PSP for 2.5 hours. Its impact resistant, lightweight aluminium body can top up its own battery in as little as 5 hours, and hold that battery charge for up to 3 months. It is supplied with a wealth of adaptors to fit the device you want powered.”

At 1,000 mAh, it would only recharge the Satmap Li-Pol battery by about half. It might be best to carry it attached to the A10 during a walk, but I am not sure weatherproofness if it is raining.

Mediaguycouk has one, as reported in the topic “Solar power for Coast to Coast Walk”, in his post on 8 Jul 2009:
“It does take a long time to charge up and requires a lot of sunshine. It would be best to actually place it on the outside of a rucksack to charge while walking. It can, however, charge through USB and you should find that campsites have mobile phone charging for 50p or so. Charge the GPS and the freeloader and it should last a while.”

Supercharger large solar panel for Freeloader
Cost: £20 at Ryedale Rambler, Pickering
Weight: 200g (and use the lead from the Freeloader)
Size: 210x159x6mm

From Ryedale Rambler’s website: “Supercharger will fully power up a Freeloader in as little as 4 hours in sunshine, which means it is possible to charge Freeloader twice in one day.” “Fully weather resistant.”

I am not sure if you can power the A10 from the Freeloader at the same time as charging the Freeloader from the Supercharger. The 1 hour reduction in charging time does not seem to warrant carrying the extra 200g (7 oz) of weight. Same comments as for the Freeloader if it is raining.

Final comments:

Don’t leave AA cells in the A10 when not in use – the unit drains power from them even whilst it is switched off.
However, if you have the Satmap Li-Pol battery installed, there is only a slight loss of power from the battery whilst the unit is switched off.

AA cells of any type cannot be charged when installed inside the Active 10. They have to be taken out and put in their own charger.

Note on the cost of recharging a set of NiMHs: I have recorded that three 2,450 mAh NiMH cells use about 0.016 kWh, which at domestic electricity rates costs about 0.2p (compared to a possible charge of 50p to use a campsite’s mobile phone recharging point!).

Note on recharging the A10 from external battery packs:
As remarked by 4ndynorfolk in the topic “Solar power for Coast to Coast Walk”, in his post on 10 Jul 2009:
“Some method of charging AAs on route has advantages over charging the device itself. Because the A10 needs to be left on while it charges it is using power while you try to replenish the battery. It's like filling a bucket with a hole in it. When you are not using the mains, it could make a difference. You could however, charge on the move if you can cope with the cable, and switch it off at night.”

For one or 2 day walks, either the Satmap Li-Pol battery or rechargeable AA NiMH cells should do the job. If you buy the NiMH charger (which comes with 4 cells) and a pack of 4 NiMH cells, they will be about half the price of the Li-Pol battery and its charging pack (the Satmap “Power Bundle”). The different types of batteries will need different charging times before you set off.

For longer walks, you could:
- Use the Li-Pol battery and recharge it each night.
- Use NiMH cells and recharge them at rest/meal stops during the day or each evening.
- If recharging facilities are not available (in approximate ascending order of cost):
o Either start with a Li-Pol battery and then switch to using AA cells (either spare sets of pre-charged NiMHs or the lighter-weight disposable Energizer Lithiums); but beware of the possibility of damaging the connecting wires when removing the Li-Pol battery. Using a small pair of tweezers with the end couple of millimetres of each leg bent inwards 90 degrees to grip the plug should help prevent damage to the wires (tip from PloddinPedro, in the topic "Removing power pack v's AA batteries", his post on 4 Jun 2009).
o Or fit a spare Li-Pol battery (same comment as above about possible damage to the wires).
o Or top up the Li-Pol battery from an external battery source such as an iWalk5400 or 6400.
o Or top up the Li-Pol battery from a solar charger (but beware low charge on cloudy days!).
o Or only carry Lithium cells (this will save having to continue to carry the depleted Li-Pol battery for the rest of the walk and avoid the risk of damaging its wires).
- Even if recharging facilities are available, should keeping weight down be a priority for you then consider taking only Energizer AA Lithium cells in order to save carrying the weight and bulk of a battery charger and its lead.

With regards,
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Joined: Aug 25, 2005
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! One of the most useful posts ever on this forum. Thanks for taking the time, must have taken you many hours. But thanks again for sharing your learning.
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Joined: Apr 26, 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Nottingham UK

PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done ElCapitan,
A truly epic task undertaken by yourself.
And what useful information it all is.
Nobody and I mean nobody needs to look anywhere else from now on for information about batteries for the A10.

Well done from us all
I can cope with fantasy, It's reality that has me beat.
SatMap Active10, Anquet Maps V06,
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this posting has all the hallmarks of a 'sticky'

Great work
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