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Army Deploys Solar Charger to Troops in Afghanistan

It's the biggest pain in the butt ever...

You're working a patrol and the battery on your MBITR starts to sh&t the bed. Did the radioman pack an extra? Two extra?

The weight and lagging life of batteries to power the ever increasing assortment of battlefield military technology is a constant source of frustration for troops in the field and a serious technical challenge for scientists on the quest for the most efficient, light and longest-lasting portable power on the planet.

Well, the folks of the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command haven't cracked that nut yet, but they have found a way to power your gear from sunlight -- at least for a little bit -- and use the solar rays to recharge a variety of portable power sources.

Called the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System, the 10 pound kit of solar panels and adaptor cables can power or recharge anything from your iCom to your Toughbook.

REPPS evolved from the Soldier Photovoltaic Portable Power Pack, or SP4, a simpler technology that consisted of a solar panel with only battery-charging capabilities. Comparatively, REPPS is capable of a whole spectrum of delivering power and charging.

It has a larger panel and far more connectors and adapters that allow for new functions such as AC to DC conversion and pass-thru assembly, which enables batteries and external devices to be charged simultaneously.

According to RDEC, the 173rd Airborne BCT at FOB Shank in Logar recently received a bunch of these for patrols and ops. The Army says so far feedback has been positive, but they always say that, right?

I'd like to note here a comment from a reader, where this story was first posted. He (she) seems to know a bit about the system and while recognizing it's a good idea, the reader says it still has a long way to go. 

Great idea, I only hope that the troops can afford to sit for six hours a day to recharge their batteries in the field!

I understand the technology, does not apply to SAT COMS, SECURE COMS, or CRYPTO; and the communication equipment it applies to has very limited capability - is limited during certain atmospheric condition - manmade, or otherwise -but a definite step in the right direction!

Please let Kit Up! know some gouge on this system if any of our readers have had experience with it... Show Full Article

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