Pocket Power Fail

Have you ever been so ridiculously proud of your genius solution to an innovation dilemma… That it physically hurt when it didn’t work out?

The Great Adventures of Kevo: Part II, Machubamba; required some pre-trip techie planning to assure full use of GPS tracking while exploring South America. The most obvious and necessary problem to figure out was power. Any explorer who has taken advantage of GPS tracking apps on their iPhone knows how great they work, and how they suck the life out of the battery, especially if you set the screen bright enough to be able to see where you are while outside!  The goal was to find an external battery or alternate charging method that would extend GPS (and overall) usage time and allow the device to remain in it’s OtterBox protective case.

There are at least a dozen different external battery and charging options available for the iPhone. Most have decent user reviews, and are, generally, reasonably priced. After much deliberation, research, and budgeting; a Novothink Surge solar power iPhone charger/battery pack was the heavy favorite; even though it posed an obvious dilemma to my specific needs.
The Surge’s internal battery can be charged via USB, or through the slick solar panel on the back.
The dilemma: The Surge is also an iPhone case… This may be a plus to some people who want to show off their solar panel while using their device, or prefer less clutter in TheirPocket caused by multiple devices. For KevinsPocket, however, this aspect would combat the goal of using the OtterBox Defender case to keep the iPhone safe while exploring.  Before ordering such a device; many hours were spent searching the inter-web for a solution that would allow simultaneous usage of the two accessories… an iPhone dock extension cable was ordered along with the Surge.
Time was short, so expedited shipping was required, and neglectfully paid for.
The RadTeck DockExtender cable is designed to allow users of such cases the ability to connect their iPhone to a dock (computer, iHome, or similar device) without removing the phone from the case.  The genius idea referred to above was to use this cable to attach the Surge to the iPhone while in its OtterBox defender case.

Sadly, due to delivery errors the dock cable did not arrive in time for the trip and I was forced to remove the iPhone from the OtterBox case to use the Surge.  Since the Surge can charge it’s internal battery without being attached to the iPhone; this turned out to not be as big of a deal as I had originally thought.


When fully charged via USB; the Surge consistently added 70-90% to the iPhone’s battery depending on usage during a charge.*  Charging through the solar feature was used sporadically throughout the trip when sun was available.  No specific figures to report; however the Surge did charge it’s internal battery when left in direct sunlight.

Charging in Cusco, Peru

The Surge held up nicely and was a great fit for my needs during the trip.  Upon returning and finding the dock cable waiting for me; I decided to test my genius idea for use on additional explorations.

Sadly when performing my test; the iPhone prompted a message that the accessory attached was not supported for charging.  Knowing that the iPhone received a charge from the Surge without issue; it was removed from the OtterBox case and plugged into other known acceptable chargers (an iPhone wall charger, 12v car adapter, and an iMac.)  All scenarios yielded the same error message.

I contacted the manufacturer of the dock cable reporting the error and without any reply message or other communication; I received a new cable in the mail with instructions to mail them the original one.  Unfortunately the second cable worked just as the first… and both are sitting in a drawer in my studio.

And so, presumably similar to most genius ideas, it didn’t work out as planned.


The Novothink Surge Solar Charger for iPhone worked as advertised, and was a great tool for The Great Adventures of Kevo Part II.  Due to its versatile design (the Surge’s camera opening also works as a place to attach it to your pack with a carabiner) the Novothink Surge gets KevinsPocket’s FishingHat rating.

The RadTeck DockExtender cable, however, did not work as advertised, or at all.  And will rightfully receive KevinsPocket’s RentedTuxedo rating.

*Figures based on about 12 non-scientific tests done in KevinsPocket
*KevinsPocket is not associated with Novothink or RadTech