Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gadget Bag Re-Hash Part 2: Extended Trips

This post is part of a series I’m doing to;
a) document my equipment and how I use it, as well as determine what changes I should make to it,
b) put together an entry for the Skooba Design “Master of the Digital Universe” contest. 

The Bag
In an earlier post I detailed my “Everyday Gear Bag” which is the shoulder bag portion a Consumer Electronics Show (CES) backpack that unzips from the main portion of the backpack.  Both halves are pictured below, separately and zipped together.


For the most part the backpack portion is made up of three zippered compartments and two side mesh pockets. 

The smallest zippered compartment is on the top of the bag right next to your body when you are wearing it. The compartment is intended to hold a personal media device such as an MP3 player and could hold a small CD player.  A small grommet like opening in the top of the bag can be used to connect headphones for listening while wearing the backpack.

A somewhat larger compartment (compartment #2 in this photo) is on the back (farthest away from your body) of the backpack.  This compartment has a zipper across the top of it and measures roughly 8 inches across and 10 inches tall and about 3 inches deep.

The largest compartment of the backpack is accessed by a two-way zipper that runs from one side of the backpack up and over the top and then down the other side.  This compartment is roughly 15 inches across X 18 inches tall X 6 inches deep and is divided in 2 by a padded partition that is approximately 2/3 the height of the compartment.

To help keep things organized in the main compartment I sewed (yes I am a multi-talented individual) a custom insert that with a stiff spine and numerous compartments on both sides (front and back) to hold all my necessities.  The compartments are enclosed using flaps sealed with Velcro.The various compartments are noted in these Flickr photos of the front and back of the organizer.


In addition to creating the organizer I also made a couple of minor modifications to the backpack itself.  At the top of each of mesh pockets on the sides of the backpack I added some metal grommets and some webbing material which allowed me to run a piece of shock cord to help hold the pockets closed or to securely hold items such as a water bottle to prevent them from falling out.  I also added a chest strap and plastic buckles which are used to help hold the shoulder straps together when the backpack is heavily loaded.

The Gear
The small compartment on top of the backpack seldom holds equipment but is a great place to stash some high protein snack (my favorites are Payday bars and beef jerky) or perhaps some M&Ms or extra Kleenex packs.

Compartment #2 (the mid-size one) holds a CD case with recovery disks for my laptop and DVDs with install files for required applications in addition to my travel router, a Motorola WR850G along with its wall wart and a 6 foot Ethernet cable.  The original Motorola firmware has been replaced with OpenWRT.  OpenWRT allows me to use the router as a standard wireless access point (WAP) when the only internet connection available is a wired port, or as a wireless bridge when only wireless is available and I need to connect up devices that only have wired Ethernet capability.  And on those rare occasions when the only strong wireless signal is not at a point in the room where it is convenient to work (i.e. standing in front of a window) I can configure the router to act as a wireless repeater rebroadcasting the wireless signal throughout my work area.   


The main compartment holds the organizer insert and on occasion a second laptop (the power brick and mouse can be accommodated in the spare accessory compartments of the organizer).  The organizer is intended to hold the technology items that I feel I need for creature comfort and disaster recovery when away from base for extended periods. Creature comforts means a small four outlet power bar to stretch the capabilities of the one available outlet found in most hotel rooms, as well as a Logic3 i-Station iPod dock with powered speakers and a sub-woofer and my Nintendo DS Lite and a handful of games (Brain Boost, Big Brain Academy, Brain Age) to keep my mind sharp.  There is also Asphalt 2, Metroid, Super Mario, Lego Stare Wars and Star Trek Tactical Assault for those times when my brain is just numb.  Also tucked into my DS case is a small wall wart. A couple of WD Passport drives allow me to backup my laptop no matte where I am (important stuff does get created just at home!) and to have large media files such as movies available for entertainment.

I also have a small (but very stable and substantial) desktop tripod for those times when I want a picture but no one is available to take it.  This is a great little tripod, I’ve actually used it to hold a larger video camera (from about 1997) stable.  I initially ran across one of these about five years ago and when I ran across them again in a surplus store bought a couple more for $2.00 a piece.  I also carry a couple of 12 foot Ethernet cables which I can use with the router to create a small ad-hoc workgroup network for collaboration or demonstrations which require computers to be networked.  In additional to a wall wart for my work BlackBerry I have several small zippered pouches which contain various small components and accessories.


The pouch labeled iPod contains a wall wart with a retractable cable, a Griffin iTalk and Griffin lapel microphone for recording directly to my iPod, an iPod Photo adapter to allow dumping photos from my camera to my iPod, a 6 foot audio cable with 3.5mm stereo plugs on both ends, and an audio adapter - 3.5mm jack to 2 RCA plugs.

The “cables” pouch is filled with a RJ-11 (telephone) splitter, a FireWire retractable cable and 2 6 wire to 4 wire adapters, a 4 port unpowered USB hub,  2 USB retractable cables  and a variety of adapters for the USB cables (USB-RJ45, USB-RJ45 crossover, USB-RJ11, USB-USB mini, USB Type A-USB Type BUBS Type A-USB Mini-A, USB Type A male-USB Type A male).  Also included is a USB to USB Micro-B cable to connect my Kodak C533 to a computer for transfer of any pictures stored in the cameras internal memory.  This happens on occasion when I inadvertently hit the SD card and don’t realize it is still in the camera bit no longer engaged. 

A pouched marked “Webcam” now holds the wall wart and remote control for the Logic3 iStation. The last pouch, “Tools” holds a Leatherman multi-tool, small straight and Philips screwdrivers and a 10 foot tape measure.When flying I have to remember to move this pouch to my checked luggage, or remove it all together if I won’t be checking any luggage.

For overseas trips a Brookstone “world adapter kit” finds its way into one of the miscellaneous accessory pockets in the  organizer insert.


One other organizational note.  In the pictures you will note that orange tends to be a color that shows up over and over (all the bags, the Ethernet cables, the Velcro cable ties).  In addition to being my favorite color it also makes equipment identification very easy when I am working with others and we all have equipment out.  It also makes equipment stand out against a dark background or in a dimly lit room. 


Technorati Tags: ,

music note While writing this, I was listening to " - Latin Jazz" on iTunes radio

No comments: