Powering a tank bag


I’m figuring that most of my gadgetry on any trip would be kept in luggage, rather than bolted to the bike. This will allow the entire setup to be removable, not to mention water and dust resistant. The most logical place or all that is a tank bag, or better still a self-contained padded bag inside the tank bag, that can be moved to a larger or smaller tank bag (or somewhere else entirely) fairly easily.

So the next challenge is getting the power into the tank bag itself. I’m planning on placing power outlets on the handlebars of the bike, so the power source will be close at hand.

This page at Eastern Beaver gives a great outline on how to power a tank bag. I’d follow this procedure almost exactly, though I expect that I’d run an SAE connector cable to the inner bag, and distribute power from there.

The other thing I’d add to the outside of the tank bag is a couple of these Power Ports. One at the front of the bag would allow the GPS on the handlebars to connect to an integrated comms system inside the bag; another on the back would allow connections to a helmet microphone, speakers, and a helmet camera.

The inner bag (or perhaps a compartment in the tank bag… but let’s go with the inner bag idea) would need be split into two sections: one for the fuse box, plus wiring for each device I wanted to power; and the other for the devices themselves. At the moment, here’s my list:

  • iPod: a Belkin cigarette lighter adapter would be perfect. It has a line out and a volume control, which will allow the iPod to connect into the integrated comms system. The adapter and the audio wiring would all be hidden in the wiring section, with only the dock connector visible. This will need a cigarette lighter socket.
  • Mobile Phone: on shorter trips (where I wouldn’t bother with all this kit) I’d pair the phone to the Bluetooth radio on the GPS, and pair that to the bluetooth headset on my helmet (more on that when I work out what GPS I’m after). In this scenario, though, I’ll pair the phone to the comms system, and power it off the bike. Wiring would either be a cigarette lighter socket or a direct connection, depending on the voltage.
  • UHF Radio: power and comms would be wired to the radio. This will probably be 6v, so an adapter will be required, I guess. Which means another cigarette lighter socket.
  • Comms Integrator: there are a number of these units available. The handle noise supressions, and route sound to and from the helmet to the various devices. I’ll look into these in greater detail another time.
  • Helmet Camera recording unit: the latest helmet cameras record to SD card, rather than connect to a DV camera. I’ll generally keep mine in the tank bag, an while it is there it might as well be charging. Don’t know yet what connector I’ll need for that.
  • Charger: a small charger for AA and AAA batteries
  • Video Camera or Camera Battery Charger: the plan is to video the trip, so I’ll want to have my DV/HDV camera handy. Again, since it is in the tank bag anyway, it might as well be powered.

With all of that, the simplest approach might yet be to have a mounted strip of cigarette lighter sockets inside the tank bag, and protective cases for each of the gadgets.

Time and testing will tell. More on that when I’m ready to start shopping.

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