Two Small Projects + Patagonia!

packs I left on February 18th for a month and a half trip to Argentina and Chile to drink, eat, climb, and backpack. This is a quick writeup of two side projects I worked on for that trip.

I may do a full writeup of both of these projects at a later date. Stay tuned for some climbing and backpacking photos from Patagonia!

Over the Door Hangboard

As part of my rock climbing program, I use a hangboard to train my finger strength. One of the biggest challenges with hangboarding in a small NYC apartment is figuring out how to mount it. My current apartment doesn't have enough space above any of the doors to mount a hangboard, nor does it have wooden joists to mount one to.

A few ready-made products exist to mount a hangboard in a doorway, but they are expensive and not very customizable. So, I decided to go the DIY route and mount a hangboard to an over the door pull up bar. Total cost was around $50, not including the hangboard itself.


The hangboard is mounted to a pine board, which has two 1" pipe flanges attached to it. The end pipes of the pull up bar fit into the flanges.


I drilled holes through the pipe ends and flanges using a tungsten dremel bit, and bolted them together. The edges were finished with JB Weld for good measure.


The board flexes slightly under load, but easily supports my 160 lbs. After of month of semi-daily usage I feel very comfortable with it. However, if I were 20+ lbs heavier I would probably reinforce it by connecting the top of the board to the pipe cross brace with steel plumbers tape at a later date, if necessary.


Solar Panel USB Charger

One common problem people have in the backcountry these days is keeping all of their various devices charged. I generally carry at least two devices that require a USB charger (headlamp and iPhone), and many people carry more (handheld GPS, smartwatch, etc.).

Like the hangboard mount, there are several existing products on the market for USB solar charging. But, nothing really exists in the cheap (under $30), lightweight (under 10oz) sweet spot I was looking for. So, I went the DIY route with this as well. Total cost $22, total weight 6oz, with a peak power output of 5 volts at 1 amp.


The very simple circuit consists of two solar panels wired in parallel with a diode, connected to a cheap step-up converter. The step-up converter accepts an input of 2.5-5v and outputs a constant 5v @ up to 2A.


The LED glows green when it is receiving enough electricity to charge a device over USB, red when the input voltage is too high, and is off when the input voltage is too low.



Eventually, I plan to glue fabric to the back of the solar panels with a pouch for power bank that is being charged. For the time being, I am hanging it as-is from the back of my backpack while out trekking.