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15/03/08 – Electrical Outlets : Need More In Less Space?
As photographers we always need more electrical outlets. We need to plug in our laptop, mobile phone, battery chargers, iPod, etc etc. When packing light the surge bars and outlet splitters always seem to suck up space.
I have most of my electrical devices knocked down to three items I need to plug in on a regular basis. These three items include
– Apple MacBook
– Canon 1D battery charger
– Mobile Phone Charger (Motorola Razr & Blackberry 8700 use same charger)
I hate wasting space in my bags. If I can save an inch and an ounce I want to save an inch and an ounce. To eliminate the need for a large surge bar I started to use the US$1.97 three way splitters you can find at any hardware store (technically they are called “Polarized – Single Receptacle to 3 Outlets” or “Rubber Polarized Triple Adapter”). These little items are often overlooked. Many people look at them with their two-prong outlet and dismiss them. I used to think this way until I started thinking about Japan. What does Japan have to do with electrical outlets? Well in Japan the electrical outlets are the same as they are in North America (the continent I call home), except they are two prong only. No grounding third-pin in the Japanese outlets. I did some tests with my gear and found that if I used a three prong plug, and pulled out the grounding pin, I had no problems.
This playing around with my plugs let me buy, and mutilate, a series of US$1.97 three-way splitters. When I buy a new splitter I figure out the depth of the grounding-pin in my plugs and cut away a hole in the splitter. It is not pretty, it is not precise, but it does not need to be pretty or precise. I make sure the 3rd pin touches the plastic/rubber of the splitter so it does not come into contact with metal, and to allow me to use all three outlets in the splitter.
By using these small devices I am able to carry an item about the same size as two 9volt batteries taped together (slightly larger, but not really) that gives me three fully usable outlets, while taking up virtually no space in my bag.
Below I have posted a few photos of one of my three-way splitters. It is shown from the top, the front, the notch cut in one side, and with a 3-prong plug inserted into it.