#255 ArchaeoTech: ZeroLemon 10000mAh Battery

ZeroLemon Field Battery

ZeroLemon Field Battery

This is just a quick post to promote a sale I saw on Stack Social. It's for the 10000 mAh solar portable battery from ZeroLemon. As of the date on this post, you can get this battery for $26!!! First, let me explain the 10000mAh.

For a batter, you have several different measurements. The output is in either 1A or 2A (1 amp or 2 amp). This is like the size of the engine in your car. The bigger the engine, the faster it'll go. The 10000 mAh (milli amp hours) is like the gas tank. A 10000 mAh battery has more juice in it than a 6000 mAh battery. The 20000 mAh battery that I have has twice as much juice as the 10000 mAh one here.

Charge two devices at once!

Charge two devices at once!

How Far Will It Go?

As an example, the iPad Air has an 8,600 mAh battery. That means, if you have a 6000 mAh battery that it will only put a 3/4 charge on a completely dead iPad Air. My 20000 mAh battery will put 2.5 charges on my iPad Air. Most tablets are in this range for batteries, so, this 10,000 mAh battery is perfect for daily use.

The Solar Panel

These batteries come with a solar panel on the outside. Don't place much faith in that panel. If you're stranded in the middle of no where, then, it'll probably come in handy. However, it's too small to really charge the device too quickly and shouldn't be relied on.


This device is super rugged. I have no problem throwing it in my pack and getting out in the field. However, if you're working in a wet environment, you might want to bag it. The charging port and USB ports are wide open.

Mostly water resistant and rugged.

Stack Social

I get emails from Stack Social several times a week. I don't mind because they have AMAZING deals on new and existing tech and software. They're not the quickest for shipping, though. My ZeroLemon battery took about 3 weeks to deliver. However, for the savings, you can't beat it. 

Throw it in your pack and go.

Throw it in your pack and go.

Check out the deal below before it's gone and keep those devices charged!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!

#216 Cobra JumPack #CES2014

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This is one amazing battery back and it’s something no field tech, and no field vehicle, should be without. Cobra is known for making car radar detectors, but, they have an electronics division that does so much more.

The Cobra JumPack is a small, hand-sized power pack. It sports a 7,500mAh (that means it can charge something for a really long time) battery, an LED flashlight, and surprisingly, it will jumpstart the battery in your car not once, but, several times. That is simply, amazing. On top of all that, the JumPack takes only a few hours to charge.

The JumPack will be available in April (just in time for my birthday!) for $129.95. I’ve owned similar power packs that I paid about $100 for. It’s worth the extra $30 for a flashlight and car jump starter.

Would you use this? Would you recommend your company buy them for the field vehicles? If you have a large, clunky, battery charger for jumpstarts in your field vehicle, would you switch to this? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!

#214 ArchAerial vs EVERYTHING ELSE

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with drone legislation and the use of drones in the United States. I’m just assuming that it will all work out and that people won’t be dicks about letting other people use drones for work purposes. I’m also hoping people will stop being so damn paranoid that someone is going to spy on them in their backyard. Most of us are not interesting enough to be spied on anyway. Chances are that if you are interesting enough for a drone attack, you’re doing something illegal. Enough of that rant…on to the post.

I saw a news article on Live Science about the use of drones supplied by ArchAerial for archaeological photography. The drones don’t seem expensive since, according to the founders:

"We use a lot of 3D-printed parts," founding member Ben Martin, 25, said. "It's really useful to be able to go from design to implementation within a few hours, which is something that wasn't possible until recently.”

ArchAerial also uses an open-source flight software. So, why are their drone packages so expensive? From the Live Science article:

“Right now ArchAerial is selling their archaeology drone kits for $3,800 and leasing them for three-month field projects for $1,800.”

My guess is that they are playing on the technological insecurities inherent in most archaeologists. Many archaeologists either don’t understand most technology or don’t choose to understand it. Either way, when something tech-related needs to be done we hire a specialist and get price-gouged along the way because there aren’t very many of them. If we would just take a little while to learn about new and emerging technologies we could save our projects a lot of money, academic and CRM included.

I understand that you get a lot with the ArchAerial package, including technical assistance. If, however, all you want to do is take some good photos of your excavation or site, there are way cheaper ways to do it.

AR Parrot Drone 2.0

This inexpensive ($300) drone would be great for a large number of projects. It’s a robust flying platform with a 720p HD camera on the front that you can record video on and take high-res JPEGs. There is also a downward-facing camera for taking shots straight down. It’s also used for navigation and stabilization. The Parrot Drone is controlled with a smartphone or tablet by watching the screen like a video game.

You can even program the Parrot Drone to fly a route with GPS accessory:

The Phantom costs more than the Parrot, but, you get greater range and a better camera. At 1000m, the range of the Phantom is more than you could ever need. If you go out of range, or, the radio stops working for some reason, the Phantom is programmed to use GPS to go back to its original location. That’s pretty cool.

Without the GoPro camera (buy it separately) you can get the Phantom for under $500.

There isn’t an onboard camera (see below) that ships with the Phantom. There is, however, a GoPro mount that you can use to attach the latest GoPro camera too. GoPro’s are great for HD video and high-res photos. The one downside, as compared to the Parrot Drone, is that you can’t see what’s on the camera. You have to either set it to record at take-off or set it to take pictures on an interval prior to take-off.

The Phantom 2 Vision. At $1200 you get the new Phantom 2. This quadcopter has the onboard camera but reduces the range of video transmission to 300m. You can still fly further, you just won’t be able to see what’s on the camera.


So, why is ArchAerial so expensive? As I said above, you get a lot more than just a quadcopter with your purchase or lease. You get support and education. If you don’t think you can figure this stuff out, or you don’t know a 13 year old that can show you, then this is a good option. If, however, you aren’t intimidated by technology that’s designed to be easy to use, go with one of the options above. Also, maybe their operating costs are really high and will come down as more orders come in. In the mean time, I’d go with something that’s already established and works very well for a fraction of the cost.

Either way, field survey will be a thing of the past as soon as we can develop software that can “see” artifacts. Don’t say it won’t happen because it will. It might take a few more decades, but, it will. Adapt and overcome.

Have you used any of the drones above for field survey or site photography? What about other options? Some people use kites, but, you don’t have as much control and there needs to be wind, of course. Comment below.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!

#213 Seidio Smartphone Cases #CES2014

I know many of you out there have Android phones. It’s OK. Nobody’s perfect. Just kidding! Don’t send hate mail! Anyway, I saw a great little video from the people over at Geek Beat about Seidio cases. I hadn’t really heard of them before now but they seem quite good. They also have iPhone cases. Check out this video:

Head over to Seidio and see if there is a case for you.

Also, check out ShopAndroid. They’re having huge discounts on cases every day CES is on.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!

#212 June Sun Exposure Monitor #CES2014

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 June, by Netamo

This handy little device actively measures your sun exposure and the current UV index in real time. The companion iPhone App tells you all about the sun conditions around you.

The way it works is through a stylish crystal that you can wear as a bracelet, or pin it to your hat, backpack, or field clothes. Check the UV index throughout the day and put on the appropriate sunscreen with the right SPF and in the right quantities. 

I think this device would be great for people that don’t like to put on sunscreen first thing in the morning and would rather wait until they need to. Also, sunscreen only lasts so long and if you put it on too early and don’t reapply it loses it’s effectiveness.

I have to admit, the style of this device is a little feminine. However, I'd gladly pin the crystal to my backpack and still get all the benefits. Actually, that would probably work better anyway. Many archaeologists wear long-sleeve shirts that would cover up the crystal anyway.

What do you think about this? Would you use it? Would it help? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!

#211 ArchaeoTech from #CES2014

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This is a warning to my regular readers that I’ll be putting out a bunch of posts regarding new technology debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. Some of these pieces of tech my only be somewhat related to archaeology, field work, and CRM archaeology, but, I leave it up to the reader to determine how to use them.

One of these days we’ll get DIGTECH people down to CES to shoot some video. Donate to the blog and the podcast and you might get video from CES2015!

Thanks for reading, and for your patience, and I’ll see you in the field!

#210 Otterbox - A Case History

 Notice the “donate” button to the right? Donate any amount to the blog and the podcast and I’ll enter you into a drawing for my new book, “Field Archaeologist’s Survival Guide” dou out this April from Left Coast Press. The money will help pay for this website and might send DIGTECH people to CES next year to bring you more great field tech reviews. Thanks in advance! On to the post…

My first Otterbox case was the Defender Series for my iPhone 3GS. That case was so perfect for field work that when the iPad debuted in April of 2010 I couldn't wait to get the Otterbox case for it. It took them a couple months to develop the case, but, when they did, it was awesome. There have been ups and downs since then, but this next round is simply perfect. Let's get into it.

iPhone Defender Series Cases

Until now, I’ve only ever had the Defender Series cases from Otterbox. When I bought my first one, it was the highest level of protection they had. Now, there are two levels above that. The first Defender Series case consisted of hard-moulded plastic wrapped by silicon. It was a solid case and always provided great protection. The only issue I ever had was with the flap over the headphone jack. With a high amount of use the flap started to tear at the hinge point. I would have had the case replaced but it lasted until I replaced my iPhone with the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 4S Defender case was the most problematic of the cases I've owned. To correspond with Apple's design change from rounded edges to more squared off edges, Otterbox changed the case. The silicon covering they used, however, was way too rigid. If you had to take the phone out of the case more than a few times the silicon became stretched out and never really went on quite right again. It was very frustrating. I had that case replaced once, for free, when I couldn't handle it anymore.

When you buy a case, unless you're made of money, you are probably committed to it until you get a new phone, which for most people is two years. These cases don't come cheap. That's why I didn't buy the Armour Series case when it came out last summer. This case is supposed to be virtually indestructible. I was determined to get it when I got my iPhone 5S in September. Then I saw the Preserver case. 

I was about to switch to Lifeproof Cases because I wanted a waterproof case and one that wasn't as bulky as the Armour Series case. The brand new Preserver series is just that. Also, the Armour Series isn't available for the 5S yet.

 Otterbox Preserver Series Case for iPhone 5S

 Otterbox Preserver Series Case for iPhone 5S

Aside from being solidly built and not bulky,this case is waterproof (submersible to 2 m for 30 min), can take an impact, has IP 68 dust protection (I don't know what that is but it sounds pretty badass!), won't let your phone get scratched, has a built in screen protector, and consists of only two pieces that snap together.

This is the first high-level protection case without a silicon-outside that I've owned. It's slick, but has rubberized areas in all the right spots. That means it won't catch on the fabric in your pocket but it's not too slippery that you'll drop it either. On the base of the case are two very thick, rubber, openings where you can access the headphone jack and the power connector. The openings are extremely robust and this could be a point of breakage down the road. We'll see. Even the fingerprint scanner in the home button works!

Water Protection. Check out the video I made regarding the case’s water protection. I’m impressed! The video won’t play on mobile devices because of licensing restrictions. I used a CCR song for the video and don’t really want to take it off. Enjoy and comment.

The iPad Defender Series Case

The Defender Series case for the iPad 1 consisted of two halves of moulded plastic surrounded by a silicone covering. There was an included, separate, screen protector that you had to install before you put the case on. I never liked the screen saver from Otterbox and quickly replaced it with an Invisible Shield from Zagg.

The iPad cases have always included a separate, plastic, cover for the screen that can double as a two-position stand when the internal lever is raised. On both my iPad 1 and iPad 2 cases something went wrong with the screen cover / stand piece. In the iPad 1, the lever broke. The plastic hinges couldn't take the repeated use. The iPad 2 had a totally redesigned hinge and worked much better. They skimped on the corners of the cover, though, and I had pieces break off from wear on two separate covers. Otterbox always placed them for free.

The silicone on the iPad 2 had the same problem as the one on the iPhone 4S case. After repeated removals it became stretched out and barely fit. I’m sure they would have replaced it, had I asked, but I just sold it and bought an iPad Air instead.

iPad Air Defender Case

This is the best case yet! The plastic is very solid and goes together very well. In the past, the clips on the edges were prone to breaking, but, these have been redesigned and are much more secure. The hole for the camera has been augured out a bit to allow more light to come in. The silicone covering is extremely tight and feels like it won't loosen up over time. The iPad 2 case felt softer from the get-go and eventually loosened up.

The screen cover/stand is especially robust. They reinforced the corners where the iPad 2 case kept breaking and the stand hinge has been reinforced as well. The overall construction of the cover is more robust and should last the life of the iPad. 

There is now a screen protector built in to the case. Previously, the screen protector was a separate piece that you installed prior to putting the case on. It seems like a good screen protector, but, I'll probably still remove it and install one from Zagg.

What case do you use? Still putting your phone in a zip lock? That's what I used to do when I worked in the South, back in the "dumb" phone days. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!