Powering projects away from the bench can be a pain, but engineers Pete Carpenter and Vicki Henderson have what they claim is a solution: the Small Systems PWRLNK. Its slightly awkward name notwithstanding, the PWRLNK is a smart power adapter capable of taking AC or DC power from old laptop bricks, solar panels, hand-cranks and more and turning it into a stable 5V supply perfect for all USB devices and many microcontrollers.
While its relatively high price of $45 shipped from the US means it isn't suitable as a permanent power supply for most projects, it could prove a handy addition to the toolkit should it reach its crowd-funding goal of $35,000 in the next 27 days.
We have a design for a small power converter, the PWRLNK-55, that can take any input from 7 to 28 Volts DC or 7 to 18 Volts AC and provide up to 5 Amps of power at 5 Volts. It can tame batteries and solar panels, reuse old laptop power bricks and AC adapters and efficiently convert them to the 5 Volt DC that your devices need.