Riding Digitally — with iPads, mobile hotspots, and solar power

Bike-mounted iPad

We find that it makes a big difference if riders can see the pictures they send right away, rather than have to wait until they return home to their computer. It confirms that the system works and motivates everyone to send pictures to show their friends. So we take iPads along on our rides, in our backpacks or mounted on our handlebars. We have tried several bike mounts, and the best one so far is the $30  iPad bike mount combo from Seidio. It’s compact and the iPad snaps solidly inside the bracket.

Solar-powered mobile WiFi

The iPad needs internet access. You can buy a data plan, but these tend to get pricey (even more so since we’ve had a hard time getting AT&T to stop renewing them automatically). Instead, we carry a 4G mobile Hotspot which we bought from T-mobile for $100, and buy pre-paid data on days we ride (usually the $10/week pass for 100Mb has been plenty). This provides internet connection for up to 5 different devices. We can use that for several iPads on our ride and share with cyclists who don’t have data plans.

Of course, the battery on the 4G hotspot will run down within a couple of hours. So we connect it to a Voltaic solar charger ($129), which keeps it going all day — and can also serve to recharge cellphones when they go flat.


Posted March 20, 2012 by bstokes