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Tekkeon myPower MP3450i -- Battery Pack for Routers, iPad and More!

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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tekkeon myPower MP3450i -- Battery Pack for Routers, iPad, and More!

Tekkeon myPower MP3450i - 3G Router Battery Pack
The Tekkeon myPower 3450i 

Update May 2012: 3Gstore is now selling the "MP3450i R3", which is an updated version of the MP3450i battery pack reviewed here. The R3 version features a USB port, allowing you to charge/power just about any USB-powered device - the iPad, phones/PDAs, MiFi, Overdrive, etc! You can even charge/power a USB-powered device at the same time that you're using the MP3450i's main power adapter to power a router/laptop/etc! It also has a more stable Lithium Ion battery (the first two revisions used a lithium polymer battery).


The Tekkeon myPower ALL Plus MP3450i is an industrial-grade external power source that utilizes a high-temperature, high-capacity 58 watt/hour lithium ion  battery. The MP3450i is 6.85" x 3.32" x 0.90" and weighs just sort of a pound at 15.9 ounces. Included with purchase are: instruction manual, dip switch voltage guide, A/C power adapter to charge 3450i, Output cable, five DC tips that accommodate the most popular devices, and a bag to store cable and tips together.

Tekkeon MP3450i box contents
MP3450i ships with A/C adapter, five DC jacks, bag and manual

The Tekkeon MP3450i uses dip switches to determine the DC voltage that it provides through the coiled output cable. The various combinations of dip switch positions will allow for DC output voltage in 16 steps from 5volts to 19volts. The photo below shows the "business end" of the MP3450i, including the On/Off switch, DC input and output jacks, and the dip switches themselves. When shipped, the dip switches are all down allowing for 5.5volt output. A piece of foam with adhesive backing covers the switches.

MP3450i connections/switches
L-R: jack for optional MP3450-10, on/off switch, DC out, dip switches, DC in

3Gstore.com is the first U.S. vendor to stock and sell the MP3450i and we are marketing it as a "3G Router Battery Pack" that can be used to provide power to any of the cellular 3G routers we sell and support, like the Cradlepoint CTR500 shown below:

MP3450i with Cradlepoint CTR500
Tekkeon MP3450i with Cradlepoint CTR500 3G router

Ever since we first started selling and supporting the Cradlepoint CTR350, we've built home-made battery packs and have been on the prowl for a commercial solution worth selling and supporting. We've tested more than a dozen possible solutions and every one had a compromise that made them unsuitable for sale by 3Gstore, for one reason or another. We're happy to begin selling and supporting the MP3450i because it addresses these issues nicely:

1. Once properly set, the output voltage will never exceed maximum allowable for a particular router.
2. Once properly set, the output voltage will never drop below minimum allowable for a particular router.
3. Everything a user might need to use with a 3G router is included. User does not need to make a cable.
4. The unit must provide *significant* runtime for multiple models of 3G routers sold by 3Gstore.com
5. Remaining battery level must be visible and easy to read.
6. The manufacturer must back their product, and communicate well with 3Gstore when issues arise.

To test the runtime of the Tekkeon MP3450i with Cradlepoint routers, our Chicago staff set up dip switches as required and powered a CTR350 with a Sprint Compass 597 USB modem as its internet connectivity. To that CTR350 we then wirelessly connected one MacBook Air over WiFi G and had it reloading the front page of EVDOinfo.com, which is not the lightest of pages one could read on the web. This CTR350 testing is considered to be our "Light Use Test" and under these conditions the MP3450i kept the CTR350 running for over SIXTEEN HOURS.

MP3450i -- proper switch positions for Cradlepoint routers

Amazed at what the MP3450i can do under light load, we decided to do our "Extreme Use" test using the Cradlepoint MBR1000 with a Sprint U760 and a Verizon USB760 in load balanced mode. To that MBR1000 we connected a MacBook Pro via WiFi N and a MacBook via WiFi G. The MacBook was setup next to a DirecTV Tivo that served as the video source to a Sony Analog-to-Digital convertor, which fed video and audio via firewire to the MacBook. The video feed was then unicast using QuickTime Broadcaster at 200kbps and watched using Quicktime Player running on the MacBook Pro. Basically, one laptop was streaming TV over the internet to the other laptop. In addition to that, we had web pages setup on both laptops that auto refreshed the latest ESPN video every three minutes. This "Extreme Use Test" taxes not just the WiFI radio of the MBR1000, but also eats up a lot of power since we are streaming video content out and then back through EVDO modems on the MBR1000. It doesn't get much worse than this from a power consumption perspective. Under these extreme conditions the MP3450i still managed to keep the MBR1000 operational for SIX HOURS.

Remaining battery level on the MP3450i is displayed using a series of eight LED lights as shown below. Tekkeon documentation gave us the impression that each LED represented an equal amount of battery life, but we found that the more depleted the battery, each light represented less and less time. For instance, on the extreme test there were four of eight lights remaining after the first four hours of testing, leading us to believe that it should last four more hours -- when in reality the last four LEDs only represented two more hours of battery life.

Its worth noting that the MP3450i will give off an audible beep when remaining battery power is almost depleted. Also worth noting is that the MP3450i acts much like an uninterruptible power suply (UPS) such that if you are charging the MP3450i via its A/C adapter, whatever is plugged into MP3450i gets powered by A/C power and the MP3450i will immediately provide power if A/C power is lost. Once A/C power returns, the MP3450i will be recharged while simultaneously allowing A/C power to the device being powered by battery.

MP3450i Battery Level LEDs
Tekkeon MP3450i's battery level LED's

The Tekkeon MP3450i is a variant of the lesser expensive MP3450 and our customers are likely to ask us why they should get this more specialized MP3450i for use with their 3G routers. There are important reasons for that:

  • The MP3450i has a larger 58Wh battery (the 3450 has only 50Wh)
  • The engineers at Tekkeon and Cradlepoint discussed the power requirements and needs of the various routers to ensure that their products would meet all the required power needs. This means that Tekkeon is the first battery solution that has taken cradlepoint routers needs in mind to provide the best solution possible. UPDATED INFO BELOW!
  • The new "R2" version of the MP3450i includes a USB port, allowing you to power/charge just about any USB-powered device!
  • The use of dip switches on 3450i makes it harder for voltage to get "accidentally" set to wrong voltage.

That last point needs a bit of elaboration. On the older MP3450, the voltage setting was done using the same top button that displays the remaining battery level and if the unit's voltage was not locked, when a user meant to just check remaining battery level, they could inadvertently change voltage and fry a router! The use of dip switches on the MP3450i makes it impossible to accidentally change the voltage and that means it is far less likely to damage anything it is used to provide power to.

UPDATE: 01/29/09 -- We've just been informed that Cradlepoint has created a policy regarding the use of external batteries with their routers:

"CradlePoint will officially accept use of the Tekkeon MP3450i with our products and will continue to honor our warranty. This offer only applies to the MP3450i and will only be honored if used in the configurations shown in the following article. http://cradlepoint.com/knowledge-base/tekkeon-mp3450i


Please reference the correct model number in all documentation as no other battery is accepted or honored with the CradlePoint warranty"

To sum it all up: 3Gstore has spent months looking at various external power supply solutions to satisfy our customer's need for operating their 3G routers in locations where common a/c power was not available, and we're confident that the Tekkeon MP3450i is the right solution to represent in our product line. The MP3450i is the only Cradlepoint endorsed external battery pack for use with their router line, and 3Gstore is currently the only place in the USA that customers can get one.

When used with a CTR350, PHS300 or CTR500, the MP3450i will provide customers with as much as sixteen hours of battery power.

When used with a MBR1000, KR2 or Linksys 3GV2, the MP3450i will provide customers with as much as twelve hours of battery power.

For additional runtime, customers can buy the optional Expansion Battery unit (MP3450-10) that will DOUBLE the runtime.

MP3450i and Cradlepoint MBR1000
The MP350i can power an MBR1000 for up to 12 hours

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Last Updated ( Friday, 04 May 2012 )
 
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