Dart: Small Portable Universal Laptop Charger

April 17, 2014

FINsix, a team made up of MIT graduate students, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and raise the funds they need to mass produce what they’ve called Dart – a small, portable, universal laptop and USB charger.

dart1[Image Source: Kickstarter]

The Dart is four times smaller than today’s laptop power adapters and six times lighter but still packs a 65W punch. Lugging around a conventional laptop charger can be difficult with compact bags and normally requires an extra bulky pocket on your laptop case. The Dart however, can fit easily in your own trouser pocket and doubles up as a USB charger.

dart4[Image Source: Kickstarter]

The compact design removes the annoyance of trying to squeeze cumbersome plugs next to each other in power outlets and has been designed for use all over the world.

It’s compatible with most major brands of computer manufacturers and you can take a quick check on your current adapter to make sure if yours comes in at ≤65 (W) (If you can’t see any power rating then you may be able to multiply the stated voltage (V) and amps (A) either on your laptop label’s INPUT or the power adapter label’s OUTPUT) and that your laptop operates on a voltage between 18-21 V.

You will find that it is highly likely your laptop is compatible with these requirements, however, Mac users may have been worried as some devices (MacBook Pro for instance) require greater than 65W. But don’t lose hope there as there is also a Dart for Macbook and Custom Dart that both offer suitable solutions for computers that require more power, like the MacBook Pro.

dart5[Image Source: Kickstarter]

Potential investors will be happy to hear that the technical features allowing for the compact design is a patented MIT technology called very high frequency (VHF) power converison. This technology allows for the great reduction in size of your standard AC/DC converter (required by most electronic devices such as TVs, gaming consoles, mobile phones, computers etc.) which you may often refer to as your ‘charging brick’.

The underlying fundamentals of the technology are summed up in this quote from the FINsix team:

It is well known in power electronics that increasing switching frequency is key to reducing size, weight, and cost. However, it is critical (and very hard) to switch faster while maintaining high efficiency. This is because modern power converters repeatedly deliver small packets of energy to the electronic device in cycles called switching cycles. Switching isn’t a perfect process and during every cycle some energy is wasted in the form of heat. At FINsix, our technology allows us to waste far less energy with each cycle. Thus, we can cycle up to 1000x faster without wasting any more energy than a conventional power converter. Cycling faster means we can transfer a smaller packet of energy to each cycle – and make the power converter a lot smaller.

dart2[Image Source: Kickstarter]

dart3[Image Source: Kickstarter]

The product is constructed from “off-the-shelf” components such as conventional PCB boards, transistors, capacitors, inductors and so on. The unique feature of this device is the patented setup of these components that allows for VHF power conversion. Furthermore, the use of “off-the-shelf” parts and tried and tested components also allows for simplistic manufacturing.

The outer casing is finished with brushed aluminium and a $79 donation (early bird deal has all gone!) $89 donation will get you a Dart in your choice of the limited edition Kickstarter colours: Blue, Magenta, Silver, Gunmetal or Orange. This is a $30 saving from what will be the final commercial retail price.

Check out: Dart’s Kickstarter Campaign