12V or 5V DC water-resistant power ports to keep your mounted and portable accessories juiced up and functioning while on the road.
Sometimes a plan just comes together and when it does, it's good -- really good.
Last fall as I started to develop the winter maintenance and accessorizing plan for the motorcycles in my home fleet one obvious shortfall kept coming up -- weatherproof power outlets.
This situation was reinforced after installing the Arboreal Systems Dispatch 1 Motorcycle Power Distribution System on the BMW F 800 GS test mule during a trip to Florida last December.
A second distribution module was subsequently purchased and installed on my 2010 BMW R 1200 RT and both are controlled wirelessly via a single Dispatch 1 portable controller module that can be swapped between bikes.
With an RJ11 output and three 5 Volt USB Type A outputs, along with six 12 Volt DC barrel (coaxial) connector outputs on the bikes, ready to energize all of the fixed and portable accessories, the Dispatch 1 provides capacity, flexibility and connection diversity.
But in the quest to make everything a bit more permanent and tidy, I needed to find some good ruggedized weatherproof power outlet components to complement the Dispatch 1 system capabilities.
Envisioning a solution was easy; finding one was frustrating. I knew that existing Powerlet products could help fill the bill in a reliable manner, but they didn’t provide all the features I was looking for, including enhanced resistance to the elements and durability.
Case in point -- installation of most anything on the relatively Spartan F 800 GS is likely to be external, meaning that the accessory will be mounted on something as opposed to in something, like a panel as a flush mounted option -- much easier to do on the R 1200 RT with its many ideal plastic panels and available internal real estate.
Accordingly, product offerings that would provide the option of external or internal placement and which were engineered to withstand the rigors of prolonged use on a motorcycle were deemed the "ideal", although it seemed some compromises were going to be required.
So it was literally quite by accident -- and some good fortune -- that I finally found what I was looking for. During a telephone call to a retailer to ask about a weatherproof USB harness listed on their website, and in describing my larger scale plan, they suggested I call the manufacturer directly.
One phone call and a few emails later and my requirements were being addressed; the plan was coming together. The solution is from 3BR Powersports and those products are described here.
It is said that "necessity is the mother of invention", so when the 3BR founders couldn’t find available products, they apparently made their own and once other riders saw the original products, interest grew, orders came in and the company was formed. Or so they say.
The resulting products are claimed to be protected by more than a dozen patents with more pending. And yes, the "3BR" acronym for the company is pronounced "3 Beer" and there is a story about that told on their website.
The 3BR Powersports line reflects a keen understanding of the power requirement issues confronting powersports enthusiasts, especially motorcyclists.
From an overview perspective the products they offer are complementary, allowing an integrated solution to be provided.
The current 3BR Powersports product groupings are simple and straightforward in function, but they use a number of brand names and acronyms that can be a bit baffling.
So to minimize confusion and keep descriptions simple, the following paragraphs provide the facts in simple form:
"Baryl" 12 Volt Cable, Plug and Power Ports
3BR identifies their 12V DC cable, plug and power port products with the "Baryl" brand name. These products use industry standard 2.5 x 5.5 mm barrel (coaxial) connectors and the kits are available for both external or panel (flush) mount applications.
"TAPP" 5 Volt Power Ports for USB Devices
While 12V DC power outlet kits have become common, the 5 Volt DC power outlets necessary for USB-based devices are rare, and ruggedized weatherproof variants are even rarer.
Thankfully, 3BR has now covered this requirement with a series of 5V DC USB power outlets. 3BR has given these the "TAPP" (Tiny Accessory Power Port) brand name.
As with the 12V DC products, the USB power outlets are available for external and internal mounted motorcycle applications.
3BR Mounting Systems for 12 Volt and 5 Volt Outlets
The 12V outlets made by 3BR can be mounted using the "Baryl Rack", while the 5V outlets are mounted using the 3BR "Universal Mounting System". The proper mount is included with each power outlet kit and they are also available packaged separately.
"CAPP" Weatherproof Power Port Caps and 3BR Manufactured Cables
Rounding out the product line is a host of custom-made USB power cables that are available in various form factors. To address weatherproofing requirements, any of the cables can be ordered with the very effective "CAPP" (Cap for Accessory Power Ports) brand seal caps, which are also available separately for retrofitting to existing power outlets.
All of the 3BR products described above have been designed for motorcycle use. They products seem to be manufactured to high standards with quality components used throughout.
The company says that many of the products are manufactured using the same "Brulloy" rubber found on the BurnsMoto Weatherproof USB Port Review, recently reviewed on webBikeWorld.
Brulloy is claimed to be a "melt process" rubber, not a thermoplastic elastomer or TPE such as polyurethane. Where TPE must be specially treated to resist environmental damage, Brulloy is claimed to be inherently resistant to ozone, UV, grease and oil.
Opening up the sealed plastic bags that hold each power outlet kit reveals that nothing is forgotten – each kit provides the needed pieces, with some spares, but less any tools.
All of the components reflect strength and durability -- although only time and sustained use will tell the tale. Versatility is provided for because the individual kits can be installed, with or without some fitment options and when or where desired, with available options that can be retrofitted to either the 3BR brand products or other components such as USB power cables.
The Baryl 12V DC barrel-connector Socket Kit and Panel Mount Socket kits provide the necessary items to install an external flush mount weatherproof power outlet on a motorcycle. It can be used for powering many different types of 12V DC devices you might want to install. If you can think of a spot for a power port, one or more of the kits will do the job.
Harnesses for the Baryl kits are 198 cm (6.5 ft.) in length and include an in-line 7.5A fuse module. 20-gauge wire leads are encased in an extra thick polyurethane cable jacket that appears overly stiff but in reality can be readily adapted to follow any path -- just be sure to keep it clear of hot engine or exhaust parts. The leads terminate in ring terminals.
The 7.5A rating is a self-imposed limitation due to the 5.5 x 2.5mm barrel connector specification. Being used to 10A and 15A circuit harnesses for most of the motorcycle electrical gear, I initially questioned the lower Amp rating, but further reflection on the overall scheme of things and continued use of the products has let me put this issue on the shelf.
However, I suspect a 15A offering may be a logical follow-on, although the 7.5A and 1A current limitations will handle most loads needed by many heated clothing garments and navigation, communication, audio and other devices. Some heavy-duty auxiliary lights and high-output heated clothing may require higher fuse ratings.
The power ports are weatherproof with an IP64 (water wash-down) protection rating and 3BR says they have an operating temperature range from minus 40 to 107 C (-40 C to 225 F).
Each kit includes the Baryl power outlet with a unique, functional and replaceable rubber cap with keeper on a tether harness; a Baryl Rack universal mount to install the power port on the motorcycle; and a selection of cable ties, alcohol wipes and installation instructions.
The Panel Mount Socket kit comes with the component pieces assembled and an instruction sheet. A feature that is specific to the Panel Mount harness is a molded SAE 2-pin in-line connector that allows the two piece harness to be separated to facilitate installation on the motorcycle, which it does.
These USB outlet products provide the necessary voltage and amperage for charging most mobile devices on the motorcycle, with output based on current USB power port specifications.
While sources for standard barrel connector power cables (typically used for heated clothing and wired communication systems) are commonplace, high-quality USB power outlet components are not.
This is a real issue given the virtual universal implementation of USB charging requirements for mobile phones and other portable devices used on a motorcycle.
as such, the 3BR USB power port products have arrived just in time and as with the 12V power outlets, 3BR has kits to address external mounting on a handlebar or frame or internal mounting on a fairing or dash panels (or saddlebags or topcases).
Power output specifications for the TAPP USB power ports are the standard 5V DC with a maximum of 1A current. 3BR says the operating temperature range is minus 17.8 C to 40.5 C (0 F to 105 F). The cables provided with the TAPP USB power ports are 182 cm (6.0 ft.) in length, which is about 13 cm (5 inches) shorter than the cabling provided with the Baryl ports.
An in-line fused module with a 2A fuse is standard on the TAPP USB power outlets, as are the 20-gauge wire leads that terminate in ring leads. The leads are encased in the same extra thick co-extruded polyurethane cable jacket used for the Baryl harnesses.
Also like the Baryl ports, the protection rating is IP64 when capped, but the difference here is that there is no protection when in use, because the port is open when a USB connector is plugged in. But, fear not; the solution to this issue is described later on.
Barrel-style connectors are simple by design and use and inherently more resistant to the elements -- one of their best features. On the other hand, USB connectors -- while still simple to connect -- have more complex internals. Accordingly, it is imperative that factors such as alignment, vibration and protection be considered when using them for motorcycle applications.
So it is no surprise that the 3BR weatherproof USB Type A housings are a bit larger than their barrel connector type siblings. The gnarly ribbed enclosure on the externally mounted USB port is most noticeable and even the cable jacket on the harness has been upgraded. It is abrasion resistant, UL/CSA listed and electrically insulated to military grade standard (Mil-I-631D).
Enhancing the TAPP lineup is the new TAPP Lite USB Power Port. Available in 15 cm (6 in.) or 30 cm (12 in.) lengths, this unit features a TAPP Lite USB connector on one end and a DIN 4165 Connector plug on the other end. Depending on where you live, this plug is commonly known as a BMW, Powerlet, Hella or Merit Plug.
The TAPP Lite cable provides a totally portable USB power option that can be used with compatible accessory OEM fitted ports or user-installed outlets. And like the TAPP power port, the Lite version can utilize the Universal Mounting System product to keep the power port secured when in use.
Any of these USB power ports can provide the electrical energy needed to power portable devices, including the Apple iPod and iPhone products and most cell phones. As long as the device follows the USB charging standards and one end of the cable has a Type A connector on it, all should be good.
Note: Even though industry standards are typically followed by manufacturers and most devices now have USB Type B - Mini or Type B - Micro ports, some devices may still require the use of their specific or proprietary USB-based charging cable for connectivity. Here are some USB adapters on Amazon.com with our affiliate link.
The 3BR 12 Volt DC power cable products include cables that are specific to Garmin GPS devices. Two very handy and easily packable home-brew cable kits are also available for the do-it-yourselfer.
The 3BR Garmin GPS Cables are made from genuine Garmin cable stock. The cables are then modified to be used with one of the 3BR Powersports Baryl Plug barrel connector at the power outlet end and they terminate in a standard Garmin 4-pin round connector to fit a variety of Garmin products.
Also available are Garmin Zumo 450/550 cable kits, which include the two (very) small mounting screws for attaching the cable to the Zumo mounting cradle.
An efficient and effective solution for Zumo 660/665 users is a complete Garmin installation harness assembly that includes a 12V DC barrel plug connector in place of the direct battery terminals on the Garmin cable. This allows the Zumo 660/665 harness to be moved between motorcycles without requiring multiple Garmin harness assemblies that are attached to the bike's battery.
In this instance, the only thing needed on each motorcycle is one of the Baryl power port kits so that the Garmin harness has something to connect to for power. If additional power plugs are needed, the Universal Plug kits, tailored for home, shop or field applications will fit the bill.
The 3BR "Solder Plug" is for (soldered) solutions, and the "Pigtail Plug" for a tool-less solution -- it uses heat shrink/solder connections made with a heat source like a candle, cigarette or heavy duty heat gun (small power inverters are great).
Cable lengths for navigation device power cables and the USB cable products vary, with the respective length of each product reflected in the last set of digits of the part number, e.g. 150-0032-09 (is 9 inches).
The simplest products often tend to be among the most valuable, which pretty much describes the value of the Baryl mounting system products.
They are indispensable in conveniently and securely mounting any of the 3BR power products or other similar products from other suppliers in a variety of safe locations and positions.
Almost identical in design, execution and function the respective mounting systems have two different names as identified in the Overview section. The "Baryl Rack" for the 12V Power Port barrel connector products and the "Universal Mounting System" for the TAPP 5V USB Power Port products.
The singular distinction between the two components is that the Baryl Rack mount for the 12V products has a barrel-shaped cradle for the 12V barrel socket (or plug) connector components while the USB-plug brackets are readily distinguished by their square-U-shaped cradle.
The clever linked-hinge design and molded channels make mounting and securing the robust brackets an easy proposition on virtually any type of surface; flat, rounded (tube frames or handlebars) or anything between.
Made of rugged UV resistant nylon the mounts are very sturdy and designed to last a long time. The pivoting cradles are secured to the mounting base by a small rivet allowing the cradles to be rotated click by click through 360 degrees. The mounting kits include the appropriate barrel or square U-shaped bracket with 3M brand VHB double stick tape, thin cable ties and an alcohol swab for preparing the mounting area.
Permanent mounting is best achieved by using the supplied 3M adhesive tape and nylon cable ties. For initial placement or if relocation may be needed, leave the tape cover in place over the adhesive and just use two of the supplied nylon ties cable ties. The molded channels in the cradles and the bases provide paths when using nylon ties -- it is hard to go wrong using these mounts.
Once you have the necessary 12V power ports, companion plug kits and USB power ports installed on your motorcycle, connecting the devices and protecting the connections is the logical next step.
3BR offers a wide assortment of USB Type A and USB Mini and Micro power cables specifically made for charging Garmin GPS devices, along with more generic USB power cables for general purpose USB power applications, with or without cable seal caps.
And speaking of cable seal caps, if you want to take the protection factor for a USB port connection from zero to a 100 in quick time, you can install either a TAPP CAPP or Panel CAPP Cable Seal Cap kit to USB power cables used with the external or flush mounted USB power ports. These tongue twister offerings address the need to keep active power connections secured and sealed from the elements.
The TAPP CAPP and Panel CAPP products provide weatherproof protection to any USB cable when plugged into an appropriate TAPP USB power port.
The whole assembly becomes resistant to dust, spray and even prolonged water exposure. These seal caps are available as an option on all 3BR Powersports USB cables or separately for retrofitting to any USB cable with a Type A plug on one end.
Just remember that once the extended shroud-like TAPP CAPP seal/protective skirt is fitted to a Type-A USB cable it will no longer be useable with standard USB ports. Exceptions to this include USB power ports with the larger diameter 0.85 x 0.60 rectangular body, typically sold as accessory parts by many auto parts, component and accessory retailers in North America.
On the other hand, cables that have the flush or panel mount cable seal fitting Panel CAPP fitting can still typically be used with standard USB ports as the outer fitting does not extend completely over the USB connector itself.
Except for one direct battery installation on my BMW HP2 Sport, I now have the 3BR 12V and USB power port kits installed on five motorcycles, connected to and powered from either of the two Dispatch 1 distribution modules, a Centech AP-1 fuse panel or an AeroDist PDM-60 solid state power distribution module (evaluation ongoing).
Immediate advantages are being able to use and recharge both my Contour GPS video camera (review) and my iPod, powered via USB, especially when using the Bluetooth connection and Live View feature.
The Sena SMH10 intercom (review) headsets can be used while charging and anything else on hand can be plugged in and recharged during use, all while heading down the road...
And speaking of rain and other inclement weather, most of the USB cables I use for power have been finalized with TAPP CAPP and Panel CAPP kits and I now have some of the 3BR prepared TAPP CAPP and Panel CAPP cables. When they are used I have no worries about moisture getting in, something we have all seen lots of this spring.
I have now purchased one or more of just about every product offered up by 3BR Powersports. Why? Well, with five of six motorcycles in the two-rider fleet in constant use and with power needed for heated clothing, Bluetooth headsets, cameras and lots of other portable devices, demand is constant, even though overall requirements are typically low given device efficiencies.
I have only a couple of observations so far. I wish the same type of (very) tight-fitting heavy-duty caps used on the TAPP USB outlets were used on the Baryl barrel connector ports. Also, the 3BR logo that is applied on the port end of some of the harnesses has pulled back, revealing the leads -- nothing that some longer and better overlaid shrink wouldn’t fix.
The results have been everything hoped for; the plan has truly come together and I have no regrets in finding and using the 3BR products.
wBW Product Review: 3BR Waterproof Motorcycle Power Ports
|Manufacturer: 3BR Powersports||List Price: Varies|
|Colors: Black.||Made In: U.S.A. or assembled in U.S.A.|
|Review Date: July 2011|
|Warranty: One year limited warranty from date of purchase. 60 day return policy.|