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DIY solar project?

by lxgoldsmith1 / April 12, 2013 10:37 AM PDT

one of my friends bought a solar panel and put together a solar phone charger.

As you can tell, it could be very useful (I go camping) and I'd like to put together something similar.

What I'm thinking is a solar panel to strap on my backpack, with a battery in one of the unused outer pockets. either USB at 2.1 amps or 12V DC, with the latter being better because I can buy a simple inverter to use with a laptop.

I assume that 12V DC would require a larger battery with a much higher risk, so I'm okay with USB.

Currently, I have a multimeter and an old USB extension cable.

What I'm really asking for is design help. I want to buy a solar panel and a battery to asseble a DIY solar USB charger for my phone. I also have a new 12000mah battery that performs rather well, but won't last forever in an emergency (also not homemade).

I want a real project other than my homebuilt PC to be proud of and show off. my family was impressed with the homebuilt PC, so I wonder how this project will look in my college essay for an engineering school.

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by lxgoldsmith1

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Solar is difficult project
by Willy / April 15, 2013 3:30 AM PDT
In reply to: DIY solar project?

Since you have to backpack it, it doesn't lend itself to be convenient, other than already made or get an idea from what you see.

Google using these keywords: solar backpack setup

You'll find already made setups. I suggest that because whatever is required is already there. If you decide to make you're own, then find a typical folding clam-type charger and use cabling to get what you need and regulator. Solar setups are all over the place but very few are packable, maybe luggable is more the term. On top of that it has to be "durable" in order to take the bumps and grinds of traveling and brush, etc. and be weather-proof, etc.. Also, take my advise don't ever let your battery run down too low, you find the weakness of the amps to push or turn-ON the charging unit to the device may need a little juice left in order to get turned-ON. Which leads to it all about the "amps" so it better be rated for whatever use you plan to use it for or be higher. The minor electronics should not be tasked to work at its extremes either hi/low ends because they are just too simple and can be burnt out.

I use solar only to keep batteries "topped" for my tractor or vehicles left outside for long periods(winter), friends use for boats. Thus, check any outdoor RV/boating/camping vendors for possible hints/clues/tips besides actual solar devices for sale.

tada ------Willy Happy

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battery instead?
by lxgoldsmith1 / April 15, 2013 7:07 AM PDT

I did my research and found that solar is likely not my best option due to unexpectedly low yield (new to solar).

would it be possible to instead link some lithium batteries into an encased battery pack about the size of a textbook and run a DC port off that? could I pack in an alternator/adapter to run like a wall port? would it store more than a laptop and put out enough charge to refill a laptop battery?

I have a soldering iron with some accessories in my electrical kit. I have access to a hardware store for electrical tape, but I'm not sure that Batteries Plus has link-able Li-ion batteries.

If possible, I'd like to use an alternator to get the more standard 120V 60hz U.S. electrical outlet.

yes, I'll google it, I've already found one source, and I'll be asking in their forums too.

There aren't any open forums to get current answers for solar & electrical tech, so I ended up posting on this site.

P.S. please be patient with me, I'm 17. I learned enough to troubleshoot computers in a few months, so I think I can pick this up quickly. Especially since I have college plans in this career field (comp&elec engineering).

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Play all you careful
by Willy / April 15, 2013 8:58 AM PDT
In reply to: battery instead?

Reverse engineer what you need. the device you plan to recharge, needs what? Review it specs and go from that. Battery outlet stores that sell batteries alone usually offer single battery or you buy what you need and solder tab them together to build up to the point you need. Get rechargeable batteries of course and google for plans. You can exclude solar and look for your alternator or similar. One device that was used upto to the '60s a carry-over from WWII was a "Johnson generator" that powered radios or did recharge a Jeep battery when needed. In was placed over one's leg sitting down and hand-cranked or tripod, which leads to something to what you want. This is NOT for the weary, it takes stamina to run. Google using keywords: WWII hand crank generator

You may want to look at security camera or emergency battery setup. The block battery has simple connections to use and can be recharged. Also, those kiddie car batteries with it charger and connection can be altered to use.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Google is your friend . . .
by Coryphaeus / April 14, 2013 11:11 PM PDT
In reply to: DIY solar project?

Google solar phone charger

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