Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Solar project continued...

So the solar project ended up taking a bit of an unexpected turn here.

Battery powered USB chargerAs you can see, the picture shows my iPhone being charged by a few D size regular batteries, with some electronics in a tupperware box all connected to a USB socket.

To step back a bit, the solar project started with Patch and I unable to charge our various devices while at anchor for a few days earlier in the year.

There were two main issues, firstly no mains power to run the chargers themselves, secondly no battery power to use for charging anything as the batteries were not holding their charge that well anyway.

We have fixed the battery power issue, and have now installed a 12V - USB connector so we can charge gadgets. But the core issue of conserving battery power while at anchor remains, to some extent anyway.

My thinking had been to create a solar panel that was capable of directly charging a device, such as a mobile phone, with no intermediate battery to charge. The solar chargers I've previously tried have been useless.

I've made good progress with the solar powered charger already, as you have seen in a previous post.

Anyway, the core issue at hand in crafting the solar charger had been to create a stable 5V for the USB socket from the solar panels I was making.

My thinking being I could create less than 5V with the necessary amps easily enough in almost all reasonable light/cloud conditions and this could be 'pumped up' to 5V with some electronic wizardry.

With some help from my mate Ian over at embedded adventures, he produced this little beauty which does the job perfectly (I deny any knowledge about carnivorous robots).

I had originally used a handy array of batteries to test Ian's device. This got me to thinking that keeping a few batteries around, and using these in a stand-by gadget charger would work as well as, maybe even better than, the solar plan.

The result, you can see, will probably be more useful than the solar panels I was planning, as D cells are ever present in all kinds of places I may need to charge my iPhone. While travelling for any time with no access to mains power comes to mind as a likely scenario where I could use this charger, especially when flying places.

I still intend to make a solar version, as I have a few of Ian's gadgets left, but I can already see that making it sufficiently robust, yet portable, will be a challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Tim
    just a thought. if solar panels can't provide enough power directly. use the solar power to trickle charge d cells or similar. then use the stored charge to charge your phones. Small solar panel are not great and provide low amount of current. Good luck