Arduino Solar Shield - A DIY solar source for your projects without waiting for PCBs

Picture of Arduino Solar Shield - A DIY solar source for your projects without waiting for PCBs
This instructable is a basic version of Bley Joel's ("It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, the regular crowd shuffles in") Solar Shield, and it should work for most arduinos.  I've tested it with SparkFun's Arduino Pro, and the new Leonardo.

Myself and the other Solar Pocketeers* are actually waiting for a new set of PCBs for an advanced version of this solar shield to arrive on Wednesday Sept 5 (in 4 days), but being impatient, here is a version of a direct-power solar shield that doesn't require a PCB.  You read that right -- PCB-free shields!  Any rigid backing -- a thin piece of acrylic, a breadboard, an old empty circuitboard, a discarded Muji plastic pencil holder, even-- any of these will work as the backing for the shield.  Some drill holes, a bit of copper tape, and some supergluing and you should be on your way to a lovely solar shield that is sure to win you lots of friends.  And a minor amount of lost fingerprint fidelity.

I've included a basic set of templates for cutting the backing and the copper tape (for the two electrical connections you will need to make between the pins of the shield and the positive and negative of the series-connected solar cells (also known as "solettes", since they are tiny and cute lasercut solar shards)).  Those two items and a supply of solettes and you can be off to the solar races.

Time to complete: an hour
A wee bit of soldering required
Difficulty level:  Pretty easy, but you will likely break 4-5 solettes at first.  It requires a bit of a delicate touch.
Usefulness:  To be determined

*First, I promise to never use the term "Solar Pocketeers" again -- but better me than someone else.  Second, this is the 6th entry in the Solar Pocket Series of projects that Alex (this guy) and I are posting over the coming weeks.   For more about Solar Pocket Factories and DIY solar check out our in-progress Kickstarter campaign (Aug 15 - Sept 14):  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alex9000/the-solar-pocket-factory-an-invention-adventure/posts/303802

Here's what it's all about in just over a minute:

neat idea! but doesn't the arduino need 7-12V? this is a 5.5V supply right?

The Arduino only needs 7 volts minimum when you hook it to an adapter/battery instead of using it's 5v usb-port. That is because the voltage regulator on the arduino has a voltage drop of 2v. So when your input is 7 volts the 2v voltage drop makes it 5v.

the Arduinos I have run off of 5 volts. They run off of the USB port which is 5 volts. They can take a higher input voltage because they have a voltage regulator built on board.