Instructables

Assembling a BootstrapSolar Chi-qoo Solar Battery Charger Kit

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The BootstrapSolar Chi-qoo is an Open Source KickStarter-funded battery charger kit for recharging or powering small electronic devices like smart phones, iPads, Kindle tablets, Arduino boards, EL wire, and others. It comes as an easy-to-assemble DIY kit that only requires a screw driver and some glue to put together, and does not require any soldering. The kits are partially manufactured and packaged at TechShop in California.

What you'll need:

A Chi-qoo Kit -- The kits are available for purchase from the BootstrapSolar website, but since it's Open Source, you could theoretically make your own from scratch too!
#1 Philips Screw Driver -- That's the "+" type, and a pretty small one.
Glue -- Any glue that works with wood. Standard wood glue will work, though "5 minute" epoxy probably offers the best balance between bonding strength, time to undo mistakes, and curing time.
Time -- Most folks have reported finishing the kit in an hour or less (and as little as 10-15 minutes for those who are handy).


 
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Step 1: Check your components

Picture of Check your components
Make sure you have all the parts. You should have:

Enclosure parts
6x wall sections (thin bamboo sections)
1x USB port bezel (says "USB 2" and "i-devices")
1x DC port bezel (says "A" and "B")
1x bamboo bottom plate
1x plastic top plate

Electronic components
1x 6000mAh Lithium Polymer battery
1x USB charger circuit
1x Solar charger circuit
1x Double-ended cable

Small parts
4x roll pins
16x 3/8" #2 screws
1x jumper
JKPieGuy1 year ago
Nice job. How much was the kit? (I tried looking on the website but it wouldn't display the price.)
lpires11 year ago
I love this model of wood!
rstephens62 years ago
Just got the kit and it works great! Any hints/ideas on waterproofing the panels? Wrap them (and the soldered connections) in saran wrap?
ryochiji (author)  rstephens62 years ago
A dab of epoxy on the exposed bits will waterproof it just fine (and reinforce the solder). A slightly fancier alternative would be to use something like Sugru.
jedillwag2 years ago
Can you buy two battery packs (full kits) from your site and link them together? Charging both from the same solar panel, or panels? Something like output to input via cable?
ryochiji (author)  jedillwag2 years ago
Yes! All the parts you need to build a second battery pack can be purchased on our site, and you can indeed charge one battery pack from another. However, to do that, you'll need a USB to 2.1mm/5.5mm DC plug cable which we don't currently sell, but you can find one online for a few dollars (or make one yourself).

Send me an email at ryo-at-bootstrapsolar.com and I can give you a discount code if you decide to go this route.
I am part of the windowfarms open source community . Windowfarms just raised a quarter million bux on kickstarter. Anyways, they use aquarium bubble pumps to airlift water anything from 3 to 10 ft high through their hydroponic "windowfarms". This is typically powered by ac current. There are dc versions of the bubble pumps available but they are rarely used. (I think they use 2 or 4 double A batteries.) If you could power these bubble pumps or reliably recharge them with your device, it would appeal to many of the windowfarmers. Many of them would really jump at this. The project leaders are big into cutting their carbon footprint so it would appeal to them too. So http://our.windowfarms.org/
I did a test to try to find the limits of this weak airlift technique and I pumped easily 13 ft high without finding the limit! This means that your thing might have applications as a cheap well pump in 3rd countries if it powers a bubble pump with solar and DC. Another guy got 16 ft without finding th limit.
My experiment is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKtB1YKoMxk The airlift pump nano is based on a suggstion from Eileen (who is one of my youtube friends and who was mentioned in a ted talk by Britta Riley of windowfarms. )
So if you show your device pumping water higher than 16 ft by airlift as per the experiment, you might have some extra business!
Sorry for being long winded.
Brian
ryochiji (author)  gaiatechnician2 years ago
Neat! My kit can comfortably support up to about 1.5A (7.5W) of output, so it might be able to power a small pump. I'm not familiar with bubble pumps, but I'm guessing most of the heavy lifting is done by bubbles? Either way, if it could be powered by AA batteries, it sounds like there's a good chance my kit would be able to power it.
judypalmer2 years ago
Congrats on a nice instructable and a great product. Having watched you put together this kit, I can attest to the fact that it is very well thought out. It would make a wonderful gift and "starter" project for someone interested in solar energy.
voi6662 years ago
a quick remark regarding 'three leds=overheating' ... since you probably will never be monitoring the device at all times, a cheap piezo buzzer would be a cool addition.

i will try something when i receive my kit :)
febert2 years ago
Is the batter pack available to common consumers seeking replacements or are they spec'd for your project and a "one of" type thing. Will users have to come back to you for replacements? What do you expect as a useful life for the battery?
ryochiji (author)  febert2 years ago
I have replacement batteries available for sale, and are priced much lower than other sources. For instance SparkFun sells a 6000mAh battery for $40, while I sell mine for $25.

But, as you point out, you won't be able to buy the exact same battery pack from other sources. However, you could replace it with any other 3.7V LiPo/Li-Ion cell that fits in the enclosure and has a JST PHR-2 connector (which is pretty common).

As for the lifespan, LiPo battery packs will retain approximately 80% of their capacity for up to about 1000 recharging cycles, but there's a lot of variability so I don't think that number is very useful. Since my kits come with 6000mAh batteries (which is about 4-5x the capacity of most cell phone batteries) it'll still give you a useful amount of capacity even if it deteriorates to 50%. Many commercial products in the same price range only come with 3000-4000mAh to start with.
Hi! I'm the guy at the Maker Faire that talked to you while you were cleaning up on Saturday after the Faire.

I just wanted to ask, where do you get the charging circuits?

I saw the circuits on your webpage but it was .sch and I can't read that file.

Can you save it in a different format?

Thanks.
ryochiji (author)  blinkyblinky2 years ago
The charging circuits are based on an Open Source design by Adafruit Industries, but we had them made to our exact specs by a manufacturer in Colorado. The .sch can be opened using a circuit/PCB design program called Eagle, which is available for free.
Too bad I have Linux...
ryochiji (author)  blinkyblinky2 years ago
They have a Linux version:

http://www.cadsoftusa.com/downloads/?language=en
When I download, it won't open.
ryochiji (author)  blinkyblinky2 years ago
Eagle won't open, or the .sch file?
I can't get the software to open.
DarkStarPDX2 years ago
Instead of using the provided wood type screws, I would recommend on swapping them out with machine screws with nuts. While it might be tricky to get the nuts in there, you would end up with a better secured board.
ryochiji (author)  DarkStarPDX2 years ago
Thanks for the comment... just a quick clarification:

I would encourage people to assemble the kits using the supplied parts first. In reality, the metal screws included in the kit do a pretty good job of securing the boards. The screws are actually slightly larger in diameter than the screw holes, so the threads bite into the soft metallic lining of the screw holes. Once assembled, the boards shouldn't wiggle, and should not pop loose even if the battery pack is dropped.

Would using a machine screw and nut be *more* secure? Absolutely. But most people probably won't need to swap out the parts from the stock configuration.
DarkStarPDX2 years ago
On step 2, between 6 & 7, I'm thinking there should be something along the lines of recommending that the pieces should be clamped or taped until the glue is set. Sanding after the glue is set is a good idea too if you used a wood glue.

On step 4 and 5, I would probably use some painters tape on the bottom and top pieces so that when I glue in the USB and DC port panels, I guarantee I won't accidentally glue them to the top/bottom pieces. Once the glue is set, I could temporarily remove the top/bottom and remove the painters tape for a perfect fit.

On step 7 and 8, you write on 3 to secure the screws. Looking at the images, it appears you have wood screws directly tapping the circuit boards. Wouldn't it be better to use a machine screw with a nut (and maybe a nylon washer)? You designed it, so if you say the screw fits well I'll take your word for it! :-)

That's all my comments right now, hopefully I'll have a lot more when I receive my kit!
ryochiji (author)  DarkStarPDX2 years ago
Thanks for your comments! I think those are all great suggestions. I tried to keep the process as simple as possible, though, I think there are ways to improve it. Perhaps you could post your suggestions as comments on the specific steps, so people can see them as they're going through the instructions.

As for the choice of screws, I think machine screws with nuts would definitely be more secure, but I was worried about people dropping tiny nuts into exposed circuitry and risk shorting something. Perhaps that's not really an issue since the circuits shouldn't be powered until the end... I'll look into this for future revs.
Wow, I always viewed Instructables in "view all steps on one page" and never realized you could comment on each separate step. I've added the individual comments to the steps so others could see them.

I'll probably replace those screws on the kit I receive since I might end up modifying it a bit. Thanks for putting this together!
DarkStarPDX2 years ago
Instead of using the provided wood type screws, I would recommend on swapping them out with machine screws with nuts. While it might be tricky to get the nuts in there, you would end up with a better secured board.
DarkStarPDX2 years ago
I would probably use some painters tape on the bottom and top pieces so that when I glue in the USB and DC port panels, I guarantee I won't accidentally glue them to the top/bottom pieces. Once the glue is set, I could temporarily remove the top/bottom and remove the painters tape for a perfect fit.
DarkStarPDX2 years ago
I would probably use some painters tape on the bottom and top pieces so that when I glue in the USB and DC port panels, I guarantee I won't accidentally glue them to the top/bottom pieces. Once the glue is set, I could temporarily remove the top/bottom and remove the painters tape for a perfect fit.
DarkStarPDX2 years ago
After 6, I would recommend on taping or clamping the wood until the glue sets, then I would sand it to remove both the carbon residue and glue residue.
Yes, it looks kinda spammy ... although the open source aspect might be a loophole of sorts. That said, the design is really quite attractive. Nice job. I like the company profile page as well.
l8nite2 years ago
ok this looks like spam but it's also cool, it would be even cooler if the cover was a solar panel
ryochiji (author)  l8nite2 years ago
Thanks for your comment!

I didn't put solar panels on the battery pack cover for two reasons:

1) A solar panel small enough to fit would not generate a meaningful amount of power, even using the most efficient cells commercially available.
2) It could cause the battery pack to heat up unnecessarily, which reduces the battery's lifespan and possibly even damage it.