Instructables

DIY Portable USB Solar Charger ($20 - 4 Ports)

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Dreamed of making a cheap and "EXTREMELY RELIABLE" portable USB solar charger? Here's a quick tutorial, revealing how I made mine with a budget less than $20!
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I have so many uses for it. When we travel and go camping, it serves us an unlimited supply of charging power for our handheld devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Speakers and Android Devices. It can charge anything! Anytime, anywhere! When an outrageous storm comes in, blackouts are inevitable, it's a good thing to have a solar charger!

By the help of of our trusty USB powerbank, charging during night time is possible, it acts as a battery reservoir, and charges during day.
It only takes 40-120 minutes to fully charge your powerbank, and it also comes with a 4 bar battery indicator!
It's a sustainable + reliable source of energy, ideal for charging USB devices.

Features:
- 10 Volt 3W Solar Panel (Water Proof - Shock Resistant)
- 2800mAh PowerBank (2A Output - iPhone 5 compatible)
-  Self-sustainable - Close to Unlimited USB Power :D

Also, please support and visit my site: ASCAS.ph (incompatible with IE -Under Renovation)
Enjoy Reading :D Cheers!

 
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Step 1: Tool & Materials

Picture of Tool & Materials
It's recommended to use a solar panel rated at least 3W-10W at 6-10 volts. This is done to shorten your charging time. My parts and materials cost me 725php ($17/ USD). The links below are just alternatives. In the next page, I gave a list of cheap, quality powerbanks from DealExtreme.com products w/free shipping". The price is up to you, try to hunt down clearance sales.

My Parts - (w/ Alternative Links):
1.) Solar Panel (mine= 10V 400mAh | 3W)
2.) USB PowerBank (2800 mAh - w/ battery indicator)
3.) 4 Port USB Hub
5.) 7805 Regulator Chip
6.) Micro USB Cable (A stripped end)
7.) Leatherman Multitool (from: Instructable Prize)
8.) A short length of stranded wire.
9.) Superglue (Gorilla or MightyBond)
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that's really useful!
ASCAS (author)  andrea biffi1 year ago
thanks!
What is the powerbank for they are really expensive when your trying to make multiples of these things. Could I still make one of these with a 6v solar panel without a power bank.
ASCAS (author)  rabbidturtles9910 months ago
Yes you could! But a power bank acts as your battery reservoir, when there is an absence of sunlight, the powerbank serves as your powersource.

I don't think it's practical to build your own powerbank, since AA battery packs are really inefficient + takes longer time to charge. Second, why make one if you could buy one for only $6
also if I was using a battery pack that held 4 AAs and they were rechargeable would that be capable to replace the powerbank and if I used a 6v solar panel and the usb port from a car charger to hook up to the regulator and all
agis681 year ago
its a nice cheap and clean way to manage your charges......
ASCAS (author)  agis681 year ago
It's true! Now my parents will have a peace in mind, now that I don't have to charge my devices on the outlet 24/7. Instead, all of them are being charge 24/7 on the panel with a $0 bill :)) Cheers!
benwade1 year ago
I'm going to vote for you! I love this, not just because it's useful (and cheap) but also because it's very doable. Even I can put this together. Thank you!
ASCAS (author)  benwade1 year ago
Thank you very much! It's a good thing, I didn't stick to my original plan, which was assembling the whole setup from bare parts.
DragonDon1 year ago
Awesome idea! Going to look into doing this! Favoured and voted!
ASCAS (author)  DragonDon1 year ago
Thank you very much! Well appreciated. I'm planning to make a site with a independent domain, I tried weebly, but it wont let me upload my own codes. I'l give wordpress a try =D
Also, it seems your domain is available for purchase! Might wasn't to look into that. Or just start a free blog on WordPress.com.
Great job and instructable - well done.
kenbob1 year ago
Very thorough and well written instructable! Great job!
Possibly dumb question, do you need a diode to prevent power from draining into the solar panel from the powerbank when it is dark?
ASCAS (author)  kenbob1 year ago
Thanks! Well its not dumb at all :D, actually most powerbanks have a built in diode. Adding an extra one might cost some powerloss, specially when the proper specs are not observed.

The 1N4007 series is only limited to 1 ampere, while the 1N5402 can reach up to 3 amperes. So to be sure its good to add one. The Voltage & Ampere rating of your diode must be higher than your solar panel's rating. Thanks for the positive feedback! :))
kdomjan1 year ago
Hi! I have solar panel 4w 18v max Amp 220mA , and power bank 20000mAh 5v !! Did exactly the same as you in therms connections 7805 and it works but can't fully charge my power bank! Do you think I have to big pb ??? Please help
ImranK2 kdomjan12 days ago

Hi, Did you modify your original design? If yes, would you please tell me what did you do? I also have a 20000 mah power bank i want to use for this project.

Thank you

ASCAS (author)  kdomjan1 year ago
Oh yes! 20,000mAh is indeed a large powerbanks 0_0. I don't think the power ratio is balanced. The larger the powerbank the longer the charge time, unless you buy a larger solar panel.

You'll probably need to buy a smaller mAh powerbank, around 2800-5000 mAh. Or buy a larger solar panel instead, but if you plan to upsize your solar panel then you need to buy a "High-Efficiency Voltage Regulator". I don't think the 7805 is fit anymore to regulate power from a solar panel higher than 4W.
nathconley9 months ago
Very cool project! I'm going to make one of these! I'm kinda upgrading it tho, I'm gonna use a 5000mah power bank and a 12v 6w panel! I've already done all the specs on it, and it's gonna work out perfect!

i was planning to use a 20000mah power bank. If you have made it already, may i have the specs or any suggestions? I need this to charge my ipad3 (11000+ mah battery), iphone4 and a small camera.

what are you planning to charge with 12 v 6 watts?

Thank you

ASCAS (author)  nathconley9 months ago
Thanks! Your idea sounds great, BTW :D
bennetdiy16 days ago

How the switching regulator can help you getting more juice ?

bennetdiy16 days ago

I dont get how the switching regulator can help you getting more juice from the solar panel, any idea ?

crumann1 month ago

is it possible to use this to power a boombox for on the go power? That way I can take it with me or should I use some sort of lipo battery option instead? I have a lepai amp that you recommended in your original boombox post, and Ive run it off a 9 volt wall power supply meaning it powered two 6 inch midrange speakers and the lepai amp? would this solar panel be enough?

crumann1 month ago

is it possible to use this to power a boombox for on the go power? That way I can take it with me or should I use some sort of lipo battery option instead? I have a lepai amp that you recommended in your original boombox post, and Ive run it off a 9 volt wall power supply meaning it powered two 6 inch midrange speakers and the lepai amp? would this solar panel be enough?

biggyeyes2 months ago

Here's some suggestions since I've made a dual 7805-based USB charger for my PSP before.

You can add a couple of capacitors in the output line of your 7805 to smoothen the current and minimize/prevent damage to your power bank and its battery (assuming it's one of the cheap types that doesn't smoothen the current flow internally.) I dunno about solar panels but you should still do it to prevent spikes that the 7805 can't regulate.

You could run two 7805 regulators in parallel to produce 2A output. This would require either more voltage to feed each 7805 or a panel with higher amps and feed both 7805s in parallel.

When using a solar panel with high voltage or an output with high current, install a 7805 heatsink to your regulators to keep the heat from damaging it. It gets hots easily at higher outputs.

I forgot what the chip is called, but there's a one-chip 5v regulator like the 7805 that requires less voltage to operate and afaik also provides more current. I found it in an Instructable for a bike-powered (alternator/dynamo) USB charger.

As for cost, I estimate around 300php (around $6.70) for the chips, 2000mah bank, caps, and additional costs for the panel. 7805s cost 35php each during the time I made my PSP charger (that used 6-12 1.2v niMH cells). If you could salvage solar panels, you can drive the costs way down.

Macgeekal2 months ago

hi can i use a 10,000 mAh power bank? or do i need to get another solar panel? this is really helpful thanks a lot.

rolan1233 months ago

how can i buy this item??

lever145 months ago
where did you get that solar panel?
ASCAS (author)  lever145 months ago

I got this one from "Handyman", a local hardware store. I also bought a similar model from CD-R King but for a much cheaper price.

clewis436 months ago

Add $9.97 for a soldering iron from Wal-Mart, and you're up to nearly $30. You can buy USB solar chargers on Ebay for $14.95 each, or $9.99 if you're willing to deal with Chinese sellers.

I was pretty impressed until I got the soldering part, then it all fell apart. Just buy a few already made and save yourself some time and effort. :)

I wouldn't use any solar panel under 10 Watts. Reality is you will only get 80% of the rated power of the solar panel. The only way to get the rated power is at the equator on a mountain ;-)

For those looking to build your own here are some links to parts.

solar panel : http://www.gomadic.com/solar-panel-10.html

charge circuit: http://www.gomadic.com/svc.html

tips to charge your mobile device : http://www.gomadic.com/cabletip.html

... or get one with a carying case and more already built : www.gomadic.com/sunvolt-standard.html

Cheers

Triteron10 months ago
I've visited DealExtreme because "your" solarpanel link was sold-out, but I couldn't seem to find anything that might be appropiate. Although I did find some:

http://dx.com/p/solar-power-panel-166-65mm-12v-80ma-17439
http://dx.com/p/miniisw-sw-008-0-8w-solar-powered-battery-panel-board-black-224274

I think the lowest link really hasn't enough power but would it be able to combine, what one would you choose. Or do you have a better solution on DealExtreme?
ASCAS (author)  Triteron10 months ago
The http://dx.com/p/miniisw-sw-008-0-8w-solar-powered-battery-panel-board-black-224274 is better :D You can connect it in parallel to get more power.
smarty.rockz10 months ago
I have 4 wires, which two should i solder on Negative(7805) and which two to solder on Positive(7805).
4 wires are :
Red(+5v)
White(data+)
Green(data-)
Black(grnd)
ASCAS (author)  smarty.rockz10 months ago
Red to 7805's Pin#1
Black to 7805's Pin#2 (middle)

Green & White (Not Connected)
smarty.rockz10 months ago
Hey, I want to know how much time will it take to charge a 2200mAh PowerBank, with your Solar Panel which you mentioned in this instructable.
ASCAS (author)  smarty.rockz10 months ago
Takes about 45-60mins for my power bank to reach the 4th bar.
Meritb2411 months ago
So what would be best to use? the 7805 or the HIGH-EFFICIENCY 5v Switching Regulator?
ASCAS (author)  Meritb2410 months ago
For max energy efficiency go for the 5v Switching Regulator, for compactability go for the 7805.
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