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

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Picture of 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)

Step 2: Choosing Your PowerBank (Optional Step)

Picture of Choosing Your PowerBank (Optional Step)
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Here's a variety of powerbanks I recommend. Products derived from "DealExtreme.com" + free shipping
You can chrage your powerbank even if devices are plugged to it. You can skip this step, if you already have a powerbank :D

The Price List:
1.) 2600mAh External Battery Mobile Power Bank ($6.30)
2.) Compact 3000mAh Portable Rechargeable Power Bank w/ LED Indicator ($9.20)
3.) Power Bank Aluminum Alloy Housing Case w/ Protective Board ($10.40)
4.) Ultrathin External 4000mAh Power Battery Charger w/ Touch Control ($14.30)
5.) Ultrathin External 4000mAh Power Battery Charger w/ Touch Control (Black Edition $14.30)

Step 3: Soldering The 7805 Regulator

Picture of Soldering The 7805 Regulator
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Since my solar panel produces 10 volts (3W), while the powerbank needs to be fed with 5V of USB power, a regulator must be added in order to charge the powerbank. Without the 7805 regulator, the powerbank's internals might get damaged due to over-voltage.

1st.) Follow the simplified schematic diagram above, read them carefully!
2nd.) Solder the micro USB plug first, to the 7805
3rd.) Solder two wires on your 7805, to be connected to your solar panel (+ & - )
4th.) Use a small droplet of superglue to mount the regulator in your solar panel's terminal block.
6th.) Trim the heat-sink mount of your 7805 chip if necessary. 
5th.) Solder the two wires of your 7805 to the solar panel. Observe polarity! (+ & - )

FYI, The switching regulator, gets more juice from your solar panel!
Since the 7805 is limited to 1 Ampere, you might want to buy a HIGH-EFFICIENCY 5v Switching Regulator from DealExtreme.com for only ($3.80 + Free Shipping)!

OPTIONAL: You can now charge your device directly from the panel, even without the powerbank! 

Step 4: Mounting Your Devices

Picture of Mounting Your Devices
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It's now time to mount your devices. I used a heavy double-sided adhesive to mount the powerbank and the USB hub behind the solar panel. If you plan to mount these devices permanently, it's ideal to use hot-glue or epoxy, for them to stay still. 

1st.) Mount The PowerBank
2nd.) Connect the charging cable of the solar panel to the powerbank's charge-input.
3rd.) Plug-in your USB Hub/Port to your powerbank's output.
4th.) It's now time to charge your devices! Just plug them in you USB Hub!


Step 5: Unleash 4 Ports of USB POWER! It's Ready :D

Picture of Unleash 4 Ports of USB POWER! It's Ready :D
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Plug your devices and your done! Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for more projects!
Please support and visit my site: ASCAS.ph (incompatible with IE -Under Renovation)
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andrea biffi11 months ago
that's really useful!
ASCAS (author)  andrea biffi11 months 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)  rabbidturtles999 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
agis6811 months ago
its a nice cheap and clean way to manage your charges......
ASCAS (author)  agis6811 months 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!
benwade11 months 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)  benwade11 months 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.
DragonDon11 months ago
Awesome idea! Going to look into doing this! Favoured and voted!
ASCAS (author)  DragonDon11 months 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.
lonesoulsurfer11 months ago
Great job and instructable - well done.
kenbob11 months 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)  kenbob11 months 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! :))
biggyeyes17 days 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.

Macgeekal1 month 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.

rolan1231 month ago

how can i buy this item??

lever144 months ago
where did you get that solar panel?
ASCAS (author)  lever144 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.

clewis435 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

nathconley7 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!
ASCAS (author)  nathconley7 months ago
Thanks! Your idea sounds great, BTW :D
Triteron8 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)  Triteron8 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.rockz8 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.rockz8 months ago
Red to 7805's Pin#1
Black to 7805's Pin#2 (middle)

Green & White (Not Connected)
smarty.rockz8 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.rockz8 months ago
Takes about 45-60mins for my power bank to reach the 4th bar.
Meritb249 months ago
So what would be best to use? the 7805 or the HIGH-EFFICIENCY 5v Switching Regulator?
ASCAS (author)  Meritb249 months ago
For max energy efficiency go for the 5v Switching Regulator, for compactability go for the 7805.
gsmith449 months ago
Thank you!!!
wagler9 months ago
Hey there! Just finally got my power bank from China today. Just to test it out I plugged in my phone and it works like a charm! However, when I plug in my usb hub and then me phone to the usb hub it doesn't work. No charge coming from the usb hub (from the power bank). My usb hub has blue lights and switches to activate each usb port so I know power is getting to it from the power bank just not THROUGH it to the phone to be charged. Does that make sense? Any thoughts?
ASCAS (author)  wagler9 months ago
I'm pretty sure that the hub has a limited current output, this happens to some hubs. Try to test different hubs.
wagler ASCAS9 months ago
Ok. Here's another thing. I'm also testing how to charge the Power Bank. I tried charging through the micro usb port from my computer and then from the wall socket overnight and it's not working either. Still just at two bars/lights of power. What's the trick? Oh, and I purchased the white power bank you suggested from Deal Extreme.
ASCAS (author)  wagler9 months ago
Does the battery last as expected. I heard that there are some powerbanks with defective power indicators, but has a working battery.
wagler wagler9 months ago
Oh wait! Nevermind! I figured it out. I had the wrong cable connected. I tried my kindle micro usb charger cable and it works. But could you show me a website with a usb port that would work? Thanks!
brancara9 months ago
Should the powerbank be holding a charge when the solar panel isnt charging it? My powerbank is 2200mah does that make too much a difference?
brancara10 months ago
What current does your regulator allow for?
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