Introduction: Dual Solar PSP Charger

Picture of Dual Solar PSP Charger

I first got the idea when making the Solar PSP charger from Yo Chuck's Instructable.( ).My Battery pack or solar cell did not fit in the altoids can very well so I decided I would make my own off of the idea. Yo chucks is more portable as it will easily fit in your pocket, but this will provide more charge time and being able to charge your batteries and the PSP at the same time.

Step 1: Getting Your Materials

First, obviously, you will need all your materials. It is much easier to make your charger, as well as possibly improving on the idea yourself, if you have everything you need laid out in front of you.
You can get most if not all of what you need at Radioshack or comparable electronics stores.

You will need:
(1x) Medium sized project box (Catalog #:270-1806)
(2x) Battery Packs(without on/off switch) (Catalog #: 270-391)
(2x) DPDT mini-switch (Catalog #: 275-626) Make sure this is an ON-Off-ON
(1x) Solar Cell(6v 50 mAH)(Catalog #: 277-1205) This part is more expensive, if you have smaller ones, put them together to get about the same, the higher the amps the faster the batteries will charge but do not go too high obviously.
(1x) LED. This part you can get by itself, in a multi-pack, or with a built in resistor. I used one with a built in resistor to simplify the wiring. If you do, do not put the resistor showed in the diagram into the wiring) (Catalog #: 276-270)
(1x) 150 Ohm Resistor. You ONLY NEED THIS if you do not get an LED with a built in resistor.
(1x) Rectifying Diode(the smallest they have will do fine)
(1x) PSP Charger. If you have an extra use it, if not you can pick one up pretty cheap.
(8x) Rechargable AA batteries.

You will also need the following tools:
Wire... A few feet will be fine, this is just to make your connections with the existing wires.
Soldering Iron
HeatShrink(not needed but I used for good measure)
Hot Glue Gun w/ Hot glue.
Drill with bits(1/4 inch bit)

Step 2: Laying It Out

Picture of Laying It Out

Alright, now that you have everything, start planning. I will tell you how I put everything in. If you see a better placement, then go for it! Try to "dry fit" the battery packs and make sure you will have room. A dremel will be good for modifying the box a little bit. I had to cut a little bit of the plastic from the inside that was left over from the molding process when they made it. Look at the box and see where you want to put the switches and LED. I would recommend putting the LED as close to the switch with the PSP charger so to avoid confusion for which switch does what. Go ahead and place the solar cell on the lid and mark where you will need to cut, keeping in mind you need to cut the hole smaller than the cell so it will have a place to sit and to be glued. You can also just glue the cell to the top of the lid and drill a little hole to run the wires into the box.

Step 3: Put It Together!

Picture of Put It Together!

In this step we will be putting it together. Decide what you are going to do with the lid. I cut a hole in the lid to put the solar cell in. If you decide to do that mark your lines about a quarter inch in from the ends of the cell, and an 1/8th inch on the sides, and cut it out. Hot glue the cell to the underside of the lid. If you decide to glue the cell to the top of the lid mark where you want to put it and drill a hole to run the wires. Put them in the hole and glue the cell to the lid. Now Lay it aside and get ready for the fun!!!

Step 4: Wiring the Whole Thing.

Picture of Wiring the Whole Thing.

This is where all the fun is. Following the wiring diagram, wire everything up. If you decide to use heat shrink to protect the connections from touching be sure to cut to length(usually 1/2" pieces will do) and slide them on the wires before soldering. Then slide up over connection and heat it up. It is very important before wiring to make sure you have enough wire to reach everything. It is better to have too much than too little, you can always tuck away an inch or two of extra wire.

Step 5: Put It All Together

Picture of Put It All Together

After you have all wiring done, now is time to put everything back in the box. I recommend starting with the battery packs, put them in and hot glue them to the bottom of the box, running the wires to the side you will be mounting the switches. You might find it helpful to glue the wires to the sides at the bottom to keep it clean. Next mount the switches and LED where you want them. Again, might be helpful to glue wires to keep it clean. Also, I made sure that both switches when switched to the same side, corresponded with the same battery pack. This just makes it easier to keep track of what pack is charged or charging. Once everything is secure, look it over and pat yourself on the back.

Step 6: Test It Out.

Picture of Test It Out.

I put one set of charged batteries in one pack, and dead batteries in the second pack. This way I could test and make sure the PSP was charging properly and with the other set check that the batteries are charging. You can set it to charge the PSP with one set while charging the second pack. Make sure to not try charging a battery pack while simultaneously charge the PSP with the same pack. Doing that will raise it to 12 volts and will harm your PSP battery and possibly the PSP itself. It is not my problem if you decide to do this and kill your PSP.


The_Black_Hole (author)2010-11-12

What do you think of this idea?

Im planning on attaching 4 or more panels on to a backpack and having this case on the inside with different attachments for psp, and usb. also i was planning on having 4 sets of 4 rechargeable battery's, ( 2 for usb, and 2 for psp) so just like here one set could charge while im using the other set.

so what do you guys think?

joearkay (author)2009-04-27

what is the voltage of the leds?

jcalton88 (author)joearkay2009-04-27

Honestly I cannot remember the voltage on them. I used a pre-assembled LED from RadioShack. It came with the holder, resistor, and LED already together. You can get just about any LED and as long as you use the 150ohm resistor, it should work fine.

andy70707 (author)jcalton882009-07-30

most LEDs are 2.1-2.5v, and a 51-151ohm resistor should be fine

jpenn (author)andy707072010-03-15

Actually most LEDs are 3.3-3.5 volts, but that resistance would work fine anyway.

BIGHAIRYDUDE (author)2010-02-14

what is the cost?

The Landon (author)BIGHAIRYDUDE2010-03-04

about 10 to 15 bucks

69ballsmahoney (author)2010-01-15

Why do you need the second switch?

jcalton88 (author)69ballsmahoney2010-01-15

I made this a little different from others. One switch is to control which battery pack is charging the PSP, the other switch is to control which battery pack is being charged by the solar cell.

smurfelien (author)2009-10-22

Can I use 1 0,45 v 3A solar cell and 2 3,3v 27mA solar cells to make good voltage and high amps? So to batterys charge faster?

Rali929 (author)2009-06-19

You should look around the net, because the radioshack solar cells are extremely low on amperage. A good solution to this would probably to wire the radioshack solar cell to a higher amperage solar cell. Depending on the amount of amperage the other cell has you could wire it either in parallel or series. * I know those PSP batteries can take a good amount of milliamps so you most likely want would wire them in parallel.

andy70707 (author)Rali9292009-07-30

im doing something like this myself, and I managed to find a 5V 130MaH solar cell for $12 here:

Rali929 (author)andy707072009-08-03

ok that is actually just what you need, but now you need another cell to increase the amperage of the total system. This way you dont need to take forever to charge.

Justin Lam (author)Rali9292009-07-15

How long would an 800ma solar panel take to charge 4 AA rechargeable batteries? And do the volts (which are 0.5V) affect the rate of the charging time?

Rali929 (author)Justin Lam2009-07-18

Overall you would need a better system because .5 volts at 800 mah is going to take you FOREVER.... to charge. For charging a PSP you would need some high voltage and high amperage and that is going to take a good system... it probably wouldn't be worth building a PSP dedicated system because that would be a waste of time... and money... What i suggest ( if you want something to really charge a PSP) is a good rechargeable R/C battery as your energy storage device for a solar paneland a have a solar panel kit producing at least 800 mah at 6 volts.

Justin Lam (author)Rali9292009-07-28

Alright thanks! I found a 6.7V 30mA solar cell, but it says that it can go 8V open circuit, 44mA short circuit in direct sunlight. What does the open-short circuit mean? And would i need a regulator or something for the solar cell (so the batteries don't get too many volts)?

Rali929 (author)Justin Lam2009-07-29

OK, a short circuit is a circuit that has found an easier path for electricity to flow through. For example, say you put something on both the + and the - leads like a wire the electricity will only go through the wire and not the rest of the circuit. An open circuit is when one a + or - lead gets cut in order to put a switch in between the cut lead. You do not need need another high voltage solar cell, what you need is a low voltage high amperage solar cell. For example, say you wire a Radioshack 6v 50mah solar cell to a .5 v 1000mah cell (or something within that range). That would be good for universal charger (even for a PSP) if you simply slip in a female usb at the end of the circuit instead of the PSP adapter. Also, I recommend that you wire the solar cells to the battery with a charge controller wired on to the battery that way you get a steady supply of electricity without damaging the internal battery of what you are charging. Make sure that your battery has more voltage and amperage than your solar cells are putting out so that you do not fry the battery. Then from there you can wire a 5v voltage regulator onto the circuit. Look around the net and see what you can find. Remember to be patient with your project because when charging time comes around the corner you will mess up your electronics. I know this is kinda long but remember you will get the best results this way. Thx

Justin Lam (author)Rali9292009-07-29

Alright thanks again! I think i'll stick with a 2V 200mA solar cell (because the amps are higher, which will decrease the charge time, but correct me if I'm wrong.). Both cost the same, so what I need is just faster charge time for the batteries. SO should I get the 6V one or 2V one?

Rali929 (author)Justin Lam2009-08-03

Can you tell me the output of your batteries.

Rali929 (author)Justin Lam2009-07-29

ignore my comment about the battery because i realized you had a battery. But still keep the charge controller part about it into play. Thx

Rali929 (author)2009-06-19

Do the batteries have a charge controller on them?

cm0002 (author)2009-06-01

can i get this past airport security so that i can use it on the plane?

jcalton88 (author)cm00022009-06-01

I cannot answer that with any certainty. I personally believe you could, as it doesn't pose a threat. BUT, I don't fly often at all, and do not know the rules of flying anymore, they might let it(should), and might not. I guess you could always call the airport and describe it to them. The only negative factor for this is lets face it, switch, wires, battery LED, it does kind of look like a bomb doesn't it?

joearkay (author)2009-04-19

could you build one of these without the batterys and just use a 5v regulator insted?

Yerboogieman (author)joearkay2009-04-30

There probably won't be enough power coming from the Solar Panel. You need a couple hundred mA at least to have it run for a while and well. A couple thousand is best.

jcalton88 (author)Yerboogieman2009-04-30

I thought I had answered this, but suppose I exited out before it sent. Sorry then recordmasta. Koolaid is right, and the solar cell(and any that you can really get your hands on for a cheap price) run at very low mAh. This one in particular runs at 50 mAh. I suppose it would charge your battery, but it would indeed take a very long time to do so. You couldn't use it to play and charge at the same time.

hobbles (author)jcalton882009-05-13

Nice guide i just discussed similar question on a different instructable and came up with similar way to charge his cell phone with the same radioshack solar cell. Just wondering if your batteries ever ran out a juice while charging your psp since it would charge the batteries really slow to and eventually catch up. Obviously using a wall outlet to let it catch up and the fact that its more for something like camping or some similar situation and isnt a permanent mean of charging it. Also what do you mean by the last couple paragraphs of the instructable, do you switch charging battery packs and which pack charges the psp?

jcalton88 (author)hobbles2009-05-13

That is why I have two battery packs. You do not want to charge the batteries and charge the PSP with the same batteries at the same time. It would make the power go from 6 to 12V (6 coming from the cell, 6 from the batteries). That leads to your second question. The switches are to select which battery pack the solar cell charges, and which battery pack charges the PSP. So is switch one is in the up position, the solar cell charges pack 1. If in the down position it charges pack 2. If the second switch is in the up position, pack 1 charges the PSP, if in the down position, pack 2 charges the PSP. I did that so you could isolate which pack the cell is charging, and which pack is charging the PSP. And yes, it is more for something like camping...or if your plane crashes on a deserted island and you brought your psp and solar charger. Solar cells simply do not produce enough juice yet to charge anything as quickly as plugging it in does, but its fun to have, because on that camping trip(real camping, not going to a "techno-site") when everyone else's battery dies, you are still going. Hope I answered your question,

hobbles (author)jcalton882009-05-15

Yep thanks, again nice instructable and i might make one for my brother sometime.

jcalton88 (author)2009-04-19

I suppose you could. The problem I had with that is that most consumer available Solar Panels can have good voltage(6v in my case with this) but the amps are fairly low so it doesn't charge very fast. I have not tested it but I would guess it would take a few days to charge a PSP with just the solar cell. The batteries act as a kind of buffer, they are taking in the power from the solar cell at a lower amperage but sending it to the PSP at a higher rate.

jumbuck (author)2009-03-03

Very good :-) . Isn't it amazing how batteries (like socks) seem to have a bad habit of becoming odd numbers.....

jcalton88 (author)jumbuck2009-03-03

It is, only...I never put my batteries in the washer or dryer so I wonder how they disappear... I have bought probably 30 rechargable batteries over the past year and I am confident if I go and look for them I will find maybe 20. But with a 2 year old...there is no telling what toys have them in em.

ReCreate (author)jcalton882009-03-16

Get one of those super-duper neodymium magnets and go around your house,trust me you will pick up everything that is magnetic,Including batteries Or You could go with a metal detector...

jcalton88 (author)ReCreate2009-03-16

That'll work for the batteries, but what about my socks?!

ReCreate (author)jcalton882009-03-16

Oh...umm Train your cat to hunt down cat does it by instinct And don't worry,They meow Really loud when they hunt something down

jcalton88 (author)ReCreate2009-03-16

I guess I'll have to buy the socks, I don't have a cat and IMO socks do a great deal more, I'm willing to pay for them

ReCreate (author)jcalton882009-03-16

Too bad then... Do you have a dog? Or any other pet?

jcalton88 (author)ReCreate2009-03-17

My fiancee suckered me into getting her a few gerbils a while back...but they just make socks disappear even quicker, and they get both of them instead of one!

ReCreate (author)jcalton882009-03-17

...find where they hide the socks by catching them in action!

YoChuck (author)2009-03-03

Great Instructable! Still looks like it's very portable, so fantastic for a nice long trip with the PSP! Fav'd and 5-starred!

jcalton88 (author)YoChuck2009-03-03

Yeah, I didn't mention it but it is very useful on trips. I recently drove my brother 12 hours to pick up a car he bought and he watched movies on it the entire way and I used it as my mp3 player on the way back. It was very useful and kept my PSP charged the entire trip.

YoChuck (author)jcalton882009-03-03

That's awesome! It might even end up paying for itself eventually! Well done!

jcalton88 (author)YoChuck2009-03-03

That one made me feel bad. It did cost a bit more than I would have wished but I also bought everything new when some things could be scavanged. I made it for the fact that it would be easy to charge on the fly without needing to be around a plug-in. You never know when a boat might crash or plane and your stranded, don't want to be like gilligan bored all the time do you, haha. I think total this build cost me around $20-25. I could have scavenged the battery packs, LED, and a case for it, that would have knocked down the price to around $17. The kicker was the solar cell that was $15. In hindsight, you could use 2-4 smaller solar cells like the ones out of the yard lamps. Even though there are more "technical" ways of finding out their voltage, on scavenged solar cells it is easy to see what cells were charging what size batteries. Yard lamps tend to use 1-2 AA batteries, so 1.5-3.0 V per cell. That would make the build almost free if you did that.

YoChuck (author)jcalton882009-03-03

$20-25 is still great for this kind of accessory. That was really the big motivator for mine (as the cheapest one available, sans solar cell, runs about $40 or so...) And with energy prices on the rise, it's nice to charge and power the PSP for free! :)

mspark400 (author)2009-03-02

nice ible just a note i think you mean 6v not six amp for the panel (from radioshack right?) cheers, mspark400

jcalton88 (author)mspark4002009-03-02

Yes, I caught the mistake on one of the later steps and thought I might have made the same mistake here but my son started to mess in the kitchen drawers and I forgot to check! Thanks for noting it for me, it is fixed now. Anybody, if you see an error or have a suggestion, feel free to comment. This is my first Instructable so I know there is room for improvement

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