All you will need is:
1. a 12 volt solar charger (harbor feight $19.00 sometimes on sale as low as 12bucks!)
2. a 12 volt dc splitter (walm-mart 5 bucks)
3. a 12 volt car plug in usb charger ( harbor freight 5 bucks)
4. a usb cable for your digital camera (i had several lying around house)

Step 1: 2nd Step Connect 1st Connection

connect solar panel 12 volt male into female 12 volt splitter (sounds kinky)

Step 2: 2nd Step Connect 12 Volt Splitter to 12 Volt Usb Charger

Step 3: Insert USB Cable Into 12 Volt Usb Charger

Step 4: Insert Blackberry or Digital Camera and Set Towards Sun

ENJOY the free power



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    25 Discussions


    3 years ago

    the blocking diode in the usb plug may be it . I have had issues w certain ones

    I made it, but it's not working. I got Coleman® (the camping co. AND it is weatherproof) from Northern Tool & Equipment, 2 pack PVCs for $39. It is for 'Battery Maintenance', basically a trickle charger.

    I took a cigarette lighter splitter, cut off both female ends and then wired the 2 female ends together. The polarity is correct, I even went to the car and checked the power port with a multi-meter (14.26v BTW)

    Here are the specs on the PVC:

    12v - 1.5w. The open circuit voltage is 23v, the max power point voltage is 15v - the max current however is only 100mA. (i.e. 100mA @ 15v)
    I read 19.55v a few inches under the lights and between 14-16v laying on the floor.
    My USB plug has 12-24v input and gives out 5v at 1000mA. Which is way above the PVC's current of 100mA.
    It has some circuitry that prevents overcharge and a 'blocking diode' to prevent reverse discharge.
    Is is possible that this might be limiting the current to 100mA? I can't even get the LED on the plug to light up.


    how to make a solar charger. Step one buy a solar charger, Step two buy an adapter for it. You now have spent many days and months laboring over your brand new solar charger. This is not a sarcastic joke or a negative comment. I only mean to point out that i was expecting more. will this work with a 6 volt radio shack solar panel?

    1 reply

    Actually fair feedback, my goal is just to show another way of building a solar charging tool without a lot of electronics knowledge. As far as the 6 volt panel i researched that it is a 1.5 watt panel but it won't charge a 12 volt usb car input. Hope this helps

    This is good one. I have also read an article on "DIY Solar Panels": https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Solar-Panel/

    1 reply

    Drawback is these small panel solar panels only have a 1W output (roughly a 0.12A (120mA? someone check the math?) and if you overload them (pull more than 1W) they tend to shut-down and you get next to nothing out.. Though, small USB chargers rarely draw that much. (unless they're trying to recharge something like some of the recent digital cameras. I have one wall charger, output is close to 2A! 7V! (to a 3.2V camera! and USB usually tops out at 5V!).. LOL! Nothing kinky about the splitter.. I've made a few 'Siamese' splitters, from a single Anderson APP-30 pair to 2 APP-30's. (http://www.powerwerx.com/_images/products/WP45_lrg.jpg example).. Even went as far as to charge two USB devices, through a portable USB dock, from a single charger. (the above mentioned 7V2A).. If it doesn't overload, what could go wr%^&$*#$%^$%&*no connection.. :D

    Yea these type chargers work pretty well even on a cloudy day. My first one is like this one from Harbor Freight but I bought a second one at Lowe's Home Improvement store which had better output for less money. These chargers put out about 21+ VDC in full sun and around 17 VDC in the shade. Be aware thought that neither are weather proof. The Harbor Freight version though can be made somewhat weatherproof using some silicone sealant as directed in the instructions that come with it. Happy Charging and nice "ible".

    1) epman: Nice aggregation of parts to make this!

    2) I found the 12V Solar panel on Harbor Freight using the 44768 in the search box; currently $20, "in store only."
    3) I found the USB converter on Harbor Freight by searching 96515. $6, can be shipped.

    Note to those of you posting the search string: it seems not to work, probably because you are using the spelling "solor++charger".

    Somewhat silly comment: For those of you with weather and/or melting problems, fabricate a plexiglas box, use a splitter, and add a small component fan. :-)

    QUESTION: Does anyone know what the amp output of the USB converter is? The wisdom of the net is the iPad and current (as of 2/2012) iPhone (4S) needs a full amp to charge, and I've seen these rated between .5 and 1 amp.

    I bought a USB converter for my car at Walgreens for $10. It had a 1amp rating-- can't remember the brand, I'll update next time I get there.

    No comment, It is very good for Car Bateri 12V I had using easy solar charger 4 years. Without easy solar charger my car bateri 12V cannot extra to use 1 years +. After I using easy solar charges, my car bateri can stand 1 years+. I am from Malaysia. I like it.

    just bought for 19.99 at harbor freight in worcester MA yesterday, my dad who manages napa stores is getting diffrent adapters for the male output :D if i had a car i would go get the dam things myself lol

    Be careful of this panel.....mine melted into a 45 deg angle....had to return it!

    epman-you have got the idea.I do the same with this panel...

    i have this panel,got it a year ago..I got it for 12$ on sale..One thing that happend to this panel was, it failed seveal times before I took it apart... the neg wire on the panel inside was loose, the solder and glue that helps it stay on pulled apart.. no doubt from the suns heat..and moisture..I resoldered the wire and reglued it with Automotive contact adhesive and sealant,so far good..It is worth the price at 12$.....If you have any silicon sealant it would be wise to seal the edges and screws, so rain dont enter the panel ..Remember if you re solder this panel use small amount of heat..amorphous solar cells are very heat sensitive...

    How does the splutter work? Is that one of those things that you plug it in your cigarette lighter to have two connections on one port? If so, then how does the solar power go to the USB? Wouldn't it only get power from the male car part? So for a long comment, I just want to fully understand this. Thanks.

    1 reply

    The splitter has 2 female ends and 1 male. The female section is powered by the male solar input which sends a current through the male of the splitter into the female section. This will power your device's male input

    log cable is good to keep (charged item in the shade) heat is the worst on batteries. looks good

    Try to go for the 'blue' solar panels if you can, they give more 'oomf' in any light. I've found that the brown type tend to need direct sun to give you anything! Windy

    1 reply

    the charge i use is an amorphous solar cell. definitely cheaper, the crystal cells are much better but usually a lot more $$$$$