How to make a Solar USB charger! (simple!)

Picture of How to make a Solar USB charger! (simple!)
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Welcome! I will show you how to make a solar usb charger that out puts about 6v and is perfect for charging anthing that uses USB. This is perfect for someone new to soldering! Here is the finished product:
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Step 1: Parts

You need the following:
1x USB extension a/a cable (That's where I got mine.)
1x Any Diode (RadioShack #: 276-563)
1x 6v Solar panel (RadioShack #: 277-1205 )
Soldering iron(RadioShack #: 64-2051)
1x Project box (Radioshack #: 270-1803) I would maybe chose a smaller on, I had a bigger one laying around.
Electrical Tape
Glue Gun or tape to hold the peices in place.

Thats it!

Step 2: Getting ready

Picture of Getting ready
This is a simple circuit so all you need to do before you solder is Cut the USB extender cable towards the bigger side. Leave an inch (or two if you want) and then cut off the shielding and get rid of everything except the red and black wire

Step 4: Drill!

Now you just need to drill a hole for your cables to go through on top (from the solar panel) and another hole for the cable.

Step 5: Glue it together.

Picture of Glue it together.
This is the last step. Just put glue around the extension cable and on tp of your project box to glue on the solar panel and your done!

Step 6: Test it out!

Picture of Test it out!
Its charging up my blackberry perfectly! It is even 7:30 here and not too bright.
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How do I know how many volts my solar panels are? I'm using some solar garden lights I bought really cheap at Walmart. Could I just hook up a few of them to get more volts? Lol I feel really dumb because I know next to nothing about electronics... I'm having a really hard time even getting started with this project because I can't find one using exactly what I am. I am using a car USB charger that would plug into a cigarette lighter also. I would prefer not to use AA or AAA batteries as well.

mking011 year ago
Hey, this is probably a stupid question, yet i will still ask it because google can't help me (for once)
If i were to use a higher voltage solar panel (ie. about 8V) and add in a 7805 5v regulator, wouldn't that essentially make it safer for my iPhone and possibly increase the mA? I need this answer as soon as possible, but even if its been a while, still answer because i might want to make this again some day outside of school, thanks!
I would use a 5v regulator no matter what. However to charge Apple devices you can't simply supply the 5 volts, there needs to be around 1.9 volts on the two data lines of the usb. This way it thinks you're using an Apple charger.

But this is not the case for other, non-apple products? So other phones don't need power on the data lines?

pjordan8 months ago
most of the problems I'm seeing people have is that they aren't getting enough amperage. most cellphone chargers have an output of .7-1 amps if all your getting is 100mA then your never going to generate enough power to overcome the drain on the battery and therefore you'll never get it charged. to overcome this you'll either need more solar panels connected in parallel or a higher amperage solar panel. Hope this helps

You're essentially charging two devices, the external backup battery and your phone, at the same time. This instructable explains what kind of charge controller and power is required to perform this task and give constant phone charge even under non-ideal conditions:

shubhamk11 months ago
Hey i bought a 6v and 100mA solar panel and a zener diode of 12 v and 1 watt and connected all as shown. Wen i expose the solar panel in sun it shows me charging on my phone but i waited for long time still my battery is same and not charging!! Please help as soon as possible...
getamap shubhamk9 months ago
Probably because 100mA isn't even enough to put a dent in the charge of a cell phone. Could power an led or something but phones use a lot of energy.
shubhamk getamap9 months ago
So is there any solution to it??? Except buying a new solar panel! May be by adding anything like a diode or something in the circuit??
getamap shubhamk9 months ago
Put the panel out in the sun and use a multimeter to make sure everything is set up and working properly. If it's all working right then a bigger panel is probably what you need. If you have an iphone or ipod check out and see if that helps at all.
tron201 year ago
I was thinking most of these people are talking fast USB for charging. Couldn't you just get a USB 3.0 and add it to the board and it would charge faster than the USB 2.0 and its backward compatible. I have a Seagate 5 Gigs slim and its USB 3.0 and backward compatible to USB 2.0 If you try that and it worked then you wouldn't have to add more solar parts unless you were to connect a laptop.
If one hooked multiple panels together in parallel, increasing the current (or perhaps just get a bigger one), as long as the output is 5V, would it charge faster? I would imagine it would provide more current in lower light situations too.
Fashiondez1 year ago
i am working on a solar charger project and have scavenged a circuit boat from a car usb charger. Can I put a regulator on the usb circuit that needs 12 v? or do i need to get a usb board that is 2v (or whatever it is) and let it bump it up to teh 5v that it needs?
dkba272 years ago
A cell phone charger outputs .7 amps and 5v which in turn = 3.5 watts.
My question is how to get a solar panel, 9v and 1.5 watts to do the same.

Is there a set of components that can be added to get the same results?
Like lowering the voltage and increasing the watts?
dkba27 dkba272 years ago
helps with the math.
You cant increase the watts by any method.
i used a 5v regulator for my charger but still my phone is not charging
Fashiondez2 years ago
Can I use a 6v 35ma cell for this project?
ddaniels-32 years ago
can you make something like this that would charge a phone and have an output to charge say a kindle or ereader
dabomb1022 (author)  ddaniels-32 years ago
Yeah all you gotta do is cut the charger cable for hat device and solder the red and black wires
jdongon2 years ago
can you give me instructions how to build this charger i dont have any idea into what part goes where...thx
dabomb1022 (author)  jdongon2 years ago
I just did!
powercables2 years ago
Your blog really help in making a solar USB charger but I just want to know that is this require any kind of Power Cables????Thanks for the beautiful tips and the post....
jarencibia2 years ago
USB Pinout, You can figure it out with a multimeter if the colors are off
597Ryan3 years ago
So before I build this does this work with Ipods without the 5v regulator?
No. It will not. All usb devices use 5 volts.
jbuchanan93 years ago
I build this and my cell phone says "charging" but the battery is actually draining. After a couple of hours in the sun battery went down 3 bars....any ideas???? Diode is right direction ie. I am getting current out of the USB plug.
Make sure that you are getting the right amount of current (5 volts).

MadScientist101 says:
you should put a 5v voltage reg to stop spikes killing your usb device.
Afterwards, use this:
snipeu74563 years ago
the wires inside my usb extension cord are red, blue, green, and white. help?
red is +5v, black is ground
read what people are asking
red and white
mikekull3 years ago
just outta curiosity... if you used the pcb from minty boost and instead of running it to a battery charger you connected it direct to your solar panel would it give the desired results on the data lines? Just thought about this as a way of avoiding having to fiddle with voltage regulators, and a circuit of resistors..
mason01903 years ago
You can use the solar panel on a lot of solar powered garden lights, and instead of buying an extension cord for USB, you can just get a female USB port here.
clayjar3 years ago
Is it possible to increase the current in a setup like this? I get about 12 mA, which probably isn't much compare to 850 mA through the charger from the wall outlet. I would imagine it would take forever to actually charge up a phone. I've tried this set up with a USB (type A, female) for an Android phone, and I have yet to test it out on a full daylight, but testing it from an indoor lamp, I do get a "Charging" status on the phone, but just waking up the phone to check the status seems to be draining the battery because I saw the battery going from 87% to 86%... anyway, I need to test this little more, probably with the phone off.
skatelong4 years ago
were can you get solar panels? (in NZ)
at "" only 10 bucks awesome
Try your local VW dealer (they do have them in Kiwi Land?) for the solar panels they use to trickel charge cars in transit. or look on EBay.
Radio Shack.
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