Picture of How to make a solar iPod/iPhone charger -aka MightyMintyBoost
I wanted a charger for my iPodTouch and the MintyBoost was definitely my first choice. I wanted to take it a bit further and make it not only rechargeable but also solar powered. The other issue is that the iPhone and iPodTouch have large batteries in them and will deplete the two AA batteries in the MintyBoost rather quickly so I wanted to increase the battery power as well. What I really wanted was a MightyMintyBoost!

Apple has sold over 30 million iPodTouch/iPhone units- imagine charging all of them via solar power.... If every iPhone/iPodTouch sold was fully charged every day (averaging the battery capacity) via solar power instead of fossil fuel power we would save approximately 50.644gWh of energy, roughly equivalent to 75,965,625 lbs. of CO2 in the atmosphere per year. Granted that's a best case scenario (assuming you can get enough sunlight per day and approximately 1.5 lbs. CO2 produced per kWh used.) Of course, that doesn't even figure in all the other iPods, cell phones, PDAs, microcontrollers (I use it to power my Arduino projects) and other USB devices that can be powered by this charger- one little solar cell charger may not seem like it can make a difference but add all those millions of devices together and that's a lot of energy!

There are some really nice features about this charger:

It's solar powered!
It's small.
Large battery capacity- 3.7v @2000mAh
On board charger charges via solar, USB or wall wart. Accepts input power from 3.7v to 7v.
Remove the solar cell after charging and you have a nice compact USB power supply.
Unplug the solar cell and use the Velcro to secure the MightyMintyBoost inside a backpack or messenger bag- now plug in a larger solar cell attached to your bag for even faster charging. Using a slightly larger solar cell (6v/250mAh) you can generate enough power to fully charge an iPhone in about 5.5 hours and an iPod Touch in 4 hours.

Building this is really easy and straightforward- it only took me around an hour so follow along and build one for yourself!

Safety note and general disclaimer: Be careful cutting the Altoids tin as it can have some really sharp edges- file them smooth if necessary. Assemble this at your own risk- while it is really easy to build, if you mess something up there is the potential to damage the electronic device you are trying to charge. Be careful in your assembly and soldering work and follow good safety practices. Only use a type of battery charger specifically designed for the type of battery you are using. Please read through the entire Instructable before asking questions- if there are are any questions just ask and I'll help out as best as I can!
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R-A1 year ago

Is it possible to charge the Lipo battery directly off the solar panel, instead of using a charging circiut - which adds cost to the project?

Honus (author)  R-A1 year ago
No- LiPo cells are very particular regarding charging rates so you must use a proper charging circuit.
MonteBT1 year ago

Can someone please help me. So I am using the USB/DC/Solar Lithium Ion/ Polymer Charger by Adafruit(http://www.adafruit.com/products/390?gclid=CP6djK3izL0CFYqIfgodLIoAyg) and the problem that I am having is that the yellow charging light on the PCB is lit even if the solar panel is not exposed to sunlight. I can't seem to identify what part of the circuit is wrong? Does this mean that some of my connections are not right? Or maybe I need to get a new Polymer charger? Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Honus (author)  MonteBT1 year ago
MonteBT Honus1 year ago
Thank you.

Is there a circuit diagram

Honus (author)  Sawgywaffles1 year ago
Have a look at the FAQ section.

Do i need a battery for the lipolymer thing

Honus (author)  ppandagirl5571 year ago
I'm not sure I understand your question. If you want to use the solar charger then you need a LiPo battery in order to hold a charge generated by the solar panel.
chimplost1 year ago

How much did you pay for yours.

Honus (author)  chimplost1 year ago
Honus (author)  gamebadly1 year ago
Have a look at the FAQ section.
would a male JST connector work?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool2 years ago
The one I listed is a male connector.
is it normal that it is very hard to fit inside the battery?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool1 year ago
JST connectors can be a tight fit sometimes.
would this solar panel work for the new adafruit lipoly battery charger?
also, how many volts was your soldering iron?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool2 years ago
Probably not- they recommend a 6V solar panel.
Thanks Honus!
Honus (author)  ajissupercool2 years ago
how do you know which polarity the black and blue wires of the JST connector is?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool2 years ago
Match it up to the female plug and use a meter to test which is ground.
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort.
roastedgang2 years ago
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort.
Kelly022 years ago
Amazing!!! Great job!!
Gavin7372 years ago
Great guide, but one question. Do you think that this panel would be good enough to use with the new adafruit lipoly battery for this project?
Honus (author)  Gavin7372 years ago
It's well within the parameters of the charger so I'd say sure.
fffair2 years ago
How do you think this design, if put together with adafruit's Large 6V 3.4W Solar panel - 3.4 Watt, USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger - v2, Lithium Ion Polymer Battery - 3.7v 2600mAh, and its MintyBoost Kit - v3.0, stacks up with JOOS's Orange2?[http://solarjoos.com/tech-specs]
It seems like the double battery capacity of the Orange could be a plus, but I'm not sure if the solar side of it is as good. I'd prefer to make the minty boost, but I'm not sure if its totally cost effective. Any thoughts?
Honus (author)  fffair2 years ago
It's a tough comparison. :) The Orange is a really nice finished product and looks to be really rugged. The cost is less for the Adafruit setup but it could be close once you add a nice enclosure for the Adafruit parts. I'm guessing the overall performance will be similar in terms of charge time relative to capacity.
Schmidty162 years ago

can u also find me one of these USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger - v1.0
Honus (author)  Schmidty162 years ago
That charger is no longer sold. If you read through the instructable you can see some of the alternatives I have listed.
Schmidty162 years ago
can u also help me find a battery like this on the RadioShack website
Same with the jumper Wires
Schmidty162 years ago
would this work for the solar: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12609999&filterName=Price&filterValue=%246.00+-+%249.99
Honus (author)  Schmidty162 years ago
Yep, that will work.
Schmidty162 years ago
ok thanks you were fast on that question
Schmidty162 years ago
if I were to use a pelican case what type of solar cell should I use and what are all the parts I need to make this .Can u give me a list of the stuff I need?
Honus (author)  Schmidty162 years ago
You can use whatever solar cell you want as long as it outputs enough voltage/current. There is a complete list of everything you need on the Tools and Materials page.
CODawesome2 years ago
äbädrän2 years ago
can this solar charge charge my samsung s3???
please reply to me
my s3 battery is 3.8v 2100 mAh
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