Instructables

How to make a solar iPod/iPhone charger -aka MightyMintyBoost

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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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Love this setup,

I plan on building a 12V system for other power hungry applications, but instead of a flimsy altoids can, i decided to beef it up a bit with a pelican project box. If anyone has any suggestions about how to cover ports a little better, that would be great.

Check it out!

Love the instructable! Great work.
100927-112252.jpg100926-112859.jpg100926-112940.jpg

Love the case. I wonder if you could use sugru around the ports to make secure fittings. http://sugru.com

How much did you pay for yours.
Honus (author)  Landcruiser874 years ago
Looks awesome. Pelican cases are great- I have a large one that's over 15yrs old and it's still going strong. Maybe for port covers you could mold some silicone plugs. Try Sugru!
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort. I've been using them for various things here and there over the past 7 or 8 years. I like the idea of using Sugru for port covers! I was having all sorts of failed trials with grommets, silicon and other failed devices, but sugru might just be the ticket. Thanks Honus!

Honus (author)  Landcruiser874 years ago
No problem- let me know how it works out!
SparkySolar27 days ago

Love this Intractable

AidanT1 month ago

Hi- love the idea. How would you modify it to make it into an ipad 4 charger?

Honus (author)  AidanT1 month ago
You would just need to figure the pinout for the thunderbolt connector. It would take it an awfully long time to charge an iPad though since the batteries in those are much larger.
AidanT Honus1 month ago
Would I be able to add a higher wattage solar panel to get more energy quicker, and what would I have to do to do this? Also, would I need to add more batteries to the pack to increase capacity?
Honus (author)  AidanT28 days ago

You can certainly do that. Have a look at the FAQ section- there is a charger listed there than can handle up to 1 Amp. You absolutely can add a larger capacity battery and you don't need to change the circuit at all.

mpmuebles1 month ago

good project. well done!

interesting, and the solar parts looks small and nice.

Mr_Rep3 months ago

i have a 7.2v Ni-Mh rechargable battery would this be effective with a 6v 1Watt solar cell?

Honus (author)  Mr_Rep3 months ago
No it wouldn't work. The charging circuit is designed to work only with single cell LiPo batteries.
Mr_Rep Honus3 months ago
Hhmm...'ok thanks.
mmcgo made it!5 months ago

I made one out of an old Shrek DVD case because I have a bad sense of humor. I also made an adjustable stand with Velcro that allows me to adjust the angle of the solar panel. Works very well, but do be conscious of the casing you pick out. Because this case is black, it can heat up rather quickly, which reduces performance and risks damaging the circuitry and battery inside. I always make sure to hide the case from the sun, which can be a bit inconvenient since the panel is on a short leash.

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sniffrumble5 months ago

Looks awesome. Pelican cases are great- I have a large one that's over 15yrs old and it's still going strong. Maybe for port covers you could mold some silicone plugs. Try Sugru!

No- LiPo cells are very particular regarding charging rates so you must use a proper charging circuit.

No- LiPo cells are very particular regarding charging rates so you must use a proper charging circuit.

R-A6 months 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-A6 months ago
No- LiPo cells are very particular regarding charging rates so you must use a proper charging circuit.
sheepbars7 months ago

Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort. I've been using them for various things here and there over the past 7 or 8 years. I like the idea of using Sugru for port covers! I was having all sorts of failed trials with grommets, silicon and other failed devices, but sugru might just be the ticket. Thanks Honus!

MonteBT7 months 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)  MonteBT7 months ago
MonteBT Honus7 months ago
Thank you.

I plan on building a 12V system for other power hungry applications, but instead of a flimsy altoids can, i decided to beef it up a bit with a pelican project box. If anyone has any suggestions about how to cover ports a little better, that would be great.

Sawgywaffles8 months ago

Is there a circuit diagram

Honus (author)  Sawgywaffles8 months ago
Have a look at the FAQ section.
ppandagirl5579 months ago

Do i need a battery for the lipolymer thing

Honus (author)  ppandagirl5579 months 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.
chimplost10 months ago

How much did you pay for yours.

Honus (author)  chimplost10 months ago
steveazhocar11 months ago
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort.
Honus (author)  gamebadly1 year ago
Have a look at the FAQ section.
would a male JST connector work?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool1 year 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?
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/7845
also, how many volts was your soldering iron?
thanks
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