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)  Landcruiser873 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)  Landcruiser873 years ago
No problem- let me know how it works out!
sheepbars1 hour 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!

MonteBT12 days 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)  MonteBT12 days ago
MonteBT Honus12 days 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.

Is there a circuit diagram

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

Do i need a battery for the lipolymer thing

Honus (author)  ppandagirl5571 month 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.
chimplost2 months ago

How much did you pay for yours.

Honus (author)  chimplost2 months ago
steveazhocar3 months ago
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort.
Honus (author)  gamebadly5 months ago
Have a look at the FAQ section.
ajissupercool7 months ago
would a male JST connector work?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool7 months ago
The one I listed is a male connector.
is it normal that it is very hard to fit inside the battery?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool7 months ago
JST connectors can be a tight fit sometimes.
ajissupercool7 months ago
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
Honus (author)  ajissupercool7 months ago
Probably not- they recommend a 6V solar panel.
Thanks Honus!
Honus (author)  ajissupercool7 months ago
ajissupercool7 months ago
how do you know which polarity the black and blue wires of the JST connector is?
Honus (author)  ajissupercool7 months ago
Match it up to the female plug and use a meter to test which is ground.
clickworried7 months ago
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort.
roastedgang8 months ago
Thanks! They're possibly one of the best made containers of any sort.
Kelly0210 months ago
Amazing!!! Great job!!
Gavin73710 months 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?
http://www.adafruit.com/products/200
Honus (author)  Gavin73710 months ago
It's well within the parameters of the charger so I'd say sure.
fffair10 months 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)  fffair10 months 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.
Schmidty1611 months ago

can u also find me one of these USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger - v1.0
Honus (author)  Schmidty1611 months ago
That charger is no longer sold. If you read through the instructable you can see some of the alternatives I have listed.
Schmidty1611 months ago
can u also help me find a battery like this on the RadioShack website
Same with the jumper Wires
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