Introduction: Make a Solar DS "light" (Version 1)

The Nintendo DS Lite seems like it was made to have solar cells put on it. It has a large amount of surface area on the top and bottom that both face upward when the DS is opened. The top and bottom faces each have exactly the right amount of room for two 60x60mm solar cells side by side (four total). Each one has a maximum power output of 3 volts at 40 ma. The top two are connected in series and so are the bottom two. These two sets are wired in parallel to get a total of 6 volts at 80 ma, perfect for trickle-charging the battery.

Note: A newer version has been posted and is better than this one. Go to: https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-DS-quotLightquot-Redone-and-Greatly-Impr/ for a better version. If you want to make a solar powered DS the easy way, you can still use this one.

If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask!

By the way, this is my first Instructable!

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

  • 4x - 60x60 mm solar cell
  • 2x - Diodes (Preferably schottky, they have a lower forward voltage)
  • Some wire, almost any kind will work (the thinner the better)
  • Scotch tape

Tools:

  • Multimeter
  • Mire stripper / cutter
  • Soldering iron with solder
  • Helping hands tool (not necessary, but helpful)
  • Hot glue gun with glue

Step 2: Make the Panels

Solder two of the solar cells together to make a panel, with the negative strip connecting to the positive strip. The negative ends of the solar cells have a skinny black mark by them. Repeat this with the other two to make another panel.

Step 3: Attach the Diodes

A diode is an electrical component that allows electricity to flow in one direction only. In this case, it is used so that the solar panels can charge the battery but the battery can't discharge into the solar panels. On the positive end of one of the panels, solder the anode (the end without the white stripe) of one of the diodes to the positive end of one of the solar panels so that the diode points down. Solder the anode of the other diode to the other panel so that it points up. After that, use a dab of hot glue to secure the diode to the solar cell.

Step 4: Wiring Part 1

Cut a length of wire about 15 cm long. Strip one end and solder it to the end of the diode on the top panel (where the diode faces down). bend it at the corner of the panel, then tape it along the edge of the first cell.

Step 5: Wiring Part 2

Cut another length of wire about 15 cm long. Strip one end of it and solder it to the negative side of the top panel. Bend it around the corner and tape it.

Step 6: Wiring Part 3

Cut and strip a wire about 20 cm long. Solder one end of it the diode on the lower panel, then bend it and tape it along the length of the panel. This wire will later be soldered to the DS battery holder.

Step 7: Wiring Part 4

Cut and strip a wire about 10 cm long, and solder it to the negative end of the bottom panel. Tape it to the side of the panel with a small piece of tape. This wire will later be soldered to the DS battery holder.

Step 8: Join the Panels

Take the wire from the negative of the top panel and slip it underneath the tape on the bottom panel(or you could just replace the tape). Solder the end of the wire to the negative of the bottom panel. Take the wire from the positive (diode side) of the top panel and slip it underneath the tape on the bottom panel. Solder the end of the wire to the end of the diode on the positive side of the bottom panel.

Step 9: Test the Setup

Connect the multimeter to the two wires comming from the panels. Bring it outside and set the panels in the sun. Test the voltage and the current. A good way to test that each panel is working is to put the multimeter on the current setting and cover one of the panels with your hand. If the current is half of what it was before, they work!

These panels were only supposed to produce 6 volts, but I'll go with 8! :-)

Step 10: Prepare the DS

After you have made sure the panels work, take the battery cover off of the DS using a small philips . Take out the battery by putting your fingernail under the little notch and prying it out.

Step 11: Connect the Panels Part 1

If the wires coming from the panels are too long, cut them for the best length.

Solder the positive wire from the panels to the positive battery terminal. A good way to do this is to wedge it between the two little tabs, then solder it while it's stuck there.

Step 12: Connect the Panels Part 2

Solder the negative wire to the negative battery terminal, using the same method as before.

Step 13: Close It Up

Push the battery back into the slot, even if it means forcing it. It should be harder to put back in because the battery connector is now covered in solder.

Screw the battery cover on. This may require some effort because of the wires sticking out of it. If you're using a lower guage (thicker) wire, you may have to cut or sand a gap for it to fit.

Step 14: Secure the Panels to the DS

Position the cells on the DS how you want to attatch them. Lift up one of the panels and place a large blob of glue under each cell. Hold it tight until the glue cools (about 30 seconds). Repeat this with the other panel and your done!!!! :-)

Step 15: Enjoy Not Using the Charger!

Turn the DS on. If it works, good job! If it doesn't, I have no idea what you did wrong (or the battery is dead).

Ever since I did this to my DS, I have never had to plug it in to charge it. If you have used for a while, set it in the sun to charge some. ~~Don't let it sit in the sun all day every day, it's probably bad for the battery. The cells don't produce much current, but it's probably best not to risk the battery.~~ (see update)

Enjoy your DS "light"! :-)


Ratings and comments are appreciated. If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask! I'll gladly answer it!

Step 16: Update!

After several people pointed out that there really should be some sort of charge protection circuit, d3z0rian commented suggesting this!

http://www.batteryjunction.com/prcimopfor3l.html

It's a small circuit that automatically cuts off the power when the battery is fully charged. At only $1.59, it's a bargain! In less than a week from February 13, 2009 it should arrive. I'll post another update with pictures showing the new setup!

February 22, 2009: The part arrived yesterday, and I just finished modifying the DS with the chip. It changed so much that I'll have to post a new instructable. I'll put a link to it right here when I'm done with it.

April 12, 2009: The newer version has been published! Go to https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-DS-quotLightquot-Redone-and-Greatly-Impr/!

Comments

author
qquuiinn made it! (author)2013-02-26

Hm. How fast will this charge?

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2013-02-27

Fairly slowly. It puts out a fraction of the power that the charger could provide.

author
qquuiinn made it! (author)2013-02-26

Hm. How fast will this charge?

author
qquuiinn made it! (author)2013-02-26

Hm. How fast will this charge?

author
oldmechanic made it! (author)2012-07-16

Cool!

author
imgarret made it! (author)2011-03-08

Can this be adapted to work on a DSi using the charging port? I'm wondering if you can cut a charging cable to plug into it, instead of running wires directly to the battery?

Thanks.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2011-03-12

Yes. Go to the updated Instructable (https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-DS-quotLightquot-Redone-and-Greatly-Impr/) and look at step 17. Have fun!

author
calalbe made it! (author)2010-03-21

 Did you hear about the larger DS XL coming out? Maybe this means we can tack on more panels?


author
dark sponge made it! (author)2010-01-07

 :-)

author
Zetta master made it! (author)2009-08-03

Is there anyway i could make this for my DSi or PSP???

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-08-04

Look in the comments at the updated version: https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-DS-quotLightquot-Redone-and-Greatly-Impr/. If you can't find what you need, post another comment and I'll be happy to help.

author
PATALIM made it! (author)2009-02-24

This is really nice, except that I can't play the Nintendo DS Lite outdoors as I'm having trouble seeing the screen especially when it is too bright.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-02-25

I don't play it outdoors. I don't even charge it outdoors. I play it indoors and when i'm done I set it by a window to charge.

author
PATALIM made it! (author)PATALIM2009-02-26

Oh!, anyway I think in doing so will shorten the life of your LCD screen as heat will degrade the screen (not to mention other parts such as the casing) as I have proven it to myself with my other LCD devices such as: Wristwatches, Calculators, 2-Way radios, Original Game Boy, GB pocket, Caller ID, etc. that was placed/stored in a warm to hot room or directly being exposed to sunlight and the degree of degradation depends on the quality of the LCD. e.g My Casio watches LCD degrades a little vs my Timex watches and other noname calculator vs branded ones. Hope that the LCD of the Nintendo DS Lite is far superior than its predecessor. (So, now I learned my lesson I'm keeping all my LCD'd devices in a cool place). By the way I from a tropical country.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-02-27

Oh, ok! Unfortunately, I don't know how to fix that problem...

author
smtgr14 made it! (author)smtgr142009-07-06

I used heat sheilding similar to what they use on the space shuttles and i can leave the DS out all day without any damage.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-07-06

Cool! Any pictures?

author
smtgr14 made it! (author)smtgr142009-07-07

Sorry but no, i dropped the D@#$ thing and it broke itself and my toe.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-07-07

Ouch...

author
smtgr14 made it! (author)smtgr142009-08-01

Will rebuild eventuall and post pics. also my toe is better now

author
dagenius made it! (author)dagenius2009-05-30

well, for one, the screen is facing down while chargeing solar.

author
luka1184 made it! (author)2009-06-21

Hi i need to know how to make a DS charger, out of my DS Lite Car Charger it would be for a Lite, cause i got the new Deltora Quest DS Game and its japanese. I need a charger because all my chargers always got stoled or i really dont know if i just trew it out somehwere and cant find it. I want to make it so the volt is circa maching cause to not torching the ds or the cable. ANd i need to cover the wries so i not get torched or gets an electrical shock. (Can i buy a DS Lite Charger in Fona??? If you know what that is, or in Expert if you know what that is, or where else could i buy a brand new one Nintendo DS Lite Charger Dark Sponge????????? (PS: I lives in the country Denmark)

author
pancho del rancho made it! (author)pancho del rancho2009-07-29

get a normal input and cu it in halft strip the red and black wire then cut the car charger in half and strip the wires then put the red with red and black with black solder or e-tape u need to make sure its the same voltage

author
dagenius made it! (author)2009-05-30

oooookkkkkkkaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy.......

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-05-31

Sorry, my sister forgot to log into her own account ;-)

author
dark sponge made it! (author)2009-03-08

I used N4004 rectifier diodes, but that isn't the best choice. It was just what I had lying around.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-03-16

Who flagged 5921400's comment? all it said was: What Diodes did you use?

author
dagenius made it! (author)dagenius2009-05-30

IDK... maybe it's 'caus his picture is inapropriate...

author
yummahcupekakez made it! (author)yummahcupekakez2009-04-06

I know someone must have been STUPID.

author
Bigev made it! (author)Bigev2009-04-23

Methinks, when you die, all your comments go bye-bye. Look for their page, it doesn't exist.

author
jakesllama made it! (author)2009-04-28

so cool i have experimented with solar panels and made a generator that goes on to your arm so while you move your arm you charge your ds but the problem i had was the ds had charged up in flicks so it would flick on flick off and i ended up damaging my battery lol not very effiicent when the light on the ds go on when charging wasting electric

author
OUSooner made it! (author)2009-04-21

How comfortable is it to hold? How strong are the solar panels? Do I need to worry about breaking them if I drop it? Thanks and awesome idea!

author
Woshmistro made it! (author)2009-04-12

is it possible to connect the solar panels to the charging slot at the back of the ds so it uses the ds' own cutoff chip and you can see wether the ds is charging with its indicator light?

author
Woshmistro made it! (author)Woshmistro2009-04-12

oh soz i should of read through the comments before i posted, anyways... this is a great idea, could save alot of money in the longterm

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-04-12

Actually, this isn't going to save you any money unless you pay waaaaaay too much for electricity. The solar panels are mainly for the convenience of not having to carry a charger with you.

author
HAL 9000 made it! (author)2009-04-09

Hey, i like this! i just got an msi WIND about a month ago, so now im thinking about how to mount solar panels on top. i've been looking around the WIND forums and i have yet to see anyone with a solar trickle charger mounted to theirs.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-04-09

That would be awesome! I would be a litte careful around the battery, though. Those laptop batteries can be pretty violent. You would probably need a cutoff chip and a charging circuit (unless it is built into the battery).

author
beauwalker23 made it! (author)2009-04-06

how long does it take to completely charge? does it hold its charge? anyone you know ruin their DS?

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-04-09

I don't know how long it takes to completely charge because I have no indicator for when it is done. It can hold its charge just as long as the unmodified ds can. It would be pretty hard to ruin your ds doing this unless your solar cells put out too high a voltage. This project doesn't open up the ds and put the stuff inside at risk, so it is safe.

author
sahervey made it! (author)2009-02-24

How durable are the solar panels? I have three kids with DS's and would like to try this. Would the suffer the abuse of a 4, 6, and 8 year old? I am thinking I might be better off simply going with a separate charging pack like the one you have drawn. Will a 9v battery completely charge the DS?

author
HAL 9000 made it! (author)HAL 90002009-04-09

there are solar panels available that are not made of glass and that are almost indestructible. they're flexible, and i think you may even be able to cut them out with scissors to fit. the only downside is that they are a bit more expensive, but they will look pretty slick, since they're paper thin.

author
sahervey made it! (author)sahervey2009-04-09

Where can you get said solar panels?

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-02-27

Sorry, but the solar panels I used are made of glass. They are very sturdy, but I can tell one or two drops on a hard floor would shatter the panels. For your second question, a full 9v battery would not fully charge a DS, but 6 AAs should.

author
unknown24 made it! (author)2009-04-06

oooooh. interesting...

author
dark sponge made it! (author)2009-03-26

They should. You might want to connect them in series instead of parallel, though. They have higher voltages than the ones I used. You can get the ones I used here:

http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/item/SPL-61/SOLAR-CELL-60MM-X-60MM-X2MM/-/1.html

author
budsiskos made it! (author)2009-02-11

sweet. i plan on doing this soon.

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-02-11

cool!

author
holay3 made it! (author)holay32009-02-16

is this safe? =( i dont want to ruin my ds =( and how do i solder the wires?

author
dark sponge made it! (author)dark sponge2009-02-16

This is perfectly safe for the ds unless you connect everything totally wrong. You should keep checking back to see when the update comes out, and do it that way. The update has a chip that sill stop the charging when the battery is fully charged. For soldering, you could probably find several instructables on the topic.

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Bio: Hi! I've loved electronics and electricity for as long as I can remember, and electric projects are something I do in my free time ... More »
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