Instructables
Picture of Mini Solar Generator (The Grizzy Cub 90)
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Here is my step by step Instructable on how I made my mini solar generator. I made this one because it will be more compact than lugging around my larger one which weighs around 27kg (60 pounds). This one will be less than 3kg so of course it won't power a mini refrigerator or start my car like it's big brother but it will charge a few mobile phones/tablets and run a small oscillating fan at the lake in the summer. I have 3 folding solar panels that I use to power my things while camping but i think a 45w will suffice for this little one.

Parts I used:

1x Hot glue gun case
2x Toggle switches
1x 7.2Ah Battery
2x 12v Power outlet
1x 3a Double USB Port
1x 5w LED light
1x 12v Battery Gauge
1x 45w folding solar panel
1x  220-240V 500mAh European Charger.
1x 12V Cigarette Lighter Plug.

* Various lengths of red and black wire.  
* Twist ties
* Duct Tape

YouTube video showing my larger system with panels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwMTcVRKvdE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hwDbAAwZ-A

note: just added a 12 volt plug to the mini solar generator and now I can charge it up while driving around.
 
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Step 1: Parkside Hot Glue Case

Picture of Parkside Hot Glue Case
I'm using a case that I had lying around from a non functioning hot glue gun. The firs step is to remove the hard plastic lining interior.

Step 2: Cutting Like Crazy!

Picture of Cutting Like Crazy!
I removed the interior plastic supports for the hot glue gun with my trusty Swiss Army Knife. There are easier ways I'm sure but 'Big Red' is always sharp and ready and it's small enough to get into tight spots. The interior needed to be removed to allow space for the solar generators components.

Step 3: Tidiness is Paramount!

Picture of Tidiness is Paramount!
Unfortunately for me it's winter time so I can't use my unheated garage for my projects. I am reduced to using the dining room table for my workbench.

Step 4: Easy Drilling & Gluing.

Picture of Easy Drilling & Gluing.
I use a cordless drill and hot glue for most of my homemade projects. In this picture I have simply drilled a hole and placed a 5w LED light into the spot.
thaliquid7 months ago
Just a curiousity, but is that a VRLA battery? If it is then is it a bit iffy having it in a sealed case, especially with working electrics in there too.
blackvyper (author)  thaliquid7 months ago

My mini Solar Generator is working just fine and the case isn't sealed. I open it all the time to access the 230v and 12v plugs for charging. Besides, this was created by Gregory Parker Sr... it works beautifully.

thaliquid8 months ago
Thanks for the input guys it's very appreciated. I've found some 12v 17mA batteries online, would the extra mA over the 7.2mA mean faster charge times for things like mobile phones plugged into the usb slot/s? If I used 3 12v batteries, would that give me 51mA(17x3)? And if that is the case would it be possible to power a single 240v 3 pronged(UK) socket via an invertor for any reasonable length of time? Would you recommend a volt meter when it comes to trickle charging the batteries just so that I don't under or over charge them? Is it safe to charge the main 12v batteries while they are linked together or would I need to charge them individually? Sorry to be a pain in the arse with the questions, but I want to be sure and careful when it comes to battery side of things. :-)
vicesat8 months ago

I like it so much, but nex time use 5050 leds, are better than 3528

blackvyper (author)  vicesat8 months ago

I only added the light because I had it lying around in my toolbox from a couple years ago. In fact, the only things I bought for this project were the battery and battery gauge.

seolfor8 months ago

As the title is Mini Solar Generator, I have to ask: where is the solar panel for generating the electricity that charges the battery? Other than that, this is a nice portable backup charging/power station.

blackvyper (author)  seolfor8 months ago

I have added the picture with the solar panels. As stated above I have 215 watts of solar panels.

Solar ?? Generator ?? It's a battery pack ... but nice job/instructable

blackvyper (author)  Lectric Wizard8 months ago

I added a picture of the solar panels.. I have a total of 215 watts of them but you get the idea without having to see all of them plugged into my Solar Generator. Thanks for the compliment though. I'll make an upgraded Instructable for my 1500w Solar Generator... that's pushing 200 amps of battery power :D

thaliquid8 months ago
This is a fantastic idea and a project I'd like to try myself. It's a 12v battery used and usb is 5v, does the 3a double USB fitting drop the voltage down to 5v? How could I make a more beefed up version, would it be as simple as using 2 of those batteries in the unit? Also, would you be kind enough to draw a rough and ready wiring diagram please. This is perfect for my camping trips and would like to try and make this project myself. A beefier version would be even better. Thanks for posting this project, brilliant and useful in a practical casing.
blackvyper (author)  thaliquid8 months ago

Yes, the voltage is dropped down to 5v for USB. I chose a 3a USB port because it charges faster than a normal 1.5 or 2 amp port. I made a 'beefed' up version last year. I have since upgraded that system to a 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter and 2x 100Ah batteries. You can check out my other Instructable but it's not been updated since the new upgrades. I'm working 6 days a week so I don't knwo when I'll get around to any diagram, but this is a simple system. It's just cut, glue, wire it up.

the usb "ports" are an automotive 12V to dual 5V usb adapter (cheap at gas stations dollar stores or electronics store . probably $6 ) It normally plugs right into an aux power port(cigarette lighter socket) and outputs 1-2 amp over it's usb ports
thaliquid8 months ago
One more question if I may. What type of mains charger would I use to charge the 12v battery, could you use a car battery charger at all?
blackvyper (author)  thaliquid8 months ago

As for a wall charger, I have successfully used a 500ma charger with crocodile clamps to trickle charge batteries of this size and larger. Take into account that the larger the battery the longer the charge time. Try not to overload your battery with too many amps at once though.

a "trickle charges" would work, but a full automotive charger may be too powerful. some charges will have a low power mode that would work but a cheap auto battery charger will try and pump in too much amperage, and will probably destroy your battery.
you could even use a 13 volt laptop power supply,but care would be needed as there would be no change control .