My Dad is a big enthusiast of solar power and he's been after me for quite some time to experiment with it. So, after salvaging the required materials from old electronics, I finally made my Mini Solar Power Plant!
Here it is for the world to see!
Step 1: Collecting the Materials
You will not need any sophisticated electronics for this. All the materials used here can be salvaged from old electronics devices.
You will need:
- Solar panels (I used the little ones found in electronic calculators. You can buy them or salvage them from old calculators - as many as you like.)
- Wire (I got this from the cable of an old computer mouse)
- Some plastic/wood sheets (I used the rear panels of two pocket-sized calculators, but you can use anything you like-plastic, wood, cardboard, etc.)
- Two (2) Curtain runners or anything which can serve as hinges. (You can use small pieces of plastic with holes in them for screws)
- Some screws and nuts
- Any flat object which can serve as a base. (You may use the lid of a jar, a flat piece of wood, etc)
Step 2: Assembling
- First, you need to prepare the base.
- Attach the curtain runner (or whatever you are using as a hinge) to your base with a screw.
- An alternate to the curtain runner can be a rectangular piece of plastic or wood with a hole at one end as shown in the given diagram.
- You can glue this piece of plastic to the base using super glue or hot glue.
- Next, prepare the upper stage of the solar panel assembly.
- Take the flat piece of plastic, wood or cardboard which will serve as the rear panel and make a hole in it to attach the curtain runner or attach the piece of plastic using glue. (This step will be similar to the one where we made the base).
- Now, prepare the solar panels.
- I would recommend that you do not disconnect the wires from the solar panel when you take it out from the calculator. Instead, disconnect the wires from where they are attached to the calculator's circuit.
- If you accidentally break off the wires from the panel then soldering them can be a tricky job. I've ruined one panel this way. The trick is to solder quickly so that the panel is not exposed to very high temperatures for a long time.
- I wired the panels in series but you can also wire them in parallel. (Solar panels in series combination give a higher voltage.)
- Once you're done with the wiring, tape the wires to the solar panel assembly as I've done to make them more organized.
- Now its time to join the front and back panels of the solar panel assembly (Upper stage) together, using Scotch tape (at least that's how I did it!).
- Now join the upper stage (solar panel assembly) to the base using a nut and screw as shown.
- You're done! Now its time to test out your Mini Solar Power Plant!
Step 3: Puttin' It in the Sun!
Obviously, a mini solar power plant is of no use if you keep it in your room, so let's go outside and set it up in the sun!
As you can see in the picture, its cloudy, so the panels are not generating electricity to their full capacity. When I tried them out in bright sunlight, they gave about 5.2-5.5V of electricity instead of the 4.8V you see now. But no matter if the voltage is high or low, you've got your own mini solar power plant! And that's a small step towards a goal of owning a solar power park one day.
I have not thought about what I'm going to do with the electricity that's produced. Most probably, I'll charge a battery during the day and use it to power some LEDs or the desk lamp that I have built.
NOTE: As soon as I think of what I'm going to do with my Mini Solar Power Plant, I'll update this Instructable to let you know what I'm doing. And as I'm sure that I'll have to build some kind of battery charging system or electricity distribution system, I'll share it with you. That's a promise!
(For info about the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park, go to this link.)
Now, show off your Mini Solar Power Plant to your friends and if they make fun of it, then dare them to make one of their own!