Introduction: Mr. Buzz, the USB Solar Charger in a Cup
What's so cool about Mr. Buzz?
- Uses flexible solar panels that are extremely light, unbreakable and can be mounted on nearly anything.
- Rechargeable batteries in the cup let you charge / power your device even if the sun isn't out.
- Total power storage of around 2,500 mA, more than enough for a full iPhone recharge, or multiple recharges for smaller devices, like a shuffle.
- Has a USB 'Type A' jack, the same jack that's on your computer, so you can connect to any USB device.
Step 1: FAQ
What is Mr. Buzz?
Mr. Buzz is a solar powered USB charger. A flexible solar panel (PowerFilm) is used to charge Nimh batteries, so Mr. Buzz can charge up your USB device even if there isn't any sun.
What can I charge with it?
Mr. Buzz uses a 'Type A' USB Jack, the same style USB jack that's on your computer, so it will physically connect to nearly any USB device. That said, some devices don't like being charged by a battery pack or solar panel.
Usually, if you plug your device into your computer and it needs to install software before it begins charging, it will not work. Here's what I've tested:
Apple iPod: Mini, Nano, Shuffle 1G/2G, Classic, Touch, iPhone
Creative Zen Micro
Nintendo DS (with an adapter cable)
ATT Fuze, aka Touch Pro
PS3 Bluetooth Headset (in holder)
Verizon PPC 6700 (HTC Apache)
Creative Zen Stone
So far, any device that doesn't work with my usb wall charger will also not work with Mr. Buzz. I've tried;
PS3 Wireless Controller
Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
How long to does it take to recharge?
It should take the same amount of time as if it were plugged into a wall charger or any other device. To charge my phone from dead to 75% takes 90 minutes (same as a wall charger).
How much juice does it have?
Total power storage is about 2,500 milliamps. This is enough to charge my phone (which has a 1,300 mA battery) about 2 full times. An iPhone's battery is 1,200 mA, so you should about 2 charges, too. Smaller devices (like a shuffle) will recharge many, many times.
What batteries should I use?
You should only use rechargeable AA batteries (Nickel-Metal Hydride). With 4 batteries, Mr. Buzz provides 4.8v-5.2v.
Do I have to use batteries?
Yes - the solar panel slowly trickle-charges your batteries, and they aren't large enough to directly power your USB device.
Mr. Buzz was designed by James Long at Lil' Brother SMT Assembly. A kit or bare PCB are available at Gadget Gangster.
Step 2: Preparation: Tools
This is a great project to learn how to solder. It only takes about 15 minutes to put together, too. There are a ton of great instructables on how to solder (one here).
You'll need a few tools to assemble the project;
1 - Soldering Iron and solder. Leaded solder is easier to work with, and a 15-40 watt iron is just fine. A conical or chisel tip works well.
2 - Dikes. Diagonal cutters are used to trim the excess leads from components after soldering them down.
3 - Batteries. Mr. Buzz needs 4xAA rechargeable
Step 3: Preparation: Parts List
Here are the parts you'll need to put Mr. Buzz together. If you've ordered the kit from Gadget Gangster, double check to make sure your kit has all the parts listed. If there's anything missing, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org;
Eagle 4xAA Battery Box
Mouser Part #12BH348/C-GR
Mr. Buzz Circuit Board
Source: Gadget Gangster
.1uF Ceramic Capacitor
100k ohm 1/4W Resistor (Brown - Black - Yellow)
USB Type A Jack
About 1 Foot of Hookup Wire
3V PowerFilm Solar Panels
Not included in the kit are 4xAA rechargeable batteries, which you'll need to provide.
Step 4: Make It: Step I
Ready to begin? Building Mr. Buzz is easy. Let's start with the resistors.
Take the 2 resistors (100k ohm, marked Brown - Black - Yellow), bend the leads at a 90 degree angle and insert them into R1 and R2.
Flip over the pcb, solder down the parts and trim off the excess leads.
Step 5: Make It: Step II
Take the two Ceramic capacitors and insert them into C1 and C2. These caps aren't polarized, so it doesn't matter which direction they go in the pcb.
Flip over the board, solder them down and trim off the excess leads. Save one of the excess leads for the next step.
Step 6: Make It: Step III
With the bit of excess lead you saved from the last step, you're going to bridge a connection on the board.
Bend the wire in a 'U' shape, and insert one end in the hole marked 'NoREG', the other end goes in the middle hole.
Why is this jumper here? If you want to use Mr. Buzz with a bigger solar panel or another power source, you can do so with this circuit board! You just jump the middle hole to 'Reg' and jump the two holes in the 'REG Enable' box. You would then add a voltage regulator at U1.
You'll want to use a 5V regulator. NOTE: The pinouts for the regulator aren't compatible with the 78xx regulators, you'll want to use something like this, instead.
Step 7: Make It: Step IV
We're almost done with the board - we just need to add the USB jack. Take a look at the photo. Drop the USB jack in the board, flip it over and solder it down.
Step 8: Make It: Step V
Add the battery box as indicated in the photo. The red wire goes in the hole marked '+' and the black wire goes in the hole marked '-'.
Step 9: Make It: Step VI
Now, let's work on the panel.
First: Set the 2 panels on the table, exactly as shown. Note that each panel is polarized, the pattern on the panel (the repeating 'T' pattern) shows you the correct polarity.
Take a bit of hookup wire (or some of the extra leads you've trimmed off) and set it on the panels, as shown on the photo. This wire is going to be used to connect the panels in series.
With your soldering iron in one hand and some solder in the other, solder the extra wire straight to the copper 'braid' on the panel. There's a very thin film over the copper braid - don't worry about it, your solder will melt right through it and adhere to the copper braid. Once you've got it affixed to the first panel, connect the other end to the other panel, as shown in the photo.
Take the remaining hookup wire and cut it in half (2x 6 inch lengths). You'll use this wire to connect the panel to the Mr. Buzz circuit board.
Step 10: Make It: Step VII
Finally, connect the panel to the circuit board. Note on the photo how the panel connects.
That's it - You're all done!
Usage and Mounting
I suggest you join the 2 panels with a bit of scotch tape - it will make them more rigid. To mount it, you can tape it directly to a surface, use double-stick tape, or just let it hang freely. PowerFilm is very durable and flexible - I wouldn't fold it or crush it, but it will curve around a soda can, coffee cup, or on a backpack.
To use Mr. Buzz, just add your rechargeable batteries and flip the 'on' switch on the battery back and plug your device in. Charging should start immediately. Also, if you're not charging Mr. Buzz's batteries or charging your USB device, you should flip the battery switch to 'off'. If you don't, the batteries will slowly lose their charge.
Step 11: Downloads
I hope you enjoy Mr. Buzz! Let me know what you think by commenting on this instructable or sending me an email at email@example.com.
There's no software for Mr. Buzz, but here's a simplified schematic:
Diptrace format - jpg
And here's the board layout
Diptrace format - jpg
Buy the kit or Circuit Board from Gadget Gangster