Before making this, I figured out what people (9+ years) use a lot nowadays and I came up with: cell phones and mp3 players.
A lot of people waste energy using these two items by buying the speaker systems for their mp3 players and charger their phones. Both uses usually end up with leaving the charger or system plugged into the wall, which is a big big waste of electricity.

So I developed a simple, green and cheap solution that everyone can do. This whole instructable can be made with recycled materials around the house, as long as you keep broken stuff like I do. If you don't that's totally okay, but you will have to order/go out to buy a few things.

Depending on your experience, it should take about 1.5hours for full assembly.

*Please read*
The black charger below is one that I made for me. I like the color black and I designed it based on what I like. I think that it's better to design something that you like and that you can put in you're own creative input into. So, I'm going to show you the basics on how to build one and I'm going to leave it up to you on how it looks. Have fun with it.
By following this instructable step by step you will have charger that looks like the white one pictured below

Step 1: Tools and materials

Soldering Iron
Electrical Tape
Wire cutter/stripper
Multimeter (not shown)
Crazy Glue (not shown)

5 Volt Regulator
4 AA Rechargeable batteries
4 AA battery pack holder
1 An iPod box
1 Speaker (not too big, it needs to fit in the box along with other materials)
2 Solar powered outside lights
1 USB plug (female)
1 set of old head phones

You can buy these all brand new if you'd like. I used all recycled materials for the black one pictured on the intro page. This white one is almost all recycled except for the USB cord.

If you'd like to find these parts around the house here are some places to look:

An iPod box - this doesn't need to be an iPod box, it could be anything you want, as long as everything fits. Have fun with this, it's for you so make the box something you like.

Volt Regulator - I found mine in a broken laptop. Most electronics have volt regulators, you can see what kind of regular it is by typing the number on it and google searching it. It does take time to find, if patience isn't your thing, you can probably pick one up at Radioshack for $2.

AA Rechargeable batteries/Solar powered outside lights - These were gotten together and considered recycled because they were broken (not the solar cell, but the light were broken from their base)

AA battery pack holder - These are found in a lot of toys. Mine was taken from a remote controlled car.

Speaker - I got mine out of a broken printer. You can also use the ones from those singing cards or a broken laptop.

USB plug (female) - this is really hard to find, but they can be found an pulled out of laptops.

head phones - I used a set of headphones that busted on one side.

i love the project!! i really want to create one.. can i have the circuit diagram for that project? i really really love the concept..
the best wire strippers I've used is a good pair of finger nail clippers. In my tool box i have snap on pair a craftsman and a generic set of wire strippers but for small electronic/electrical wires finger nail clippers work the best
each of my solar panels has 3 wires due to a light sensor on top, how do I know which two are the electrical wires?<br />
The problem with this design is that it is not compatible at all. If you think about it you are charging the battery, not running the phone or iPod of the solar panels. The only thing you would be able to charge is a larger model iPod like the 5G video or the Classic. Phone-wise the battery on a usual phone is only about 3.7 volts to 4 volts. when you are sending in 5 volts into the battery you are running the high risk of damaging your battery. A solution to fix this is to get rid of the voltage regultor and put in a potentiometer with a volt meter in order to get a safe voltage for the device. Also have the amperage at around 400-800 ma. This may charge a bit slower but it keeps your device safe. <br/><br/>*** Speakers are a smart idea but you need to have better speakers other than headphone speakers and have an amplifier to increase the volume.<br/>
I believe the point of the batteries would be in case the voltage from the Solar panels drops below around 6V. In this case without the batteries the volt regulator would stop working properly, however with the batteries the volt regulator can still work, and hence the iPod can still be charged. Also you can buy USB phone chargers which makes your voltage point a moot one, as if they run off the standard power supplied by a computer's USB (5V) then they clearly change the voltage supply before allowing it into the battery, otherwise there would be a lot more angry people out there!
But computers will adjust accordingly to the voltage
&nbsp;False, it sends 5v, batteries need more voltage than they put out to charge, also the charging circuits are designed to take (usually) a decent amount over what is rated as a &quot;just in case&quot;. If the phone charges from a usb port, it can take up to at least 5.5 volts no problem, the phone regulates the incoming current, the computer can't control the outgoing volts (it can't even keep it's own voltages in its rated range, so thusly 5 volts goes from 4.5-5.5volts without problems).
a USB port from a computer delivers 5volts and a maximum of 500ma. The iPod nano charges directly from a usb port to the device so i assume it uses 5volts and a max of 500ma :)
i was not commenting about the charging capacity of the iPod but of cellular phones.
I've been researching building something like this. Most iPod models have 3.7 volt batteries, rated from 300 mA/h (for the nano) to 800 mA/h (for the Touch). Ironically enough, cell phone batteries, or at least my very basic Motorola model, are also 3.7 volts! I imagine most iPod chargers tone down the 12V from the outlet to the voltage required, probably via a regulator, but I have never personally dissected one. After looking at this I-ble and many similar devices, however, my advice is don't worry too much about getting the exact voltage rating, since Solar panels tend to pump out a little less than they are rated for. If it were any more efficient, the world and its atmosphere would be a cleaner place... This is all speaking as an EE n00b, so please please correct me if I'm wrong! I like Rali929's comment about adding a pot. instead of a regulator, Much more versatile! Happy wiring!
Well thanks, but I have actually bought some solar cells from Radio Shack that actually go beyond what they are rated. I have some solar cells that should be producing 1.5v at around 300 mah but produce 1.8 -1.9v at 450 mah.
Crazy! Woot for efficiency! I should look into those when I make my device. Thanks!
But thats in full direct sun... plus I live in California, so I guess it will adjust accordingly.
or... you could look on the back of the nano or on the web and find the battery rating.
Do you know the voltage of the solar cells combined?
Won't the audio quality be quite poor due to the fact that you are running a Stereo output, from the iPod, into a Single speaker? Also what power ratings are the speakers you've used in the black model?
Well it would probably be better to connect the batteries in parallel to the solar cells in order to charge the batteries faster. Usually those solar powered lanterns have low amperage and this would increase the amperage. Not much but some what... Overall you should probably use different solar cells if you amp this project up.
I think you forgot to mention that the positive lead from the solar panels should connect to the negative lead from the batteries
Hey guys.. I was looking at a similar tutorial onlines. I found some great voltage regulators here: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.st.com/stonline/">http://www.st.com/stonline/</a> . They give out free samples of the 5V 0.5 amp.. that's what you want<br/>
and would'nt adding a heatsink to the regulator increase the amperage? what would that do to the charging efficiency?
Cool idea, very simple and clear instructions. I think I might make one, maybe add a small pocket amp too.
I want one! I am looking for the junk to build it now!

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