Picture of Solar Altoids iPhone/ iPod Charger

I love my iPhone 4 to death. I really do. Even if it sucks juice faster than a 1st grader at snack time and I often find myself on low power with a long train ride ahead of me.

I originally made my Altoids USB Charger to use with my iPhone, only to find that Apple being Apple doesn't let it's products play nice with generic USB chargers. I then set out on a long journey to find a cheap charger that would work with an iPhone 4. After sacrificing many a cheap Chinese charger to my garbage can, I eventually found a great little circuit with the added bonus of having a retractable cable.

It's a cheap and easy project to put together and a great gift to give.

*** Update: I've since retired this kit. It's not held up over time very well. I've done an updated version called Solar USB Kit 2.0 and a more rugged version called Lithium Heavy Duty 2.0. If you're looking for something pre made, especially for camping or emergencies, you should try out one of our Folding USB Solar Cells. They're inexpensive and much much more powerful than what you'll find here.

Time: 30-60 minutes
Cost: Under $20
Difficulty: Easy

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Charging Circuit
2x AA Battery Holder
2x Rechargeable Batteries
1N914 Blocking Diode
Solar Cell greater than 4V
Stranded Wire

Altoids Tin

Soldering Iron
Hot Glue Gun
Wire Strippers
Protective Goggles

If you're interested in this project I have kits available on my website, browndoggadgets.com, that have everything you need to make the charger. If you're not one for making things, I sell premade chargers as well.

More than 12% of all profits go to dog and kitty toys. You wouldn't make a kitty cry, would you?

VidDroog4 years ago
Thorough and well thought out instructions...as would be expected from a teacher..

Appreciate the explanation of the non-standard apple implementation of usb charging....which probably explains why other gadgets such as my Garmin GPS and Palm Treo are aggravatingly finicky about their usb power supply..

Also appreciate your browndoggadgets.com site, as a source for small quantities of solar project related parts, that (I assume) have already been experimented with, as to their appropriateness for project/experiments (might suggest putting the wattage on the LEDs though).

One question I had: what would be a good source for the little tabs that one could solder on to NiMH AAA/AA batteries when replacing same in such items as Norelco rechargeable shavers and such? I have found sources for the Heat Wrap (like All-Battery.com) to bind multi-AAA/AA packs and such, but not the metal tabs (which would seem to be more stable/useful than a bit of wire, esp. when putting the battery pack back on the circuit board)..

Thanks again for the great instructable... bet you are one of the favorite teachers at your school..
Don't know if you still looking for this solution or not.

But you can buy "battery bars" at just about any hobby shop. They come in various sizes, just bring in the cells you want to connect to get the size you need. I have some rather small lightweight copper bars. Bars used in multi cell RC buggy racing (If the jump to LiPo has not been made) are longer and at least an eighth inch thick.
This is an awesome website. I hope that you are able to make big bucks off of it. PS I really like the usb kit design. It looks rustic but also helpful.
RelientOwl3 years ago
Do you have any idea of how to identify a solar panels Volts and Amps?

use a Volt/Ohm multimeter with Amps included usually cheap analog or slightly more for digital Most home building supply stores - even wal-mart.

JoshuaZimmerman (author)  RelientOwl6 months ago

Volt meter and amp meter.

Do you have to have the blocking diode?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  schoonovermr6 months ago

Very much so.

SpinedWave2 years ago
Can i use a another Blocking Diode instead of the 1N914 Blocking Diode? Because they hardly to get in me country. Thank You.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  SpinedWave6 months ago

Anything similar would work.

this is awesome! But what if I use a different lightning to usb cable for my apple devices? I prefer the longer ones something like this one ,

http://bit.ly/legitapplecable .

Do you think it will worked? You are awesome man. I think I'd rather do this one than buying a new one. Thanks I will keep you posted after I finished mine.

JoshuaZimmerman (author)  eureka.gomez.356 months ago

Use make up one with a standard USB port on it. It's much easier and then works with anything, including a lightning cable.

So i purchased everything from Radio Shack execpt the usb port(ripped one from a car charger). Wired all together last night but didn't glue in tin yet. Wanted to test it today first. Noticed this a.m. that my positive wire from battery box came off so I just twisted them together and placed it in the sun. Went to check a few hours later and plugged device in but it wouldn't charge. The only way I can get it to charge it to untwist that wire then the solar panel will charge device if in sunlight but if i hook that wire up it stops....need help.
amblowe2 years ago
Wish you had been my science teacher back in the day!
Schmidty162 years ago
I want one of these but I want it to have a usb and be able to charge my iPod or anything else I had lying around and I still want it to be solar powered I also want to get everything at RadioShack if u get back to me soon that would be greatly appreciated.
if I cant find something like this I guess I will go to a minty boost and see if I can get everything at RadioShack.
spek142 years ago
could i replace the charging circuit for a female usb port instead. what would happen
gpmelendez2 years ago
I'm mostly worried about the temperature that can be reached while charging under the sun. The eneloop datasheet ( http://bit.ly/YfvnqN ) says I can fast charge them up to 40 C. It doesn't say anything about trickle charging. What do you think?
OzzyManson2 years ago
i found a cable that looks like the one pictured, but was wondering if i still need to find something else? i don't think the bit with the capacitors on it is actually a part of the usb. sorry if this is a dumb question, im a DIY noob :3
Could I modify this with two pairs of AAs in a series-parallel arrangement? (one pair in parallel with the other pair, for double the capacity still at ~3V) Would I need a stronger solar cell, or would this one work fine?
DoctorDv3 years ago
What is the difference between this charger and your other solar USB charger?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  DoctorDv3 years ago
This has an iPhone cable, so you'd only be able to charge up iPhones or other apple gear.

USB chargers have a USB port, they are generic and work with everything.
Quick question, how come you can charge multiple types of phones with your solar USB charger, but you are unable to use one phones wall charger with another phone? Thanks!
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  DoctorDv3 years ago
You probably can. Usually it's due to the type of "plug" that goes into the phone from the charger. Each company has a different shaped plugin (unless they're nice and use a generic mini USB port), which requires you to buy stuff from only that company.

rcisneros4 years ago
I hate to tell you, but I've tested dozens of batteries brands. Literally. And almost none of them come close to their rated mAh.

Most no name recharagables are 50% at most.

Second tier, what I call name brand generics like Tenergy, yield around 75%+. (They have several lines and I have NOT tested the ones pictured.) Problem with these types is that the ones that test higher tend to drain faster that higher quality batts.

Name brands tend to be in the 90-99%+ range. Rayovac, Energizer, Duracell, etc.

The kings are the Sanyo and Sony Cycle batteries. They test at 100% and the the results are exactly the same for each battery.

-Bottom line is there is NO such thing as a 3000mAh battery as far as I know.
-Bottom line is there is NO such thing as a 3000mAh battery as far as I know.

Yeah, but there are 2850 mAh batteries like the ones in the pics.
Yeah you missed the point. I can post pictures of batts that are labeled 3000mAh. That doesn't make them 3000. If you had a decent tester you could check it yourself.
If you tested the ones in the pictures, I really doubt you'd get near that number. Good luck with it though.
What the author meant was that with two batteries he can get 3000, not one has 3000, and with two sets he could get 4000-5000.
Actually, they're in a series to increase voltage. Two of them together is 2.4-2.5V with 3,000mA.

I switched battery suppliers awhile back because their batteries just plain sucked. I now use much better batteries.

If you really want a long and steady charge, switch to Lithium. $15 will get you a charge controller circuit board and a decent lithium battery. Then add on a diode and a solar cell and you're golden.
inquilab3 years ago
Hi Joshua- How would i go about building this device but for 3x 4x or 6x AAA batteries instead of 2x AA batteries? Appreciate your help.
Okay, so I'm a newbie, but wondering if all i'd need to do is buy this device:


and then connect a 3.6 volt solar panel directly to the leads on battery case within this device (with a diode on the + side)

Would that work- charging my three AAA batteries from solar panel, while simultaneously also using these AAA batteries to provide a charge to my Iphone?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  inquilab3 years ago
I really have no idea without taking on apart and seeing how it works.

It looks like it uses a boosting circuit of some kind, as 3 AAA rechargeables does not equal 5V, and a Li-ion would only be 3.7V.

Now you could, in theory, hook up a solar panel to it if it is just a boost circuit. However, you'd want to use something far larger than a 3.6V solar cell as a 3.6V solar cell will NEVER give you 3.6V. You'd want something larger than 5V with at least 200mA of current available.

Plus having batteries is a really good idea. Solar is not consistent, and batteries or a big capacitor helps regulate the flow of power.

Man, now I'm going to have to find one of these and take it apart!
Will the circuit boost enough to charge an iPad? I read my adapter and it says 10 watts.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  blinkyblinky3 years ago
You know, the older iPads seem to work just fine, I've gotten reports that the newest iPads have issues. As I don't have a new iPad, nor do I know anyone who does, I have no way of testing.
I thought you needed 5 volts to charge an "i device". will it work the same with 2.4 volts or will it be slower?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  NanoRobotGeek3 years ago
The circuit boost the voltage up to 5. Thus why we can use 2 AAs.
Oh... right. thanks i get it now
xxhydrax3 years ago

Ok, first let me start off by saying I am very very new to electronics and have absolutely no idea what some of these components. None the less, I still want to build this thing. Now I have 2 AA rechargeable batteries, the blocking diode (which I don't know how to install) and pretty much everything else on the list, EXCEPT 1 THING; the charging circuit. Since I said before I have no experience, I was wondering how I can get/make this circuit. Is their a detailed instruction on exactly how to do this? PLEASE help me.
wchiong3 years ago
As what you say we can't get a iPhone to charge directly from the sun , then why do we put in a solar cell ?
Because the solar cell charges the batteries, which then charges the iPod or iPhone
okay understood ! But how long will the it charge from 0% to 100% ?
nireves13 years ago

Hi Joshua
Thank you for this nice instructable!
its awesome
i was wondering if there is a limit to the voltage of the solar panel used?
could i for example use a 9volt 109mA solar panel?
and what kind of solar panel do you think would charge the AA's the fastest with the least amount of light without adding extra parts (except perhaps a diode or voltage regulator) to the circuit?
Thank you very much!
iApple guy3 years ago
I was reading the comments to see if anyone has already posted this question and it seems that you get cheap Chinese chargers. Do you know where I can get these for a very low price. I do not care if it is in store or online, all I want to know is where I can get a charger circut. A schematic is acceptable as well too make a charger.
kerec63 years ago
I have a question. A little while ago I bought this as a kit and made it. I charged the batteries and of course, I get the error message. I tried it with standard AA's, and got the same message. The thing is, it still charges, but very slowly. This happens with my friend's iPad when you plug it in to his old computer and it still charges. Is this normal??
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  kerec63 years ago
Charge the batteries up first, if you have a 3GS they're insanely picky.
I did charge the batteries- they've been in the sun for about a week now. I'm using an iPhone 4. And like I said, it still charges but it displays the error message.
Oppidum4 years ago
Mhn..and if I want to charge an iPad? what kind of cell should I use?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  Oppidum4 years ago
Because we're using small cells that have a limited output, we can't directly charge iPads. That's why we use AA batteries to store up a charge, which we then use to charge up bigger things. Like iPads.

If you want to directly charge up your iPad you're going to need a big panel that throws out more than 500ma of current.
where can i get the charging circuit??
ale624 Oppidum4 years ago
You'll need at least 1amp of output for an ipad
Wehrdo3 years ago
I received your kit as a Christmas present, and was pretty excited, because I had considered making a solar USB charger myself. As I was going through the instructions before I started, I realized it wasn't supplied with a diode. :( No sweat though, as I whipped out my electronics box and took one from my stash. I was eager to see the charger in action, so I put a couple brand new AAs in the holder and temporarily connected them to the power pins on the charging circuit. Then an "Oh-No" moment. A "Charging is not supported with this accessory" error popped up on my 3rd gen iPod Touch.

Are these chargers not compatible with that version of iPod? It seems to work with the other iDevice in my house, a 3rd gen iPod Nano.
Wehrdo Wehrdo3 years ago
I forgot to mention my charging circuit has a slightly different PCB layout than the one in your picture. Don't know if that's a good or bad thing.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  Wehrdo3 years ago
No diode? How odd. Sorry about that.

If you're getting that error you just need to charge up the batteries. That almost always fixes that issue.
Turns out I put the diode with a different electronics kit. Silly me ; )

I've tried it with brand new alkaline AAs, which should have a higher voltage than fully charged NiMh, and it still gives me that error. Any other suggestions?
mrsayao3 years ago
What's the difference between this circuit and the one that charges non-apple phones?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  mrsayao3 years ago
Apple stuff, unlike every other USB device on the planet, checks the USB data ports to see what it's connected to. Thus it takes in more power if plugged into a wall as compared to a computer USB port. Well this causes some issues as up until that point no USB charger on the planet had power flowing to the data ports.

This is why a lot of people will plug their new iPhone into a newish USB charger and get an error message and no charging.

I have some some USB charger circuits that work with iPhones, but I can't always get them. Which is why I have a circuit specifically for iPhones and a generic USB one that may or may not work with an iPhone (though these days most of the ones I get in seem to work just fine).

Also, having a built in iPhone cable is a nice touch.
Will any iphone charging cord work or do you have to use a cord like what you have? A, B, or both?
The-Charging-Circuit.jpgother cord.jpg
forgotengun3 years ago
im not trying to spam or be offensive, but if your looking for a minimaly priced solar ipod charger. this would suffice it costs around $6. I bought them before and can verify that they work, although the battery only holds about half an ipod charge.  <img src="http://www.budgetgadgets.com/images/proimages/708/7088/DSC_32990_360.jpg">
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  forgotengun3 years ago
Yeah, I've tested those as well. They do work, but you can build better for a little bit more. With the ones I build you can always swap out batteries if they're dead, or if they degrade over time. You can always build in a better charger with a larger cell and battery capacity.

It all depends on what you want to do.
tmaxfield3 years ago
Hey Joshua, could you by any chance get a schematic for the charging circuit?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  tmaxfield3 years ago
I don't build them, or make them. I salvage them from already made cheap Chinese chargers.

If you want to make one yourself, adafruit has kits you can buy as well as PCB boards. If you search instructables for "minty boost" there should be a schematic up for one there as well.
Hello Joshua,
I thought this little invention is amazing and im choosing it to do it for my 8th grade science fair project. Only problem is that i don't have that charging circuit. am i able to use a female usb port instead? I also think using the usb port looks cleaner. if i can can u give me a small brief statement on how...i couldn't find anything tht tells me how and this is me last resort..please help!!ASAP
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  JoshThebBoss3 years ago
Oh no! It won't work. You need the circuit to boost the voltage up to the 5V needed for iPod/ USB charging.
Ok in yor past message you said-"The way to make this interesting to for you to do the test at the "recommended" angle and direction, and then try a couple of other. Graph it and chart it." so this means that i should face the solar charger in a specific angle toward the sun an see which angle harvest the most power? and how do i do this? will i not super glue the solar cell onto the altoids box? Ok improved question. What is the best way to mount my solar Ipod charger to harvest the most energy throught the day? hows it sound; does it make sense? and can you give me small details on the procedure on this project?

Thanks 4 ur help.

Josh Pisia

Oh yes and i almost forgot,
I was just looking on your website and i saw the simple usb circuit for $0.75. Before i buy this i was just wondering; The AA x2 battery holder that i got from Radio Shack also has RED and BLUE wires just like the simple usb circuit. Do i solder the wires together by corresponding colors in order to have the charge go to my Ipod? Like solder blue wire to blue wire and red to red? thanks!

JoshuaZimmerman (author)  JoshThebBoss3 years ago
I've sent you a PM about this.

Don't use a simple USB circuit. You need an actual boosting circuit to get the voltage up to 5V from your 2AA voltage of 2.4V.
Wait so 2 AA battery holders = 2.4v + 2.4v = 4.8v?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  JoshThebBoss3 years ago
In this situations each battery holder has 2.4V output (1.2 + 1.2 from the batteries).

Now if we hook up the two battery sets in parallel we double the battery capacity. Whereas if we hook up the batteries in a series we double the voltage.

For this charger we don't need the higher voltage, the circuit does the voltage boosting for us. Doubling the capacity is what would really help us out.
I pulled a dumb move, i should've bought your kit, i wouldve saved 15 dollars vs going and buying parts at radio shack!
i also just went out and bought a 6v solar charger is this safe for my ipod touch?and will i need the circuit charger now that i have a solar panel more then 5v?

sorry its just when i looked on your website, browndoggadgets.com, it seemed to be a little pricey for the charging curcuit
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  JoshThebBoss3 years ago
True, it is a bit pricy, but I had to go through whole lot of circuits before I found one that worked. The ones I get in work for sure and are preassembled. You can buy kits to build them yourself, but they're $20.

I can't comment about your 6V charger without knowing more about it. If you PM a link to a website or send me some more info I can help you alone.
like it wouldn't work if i plug the usb charger that came with the ipod into the female usb drive?
brentgmz3 years ago
i do not want to try it on mu iphone but i tried it on my older phone and works..thanks mate
Could this charger be used for the charging circuit if I was to take it apart?
Probably.... the only problem is the power coming in... As a general rule you want to find a charger that uses 2 AA batteries. They contain a circuit that converts the 3V provided by AAs and turns it into the 5V needed for USB.

The one you showed is probably using a 5V battery on the inside and needs 5V to charge. If you went this way you would need a bigger solar cell than what I use. One that is in the 7-9V rage. (Or a couple of smaller cells hooked together. Say, two 4.5V solar cells which would be 4.5V + 4.5V = 9V. That would work.)

While having a nice little internal battery is slick, having a system that uses AAs means you can take them out and replace them in an emergency. Or even just use regular AAs in a pinch.
Empire3 years ago
What kind of case is that for your phone?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  Empire3 years ago
Its a slider case from Incase. They have nice cases and this one is no exception.
tylerjerd4 years ago
Can I use the usb version of this portable solar charger to charge an iPhone 3Gs, or an iTouch or iTouch 4. What can be charged on the standard USB charge?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  tylerjerd3 years ago
Newer iPhones (3GS and 4) need a little tweak to USB to get them to work. It's a smart tweak on Apple's part for charging BUT no one else in the world does this. Without this tweak new Apple stuff won't charge at all.

If you buy a couple generic AA USB chargers off ebay or amazon you'll eventually find one that will work with new iPhones. The USB chargers I get in work about half the time, but I'm never sure if my shipment will work or not. Thus why I say my USB chargers won't work with new Apple stuff and offer this different design.
tim_n3 years ago
What's to stop the panel overcharging the batteries - do the batteries themselves have something to stop overcharging?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  tim_n3 years ago
As we're only doing a trickle charge we don't need to stop them from charging. They naturally won't over charge, but will be kept at a high state of charge.

If we were fast charging them we'd need something to control it, but trickle charge is very safe.
venvish3 years ago
bro will u teach me it in detail am very much intrested in making a solar charger ,am very much intrested in designing circuits but i dont know how to..... so plz help me...
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  venvish3 years ago
Google is your friend. This instructables is your friend. Search search search.
tkindy4 years ago
Will this fully charge an iPhone or iPod touch on one fully charged set of batteries? And also can you charge the batteries using the solar cell while also charging your device?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  tkindy4 years ago
Most of the time, and yes.
Okay, thank you.
btran74 years ago
does anyone know for which what generation iPhones/iPods won't be able to use a normal USB charger?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  btran74 years ago
iPhone 3GS and 4. The most recent iPod Touches.

(Though some of my customers have reported that the USB charger work with their iPhone 4s. I guess China changed the circuit without tell me. Damn Chinese!)
Thanks. I was wanting to make one for my 2nd gen iPod touch so i'll make the regular USB charger.
nonekiller4 years ago
can i use a iphone car charger for the charging Circuit?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  nonekiller4 years ago
Car charger is 12v. Unless you want to carry around 12 rechargeable batteries, then no.
jmarye4 years ago
Do you see any problem as to why this would not work for the EVO 4G, with the necessary charging cable of course.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  jmarye4 years ago
Not really. It "should" work, unless the EVO needs some special USB requirements. My parents have cheap Verizon phones and for some reason they won't charge. They give a weird error about how "This charger is not authorized."

But this isn't the kit for you. You want a USB charger.


This one uses a cable with an iPhone/iPod plug a the end.
tbasinger4 years ago
can you use the iphone wall charger for the power circuit? I want to make this so you can use it with an iphone and other usb devices. I wanna do this without having to build the MintyBoost kit. So i was trying to come up with a simpler method plus the charger below i can get for about $5 vs. $20 for the MintyBoost kit

JoshuaZimmerman (author)  tbasinger4 years ago
Except a wall charger is going to converting AC to DC power. Not DC to 5V.

gotcha thank you!
mretuck4 years ago
I wonder if you could use one of those wind up flashlights to charge the batts. Or how many cranks it would take.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  mretuck4 years ago
A lot. A whole lot.

Now making a wind generator... that would be cool....
where did you get your charging circuit? is it all in one and you just took apart the other end of the charger? I'm a bit confused.
i think this is what he used:

keseth4 years ago
What kind of usb charger has this? All that I've seen connects through a usb head :)
Ah, this is just what I was looking for pertaining to my Nexus S. That 4G sucks up battery life, especially when you're watching Black Adder on Netflix.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  Snowsongwolf4 years ago
Mr. Bean is a battery sucker. Thats for sure.

(As in he sucks battery power with his awesomeness. Man, get your mind out of the gutter!)
Is that a Whitest Kids You Know reference?

She's totally asking for it.
Look at what she is wearing.
Look. At what she is wearing?
It's purple!
No. No it's not. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084988/
Well, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqq051BU2MY
mvcl4 years ago
A battery's capacity is not measured in "ma". That is milliamps which is only the rating of a current that flows. Capacity is mAh - milliamp hours, which is an accumulation of milliamps over some number of hours.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  mvcl4 years ago
Typo. Thanks. I shall change that.
IPSSC4 years ago
Fantastic!! Do you have one available for the EVO 4G (Android)?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  IPSSC4 years ago
Just use the USB Charging Kit I have on my website. That works for the vast majority of USB devices.

Its more or less the same process as this instructable, just a different circuit involved.
When soldering you do want to place a small amount of solder on the tip. This is."tinning the tip." What you want is to have a small amount of solder touching the tip as well as the joint. This ensures much greater heat transfer and thus the tip is on the joint a smaller anount of time, greatly reducing the heat transfer up the wires as well as into the part.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  Iceberg863004 years ago
Thanks for the tip! I'm still mastering the art of soldering. The more helpful soldering tips the better!
palespider4 years ago
"The only downside to this project is that you can't get an iPhone to charge directly from the sun. " I'm confused, if this does not charge an iphone directly, then what does it do or did i miss something?

Or does the solar panel charge the batteries that charges the iphone? If that is so, how do you know if the batteries are charged enough to charge the iphone with out the error message?

JoshuaZimmerman (author)  palespider4 years ago
Solar panel charges the batteries.

Batteries charge the iPhone.

iPhone gives you love.

You know they're good to go by plugging in your phone and testing it. Seriously, on average you're going to need 5-10 hours of sunlight to get a decent charge built up.

This things isn't a "Constantly charge up my phone every single moment of every single day" charger. It's a "I need a quick charge every now and then while traveling or camping or having a peaceful walk through the park" charger.
jlund4 years ago
Dose this work with the I pad ?this same items that would be the most epic thing iv built
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  jlund4 years ago
It does. Tried one out at Best Buy (along with all the other Apple things on display). They all use the same connector and the same charging systems.
Thx a lot for that this is good to hear I'm now gonna build one
codongolev4 years ago
I believe ladyada has some instructions on how to make an iphone play nice with a diy charger....

JoshuaZimmerman (author)  codongolev4 years ago
Oh yes, I lover her Mintyboost circuit. I've bought a couple in the past to use when making gifts. I link to it in this guide on page 3.

If you want to make your own circuit most certainly use her kit. For those who don't want to do all that work scavenging a circuit from somewhere else is a lot easier and cheaper.
amcclinton4 years ago
Really cool. Love the idea and that is simple enough to teach to kids just makes it more AWESOME!
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  amcclinton4 years ago
Very true. The soldering isn't very difficult and is a nice "beginner" project. You just have to be careful not to over solder when working on the circuit.
pfiddle4 years ago
Well done - very clear concise instructions. You might like to point out that sometimes a car-recharging unit for iPhones can be bought quite cheaply - thus providing the awkward part the iPhone charger. Alternately any store that collects electrical goods might be willing to part with bits.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  pfiddle4 years ago
Very true. Just remember that the car charging systems work off 12V. The circuit I'm using (or you can find elsewhere) run off 2 - 3, meaning 2 AA batteries. Like many small emergency chargers that use AA the circuit also includes a voltage booster to get to the right level.
cankiwi64 years ago
Link to your website doesn't work.
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  cankiwi64 years ago
Works fine for me, as well as all the people who keep coming off this site.
cankiwi64 years ago
Interesting project but why not use a larger solar cell to achieve desired results ?
JoshuaZimmerman (author)  cankiwi64 years ago
Use a bigger cell for better results.

I picked the 4V because it fits into the Altoids Tin.

Some of my customers have used larger cells for charging an at home system, or for using with camping. I have larger cells on my website for those exact reasons.
It's beautiful.
I'm from Brazil!
dwheeler-14 years ago
You're not restricted to using an altoids tin....
The Altoid tin cannot hold a bigger solar cell..
kooth4 years ago
Pretty cool Instructable! Your instructions are clear, as are your pictures! Great job!