Instructables

Solar Buzzer Prank

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In this instructable I will describe to  you how I made a solar powered prank for April fools day.

The goal of the device was to be at least 50% recycled materials and to cost no more then $5 per unit to make. As a side effect these devices can be mass produced for a larger distribution of the prank or to intensify it in one area.

The simplest idea that I came up with to meet these goals was to use a trashed solar garden light attached to a 3v piezo buzzer. When in the sun the device will produce a rather annoying buzz.

The solar cell from the garden light was removed and the housing and circuitry was retained for future use.

Before buying any additional part I did some research on how much power I  had to work with.

Using my multimeter in voltage mode I recorded an open circuit voltage of 2.8v in moderate light and 3.5v in full light.

Then I switched the multimeter over to current mode and measured the short circuit current to be 50ma in moderate sun and 75ma in bright sun.

 
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Step 1: Purchasing parts

Knowing that my solar cell will output 3.5V at 75mA in bright light and 2.8v at 50mA, I purchased a radioshack part #273-0053 3V Mini Buzzer. ~$3.75

The specifications met the power supplied of the solar cell.
Voltage rating 1.5-3V
Current Consumption 15mA MAX at 3V

These numbers indicate that I could run 3 of the buzzers in parallel simultaneously off of one cell.
1 buzzer consumes 15mA.
The solar cell provides 50mA in moderate sun.
50mA / 15mA = 3 and 1/3 buzzers.

To keep things simple I stuck to one buzzer per unit.

For mounting purposes, I found a piece of scrap wire on the street. You could substitute any sort of wire including coat hanger wire.

Overall the bill of materials include:
1 X Solar Cell salvaged from solar garden light
1 X Piezo Buzzer
1 X Scrap wire

Tools to build this project are
A soldering iron
A glue gun
possibly a multimeter
Kiteman4 years ago
To turn this idea on its head, you could replace the annoying buzzers with something that plays an actual "note".

Several of them hanging in a small copse, each playing a different note, could be rather pleasant.

And for the intermittent idea, wouldn't a single flashing LED (FLED) do the trick?  If you don't want it seen, wrap it in insulation tape.


Sort of like smoke detectors that need new batteries? :P   I have piezo buzzers that beep in short sequences... could one adapt BEAM technology to turn a solar engine or pummer into a beeping nuisance? I'll bet you can! It would store up energy and then release it at random, like a bird call. Put it into a plastic animal decoy that you have printed... or put it into a barbie doll and tape her to the tree with duct tape (over her mouth?). That ought to win a contest!
drakesword (author)  stringstretcher1 year ago
If your gonna store up energy and release it, use an alarm from a security system, loud and startling.

Or servo + stick + pots and pans.

Possibilities possibilities ....
Or make it sound like a cicada and do it in January.  Would really blow someone's mind how you would have cicadas in winter.
This one time, I heard a cricket on December 26 (and no, I had not been drinking... much)

It was a fairly warm Dec. 26.

The cricket was chirping reeeaalllyyy ssllooooooooowwwwlllyyyyy.
ive heard u can tell the temp (dont remeber if in *F or *C) by how many chirp per minute/second
But it wouldn't be very funny if the sound was "rather pleasant". Not really what I would call a prank.
That's why I said "turn it on its head" - from prank to artistic installation.
Ohhh, now I get it! Sorry...
drakesword (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
Does a FLED pass current only when it is lit or is it constantly passing current?

I will also look into something that plays a specific note. This is sounding more like urban sound graffiti!
Current only when it flashes, I think.
drakesword (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
From some datasheets I saw . . . they pass a specif current when on and a lower current when off.

BTW i saw a box of "twinkling led christmas lights" at BIG LOTS. It was advertised to be "randomly" twinkling which makkes me think that every led was a FLED. 60 lights for $10 so $0.60 per led and you dont have to wait for shipping
When I first read your comment I thought it said corpse instead of copse. That would be an interesting prank.
...and a slightly disturbing funeral.
That would be fantastic.
drakesword (author)  masterochicken4 years ago
I guess it would depend on the funeral lol.
i made one it is really annoying
thepaul934 years ago
How loud is it?
drakesword (author)  thepaul934 years ago
It depends on the piezo used but the one I used was audible for a good distance and fairly loud up close
zizou3614 years ago
Hmmm... if I try this, I think another possible placement for the device would be inside a light cover. When someone turns on the light, it starts buzzing, convincing them somethings wrong with the light.
drakesword (author)  zizou3614 years ago
Thats a good one. I also found that on the outside face of drapes works good too.
dvcrogers4 years ago
What about replacing the buzzer with the guts from an "electronic birthday card"?
If that is possible, you could have a nice tune.
drakesword (author)  dvcrogers4 years ago
True but dont know about the power source of these. You may need to devise a cheap way to keep the voltage where it needs  to be without it being too low when its not in bright light.
I wouldn't worry about that too much.  Those sorts of circuits only sound more "interesting" when the voltage is off spec. 
I'll definitely try it when I get one.
Cool.   I was just thinking of a talking Alvin (from that cruddy Chipmunks movie) that I found at the dump the other day.  He's just crying out to be hacked for this or a similar project.  The neat thing about it is that at full power he says "hello gorgeous", but if you trigger him enough to run down the battery a bit, he just says "Hell"...
itsthatsguy4 years ago
5 stars, not only for having an original idea, but for using dell, windows FTW!