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Solar cell tester for DIY solar panels
Please excuse the poor craftsmanship first project since shoulder surgery
I built this to help make it easier to match the solar cells of the solar panels i plan to build
it makes it allot easier to match the output of the cells and makes the process go allot faster also

*** Keep in mind that the solar sells are very fragile ***

****** ALWAYS USE YOUR SAFETY EQUIPMENT ******

materials needed :
2x8x12 1/2
1x1x8 in
8x8 x1/8 clear lexan sheet
1 set of 1 inch hinges
8 x 1/2 inch wood screws
3 pieces of buss wire sizes 1= 9 in 1=8 in 1=5 1/2 in
one piece of 16 gauge red wire 13 in
2 x 6 1/2 light sheet metal
2 x 2 light sheet metal
cheap volt meter ( bought mine at harbor freight for $4.99 )
old set of volt meter leads that you are willing to cut down


TOOLS I USED:
Ban saw
compound saw
tin snips
cordless drill
metal bender
staple gun
hot glue gun
soldering iron
black sharpie marker
measuring tape
pencil

framing square
drill bits
Counter Sink bit

Step 1: Making the Base

I used a scrap piece of 2x8 and cut it down to 12 1/2 inches
i then measured 7 3/4 inches and made a line in pencil first using a framing square
then wile leaving the square in place marked the line with a black sharpie
this line will be the stop point for you cell to be aligned to for testing and also the point of the bottom buss wire to stop at
i hot glued the 8 inch buss wire on the ends and one small spot in the middle with very minimal drops of hot glue

***be sure not to leave any bumps of glue as it will break your cell when you close for testing***

the buss wire is glued down in the center of the base from the line to the end with a 1 inch overhang
and bent over and glued in place leaving the end exposed to solder to later on

Step 2: LEXAN BUILD

After you have your sheet of 8x8 lexan sheet cut
take you 9 in piece of buss wire and glue it place 4 1/2 inches from the left side and 1/2 inch from the end
leaving the remainder hang over at the other end
THE BUSS WIRE SHOULD END UP ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF YOUR WOOD 1X1X8

***be sure not to leave any humps of glue or get any on top of the buss wire as it will damage your cell when you close the tester***

then take your 1x1x8 piece and put a few drops of hot glue on it to hold it in place on the of you lexan
then drill 3 pilot holes for your screws
i then took a Counter Sink bit and drilled the pilot holes so that the lexan sheet would lay flat on the base

Step 3: ATTACHING THE HINGES

install the hinges on inch from each side ( and yes i know mine are crooked lol )
i left a 3/4 inch over hang on the right side so it is easier to open and close

Step 4: ADDING THE POSITIVE WIRE

solder your red wire to the buss wire that is on the base the take some hot glue to insulate the connection
i used a staple gun to hold the wire in place on the end and along the side

Step 5: MAKING THE VOLT METER MOUNT

I used light weight sheet metal for the mount
***** KEEP IN MIND YOUR BENDS WILL VARY DEPENDING ON THE TYPE AND STYLE OF METER YOU USE ****
i cut a 2 in by 6 1/2 in piece
1st bend a 3/4 inch bend at about a 30 degree angle
2nd bend is 4 7/8 inch from the 30 degree angle
3rd bend is one inch and the holding lip should be an 1/8 inch
place your meter in the mount and hold on the base to make some pencil marks for your screws
remove meter and screw the mount to the base
i placed my meter where the corners would meet on the base and meter

Step 6: FRONT METER MOUNT

Take your 2 inch by 2 inch sheet metal and bend a 30 degree angle
drill 2 screw holes in it (best done in a vice so no injuries occur)
place you meter in the rear holder then push your front mount up to the meter for a good snug fit ant install your 2 screws

Step 7: INSTALLING NEGATIVE BUS WIRE ON BASE

make a 45 degree bend at 1 3/4 inches
glue your buss wire as shown in pic making sure you go up to the line

Step 8: MAKING YOUR CONNECTIONS TO THE METER

cut your meter leads to length but leave a little slack so you can remove the meter if choose too
solder your positive lead to the red wire and cover with hot glue to insulate
solder your negative lead to the buss wire on the base and cover with hot glue to insulate

Step 9: NEGATIVE CONNECTION

i bent the remainder of the buss wire hanging over and soldered it heavily with a slight bend down to insure contact would be made when in the cell was in place and top was closed

Step 10: TESTING a CELL

place your solar cell on base lining it up with the black line
close the top down
turn on your meter and set it to 20 volt dc setting
now you can match your cells

***this was made for 6x6 cells but can also can be used for smaller cells as well ****

i used a bendable desk lamp with a clear 100 watt bulb and got good readings
i have not tried it outside in the sun yet to see the readings
if i have missed something (please dont hesitate to point it out ) or you have any questions
contact me ill help all i can
to place and remove my solar cells without damage i use a piece of cardboard to slide in on and off
thanks for looking

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Bio: still recovering from shoulder surgery 1/2/2014 i love to build everything and tinker with it all but dont know jack about any of ...
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