Introduction: Solar Powered LiPo Charging Station

Picture of Solar Powered LiPo Charging Station

Hi everybody,

summer has just started and it's the perfect time to enjoy you're RC hobby. But most of the time when flying outside you have to get a fresh battery every 8-16 minutes (depending on what you're flying) it can be really annoying to have to go all the way back to your battery charging station (which I assume is in your house) to get a new battery, especially when you're doing areal filming with your quadcopter. It would be nice to always have a freshly charged battery in reach. So in this instructable I'm going to show you how you can quite easily make your own solar powered charging station in your shed.

Step 1: Safety

Picture of Safety

LiPo batteries can be quite dangerous(when used incorrectly) so handle them with care, don't smash them into things, don't over- discharge them and don't let them charge unattended.

The people over at flitetest have made an amazing article about LiPo safety, you can go watch it here: http://flitetest.com/articles/lipo-safety

Although it's quite safe when doing everything right, I'm not responsible for any possible damage/harm done by this project....

Step 2: Gathering Materials

Picture of Gathering Materials

You need:

  • a solar panel (the wattage you want depends on alot of factors, you can contact me if you wan't to know what you need for your setup, 6 watt's works like a charm in my setup...
  • charge controller (for the lead acid battery)
  • a lead acid battery (preferably at least 8 times the capacity of you LiPo, so a 2200mAh lipo = at least an 8.8 Ah lead acid battery
  • a Lipo charger
  • and of coarse some LiPo battery's
  • battery clamps
  • connection wire

Bill of materials:

  • Solar panel = I bought mine from Conrad but you can get yours way cheaper from amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/ECO-WORTHY-Polycrystalline-...

  • charge controller link:

https://www.amazon.com/XCSOURCE%C2%AE-Intelligent-...

  • lead acid battery:

https://www.amazon.com/ExpertPower-EXP12180-Rechar...

  • LiPo charger:

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__21044__...

It's very important that you choose a 12v rated charger and not a mains supplied one, if you use a mains supplied one you can use a power inverter, I will show you how to do that in one of the following steps, but you have to consider that your efficiency will drop to about 70% wich isn't that great...

  • battery clamps:

https://www.amazon.com/Areyourshop-Metal-Alligator...

Step 3: Connecting Everything

Picture of Connecting Everything

In the following steps I will to show you how to connect everything.

Step 4: Connecting the Battery to the Charge Controller

Picture of Connecting the Battery to the Charge Controller

In order to connect your battery to your charge controller you have to find the picture of a battery on your charge controller, near that picture should be a positive and negative sign, you want to connect the negative terminal the battery to the negative terminal of your charge controller and the positive terminal the battery to the positive terminal of your charge controller, with a 10A fuse in between them. I would also suggest to put the battery in a box and leaving a small gap between the lid and the box as shown in the last picture.

Step 5: Connecting the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller

Picture of Connecting the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller

Connecting the sollar panel is quite similar to what you did in the previous step, you just find the picture of a solar panel and connect the possitive to possitive and negative to negative(TIP: When dealing with solar panels I would suggest checking the polarity with a multimeter before hooking it up, sometimes the polarity is reversed, some things you have to learn the hard way :-) )

Although I don't think it's worth the hassle, you can point your solar panel towards the south to get the best performance.

Step 6: Connection the LiPo Charger to the Solar Charge Controller or Battery

Picture of Connection the LiPo Charger to the Solar Charge Controller or Battery

When connecting the LiPo charger to your system you have some choices, you can go for the easy way that's just connecting the croccodile clips to your battery as shown in picture 1 again: pos. to pos. and neg. to neg.

But when you do this you dan't have a discharge protection wich you need to keep your lead acid battery save and your charger healthy. The more sensible way is to connect the charger to the power output of your charge controller as shown in picture 2 (the terminals with the light bulb above), this way when your battery get's low it turn's the output of and the battery can't get damaged.

When your charger is directly powered from the mains supply you can use a power inverter to convert the 12vdc. from your battery to 120v or 240v ac. You simply connect the clamps of the inverter to the battery. In this case there is no need to connect it to the power output of you charge controller because most inverters have a low voltage cutoff built in.

Step 7: Thanks for Reading and Enjoy Flying!

This is a video I've shot with my diy quadcopter and my brothers:-)

Congrats if you made it to the end! :-)

With this instructable I would like to enter the reneweble energy contest so if you liked it please vote!

PS: If you've found any problems with my English, correct me in the comments, I'm from Belgium and only 14 years old :-)

PPS: I will add some more photos and a video tommorow....

Thanks for your time.

Comments

Tvixen (author)2016-07-08

I think this would be a cheaper solution : ebay "Arduino solar charger shield lipo rider". Its only 8.99£ and connects directly your panel.

BoJanssens283 (author)Tvixen2016-07-08

That's indeed a way cheaper solution, but when having another battery in your system you can also charge the LiPo when there's no sun.

dasimpson1981 (author)2016-07-05

you can get li-ion solar charge controllers so you can charge the li-ion direct i have a 44ah battery pack i charge like this for running my computer and lighting

That would be very handy to have, but I think it's more usefull to charge the LiPo from another battery so when there is not enough light it can still contineu charging from the battery, but have a Lithium-Ion battery instead of lead-acid would be better for the efficiency but more dangerous.

been running a battery made from slabaged laptop batterys now on solar with varying forms on li-ion controller home made cc/cv units now a proper controller and never had a problem they are not as dangerous as people make out they are if a 50 tun press can crush one with out exploding they damn same only time they are bad is if you short them out

That's awesome!.

When the laptop battery's are still in their case they have an overvoltage and overdischarge protection built in wich is very handy because then you don't really need a charge controller. Thanks for reading:-)

could never get them to work with inbuilt pcb mine are all stripped then soldered into a pack of 3s20p youtube solar li-ion and you should find my videos and progress i ant done any vids for abit as been nothing really updated

correct that solar li-ion bank

Thanks I will look at that

dasimpson1981 (author)2016-07-05

the laerger the wattage of solar panel the better this way you have a more stady power output

That's very true, this panel is only 6 watt and my charger pulls about 30 watt's, but because I don't fly every day the lead-acid battery can charge untill it's full. Maybe I will add another panel in the future.

Daniel 2 (author)2016-07-05

your English is good and this is a very good project I think I'll try it myself

BoJanssens283 (author)Daniel 22016-07-06

Thanks, send me some pictures when you made it!:-)

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-07-05

Thank you for including the note about safety. It is so important but so many people leave that off.

Thanks! :-)

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a 14 year's old electronic's, RC enthousiast that likes to share his ideas and make projects that aren't only fun ... More »
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