Introduction: $9 Solar, Wind and Hydro Turbine (on Your Faucet) Powered USB Charger

Picture of $9 Solar, Wind and Hydro Turbine (on Your Faucet) Powered USB Charger

In our world the rechargeabale gadgets have a very important role, but their batteries have a very low capacity, so they discharge fast. In this instructable I gonna show you how to build a USB device charger, that is powered by a solar panel or a wind/hydro turbine. It contains a rechargeable power bank, that can charge up your phone everywhere. This instructable is divided to parts... If you don't want to make the full project, just go to another part. Part 1 is the rechergeable power bank, that uses two AA rechargeable batteries. The Part 2 is a solar USB charger, that can charge the power bank too, and third part is hydro/wind turbine battery charger, that can be connected to a faucet, and genarates electricity. This turbine also can be connected to your bicycle, and works as a wind turbine. The instructable was made for the 15th MILSET Expo-Sciences International contest and for the Make Energy contest on this site, so if you liked vote on me. You can use this gadget at home or in a place, where is not wallplug charger. The idea is easy, but you will need some experience in electronics, and in DIY projects to make this gadget. So let's begin, I hope you like it...

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials


1. soldering iron and solder
2. glue gun
3. desoldering pump (optional)
4. electrical tape (optional)
5. rotary tool or driller


PART 1: Rechargeable Power Bank

• old casette box, or a simple plastic box
• 2 AA size Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (at least 2000mAh)
• battery box, or you need to connect somehow the batteries in series, like me with the electrical tape
• 9 volt battery clips, I love them, because they can be used as connectors, but you can use others
• if you can buy, get a 5v USB step up charger, but if you can't get these circuit components: TL496 IC, 46uH inductor, 10uF capacitor, a 5.1v zener diode and a female USB jack, (with these compononents you can make a 5v step up circuit)
• 7805-5v voltage regulator for charging the NiMH battery
• 47uF apacitor, and a germanium diode
• 2 switches, and 2 super bright LED-s
• male USB jack (if you want to charge the power bank from your wallplug phone charger)
• PCB board
• 2 switches

I didn't use a NiMH charger circuit, just calculated the charging time (hour=capacity/current). With my 170mA solar panel this is 11 hours, so I can not leave the batteries in charger for more than 12 hours, because they will overcharge.

PART 2: USB and battery charger Solar device

5.5v solar panel, or better (you will need at least 5.5 volts)
• old CD
• 7805-5v voltage regulator for charging the phone
• switch
• female USB jack
• wires
• 9 volt battery clip (with this you can charge the NiMH batteries

PCB board

PART 3: Hydro/Wind turbine charger

In this part you'll need to make a Joule Thief for small generator. If you want to read more about the Joule Thief, click here.

• NPN transistor (2N2222, 2N3904 BC547 equivalent)
• ferrite core (from an old CFL bulb)
• #24 AWG wire
• small motor (you can find in a RC helicopter)
• 50 ohm resistor
• PCB board
• PVC tube (the diameter needs to be so big, with you can connect to your faucet)
• plastic sheet (white or transparent)
• metallic grey paint (optoinal, but on your faucet will look much better)
• 9 volt battery clip
• germanium diode

This generator can't charge directy your phone, but generates 100mA and more than 3 volts, that is more than enough to charge NiMH or NiCd batteries or the rechargeable power bank from the PART 1. And if the power bank is charged you can charge your phone, tablet, or GPS. Before we begin the building I need to tell you, that a simple American family uses 600 liters of water per day. This means about 1.5 hours flowing water from your faucet, and if you use this hydro turbine you can give for your battery 0.13 volts per every 1.5 hours. So a NiMH 2000mAh battery can not be charged so fast, but after 1 day you can charge your phone for about 30-25% with a 5v booster. I think this would be a great household item, because it is small, and 100mA from a small motor like this is very good, so... start building.

Step 2: PART 1: Rechargeable Power Bank

Picture of PART 1: Rechargeable Power Bank

    The first step is to make the box of the project. I've used a dremel tool to cut every holes. You must to cut a hole for the female usb jack, for the 9v battery connector, and 2 smaller holes for the switches and 2 more small holes for the 2 LEDs. I love transparant design, so I usually use a transparent project box. It looks great the circuit inside, and if happens a somethimg inside I can see what is the problem.

    Step 3: PART 1: Soldering and Glue

    Picture of PART 1: Soldering and Glue

    The circuit is designed by me, but works good. I've put a switch after the germanium diode, and to the 5v output I've soldered 2 LEDs in paralell with a switch. To the 5v output is soldered the USB jack. The TL496 is a 9v up stepper IC, that's output is regulated by a 10uF cap, and with a 5v1 zener diode. This gives 5.35 volts, that is enough for a mobile phone.The safest way is, if you buy a 5v step up circuit. On the last image is a male USB connected to a 9v battry clip... This is a charger for the power bank, that's not green energy, but useful for fast charging from a comuter or from wallplug. The input to charge the batteries (9v clip) is reversed, see on 4th photo. The 9v clip's negative connection is soldered to the positive and the positive to the negative. There you can see a 7805 voltage regulator, and a 47uF capacitor with a germanium diode. Theirs role is to ensure the proper charging. you can give him a voltage up to 30 volt AC/DC. If your circuit is done get a glue gun and fix everything, but test it before. Bring your personality in the design, that makes your gadget especial. Think different!

    Step 4: PART 1: the End and Potential Problems

    Picture of PART 1: the End and Potential Problems

    If the circuit won't work read this article. Check every connections, and the legs of the IC . If the voltage is small try with another capacitor or the last way is the 5v up stepper from the ebay. If works plug your phone in, and test how many percent can charge. You can incease the percents with batteries that have higher capacity. If you've liked read the PART 2. If you have an Apple device visit this webpage. Here is written how to make a circuit with some resistors, that can charge an iPad, iPod or iPhone.

    Step 5: PART 2: Solar Charger

    Picture of PART 2: Solar Charger

    For the box I have used a transparent CD case. In this part the dremel has a very important role. Remove everything from the CD case, make it smooth. You must cut a hole for the solar panel. Glue there the solar panel, and clean it. After this cut two other holes for the USB jack, and for the switch. You can see these holes on the second photo. It is an easy and a nice design. Saves the circuit and the other materials, but is slim and small, you can hold almost everywhere (on your jacket, satchel, bag, besides the window, where the Sun is shining, etc.).

    Step 6: PART 2: Soldering

    Picture of PART 2: Soldering

    The circuit is very simple, uses only a switch and a 7805 voltage regualator. The psitive wire of the solar panel is soldered to the center of the switch. To the rigt side solder the positive 9v clip, and to the left side the positive input of the 5v regugator. If the switch is in center the circuit is turned off, if is in the right you activate the the regualtor and if is in the left side the current flows to the 9v clip. Trough the 9v clip you can charge up the power bank. Before glue test it, and if works fix everything .

    Step 7: PART 2: Testing

    Picture of PART 2: Testing

    You can't see on the images, but my phone is charging. The 9v clip can be used as a supporter too. You can charge even tablets, but it needs at least 5 hours. My room's windows looks southwards, so I can charge my phone anytime with green energy (of course when Sun is shining). I use my phone only for callings and for browsing sometimes, so the battery discharges slowly, but when is "dead" I can charge up with this gadget. Please do not misunderstand, don't want to be boastful, I'm trying to tell you somehow, that green energy is cool.

    Step 8: PART 3: Hydro/Wind Turbine on Your Faucet

    Picture of PART 3: Hydro/Wind Turbine on Your Faucet

    You may see many DIY solar and power bank chargers, but this hydro turbine is very particular, because you can't buy this in shops, this is a new invention. The base of the gadget is the Joule Thief circuit, that, is builded from a few components. On the circuit you can see, that the power source is the M (motor, with a propeller on it) and the usually used 1k is switched to a 50 ohm resistor. The role of the blocking diode is that don't allows that the current flows backwards. In the link at the materials is described detalied the Joule Thief. If the circuit has worked on the breadboard solder everything together.

    Step 9: PART 3: Soldering...

    Picture of PART 3: Soldering...

    You must create the board as small as you can, or will looks bad. I think nobody wants a piece junk on his faucet. The perfect solution is, if you make it with SMD components and with a printed circuit board, but I choosed the cheaper way. To the output legs solder long wires and connect to the power bank or to a rechargeable battery. The circuit isn't difficult, but you need to use glue gun to make it waterproof. Now that i write this instructable have an idea: I don''t will show you the design just after a few week. Be creative! Send an image in your comment about your gadget. Sorry for my potential English failures. If you liked it please vote on me in the Make Energy contest, and the uptade with the design will coming soon:). If you have an idea for upgrading please comment!


    RowanS1 (author)2016-07-01

    im wondering if a tap faucet can generate enough power to run a led light?

    BrownDogGadgets (author)2015-02-12

    I like the scope of this project, but it does have quite a few limitations. The big one is the wind/ hydro. I personally find that very difficult to do on a small scale if not impossible to do.

    Does it work? Yes. Does it work enough to use for anything useful, no.

    microdot (author)BrownDogGadgets2015-04-14

    Actually decades ago there were tap driven "water motors" that were used in places that municipal water but had not yet been wired for electricity, they were used for all kinds of "useful" things:

    Imetomi (author)BrownDogGadgets2015-02-12

    What is useful for you?

    jkennedy26 (author)2015-02-18

    I like !

    tafelice (author)2015-02-10

    Where do you order your electronic parts? Online? Where is that in USA. If you do not order in USA anyone else can you recommend a reliable and economical place for parts.

    Also, I have been trying for years to get a foothold into electronics. Can you or anyone recommend a very easy project series even a dummy can do first time?

    Thanks for the instructable and where can we vote for you. Put in a link.

    Imetomi (author)tafelice2015-02-10

    Imetomi (author)Imetomi2015-02-10

    You can order here if you live in the USA. If you want to start electronics see my other instructables or any beginner project and get a book that explain the basic of electronics. (Radioshack book, I don't know the original title. You can vote on me next to the title. There's a little gold Vote button. Thanks!

    Starsword7 (author)2015-02-10

    Great Instructable!

    I wonder if this would all fit in an altoids tin . . .

    GalenA1 (author)2015-02-10

    Awesome! I'll have to try this. I spotted some grammar errors up there so be sure to check that out. Where did you get all of your components? Did you buy them or scavenge them? Thanks!

    Imetomi (author)GalenA12015-02-10

    Oh, sorry for grammar errors, I learn now Engilsh, try to correct it. You can build the Joule Thief for free from an old CFL bulb (see my other instructable). I bought the components online, but you can buy from a local hobby-shop. The components in dollars were about 2-3$ in a local online store. Can you write me the grammar mistakes, I want to correct it. Oh, and thank you!

    GalenA1 (author)Imetomi2015-02-10

    The first part should be:

    In our world the rechargeabale gadgets have a very important role, but their batteries have a very low capacity, so they discharge fast. In this instructable I'm going to show you how to build a USB device charger that is powered by a solar panel or a wind/hydro turbine. It contains a rechargeable power bank so you can charge up your phone anywhere. This instructable is divided into parts... If you don't want to make the full project, just go to the part that you want to make. Part 1 is the rechargeable power bank that uses two AA rechargeable batteries. The second part is a solar USB charger that can charge the power bank. The third part is hydro/wind turbine battery charger which can be connected to a faucet, and generates electricity. This turbine also can be connected to your bicycle, and works as a wind turbine. The instructable was made for the 15th MILSET Expo-Sciences International contest and for the Make Energy, so if you liked this instructable, vote on me. With this gadget you can save more than 50$ per year, but this money goes to my parents:).The idea is easy, but you will need some experience in electronics and in DIY projects to make this gadget. So let's begin. I hope you like it...

    clazman (author)2015-02-10

    Why do I keep hearing about someone disobeying the first law of thermodynamics?

    Now, to make matters worse, Instructables is propagating that myth of creating energy.

    Using the faucet is only transforming the energy from the velocity and the volume of the water (mass flow). No energy creation.

    Using the wind passing over you, while riding your bicycle, is not "making" energy. The energy for operating your generator is mostly from the energy transferred from you to the turbine to the generator via the air via the earth.

    Imetomi (author)clazman2015-02-10

    Your comment food for thougth and is very constructive, but the Instructable just want to make a motivation for people. I try to make a gadget that can recreate the energy and use for something... I think made it. Thank you very much this comment!

    djarulakis (author)2015-02-10

    Eexcelent, good explained and usefull instructable!! Can you modify this to use some 18650 lit ion batteries? because I have a lot from old laptop :).

    again, very nice instructable, congrats!!

    asdadeel (author)2015-02-09

    thank you

    Imetomi (author)asdadeel2015-02-09

    with pleasure

    MrPurr (author)2015-02-09

    This is so cheap and so great and effective! Wow. I'm truly inspired by the instructables community. We've got a lot of great engineers & scientists here! I wonder why they haven't patented or like submitted their idea yet? I saw an awesome instructable on turning plastic into oil AT HOME :O Why don't they send it to some science institution so the institution can also make it better? Hmm... But one day I will definitely make this! I wonder, couldn't your instructable & this be joined? How? Maybe someone should make a tut on it.. :P I would but I don't know anything about this all (and im only 14 although thats no excuse b/c i saw a 14 year old post a tut for diy 3D printing pen!! :O )

    Imetomi (author)MrPurr2015-02-09

    Thank you the positive comment saloni.goda, I will make an instractable about an ultra small solar charger that you can put in your pocket or anywhere. No problem, if you don't have experience in electronics, this site is for you and for questions. If you want to see my ultra small visit the website after a month.

    amorarun (author)2015-02-09

    Loved the use of clear CD case as the box for solar panel, it is very neat and doubles as a stand...
    Good job.

    Mr AbAk (author)2015-02-09

    Nice idea

    Imetomi (author)Mr AbAk2015-02-09


    ir jammer device (author)2015-02-08

    Writing me of this email

    ir jammer device (author)2015-02-08

    Hello can you for me this ir jammer device build this is for bill acceptor send information to the bill accptor i broke this ir

    jkennedy26 (author)2015-02-07

    Haven't looked it over yet but time.....permitting this could be usefull. Especially the hydro power, specificly rain water in the homes downspouts. Wind turbines and solar too OH MY !

    austinjwahl (author)jkennedy262015-02-07

    or a river if you are camping etc

    Imetomi (author)jkennedy262015-02-07

    Thank you.

    smoosh9010 (author)2015-02-06

    This will be more than 9 dollars

    Imetomi (author)smoosh90102015-02-06

    Oh sorry, I've corrected the website of the solar panel.

    About This Instructable




    Bio: Hi, I'm Tamas (Thomas), a 17 years old Hungarian guy. My hobby started more than 10 years ago. I learn electronics, physics, programming, IoT ... More »
    More by Imetomi:DIY Cheap VR FPV System for Drones, Planes, CarsUltimate Intelligent Fully Automatic Drone Robot (w/ RPi, Arduino) Jedi Force Gestures Based Home Automation (with Smartwatch)
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