Solar powered arduino on the back of a playing card

Picture of Solar powered arduino on the back of a playing card
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Here's a six word tragedy:

My arduino needs four AA batteries.

Really?  Isn't this 2012?  Where's my jetpack?!!  

Here's a way to the future -- a way to make a solar panel, from scratch, that can power any arduino off of sunlight or even light in your house.  Sort of a peel-and-stick power source for your projects.  

Time to complete:  15 minutes
No soldering required
Difficulty level:  Easy as pie (key lime)
Loss of skin during assembly:  moderate

This is one of the first entries in the Solar Pocket series of projects that Alex (this guy) and I are posting over the coming weeks.   For more about Solar Pocket Factories and DIY solar check out our just launched Kickstarter campaign (Aug 15 - Sept 14):

Here's what it's all about in 3 minutes:

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Step 1: What you need

Picture of What you need
++ A playing card.  

++ Copper tape (single-sided adhesive):  This is easy to find at most hardware or electronics shops.

++ 8 to 11 solettes:  these are small pieces of monocrystalline or polycrystalline PV silicon that are typically hidden under an epoxy blob in off-the-shelf panels.  You need the raw stuff for this instructable -- this will give you the flexibility to power any arduino with varying current demands for different projects.  You can get this key material here for now:  But there will be a kit on Kickstarter that makes these readily available soon.

++ Superglue aka cyano: the thin stuff, like crazy glue.  The gels don't seem to work well.

++ 5-minute epoxy:  this is the encapsulant that will cover the entire panel.  Epoxy is only good for 2 years in the sun, but it's the easiest stuff the find off the shelf for a quick project.  Fear not, better encapsulant is on the way (soon, soon...)
AaronA17 months ago

Where can you find good solettes?

sfrayne (author)  AaronA17 months ago
Hi Aaron - there are loads in this kit: (disclosure: I helped make this kit and may earn a dollar if you buy it). -Shawn
kiki_amelia2 years ago
can i try this on my arduino uno r3?? it's work???
how many the solar gives the voltage ???
Im soooooooooooo-Hooked !!!!

Very nice stuff and GREAT invention with the Solar Pocket Factory !!!

Will definitely be backing you on Kickstarter !

Just a quick question though, in this world of new inventions being available for us humble home-DIY-instructablers like the 3D Printer/Reprap, by having a plastic manufactory on our own desktops so we can make whatever we need, when we need it for our home projects:

Would you guys also be selling this neat little solar panel making machine to the public as well as your kits ?!!!?
Vika842 years ago
5 stars :-)
Would it be possible to use clear packing tape to do this step? Or does the epoxy act in more ways than to just bond the panels to the card?
sfrayne (author)  JoyfullJuneBug2 years ago
Yes, it is -- in some initial prototypes (see photo) I used packaging tape and it works fine for quick proof-of-concept tests. However, you'd need a rigid backing to prevent the solettes from fracturing, since the tape doesn't give much rigidity on its own.

I've been wanting to try melted sugar.
Please don’t try melted sugar if you have kids imaging the conversation when you call the pediatrician and ask if eating a sugar covered solar panel is poisonous (;o_o)
very nice,
surely will give this a go
This is awesome, just the type of thing I'd like to add to my projects. I can't wait to support your Kickstarter project.
nice! thanks for this