This instructable will not show you how to build a solar charger device. I bought mine. But there are number of fine Instructables that will show you how to do this, so if that is your goal, keep looking.
This simple instructable will show you how to build a steampunk themed case for a very modern looking solar charger, and some techniques that can be used to build a steampunk case for any number of devices.
This case serves a number of purposes: The first is to store the solar/USB charger and all the accessories that come with. The second purpose is to serve as a stand to charge the device in the sun, reducing the risk of scratches or damage. And the third is to just look really cool;-)
I'm shocked, honored and amazed, but this was actually a GRAND PRIZE WINNER in the Cabot Woodcare contest!
• Solar charger
• Wooden box
• Brass corners
• Scrap leather
• Scrap aluminum
• Label (optional)
Supplies & tools:
• Stain & paint
• Power drill
• Rotary tool
• Utility knife
Step 1: Choose a Solar Charger
For my purposes, another thing that is key about this back-up battery and charger is that it has a standard USB attachment, and is capable of powering a USB lamp, of which I've made quite a few, including; my Dieselpunk USB Lamp, my Steampunk USB mini-lantern and my Steampunk incandescent USB lamp.
One draw back to this device is that it's a bit delicate, and scratches easily. This box comes in handy here, because you can leave the charger in the box, remove the lid, and place it in the sun to charge. (If it's a cloudy day, you can also charge this device through a USB cable connected to your computer).
So while its great to have this device as a back-up battery charger to charge my phone or iPod on the run, it will most likely spend more time sitting on my coffee table powering a homemade lamp;-)
Step 2: Choose a Box
Originally I had planned to build my own wooden box. But when I found this puzzle in a discount store, with a perfect size wooden box, for about US$3, I couldn't resist.
Step 3: Clean and Sand Box
When you've removed as much of the glue as possible with the sponge, let it dry and then use some medium grain sandpaper to remove the rest of the glue, (I used 100), and smooth off any rough spots.
Step 4: Drill USB Port
Step 5: Paint and Stain
The top of this box is a flimsy piece of fiber board. Even stained, it wouldn't look very good, so I decided to paint it instead. First I tried a coat of copper metallic paint, and wasn't satisfied with the results, so I covered the copper with a coat of metallic gold.
Step 6: Fit Leather Lining
Step 7: USB Port Faceplate
I cut a small piece from the lid of a cookie tin with my small rotary saw. Mark the outline of the USB plug on the aluminum, and then cut an "X" hash mark, and then bend back the four pieces created by your two cuts to create a rectangular port.
Once you have the piece cut out, cut the corners diagonally, (see the third photo), to make it easier to bend the edges back.
Now fold back the edges, so that you don't have exposed sharp metal. Flatten the edges out with a pliers or similar tool.
Note: If you have the tools and skills, you might want to create a brass faceplate to cover the USB port. I don't have either;-)
When you have the faceplate cut and bent to size, mount it over the hole you have cut in the wood, and make sure your plug fits in snugly. Mine was a bit loose, so I used a few drop of solder to hold in in place. This made a bit of a mess of the faceplate, so I ended up painting over it with gold metallic paint.
Finally screw it into place, making sure that the screws won't interfere with the contents of your box.
Step 8: Add Brass Corners
These cost about US$4 at my local hardware store.
Step 9: Steampunk Label
The goal was to give this device the look and feel of a 19th century appliance, and I think I achieved that goal.
First I did a Google search for "Victorian border" and found a wide variety to choose from. Then I designed the text in Photoshop, using the appropriate 19th century-looking fonts "Gingerbread Victorian" and "Rosewood," and added a craquelure textured filter.
I printed the label on parchment paper, and used a glue stick to affix it to the lid, then added a light coat of polyurethane to give it a nice shine.
Step 10: Lid
This fiber board is very easy to make a hole in, so I marked the spot with a screw and pushed a hole in the board with a screw driver.
Since the screw that holds the knob in place would bang into the box when closing, I had to shave a small notch in the box with a utility knife to accommodate the screw when the lid slides closed.
Step 11: Add Adapters
Place your adapters in the bottom of the box, and place the leather scrap over them. Now forget about them, until you need to charge that old cellphone from the last century... or until Customs stops you at a border crossing;-)
Step 12: Charging
Step 13: Finished!
A word of caution: If you plan to use this device to charge or power standard USB devices, such as lamps or an iPod, you should leave the voltage output set to 5 volts (which is standard USB port output). If you accidently switch it to 9 volts and plug in a lamp, you will blow the bulb. I learned this the hard way;-)
If you decide to make one yourself, please post a photo here.