Introduction: The Nicaragua Solar Panel
This is a small solar panels that is designed to be constructed and installed in Nicaragua. I created it using minimal materials as well as supplies that are low cost and can be transported easily to Nicaragua. The raw materials for this device will be brought down to Nicaragua where the villagers will be able to construct their own solar panels and have their very first electric light. The villagers will then be able to take these panels home; and with other materials supplied and with our assistance, they will have their very first nonflammable, nontoxic light at night
This eight watt solar panel is constructed out of recycled glass and laser cut 6' x 6' monocrystalline solar cells. This panel is encapsulated in an optically clear rubberized epoxy to provide dampening against falling objects as well as a 100% waterproof barrier to this panel which will last for 20 years without any maintenance. There is a six volt battery and a custom charging circuit. The light is a combination of four low cost 5mm LEDs that are defused and waterproofed.
I hope you are interested in my outreach and enjoy my Instructable!
Step 1: The Idea
Why do I deserve a Hurricane Laser Cutter?
With this a laser cutter I would be able to provide the best and lowest cost renewable power source to villagers in Nicaragua and around the world.
With this project, I am limited by financial restrictions to the amount of people that I can help. One solar panel and power station is estimated to cost only $20 and is able to regeneratively illuminate an entire house (one to two room building) continually when there is no sunlight. This solar panel will enable the 40% of the citizens of Nicaragua who have no power and the 60% who have intermittent power, with clean reliable light. The custom led light will provide light for students to study under, reduce the use of fire causing kerosene lanterns, and increase the esteem of the residents because they made a device that is now helping their family be more functional.
At this time my planned cost is spot on except for one component. Currently the 2" x 1" solar cells are purchase pre-cut from a company for $ .30. I can reduce the cost of the solar cells by 480% if I were able to use a Hurricane Laser Cutter. I have 300 6" x 6" Monocrystalline solar cells that cost me $150. Each cell can be cut into 8 cells which can be used in the Nicaragua Solar Panel. The laser cutter would enable me to provide 150 solar panels to villagers in Nicaragua. That is 150 kids that would increase their grade a whole letter grade! That is thousands of dollars saved from using kerosene. That is enough to possibly even save a life from a fire from a tipped over kerosene lamp.
Step 2: Tools and Materals
The tools required for this project are quite minimal due to the simplicity of the design and manufacturing process.
Soldering Iron This is a very nice step up soldering iron station that is am extremely happy with.
Solar cells I currently purchase them from here
This is a 2" by 1" solar cell. Each cell is like a little battery, the gray side is positive and the blue side is negative. These are very thin and fragile pieces of technology, but can be easily worked with if you are careful.
Step 4: Tabbing Wire Tool
Pictured below is how I created the tabbing wire jig.
Step 5: Tabbing Wire
Pictured is how I accurately cut multiple pieces of tabbing wire. It is a very effective process.
Step 6: Tabbing the Solar Cell Cells
Pictured below is how I tabbed each solar cell with one 1.5" piece of tabbing wire. I used a 60 Watt Weller soldering Iron set to 750 degrees Farenhight. We will need to tab 16 cells.
Step 7: Adding the Cells Together
For this step, I am wiring eight cells in a series configuration to increase the voltage of the panel. In the end, this panel will supply 8 volts.
Repeat this twice to have enough for a full solar panel.
Step 8: Assembly
With your two strips of eight cells gently move them from your work space to your piece of recycled glass. Make sure they are orientated like the second picture, blue side looking through the glass. Any kind of glass will work bu i am using 1/8' thick glass that measures 10" x 8".
Step 9: The Final Wiring
Depicted below is how I wired the two strips of eight cells together to get the final voltage of 8 volts.
Step 10: Encapsulation Prep Work
Pictured below is how I used silicone to hold down the solar cells and create a wall so the encapsulant does not flow out.
Step 11: Encapsulation
Pictured below is how i encapsulated the Nicaragua Solar panel
I used 50 ml of part R and 50 ml of part H
Step 12: Conclusion
Well congratulations on learning how to make a small panel that could do so much to help the world. I will come along with updates on the power charger, LED, and my adventure out to Nicaragua this summer.
This project is supported buy myself and a Professor at GVSU who came to me with the question below.
I want to help provide the people of Nicaragua with light, how can i do it?
To this day I know that I am on the right track and hopefully this contest will enable the two of to finally finish our efforts.
Thank you all for your time, support, and interest. Please consider this Instructable during your analysis of the submitted entrees.
If you have any questions feel free to ask!