I own loads of rechargeable NiMH AA and AAA batteries, but most always seem to be dead when I need them. So, I wanted a cheap and fast way to make battery chargers that I can keep on my desk, so that I could have an armada of charged batteries at all times. I didn't want to take up more outlets and have more wire spaghetti with plug-in chargers, so I settled on a solar charger. I'm in the solar business so I had stacks of small pieces of raw lasercut PV silicon cells (solettes) laying around, and I first made a simple battery charger with a few business cards as a backing. Then I found that playing cards were a more stable backing -- and besides, they looked neat.
This instructable details my efforts to make a simple solar battery charger made out of a playing card, some solettes, some magnets and super glue -- if anyone has ideas on how to make this simpler and more effective, please let me know in the comments.
No soldering is required for this project.
It should take about 10-15 minutes.
First, check out this video. There are two playing-card solar projects detailed in here -- one for a AA charger, and another for an arduino charge card (described in more detail here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-powered-arduino-on-the-back-of-a-playing-car/
p.s. Where can you get the small bits of solar cells -- the solettes -- needed for these Instructables? Well, it's a pain right now. You can track these puppies down from suppliers in China, but they aren't easy to pin down: http://manilamantis.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/the-dark-side-2/
So, to make this easier, my buddies and I are launching a Kickstarter campaign (Aug 15 - Sept 14) for all your solar DIY needs: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alex9000/the-solar-pocket-factory-an-invention-adventure