Instructables

Using A Voltaic Solar Panel For An EL Wire Logo

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For the March Build Night with Voltaic Systems, we thought it would be great to use the 6 Watt system they sent us to power up the Omaha Maker Group EL Wire Logo that hangs in our front window.  

For more information on the creation of the EL Wire logo, click here.
 
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Step 1: The Basics

The Voltaic Systems 6 Watt kit comes with their 6 Watt Panel and their V15 Rechargeable Battery, plus a variety of cables and connectors. The panel charges the battery, which functions like a typical external battery pack common these days with smartphones and mobile devices. The output of the battery is through a standard USB plug.

The EL Wire logo is powered by an inverter that runs off of (2) AA batteries. Since the inverter is necessary for the operation of the logo, it needs to be kept. But the batteries could be replaced by the power from the V15 Rechargeable Battery.

Step 2: Get Adjusted

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Since the outputs of the 6 Watt Panel and the V15 Rechargeable Battery are 6 volts, and the input into the EL Wire inverter is 3 volts (2 AA batteries @ 1.5 volts each), it is necessary to convert the voltage.

The LM2596 DC-DC Buck Converter is the perfect solution here! It features a trim-pot adjustment for the output, 4.5-40 volt input, and 1.5-35 volt output. It is low-cost, which is ideal, and small form factor. In fact, after a little bit of investigation, I determined that, if I removed the batteries and part of the spring terminals, there was a perfect amount of room inside the EL Wire power pack for the LM2596!

carfin335 months ago

I thought you had made a copy of the early ELO Logo! It would had looked awesome!.

ejk00 (author) 5 months ago
I think so. You'd have to check the load ratings to be certain. Also, there are versions of the buck that include a voltage display. Those might be best for your application.
Thanks for the comments!
gravityisweak5 months ago
Thanks for this! I love your idea of using the buck converter! Can this be used to turn a wall wart into a variable power supply?
ejk00 (author) 5 months ago
As long as the sun shines, anyway!
craftclarity5 months ago

Looks like that's an 'always-on' lightbulb....quite literally.