Introduction: Weekly Project: Go Green GBA--A Solar-Powered Game Boy Advance
How many AA batteries does your Game Boy Advance eat during an average week of game play? Two, four, eight; well, then you're going to appreciate this environmentally-friendly way of squeezing "free" game play out of the sun.
While it's no secret that surplus solar-powered, rechargeable, portable Solar PAK (#GEGBASP) power packs are readily available from discount electronics parts stores, it is an unfortunate fact that the bulk of them are DOA. Sure the solar panel functions as advertised, but more cases than not, the rechargeable battery pack is toast.
Revitalize that dead Solar PAK with a set of fresh, new NiMH batteries. In just a couple of months of average game play, your "green" GBA will have paid for itself.
Go Green GBA.
Step 1: Salvage the Solar PAK GBA
Time: 1 hour
- Solar PAK #GEGBASP ($6.95; All Electronics Corp. #SPL-08)
- (3) 1.2V 700-900mAh Rechargeable NiMH flat-top "prismatic" (e.g., $4.24; Budget Batteries #5M60)
- electrical tape
- double-sided foam tape
Step 2: Open Sesame--Maybe
Your most difficult challenge won't be locating a trio of suitable batteries, rather it will be getting inside the Solar PAK. There are four Triwing "tamperproof" screws fastening the battery compartment together. Don't be fooled into thinking that you can simply push a straight-blade screwdriver into these screws and force 'em out. Instead purchase a Triwing screwdriver. Sears, Roebuck and Co. sells the Craftsman 32 pc. Security Screwdriver and Bit Set (Sears item #00947486000 Mfr. model #47486) for less than $25 which features four Triwing bits.
Step 3: Out With the Old (Batteries)
Remove the dead battery pack by desoldering the black and red power wires from the negative and positive terminals (respectively). Don't just throw these dead batteries in your household trash. Locate an eco-friendly disposal site for dumping these dead cells. Local RadioShack stores and Lowe's Home Centers occasionally reclaim dead batteries.
Step 4: Roll Your Own
Lay the three NiMH batteries on a flat surface with the polarity of the terminals flipped (i.e., positive up, negative up, positive up). These flipped poles must now be connected together. Either a shorting clip or a piece of scrap wire can be used for soldering the alternating terminals together.
First, identify a positive and a negative terminal--these poles should be singularly labeled on each of the end battery pack. In other words, the positive terminal could be the left battery whereas the negative terminal would then be the right battery. Solder the red and black power leads from the Solar PAK to the respective terminals.
Complete the replacement battery pack by taping all three batteries together with a length of electrical tape. Secure the pack inside the Solar PAK with a piece of double-sided foam tape and reinsert the Triwing fasteners.
Step 5: Playing Around in the Sun
When placed in direct (or, indirect) sunlight the amber "charging" CHG LED should flash. A full charge will take approximately three hours. There is a slight chance that your completed Solar PAK replacement battery pack won't work. If this is the case, press the Reset button (located on the rear of the solar panel) until the CHG LED begins to flash. Don't forget to turn on both the GBA power and the Solar PAK power switch for proper operation.
Now go have some fun in the sun.