Introduction: DIY Solar Powered Mini Vehicle

This Instructable is a guide to create both a solar powered mini vehicle. The target audience for this tutorial will be a science or technology classroom for grades 9-12 or a small team within the workplace. As indicated in the title of the tutorial the topic is solar energy and how it can be used. Solar energy is captured by photovoltaic cells which convert the energy into electricity. To help apply this tutorial to a classroom we will use STEL-7. STEL-7: Design in Technology and Engineering Education is broken into eight ideas that give students a foundation of understanding in design. There are multiple steps of TEP used in this tutorial such as making & doing, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.

Step 1: Materials

The design of this solar vehicle has only two wheels unlike the traditional four wheels.

2x DC motor (1.5V-3V)

1x Solar Cell (1.5V 400mA)

1x Axel rods

2x Wheels

2x Gears

1x Balsa wood sheets (5.9in x 3.9in)

8x Balsa wood sticks

Wood Glue


*Not all materials may be used*

Step 2: Creating the Body

Cut 1 & 5/8th inch off of balsa wood sheet vertically

Cut 2 (1 & 3/4 inch width x 3/20 inch long) strips from scrap balsa wood for axle support

Glue 2 strips in the up right position

Step 3: Working With the Motor

Turn balsa wood sheet over

Place small gear on tip of motor

Place motor with right side of gear flush with edge of balsa wood

Tape motor to body

Step 4: Connect Motor to Solar Cell

Find the optimal spot for solar cell on body

Place tape in a ring to tape the solar cell to body

Take black wire and attach to top node

Take red wire and attach to bottom node

Step 5: Connect Wheels and Attach

Place gear on the left most side of axle

Attach wheels to both ends of axle

Step 6: Attach Wheels

Place axle with gear on left side into the axle support

Make sure the gears are interlocked with each other