Introduction: Make a Solar DS "light" (Version 1)

About: Hi! I've loved electronics and electricity for as long as I can remember, and electric projects are something I do in my free time for fun. Everything I've learned about electricity is either from experience o…
The Nintendo DS Lite seems like it was made to have solar cells put on it. It has a large amount of surface area on the top and bottom that both face upward when the DS is opened. The top and bottom faces each have exactly the right amount of room for two 60x60mm solar cells side by side (four total). Each one has a maximum power output of 3 volts at 40 ma. The top two are connected in series and so are the bottom two. These two sets are wired in parallel to get a total of 6 volts at 80 ma, perfect for trickle-charging the battery.

Note: A newer version has been posted and is better than this one. Go to: for a better version. If you want to make a solar powered DS the easy way, you can still use this one.

If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask!

By the way, this is my first Instructable!

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

  • 4x - 60x60 mm solar cell
  • 2x - Diodes (Preferably schottky, they have a lower forward voltage)
  • Some wire, almost any kind will work (the thinner the better)
  • Scotch tape


  • Multimeter
  • Mire stripper / cutter
  • Soldering iron with solder
  • Helping hands tool (not necessary, but helpful)
  • Hot glue gun with glue

Step 2: Make the Panels

Solder two of the solar cells together to make a panel, with the negative strip connecting to the positive strip. The negative ends of the solar cells have a skinny black mark by them. Repeat this with the other two to make another panel.

Step 3: Attach the Diodes

A diode is an electrical component that allows electricity to flow in one direction only. In this case, it is used so that the solar panels can charge the battery but the battery can't discharge into the solar panels. On the positive end of one of the panels, solder the anode (the end without the white stripe) of one of the diodes to the positive end of one of the solar panels so that the diode points down. Solder the anode of the other diode to the other panel so that it points up. After that, use a dab of hot glue to secure the diode to the solar cell.

Step 4: Wiring Part 1

Cut a length of wire about 15 cm long. Strip one end and solder it to the end of the diode on the top panel (where the diode faces down). bend it at the corner of the panel, then tape it along the edge of the first cell.

Step 5: Wiring Part 2

Cut another length of wire about 15 cm long. Strip one end of it and solder it to the negative side of the top panel. Bend it around the corner and tape it.

Step 6: Wiring Part 3

Cut and strip a wire about 20 cm long. Solder one end of it the diode on the lower panel, then bend it and tape it along the length of the panel. This wire will later be soldered to the DS battery holder.

Step 7: Wiring Part 4

Cut and strip a wire about 10 cm long, and solder it to the negative end of the bottom panel. Tape it to the side of the panel with a small piece of tape. This wire will later be soldered to the DS battery holder.

Step 8: Join the Panels

Take the wire from the negative of the top panel and slip it underneath the tape on the bottom panel(or you could just replace the tape). Solder the end of the wire to the negative of the bottom panel. Take the wire from the positive (diode side) of the top panel and slip it underneath the tape on the bottom panel. Solder the end of the wire to the end of the diode on the positive side of the bottom panel.

Step 9: Test the Setup

Connect the multimeter to the two wires comming from the panels. Bring it outside and set the panels in the sun. Test the voltage and the current. A good way to test that each panel is working is to put the multimeter on the current setting and cover one of the panels with your hand. If the current is half of what it was before, they work!

These panels were only supposed to produce 6 volts, but I'll go with 8! :-)

Step 10: Prepare the DS

After you have made sure the panels work, take the battery cover off of the DS using a small philips . Take out the battery by putting your fingernail under the little notch and prying it out.

Step 11: Connect the Panels Part 1

If the wires coming from the panels are too long, cut them for the best length.

Solder the positive wire from the panels to the positive battery terminal. A good way to do this is to wedge it between the two little tabs, then solder it while it's stuck there.

Step 12: Connect the Panels Part 2

Solder the negative wire to the negative battery terminal, using the same method as before.

Step 13: Close It Up

Push the battery back into the slot, even if it means forcing it. It should be harder to put back in because the battery connector is now covered in solder.

Screw the battery cover on. This may require some effort because of the wires sticking out of it. If you're using a lower guage (thicker) wire, you may have to cut or sand a gap for it to fit.

Step 14: Secure the Panels to the DS

Position the cells on the DS how you want to attatch them. Lift up one of the panels and place a large blob of glue under each cell. Hold it tight until the glue cools (about 30 seconds). Repeat this with the other panel and your done!!!! :-)

Step 15: Enjoy Not Using the Charger!

Turn the DS on. If it works, good job! If it doesn't, I have no idea what you did wrong (or the battery is dead).

Ever since I did this to my DS, I have never had to plug it in to charge it. If you have used for a while, set it in the sun to charge some. ~~Don't let it sit in the sun all day every day, it's probably bad for the battery. The cells don't produce much current, but it's probably best not to risk the battery.~~ (see update)

Enjoy your DS "light"! :-)

Ratings and comments are appreciated. If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask! I'll gladly answer it!

Step 16: Update!

After several people pointed out that there really should be some sort of charge protection circuit, d3z0rian commented suggesting this!

It's a small circuit that automatically cuts off the power when the battery is fully charged. At only $1.59, it's a bargain! In less than a week from February 13, 2009 it should arrive. I'll post another update with pictures showing the new setup!

February 22, 2009: The part arrived yesterday, and I just finished modifying the DS with the chip. It changed so much that I'll have to post a new instructable. I'll put a link to it right here when I'm done with it.

April 12, 2009: The newer version has been published! Go to!