Introduction: Pocket Sized Recycled Solar Fan

About: Arduino and Robotics Nerd, and alumni of FIRST Robotics Team 5683 (Go R.A.V.E.!). Blinking LEDs with Arduino is still one of my favorite pastimes even after years of doing it.

I have a bunch of old motors laying around from some broken quadcopters, and some solar panels I harvested from those little 'solar bugs' that were popular a while back. Let's make them into something useful.

This project will be very simple, and at the same time, eco-friendly and useful. What is it, though? Just what the title says: a mini solar fan to cool you off on sunny days.

Follow along, and we'll see where this takes us.

Oh, and please don't forget to vote if you like this!

Step 1: Gathering Materials

Even though this project is small and simple, you should still ensure you have all of the parts before you start building.

You need:

1x Small Motor

1x Propeller (that fits the motor)

4x 18.1x30 solar panels (or an equivalent)


Wire (both modelling wire and electrical wire)

Some scrap metal (or just use modelling wire)


Soldering Iron

Hot Glue Gun

Scissors / X-Acto Knife

Step 2: A Base and Mount

First, we need to mount the motor, and create a place to put the solar panels.

Step 1: Trace and Cut

Take two solar panels, align them side-by-side, and trace the edge on the cardboard to form a box.

Trace them again, right next to the first box.

Cut out both boxes with scissors or the X-Acto knife.

Trace the motor on one of the boxes. (I originally used the big one, but replaced it later because the panels didn't supply enough power). In hindsight, it would be better to trace it farther up the side, to allow room for the fan.

Cut out the appropriate area, and use as a template to trace and cut the second rectangle.

Step 2: Glue

Hot glue the two rectangles together, then glue the motor in place. Unlike in my pictures, it would be better to have one wire from the motor on each side, instead of both on one.

Step 3: Wire

Cut two lengths of modelling wire about 1/2 inch longer than the upper side of the rectangles.

Bend the ends down to 90 degree angles.

Hot glue each in place at the bottom of the rectangles, one on each side.

Now you can move on to the solar panels!

Step 3: The Solar Panels

I have my 4 panels wired in series, but I believe the design will work better if they are in parallel, so that is how I have the diagram arranged.

Step 1: Solder

Follow the diagram above to solder your panels and motor together correctly. I have not transcribed it, as I find my description of this particular circuit a bit confusing.

Insulate all of your connections with hot glue (on the panels) or Electrical tape (wires to motor).

Step 2: Metal Braces

These are what hold the solar panels on each side together firmly. I used some scrap aluminum, but you could use thick modelling wire as well.

Cut your metal of choice into 2 sections about as wide as two panels side-by-side. keep any scrap, we might still want it.

Hot glue these to the bottoms of the two sets of panels.

Now we can move on to Final Assembly!

Step 4: Final Assembly

Now we glue everything together, add some extra bits, and touch up any mistakes.

Step 1: Glue

First, choose the angle you want your panels to be in. If you really want to take this everywhere in your pocket, I suggest gluing the panels flat.

Now, glue the panels to the main bit. I would suggest gluing them at the metal brace to reduce stress on the wiring, but you can glue them however you want.

Step 2: Extra bits and a Fan

I took two of the pieces of scrap metal from the braces, bent them over, and glued them to the front of the body for a less cardboard-y look.

Pick a fan of your choice, slot it on the motor, and now you can take it outside and test it!

If the fan spins the wrong way, you can either reverse the wiring to the motor, or use a fan that has the opposite tilt to the rotors.

And now you can move on to Results!

Step 5: Results

I rather like the result of this. Not too tacky, and a good use of recycled parts, especially in the sunny months. (Free energy, whoopee!) In hindsight, I should have made it a little taller so the fan can spin without being interrupted by the ground. But that's what the "tactical rails" on the bottom are for, adding a stand or strapping it to something.

Anyway, this was just a quick little two-hour project, so I hope you like it!

Please vote if you like this, and don't forget to leave comments if you have questions!

As always, these are the projects of Dangerously Explosive, his lifelong mission, "to boldly build what you want to build, and more!"

You can find the rest of my projects here.

Trash to Treasure

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest