Smart Mint the Solar Phone Charger




Introduction: Smart Mint the Solar Phone Charger

About: I'm a techie and a DIYer , I'v been know to take junk and make it useful again , not to much I can't make or fix , I'v been taking things apart since I was 5 and started making and fixing things at 8 , I re…

Hello everyone Techsavvy here , 
 it been awhile since I posted anything ,
and I  Thought I owe it to my Awesome subscribers to post something I'v been working on , 
Thanks again guys for your support  ;-)
 and fellow users 

so to start off by saying a couple of things ,

well for starters I wanted to make my own mint tin Version  of a cellphone charger that is powered by both sun and battery , 
I know there's few Idea's out there and there all great ,
but I wanted to see if I could make one cheaper and explain in a way that's easy for everyone to understand , 

Second I wanted it easy to make so that anyone could make it , even those who don't have that kind of know how ,
and three I wanted to make it easier by telling others were to find the altoids tins or other type of mint tin ,

yes that's a problem were I  live not to mention I don't have radio shack either I know scary right ,

and lastly I wanted it to be able to replace the battery anytime I needed instead of waiting for it to charge all the time , 

so with that said lets go make are own Smart mint  .

Step 1: Getting What You Need

OK so here's a list of thing's you will need ,

Things to buy .
1x 3 volt solar cell , ebay or buyincoins , I got mine from buyincoins for about $ 2.00
1x 1.5 volt to 5 volt boost module , you can get These on ebay or buyincoins , for about $1.50 to $2.00 .

1x Rectifier diode any will work fine , you can buy these on ebay or  for a $ 1 for 100 .
1x switch I used a rocker switch , but you can choose what ever you have on hand , this only costed me $ 2.00 for 10 on ebay .

1x (AA) Battery holder and rechargeable battery ,  this was bought off ebay as well for $ 1 for holder and battery two for a $1, 
1x Altoids tin or other mint tin , since were I live its very hard to find mint tins so I used a Sucrets tin , $2.00 found at dollerama or pharmacy or at walmart . 
1x 10 or 25 volt capacitor . ebay as well 

Tools and materials   
Note some of this is optional you can use what ever tool's you have handy ,
Glue gun
Soldering gun / optional
contact cement / optional
double sided tape
electric tape ,
piece of solid package foam / I used a piece that came with the module ,
Dremel or sharp Knife    ,
gloves and safety glasses ,
Black marker

Please note I'm not reasonable for any Damage or harm to one's self , please use all recommended safety percussion's and be safe .  

Step 2: Get the Case Ready

OK to start were going to need to cut out and drill the holes for are switch and usb port and the solar cells wires , 

to do the take a marker a trace on both sides of the usb and do the same with the switch , 
then make a mark on the top of your lid in the middle that were the wires for your solar cells will go in , 

once you've done that go ahead and cut out your hole for usb and switch and drill the hole for the wire's ,

now that that's done you can fit the parts that you going to put in to see how its going to fit ,

Step 3: Mounting and Gluing

OK now for the easy part , 

take a piece of the foam and cut it to fit the module , not only this will ground it from the case but it will help protect it if the case falls ,
Next take some epoxy and glue the foam to the inside of the tin were the module will go,

Next take a piece of double sided tape and put it on both ends of your battery holder ,
then place it inside the case pressing down firmly ,

When that is done you can put the switch in it place ,

Step 4: Putting It All Together

OK now its time to finish it off, 

Now I made a Diagram of were everything is to be connected ,
But i'll put it into words also  , 

ok first take your ground wire for your battery hold and solder it to the ground on the module , 
next take the diode and the cap and solder the caps positive to the the black end of the diode , 

then take the ground on the cap and solder that to the ground on module ,
and then take the solar cells ground and solder it to the ground on the module , 

now solder the grey end of the diode to the the off position on the switch ,
and then take the battery holders positive and solder it to the off position on the switch , 

Then solder the modules positive to the on position on the switch .

once done you can glue gun the module to the foam , and glue gun the connections to insulate them from touching ,
then glue your solar cell in place , I used the glue gun to glue the cell and then used some contact cement as a seal around the outside of the cells edge ,  

OK your done moving on 

Step 5: OK the Specs and the Testing

OK time to test it out , 

First I tested it with a voltmeter to see how the voltage looks ,
as you can see almost five volts it would have been more but I did want to wait for the battery to charge :-) ,

now in the pictures you can see the phone is charging well when plug into the smart tin , 

note if you have a Android phone it will say slow charging when plugged in  ,
that's fine it says the same when plugged into the computer ,

now it only took five minutes to charge the phone from 46% to 49% , 

since its winter it to soon to judge how well the solar cell will work ,
but like other's i'v used It should more than keep your battery topped up ,
so the over all project costed me around $7.00 to make .

so there you are now you can make your very own smart tin , Thank you for viewing 

P.s IF you have any questions feel free to ask :-) 

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    6 years ago

    what if i use only one 5v solar panel?

    tech savvy
    tech savvy

    Reply 6 years ago

    Hi there sorry for the late reply,

    You can use a 5v solar panel as long as its not outputting to much current ,

    The module I used can handle a input of 1 amp or 1000 mah ,

    So if your panels current is 1 amp or 1000 mah or lower it should be fine ,

    I tested this with my module with a 5 volt panel which had a output of 5v at 400 mah,

    Hope this helps :-)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What exactly is the function of the capacitor in this circuit? I'm new to DIY electronics so I'm just trying to learn more about why this particular setup works. Also I've been looking at a lot of other instructables on solar powered phone chargers and this is the only one I've found that uses a capacitor.

    tech savvy
    tech savvy

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi There Kylemann ,
    To answer Your question why I use a capacitor ,
    the main reason I use it is to keep the flow of power stable ,
    and at a constant voltage ,
    for an example ,
    using a solar panel the voltage can fluctuate ,
    so some times its not staying at the same voltage ,
    this is were the capacitor comes in ,
    it keeps the power flowing at the same voltage without interruptions , and also it helps give your solar panel a bit of a boost to help charging ,
    since capacitors also store power ,
    so far I'v found this method to work ,
    hope this answers your question ,
    if you have any other questions feel free to ask ,

    Yours Truly Tech Savvy :-)


    8 years ago

    Please respond, whenever I plug mine in it says this this accessory may not be supported and does not charge, I have an Iphone 5

    tech savvy
    tech savvy

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Geotheos , I'v read in apple and other helps forums on how to fix this problem ,

    this is what i got from the help forum 1. Turn on USB power 2. Plug in l cable to iPhone , 3. Dismiss any warnings

    4. Unlock your iPhone., 5. Dismiss any remaining warnings.

    6. Now with the screen turned on. 7. Unplug the cable. 8. Plug it back in.

    9. Dismiss warning again10. It should now charge. if that doe's not work add a second aa battery pack some phones need a full a 5 to 5.5 volts to work ,

    let me know if this helps , best Regards Tech savvy


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I have several of those free car plug usb adapters. I have tried just connecting 3 of my solar cells (off of garden lights), and it never seems to work. I am getting 7 - 11 volts out of the solar cells, and that usb adapter should reduce to 5 volts.....what does adding in the battery (or two) do in this case?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You're essentially charging two devices, the external backup battery and your phone, at the same time. This instructable explains what kind of charge controller and power is required to perform this task and give constant phone charge even under non-ideal conditions:

    tech savvy
    tech savvy

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi foo_plinger , the problem is your solar cells ,

    most solar cells for garden lights do not have the current to drive the adapter alone ,

    voltage is only good if you have current ,

    most of the garden solar cells only use 50 mah plus they also a joule thief ,

    now usb adapter needs at lest 500 mah to run , ,

    now most aa battery's start at 500 mah to 1500 mah depending on the kind ,

    hence is why the two aa battery should drive the usb adapter ,

    tech savvy
    tech savvy

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi everyone this is posted for questions ,

    about using a car usb adapter in stead of a boost module ,

    I wanted to reply with a couple of pics ,

    showing my adapter charging my cellphone with only four aa battery's ,

    so the answer to your question is yes it will work if you use four aa battery's ,

    and a car usb charger ,

    hope this helps

    yasir rawa
    yasir rawa

    8 years ago

    can i find this boost module in any of my old gadgets or phone chargers??

    tech savvy
    tech savvy

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    HI Yasir rawa ,

    the closest thing to a boost module is a homemade made joule thief ,

    or you could use a dollar store usb car adapter like in the pic below ,

    note if using the adapter you will need to double the battery power ,

    I'v used usb adapters before with two aa batterys and it worked for me ,

    hope this helps your truly Tech Savvy