Goal Zero Nomad Solar Panel Frame




Here is a simple frame I built for the Goal Zero Nomad-style portable solar panel. Below are instructions for both the Nomad 7 and Nomad 20 panels. Made from carbon fiber rod and clear tubing. Goal: maximize solar energy capture.

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Step 1: Cut Rod

For the Nomad 7, I used 1/4" (0.25" or 6mm) carbon fiber rod - cut two rods (each) into following lengths: 7 1/2" (19.1cm) & 12 1/2 (31.7cm)"

For the Nomad 20, I used 5/16" (0.315" or 8mm) carbon fiber rod - cut two rods (each) into the following lengths: 11 3/4" (29.8cm) & 21 1/2 (54.6cm)"

I cut the carbon fiber rods with a Dremel tool and a rotary diamond blade (use eye protection, gloves and respirator mask!!!). I would recommend cutting outside because cutting the rods produces a fine dust. Then I rounded the ends of the rods with a sanding head, so the tubing would slip on easier.

Note: the rods are cut shorter than the length of the panel to allow the clear (vinyl) tubing to bend without kinking.

Step 2: Cut Clear Tubing

For the Nomad 7, I used 3/8" OD (outer diameter) x 1/4" ID (inner diameter) clear vinyl tubing - cut four pieces approximately 2 3/4" (7cm) long

For the Nomad 20, I used 7/16" OD (outer diameter) x 5/16" ID (inner diameter) clear vinyl tubing - cut four pieces approximately 4" (10.16cm) long

Note: I had good results cutting the tubing with both wire cutters and heavy duty scissors.

Step 3: Assemble

Feed the rods through the nylon support loops on the top and sides of the solar panel (you can feed it through the bottom support loop if you want, but it tends to kink the tubing and isn't really necessary). Push the tubing onto the rods approximately 1/2" (1.27cm).

Step 4: Go Enjoy!

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I made it! I also made a tripod leg to support the back and angle it toward the sun. I used fiberglass driveway marker poles for the frame

    16, 10:06 PM.jpg
    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Very cool Josh!!! That is awesome


    3 years ago

    This is so cool! My next project!!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, this is great. I'd like to do something similar for those 100W flexible solar panels you can buy on amazon. They measure 41.3 X 21.3 X 0.12 In and weigh 4.4 lbs.

    How do you determine what diameter rod to buy? Would 12.7mm dia rod be adequate in that length? I think I see some of that stuff here http://www.cstsales.com/carbon_rods-ss4.html for $45 in a 4ft length. Not cheap. I'd probably need 3 of them.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your kind comment. I had different diameter carbon fiber rods on hand and just experimented by running different uncut size rods through the loops until I was satisfied with the rigidity they provided. Then I tested several materials for connecting the individual rods and found that clear tubing seemed to work well. The shape and construction of your solar panel will have a significant impact on the best frame design… for me (using the Goal Zero panels in a folding "book-style" design with loops positioned around the edge), an outer frame of four connected pieces of carbon fiber worked great, was simple and light. Since your panel is fairly large, you might think about trying an “X” shape so that the middle of the panel is supported. One piece of advice - do a prototype in cheap material first to make sure it works for what you are trying to do. With that being said (please don't hold me to it... I'm guessing sight unseen), 12.7mm carbon fiber rod is pretty strong stuff and should be adequate. Good luck!