Here are the two toy solar car that are going to be made in this Instructable. The smaller solar car is a retrofitted hex bug ant. The larger solar car is a simple application of Legos, a motor, and a solar panel to make a simple solar car.
A list of tools and parts used in the construction with prices
o Soldering iron
o Lead free solder
o Hot glue gun
o Hot glue sticks
o 3D printer(optional)
Small solar toy car parts:
· Small solar panel
o Price: $6.95
o Voltage: 6 volt
o Current: 70mA
o Wattage:0.42 W
· HEX bug ant
· Balsa dial rod:
o Price: $1.00
o Diameter: 3/16 inch
· 3D printed wheels
o Price: less than $0.50
o Diameter: 1 inch
o Thickness 1/16”
Large solar toy car parts:
· Small solar panel
o Price: $12.97
o Voltage: 6 volt
o Wattage:1.5 W
· Lego chaise:
o Price: less than 5 dollars
· Motor and gear box
o Price: $5.00 dollars
o Voltage needed: 4.5 volts
o Current needed: 160mA
Links to buy unique components:
hex bug ant:
Smaller Solar panel:
Larger solar panel:
Dc motor with gear box:
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Step 1: Small Solar Car: Step 1:
1: The first step is to remove the batteries that the hex bug would normal use to power its small DC motor.
This action is accomplished by removing the screw in the bottom of the chassis. And then you can pull the cover off and remove the batteries.
2: The next important step is to remove the 3 axles and take off the gears on the small axles.
You will notice that all the axles have gears that are attached to the wheels. You want to remove the gears on the two smaller axles, so that the wheels spin freely. The reason this action is done to is to reduce the resistance the motor experiences. This ultimately allows the solar car to move more efficiently.
3: Attach 1 inch diameter wheels to the the red wheels of the big axle.
I 3D printed 2 simple cylinders that were 1 inch in diameter and 1/16" thick. I then hot glued them to the outside of the red wheels. This action was done to increase the solar cars ability to move. The normal red wheels made it very hard for the solar car to get enough speed to move properly.
*note you can remove all the red wheels and replace them with normal wheels for increased performance. I chose against this option because I believe you would need to break the red wheels off.*
4: Put the axles and lower cover back on
Step 2: Small Solar Car: Step 2:
5: To start remove the translucent red protective cover on the top of the hex bug.
Under it is the circuit board that controls the hex bug's actions.
6: From here you want to locate the two nodes on the circuit that directly link to the small motor. The two nodes are where i have the wired soldered into place.
I located the two nodes on the circuit board by first removing the circuit board and tracing the dc motors wired back.
7. From here I soldered the black wire of the solar panel to the upper node of the circuit board. After this is soldered the red wire of the solar panel to the lower node. (all of which can be seen in the pictures provided.)
The reason i connected the solar panel directly to the Dc motor was to make sure all the power of the panel was directly sent to the motor for maximum performance. This also means that I cut out the ability to turn the car off and on with the switch.
*note be careful with the soldering iron and how you apply the solder. You only want the wires connected to the two nodes described.*
Step 3: Small Solar Car: Step 3:
8: Next I cut out 4 little pieces of dial rod. To make the frame to support the solar panel.
I made sure 2 were smaller and two were larger that way the solar panel would be tilted to collect solar energy more efficiently.
9: After I cut the dial rod, I hot glued them to the top of the chassis.
As the picture shows the two large rods are in the back and the smaller are in the front.
10: Next I hot glued the solar panel to the wooden frame.
You want to make sure you center the solar panel, this is to make sure the car is balanced and does not favor a certain direction.
11: From this point the toy solar car is essential built.
Step 4: Small Solar Car: Step 4:
Step 5: Larger Solar Car: Step 1:
1: The first step is build a Lego frame.
For this step you need to make sure you build an inclined platform to rest the solar panel on. This is to allow for better sun light absorption.
2: Next I needed to connected the Lego wheels to the motor’s two shafts.
This action was done by lacing a wire through the wheel and one shaft to make a connection, from here I then hot glued the outside of the connection to make a decent bond.
3: Next you want to mount the Dc motor to the bottom of the Lego frame.
I used hot glue.This action was done for ease of removal, in the event repairs were needed.
4: Next you want to connect the solar panel's wires to the Dc motor.
You basically solder the wires to the dc motors electrical tabs. Also make sure the wires don't interfere with wheels or drag on the ground.
5: From here you can simply hot glue the solar panel to the Lego frame and the device should work.
Step 6: Larger Solar Car: Step 2:
Step 7: Application of Solar Energy If Scaled Up
Explain how this technology would be useful if it were scaled up to a commercial level?
There is a future for solar power on vehicles. Although it is currently very expensive and not yet practical, the use of solar panels on vehicles does have room to grow.
· Solar panels can be made thin and somewhat flexible, and they can be laminated directly into curved glass or other materials for seamless integration. This means they could be put virtually anywhere feasible or practical on a vehicle to power many different things. Small solar panels could be used to power the daytime running lights. They could also be used to power the smaller electronic components.
· Solar panels can be strategically placed on electric vehicles or hybrids to charge the battery when you are outside and parked. This would help in places that do not have charging stations.
· The bed of a pickup truck or the large flat roof of a trailer of a semi-truck could be perfect places to use solar panels.
o Could be used on semi-trucks to help charged the refrigeration system if it has one.
o Could be used as a tonneau cover on a pick-up truck
§ This not only conceals and secures what is in the bed of the truck, but it also could utilize the large surface area of panels to power small electronics in the truck, or small electronics that are in the bed.
§ The power from the tonneau cover could be used on the job site as a power supply to various tools. This could be very helpful in more remote locations.
· Solar systems could be useful on the unused surfaces of boats. A boat is a perfect candidate to utilize solar panels. It is out on the water, in direct sunlight almost constantly. The panels could power generators that are on the boat. The generator could be used to power anything from a microwave or television, to a radar or computer system. Obviously, a battery backup would be necessary for the radar and computer systems.
· Airplanes have similar characteristics as boats, but could be considered an even better candidate.
· An airplane could be receiving plenty amounts of sunshine while on the ground. This could be used to charge the battery of the plane. In the air, the aircraft has even better sun radiation, flying above the clouds. The energy obtained from the sun could be used to completely power the aircraft, so it uses no fuel.
· Due to major safety concerns, it would be most important to have a back-up system on aircrafts, though. It could be disastrous if a plane runs out of power or one or more of the solar panels becoming damaged in flight.
· The rooftop of buses can be a great location for solar panels. A solar system atop of public transit could help to power the air conditioner. This would decrease the engines need to work harder, so the mileage would rise.
·In buses already running on natural gas, the addition of a solar panel would be even more environmentally friendly.
o These characteristics could increase the number of public transit users, which could lead to a major decline in people using their own vehicles. This would reduce the dependency on oil, and reduce the greenhouse emissions and other pollutants from automobiles.
Outreach and Education:
Children, college students, even adults could benefit from learning about solar panels, and even 3D printing.
· Interested children and college students could benefit from learning about 3D printers, and how to use them to utilize solar panels on miniature scale models of cars, boats, and even airplanes.
·Demonstrations, such as building a miniature solar powered vehicle could benefit everyone.
· It could be used by colleges to help raise awareness for those touring the school.
· It could be used to teach children the many benefits of solar power, which would hopefully push some students to pursue a career in the industry, and possibly change the world.
· It could also be used to raise public awareness of the matter of the global climate crisis. This could be a subtle, indirect way to inform citizens why solar and other renewable resources are much better than existing, limited fossil fuels.
· Competitions utilizing solar power already exist, but there is still room to grow.
· Organizing competitions to build solar powered vehicles has many benefits.
o The incentives are there to build stronger, lighter, more efficient, more powerful, more economical solar powered vehicles.
o The competitions would lead to an increase in the awareness and knowledge of this type of energy system.
o With more competitions, the reach goes farther and farther for advancements in the technologies used.
o The competitions lead to more research about these types of systems, and this type of energy.
o The competitions bring minds together to think outside the box, and the innovation sky rockets.
Solar literally has a bright future, and major advances in technology are sure to come.