Solar Panel Charging Tool Roll




About: Hi I'm Linn and on my Youtube Channel I have lots of great videos about building, construction and fun projects. You can also check out my site @

This tool roll holds a variety of objects as well as an integrated solar panel system which enables you to charge a power bank while on the go - whether you're traveling, camping, or simply in the coffee shop. Through the power bank you can then charge up your cell phone, flash light, headphones etc...

Tool rolls are pretty great because you can custom make them to hold and protect whatever you want. I wanted this roll to hold stuff I use a lot when I go to do work - so a powerbank, flashlight, audio recorder, various wires and chargers, extra sd cards and batteries - you know all the kind of stuff that tends to get lost in the bottom of your bag.

Step 1: Figuring Out the Size

For this tool roll I'm going to be working with some waxed canvas which has a really interesting feel, and it is water resistant, so it's really a good fit. However you could certainly use any type of heavy duty fabric.

A tool roll is essentially just a place to hold everything that you want to bring along. So you basically create pockets for each individual item by layering one piece of canvas over another piece of canvas, so you can measure out for each tool.

The fabric I got came by the yard - similar in size to a meter, and this fabric also happened to be almost 2 yards wide. Now making a tool roll like this doesn't require a whole lot of material - so one yard here probably make like 4 tool rolls of this size, for a total of $20.

First of all I decided what size I needed for the objects I wanted it to hold. The back piece needs to be large enough so it can fold over to prevent the objects from falling out. Then there's a smaller pocket sewed on to that, where you sew in separators to hold each individual object.

Step 2: Sewing the Corners

To prevent the fabric from fraying and to create a nice clean look, I prefer folding the fabric over twice. This is where you could use an iron, however the waxed canvas keeps its shape pretty well, so I used a bone folder to make the folds stay before pinning down and then sewing on the machine.

The waxed canvas when folded over a couple of times on the corners is pretty thick, so I'm using a leather needle to make sure it doesn't break. Now I sewed all the seams twice for extra strength, plus I kind of like the way it looks.

Step 3: Creating Dividers

I'm just testing and measuring how large each pocket should be - and I'm making them different widths to hold different things.

It's pretty cool that you can make dividers that fit your stuff perfectly, as opposed to buying a generic tool roll. Because if you were looking to hold a specific set of tools or pens, you can make sure they don't slide out too easily, or that the pockets are not too tight etc...

So this is the basic idea - the things go in the pockets, and the bottom piece folds over to make sure nothing slips out.

Step 4: Rivets

Now to make the roll stronger I decided to put rivets in all the corners, and I've got some really nice antique brass rivets. This is not a necessary step, but it creates some reinforcements and it just looks good.

I want a strap so I can fold it around the roll, and I decided to use leather for this - of course you could cut up more fabric instead, either way.

So I'm riveting the strap in place as well, and while I had the leather out, I decided to punch a little label that says Darbin Orvar, and then sewing that in place.

Step 5: Adding Solar Panels

At this point, I used the roll for a while, went traveling with it, and I used the power bank in the tool roll a lot, and realized I really want to be able to charge the power bank whenever possible and when the idea of the adding solar panels came to me.

I initially tried it with a smaller solar panel, but instead I went with two 130 x 150 mm panels and I wired them in parallel, so they can generate up to 5 volts.

Here I measuring how much power the panels can generate under normal room lighting conditions. - here it's like 4 volts, if I block them, then the volts go down, if I shine a flash light - so more like sunny conditions outside, it goes up.

And here's the power bank, and I just wired the panels directly in through the micro usb and it starts to charge. And then you can use the power bank to charge up your cell phone or whatever - now you could charge things directly from the solar panels, but I trust the power bank more - it creates a more even output.

Step 6: Sewing the Extra Panel

So when thinking about how to add the solar panels to the tool roll, I figured it would be cool if it was a separate piece of fabric that could be disconnected, but that could also be rolled into it, as one.

I'm using the same fabric, and sewing a piece a little larger than the two panels.

Step 7: Soldering the Solar Panels Together

Now in terms of the panels, I've simply soldered on some wires on the back and securing that with some electrical tape. So there's a black and red wire coming off each panel, and I just want to connect them in parallel so I can double the amount of current it develops. Then I'm soldering those on to a barrel plug.

In terms of the other side - the wire that connects to the power bank, I got a regular cell phone charger, and I cut off the micro usb end. They may have multiple wires in them, but you can ignore all but the red and the black. and I'm simply soldering those to a matching barrel plug. Protecting everything with some extra tape, and then adding a shrink tube.

Step 8: Connecting the Solar Panels

To add some padding in between the two panels, I'm sewing on a flap, and I'm also adding a loop to hold the wires in place.

To secure the solar panels to the tool roll, I'm using velcro with a sticky back which secures well to the panels, and then I can sew them to the fabric.

Then I added some snaps to enable the panel fabric to connect to the main tool roll. And the wire to the powerbank feeds through here and everything connects and can also be rolled up neatly.

Step 9: Using the Tool Roll

So now the tool roll can be used wherever I go. It's easy to roll out the panels and charge up the power bank whether you're at the coffee shop or out traveling.

Make sure to check out the video for a much better perspective!

Step 10:



    • Planter Challenge

      Planter Challenge
    • Sew Tough Challenge

      Sew Tough Challenge
    • Sensors Contest

      Sensors Contest

    9 Discussions


    Tip 11 months ago

    Nice project and idea I loved the sewing skills , overall look and placement.

    As for those panels I would like to recommend a charging stabilization circuit.

    Let me explain my point. I have a panel with these parameters 10W 20V up to 680mAh . It weights 1.2kg and it barely charges 5000 mAh throughout the whole day.

    That is why I think such small panels can't provide you with significant amount of power to charge your phone without proper charging regulation.

    I would love to know some charging data from your small panels :)

    As I read your measurements were 4V up to 5V but what is more interesting is current they can generate and more importantly solar energy is not stable at all.

    Even when clouds pass by the voltage and current drops on panel are massive therefore I would suggest you to add some capacitors to the circuit to smooth voltage drops.

    Photo I linked bellow shows voltage and current drops data from my panel after I regulated its voltage a bit from 20V to something around 5V.

    Measured data bellow are not affected by any stabilization circuits except voltage regulator to show you how significant those drops are without capacitor.

    It alter between charging and not charging your battery. Those drops can seriously damage battery / power-bank and they slow down charging. What you aim for is to make these changes as smooth as possible.

    Should you have any questions feel free to contact me :)


    2 years ago

    Hi Linn,

    I would love for you to work on a chef Knife Roll ;)


    Kris Mark Duthie

    2 years ago

    Hey Linn! Been watching you for a while and currently geeking out on all your projects again thanks!

    For all those interested in getting those panels I've found something fairly similar here: Link To eBay


    2 years ago

    I really like the detail in the steps of your project! I've made tool rolls using the seam ripped pants legs off of old jeans. Your waxed canvas looks professional and durable.


    2 years ago

    Where did you get your solar panels? Are they flexible or rigid? How much do they add to the cost to make this?


    2 years ago

    Nice perfect idea ... I see for make the same on travel mtb bag...

    world of woodcraft

    2 years ago

    Fantastic. PS love your videoes. I am always inspired to do things that are a little out of my comfort zone after seeing the things you do. This is one of many projects which inspire me.


    2 years ago

    Great fathers day present.


    2 years ago

    Verry Cool Linn! I love the tool roll I was thinking of making one here soon. you gave me a bunch of great ideas!