Introduction: Solar Panel Charging Tool Roll
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!