Intro: Solar Powered LiPo Charging Station
summer has just started and it's the perfect time to enjoy you're RC hobby. But most of the time when flying outside you have to get a fresh battery every 8-16 minutes (depending on what you're flying) it can be really annoying to have to go all the way back to your battery charging station (which I assume is in your house) to get a new battery, especially when you're doing areal filming with your quadcopter. It would be nice to always have a freshly charged battery in reach. So in this instructable I'm going to show you how you can quite easily make your own solar powered charging station in your shed.
Step 1: Safety
LiPo batteries can be quite dangerous(when used incorrectly) so handle them with care, don't smash them into things, don't over- discharge them and don't let them charge unattended.
The people over at flitetest have made an amazing article about LiPo safety, you can go watch it here: http://flitetest.com/articles/lipo-safety
Although it's quite safe when doing everything right, I'm not responsible for any possible damage/harm done by this project....
Step 2: Gathering Materials
- a solar panel (the wattage you want depends on alot of factors, you can contact me if you wan't to know what you need for your setup, 6 watt's works like a charm in my setup...
- charge controller (for the lead acid battery)
- a lead acid battery (preferably at least 8 times the capacity of you LiPo, so a 2200mAh lipo = at least an 8.8 Ah lead acid battery
- a Lipo charger
- and of coarse some LiPo battery's
- battery clamps
- connection wire
Bill of materials:
- Solar panel = I bought mine from Conrad but you can get yours way cheaper from amazon link:
- charge controller link:
- lead acid battery:
- LiPo charger:
It's very important that you choose a 12v rated charger and not a mains supplied one, if you use a mains supplied one you can use a power inverter, I will show you how to do that in one of the following steps, but you have to consider that your efficiency will drop to about 70% wich isn't that great...
- battery clamps:
Step 3: Connecting Everything
In the following steps I will to show you how to connect everything.
Step 4: Connecting the Battery to the Charge Controller
In order to connect your battery to your charge controller you have to find the picture of a battery on your charge controller, near that picture should be a positive and negative sign, you want to connect the negative terminal the battery to the negative terminal of your charge controller and the positive terminal the battery to the positive terminal of your charge controller, with a 10A fuse in between them. I would also suggest to put the battery in a box and leaving a small gap between the lid and the box as shown in the last picture.
Step 5: Connecting the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller
Connecting the sollar panel is quite similar to what you did in the previous step, you just find the picture of a solar panel and connect the possitive to possitive and negative to negative(TIP: When dealing with solar panels I would suggest checking the polarity with a multimeter before hooking it up, sometimes the polarity is reversed, some things you have to learn the hard way :-) )
Although I don't think it's worth the hassle, you can point your solar panel towards the south to get the best performance.
Step 6: Connection the LiPo Charger to the Solar Charge Controller or Battery
When connecting the LiPo charger to your system you have some choices, you can go for the easy way that's just connecting the croccodile clips to your battery as shown in picture 1 again: pos. to pos. and neg. to neg.
But when you do this you dan't have a discharge protection wich you need to keep your lead acid battery save and your charger healthy. The more sensible way is to connect the charger to the power output of your charge controller as shown in picture 2 (the terminals with the light bulb above), this way when your battery get's low it turn's the output of and the battery can't get damaged.
When your charger is directly powered from the mains supply you can use a power inverter to convert the 12vdc. from your battery to 120v or 240v ac. You simply connect the clamps of the inverter to the battery. In this case there is no need to connect it to the power output of you charge controller because most inverters have a low voltage cutoff built in.
Step 7: Thanks for Reading and Enjoy Flying!
This is a video I've shot with my diy quadcopter and my brothers:-)
Congrats if you made it to the end! :-)
With this instructable I would like to enter the reneweble energy contest so if you liked it please vote!
PS: If you've found any problems with my English, correct me in the comments, I'm from Belgium and only 14 years old :-)
PPS: I will add some more photos and a video tommorow....
Thanks for your time.