Using Brown Dog Gadget's portable 5W solar panel, a cheap/discarded USB 2.0 cord, a motor, a hot glue gun and recycled materials, we made a solar powered spinning ride! Hopefully this will inspire future engineers to think about using renewable energy at our amusement parks!
Step 1: Get a Motor and Attach a Propeller
Get a motor. Depending on your need for speed, you can buy one or take one out of a discarded electronic or toy. Build a type of propeller and hot glue it to the motor. We created a propeller by hot gluing 3 craft sticks together.
Step 2: Create a Base & Tower
Create a base & tower. We used toilet paper rolls and taped them together. You could also use paper towel rolls or anything else you can think of.
Our library stopped using the jewel-lock cases for DVDs and nobody wants or needs them, so I saved a few to use for future crafts and projects. We hot glued our cardboard tower to the sturdy plastic base. You could use whatever you can think of, more cardboard, an old book, etc.
Step 3: Attach Support Beams for Motor
Attach support beams for the motor to sit on top. We hot glued 2 craft sticks, one on each side, to the motor. Then, we hot glued the sticks to the top of our cardboard tower
Step 4: Make a Swing or Cart for Your Ride
Make a swing or cart for your ride. We used the bottoms of plastic cups that had cracked. We pierced 2 holes through the cups and taped over the tops to keep the cups from cracking further and our strings from sliding off.
Tie the string ends together and hot glue them to the top of your propeller. Add a "rider"--we used corks that somebody had donated to our library to use for crafts and projects.
Step 5: Get a Cheap, Discarded USB 2.0 Cord
Get a cheap/discarded USB 2.0 cord, and cut off the other end, leaving just the USB part.
Step 6: Strip the Open End of the USB Cord
Strip the open end of the USB cord that you just snipped off. Be careful, and feel free to remove more of the rubber casing. The wires inside are frail, and you could end up making mistakes and need more space to try and strip those later. There may be foil wrapped around the wires to protect & contain them. Remove the foil.
The wires inside depend on the type of USB cord you are using. We had picked up cheap USB cords for $1.50 each that go to printers. We just need the red (positive) and black (negative). Feel free to cut off the remaining ones. (Note: if you are missing a black or red wire, but have an already exposed wire, that exposed wire might be that red/black one.)
Step 7: Attach Your Wires and Plug Your Ride In!
Attach your wires to the motor. There should be small holes on the bottom of your motor to attach your red (+) and black (-) wires to in order to power your motor.
Plug the USB end of your cord into the Brown Dog Gadget portable solar panel. We tied a piece of yarn around our cord to the tower to keep it from getting tangled in the ride.
Step 8: Open Your Panel & Enjoy the Ride!
There is no on/off switch, so as soon as you open the solar panels, your ride will start to spin (as long as you are in direct sunlight). Enjoy the ride and remind passengers to keep their hands and arms in the ride at all times!