iPhone 5 Compatible Solar Charger

 

The beginner kits doesn’t come with a USB charger. It’s just a solar battery charger.

Hobbyist has the USB solar charger.

With so many people making their own phone chargers, some companies such as Apple have decided to make it a little harder for DIYers by encoding voltages across the lines of USB.  If you have an iPhone5 or similar phone with this feature, have no fear! This kit is for you.

*This charger will work with non-iPhone5’s also

 

20150915_141606

1x Solar Panel – 4V 75mA

This is a pretty small solar panel. You can use 1 or 2 more and connect them together if you want to charge faster.
solar-panel

1x USB circuit – from the emergency USB charger

For the kit, we’re going to use the emergency USB charger’s circuit board. If you want to be a pro, you can definitely build your own but for the purpose of this, we will use this board – it’s just easier.
emergency-usb-charger-05

emergency-usb-charger

1x AA battery holder with leads

This battery holder is actually not required but it’s convenient. You can just as easily tape two batteries together with electrical tape and wires – but of course, this is a bit more elegant too.
battery-holder-with-leads

2x Diode – 1N4148 Diodes DO-35 Switching Signal

This is the diode that will act as a “gate” that helps to control where the electrons can and cannot go.
diode

 

2x Resistors – 68k ohms and 100k ohms.

ux_a11102400ux0137_ux_g03

This is what your 68k resistor will look like.

1100015-40100k

This what the 100k resistor looks like

howto_resistor_codes

Here is a chart that will help you find out the values of future resistors.

Resistor_color_codes

Since there are many charts like this, here is an alternative.  You can use this one to help out with 4-band resistors as well (resistors with 4 bands of color).

Altoids Tin or Another Enclosure – Ideal Dimensions 95mm x 60mm x 20mm

And of course, this is the tin that holds everything together. The Altoids tin version is actually made by Josh Zimmerman – and there have been tons of other variations on Instructables.com using this Altoids version. You can actually use any other container.
altoids-tin

2x AA Rechargeable batteries – 1600 NiMH Rechargeable

These rechargeable batteries are ideal for our purposes as they can be used over and over again to recharge your phone on the go.  These are not included in the kit, so you may want to look into purchasing them yourself.  You can also use non-rechargeable batteries, but we recommend the rechargeable ones to be more eco-friendly.  .They are rated for 1600mAh meaning that they will output 1600mA of current for 1 hour. Since the iPhone typically draws about 1A of current, these batteries will be dead in about 1.5 hours of charging.
rechargeable-aa-batteries

 

 


If you need tools to build this kit, you can now buy it! CLICK HERE. It comes with a soldering iron, solder, glue gun, glue sticks, and a diagonal cutter – every thing you’ll need to build the kit.

solar-charger-tools

Soldering iron

Soldering irons are not needed in projects like these but it’s HIGHLY recommended. This is because when you connect a circuit, you can also put it together with electrical tape… although it’ll be flimsy.

Solder

A typical 40/60 Rosin core wire will do. The diameter should 0.03” should be big enough but just about any solder would do in this scenario since this project isn’t too complicated.

Electrical tape

If you’re out of luck with the soldering tools, you can always hit up the electrical tape route. Electrical tape will not make everything permanent but it’ll still make things work. Plus they are useful for other things in the project that I will show you.

Hot Glue

To hold everything in place.

Diagonal Cutters or a Dremel

This will help you cut a hole in the tin so you connect USB devices. Not needed for Beginner Kits.

Helping hands (optional)

Helping hands are great because… well it’s like having someone else there to help you. If you are a parent buying this for your kid, then you probably won’t need it. It does make your DIY like a lot easier – especially for electronics project. If you don’t have it, there are ways to do makeshift helping hands.

For example, sandwich a wire between two books.

Multimeter (optional)

For this project, a multimeter is not required because I have measured everything for you so everything “fits.” Don’t get me wrong though… multimeters are extremely useful. The more complex projects you’ll get into, you’ll need it. This is especially true if you’re trying to do DIY projects from the ground up.

A small minus head screwdriver (optional)

The Solar Battery Charger

  1. First, solder the solar panel with the diode. You are going to solder the positive end of the solar panel with the anode end of the diode – the one without the stripe. When light hits the solar panel, it’ll travel down to the positive terminal and the diode will allow the electrons to pass. The diode will also prevent the electrons from going backwards.. so that the solar panel won’t suck the energy from the battery.solar-panel-01
  2. After the solar panel is done, you can use one of the wires (red) and solder it to the other end of the diode.solar-panel-02
  3. Use the other wire, the black wire, and solder it to the negative end of the solar panel.solar-panel-03
  4. You should have something that looks like this.solar-panel-04
  5. Turn over the solar panel and you can see a positive and negative. If you have a multimeter, you can test the solar panel. It’ll be a little hard because the solar panel needs to face to sun in order for you to see the full voltage. Here, when you use the multimeter, you can see just about 4 volts going through the solar panel.solar-panel-05multimeter-reading
  6. Now take your battery holder and thread, and then solder the ends together. Red to red, black to black. They’re both all together, and you’re ready to go.solar-battery-charger-01battery-charger-wires
  7. Test it out. Drain your AA batteries, then leave them out in the sun for a couple of hours. Then try it on a device and see if it charged.solar-battery-charger-02


The Solar-Powered USB Charger – 2x Solar Panels

  1. Guru Kits will come with 2x solar panels for faster charging. Use the schematic below to wire the solar panels in parallel and NOT in series. You want to increase their amperage and NOT their voltage. Your batteries cannot handle 8V but can take 150mA of current coming in.solar-usb-two-solar-panels

Putting it All in the Tin

altoids-tin
Now that you have this unit, you want to make sure it works. If you put everything together correctly, it should work – or you can just test it with a multimeter. Or you can definitely wait a couple of days to test it out. Just don’t leave it out overnight as the condensation might interfere with the batteries.

First drain the AA batteries until it stops charging whatever you are charging. Then charge it in the sun – and try charging your device. If it charges like before, it probably works.

Now for the tin.

You can use tin snips to cut it or you can use a drill or a pair of really strong scissors. Just be careful and make sure you don’t cut yourself. If you need tools, you can always grab the Solar Charger Toolkit inside of the Kipkay Kits store.

kipkaykits-tools-small

Next you can use electrical tape to line the bottom of the tin since there’s a bunch of fragile pins – you want to be safe.

You should also glue the battery holder. This will make sure it doesn’t move around.

Conclusion

That’s it. We’re done. All you have to do is take the charger outside in the sun to make it charge. Make sure it is facing up, and there are no shadows covering it. This will ensure a faster, more efficient charge.

It should take roughly 2 days of charge for the battery to become full.

 

The Solar Battery Charger

  1. First, solder the solar panel with the diode. You are going to solder the positive end of the solar panel with the anode end of the diode – the one without the stripe. When light hits the solar panel, it’ll travel down to the positive terminal and the diode will allow the electrons to pass. The diode will also prevent the electrons from going backwards.. so that the solar panel won’t suck the energy from the battery.solar-panel-01
  2. After the solar panel is done, you can use one of the wires (red) and solder it to the other end of the diode.solar-panel-02
  3. Use the other wire, the black wire, and solder it to the negative end of the solar panel.solar-panel-03
  4. You should have something that looks like this.solar-panel-04
  5. Turn over the solar panel and you can see a positive and negative. If you have a multimeter, you can test the solar panel. It’ll be a little hard because the solar panel needs to face to sun in order for you to see the full voltage. Here, when you use the multimeter, you can see just about 4 volts going through the solar panel.solar-panel-05multimeter-reading
  6. Now take your battery holder and thread, and then solder the ends together. Red to red, black to black. They’re both all together, and you’re ready to go.solar-battery-charger-01battery-charger-wires
  7. Test it out. Drain your AA batteries, then leave them out in the sun for a couple of hours. Then try it on a device and see if it charged.solar-battery-charger-02

The Solar-Powered USB Charger

  1. Now it’s time for the Solar Panel USB Charger. Here’s a schematic layout again.solar-usb-diagram
  2. Let’s first take apart the emergency USB charger.
  3. The one that you received in your kit should look like this, although the color may be different.emergency-usb-chargerHere you’ll also see a switch – USB, OFF, and a little light bulb.emergency-usb-charger-01
  4. The first step to taking it apart is to use a minus head screw driver or something flat to pry the two sides apart vertically. Start from the bottom, as it is easier. Wedge the screwdriver in between the two sides and gently pry. This should be pretty easy as the thing is not glued together. Then slowly pull it together.emergency-usb-charger-02
  5. Be careful as small parts will start coming out and there is a circuit board inside. Once you pull it apart you should see the following parts:emergency-usb-charger-03emergency-usb-charger-04
        The two sides of the outer shell
        The metal piece for connecting the ends of the batteries
        The switch cover
      And the most important part – the USB circuit board
  6. The USB circuit board is the one we want.  However, in order to make it compatible, we are going to have to solder some resistors on certain pads.  emergency-usb-charger-05Before you do anything, make sure the switch position is on the USB position before you move on.
  7. Now, let’s solder a voltage divider to the middle two data pins of the USB. In order to do this, we need to bridge the middle pins with solder (connect them), and then solder the 68k resistor connecting ground to the middle data pins.  After we are done with that, we can solder the 100k resistor between the data pins and +5V.  Here is a diagram of the pinouts of a USB device:patillaje-conector-usb
  8. Looking at our solar charger from below and our LED facing upwards, we can see the +5V is on the left.
  9. This is what your final voltage divider may look like.  This picture was taken before bridging the data pins, so they are not shown here, but they still need to be bridged.20150915_140136
  10. Again, make sure the 68k is to ground and 100k is to +V.  Feel free to cut the leads of your resistors shorter to minimize risk of an electrical short.  Here they are long so that you can see which resistor goes to which end. Again, remember to bridge the two data pins in the middle.20150915_135702
  11.  Recap: Just like before, solder the diode to the positive terminal of the solar panel – making sure stripe is away from the solar panel.Then solder the positive wire (red) coming from the battery holder to the other end of the diode.Then connect the other end (black) back to the Solar panel. You’re about half way there.20150915_134818
  12. Now the circuit board.Because we took the circuit board out of a charging unit, it has the extra parts. The LED, indicator light and the switch. Depending on your leveling of understanding, you can remove them or just keep them there. It’s often as simple as de-soldering. It’s minor but I know some people like their projects to be perfect.
  13. All you have to do is take the positive wires and solder them into the circuit board. And do the same with the negative.
  14. Now you can bundle your setup inside the tin box provided like below:20150915_142309

The Solar-Powered USB Charger – 2x Solar Panels

  1. Guru Kits will come with 2x solar panels for faster charging. Use the schematic below to wire the solar panels in parallel and NOT in series. You want to increase their amperage and NOT their voltage. Your batteries cannot handle 8V but can take 150mA of current coming in.solar-usb-two-solar-panels

Putting it All in the Tin

altoids-tin
Now that you have this unit, you want to make sure it works. If you put everything together correctly, it should work – or you can just test it with a multimeter. Or you can definitely wait a couple of days to test it out. Just don’t leave it out overnight as the condensation might interfere with the batteries.

First drain the AA batteries until it stops charging whatever you are charging. Then charge it in the sun – and try charging your device. If it charges like before, it probably works.

Now for the tin.

You can use tin snips to cut it or you can use a drill or a pair of really strong scissors. Just be careful and make sure you don’t cut yourself. If you need tools, you can always grab the Solar Charger Toolkit inside of the Kipkay Kits store.

kipkaykits-tools-small

Next you can use electrical tape to line the bottom of the tin since there’s a bunch of fragile pins – you want to be safe.

You can place the USB circuit board and then use hot glue to hold it in place. This is required if you plan on using the USB charger regularly.

You should also glue the battery holder. This will make sure it doesn’t move around.

Conclusion

That’s it. We’re done. All you have to do is take the charger outside in the sun to make it charge. Make sure it is facing up, and there are no shadows covering it. This will ensure a faster, more efficient charge.

It should take roughly 2 days of charge for the battery to become full.  Of course, you can use already-charged AA batteries to charge your phone in a pinch, or charge your phone directly from the solar power.  However, directly from solar power is not very strong and you shouldn’t expect it to charge your phone quickly.

HD Video Download

Right click on this and click SAVE to download an HD version of this tutorial.

Other Sites

For those Gurus who want to build a USB PCB Step-up
Amazing 12 Volt DC Solar Power Supply!
Solar Powered Mason Jar / Nightlight
12 Average Things Solar Makes Cool
More Cool Solar Things
Solar Drink Cooler
MAKE Magazine’s Version of Solar Chargers
Solar Panel – Plant?
Solar-related Science Fair Ideas
The USB Solar Charger in a Cup

Other Videos

Solar Cooking

Solar Power

DIY Solar Garden Light Hack – Solar Battery Charger

DIY Solar USB iPhone Charger with 4 Batteries

DIY: USB Solar Rechargeable Light & Mobile Charger


  • Gadgetron

    So…repeat of month 2?

    • David Fries

      That was my first thought, that they did this before, but this version has an additional two resistors to let more devices recognize and charge from it. The question is what does this set of resistors tell the device about the charger? I assume how many milliams it can
      draw, but I don’t know.

      • Gadgetron

        It’s been so long I can’t really remember, but the most common problem with month 2 was “device unsupported”. You would fix it by finding these two pins on the board measuring a certain resistance and soldering them together.

  • Joshua Post

    This link will help explain the situation with iPhones and these types of chargers:
    https://learn.adafruit.com/minty-boost/icharging

    Basically, they are looking for certain resistances on the data pins to know how much power it can draw from the port. By adding resistors, we are telling it how much to expect.
    This kit does seem to be different in how it is wired, but I believe the general idea is the same.

  • carson Brofft

    my kit only came with the solar pannel and battery holder no tin or emeargancy charger

  • Laggin

    Ok, weird things happening. I’ve started from scratch twice, and tried several different configurations, but can’t figure out which on is the correct one. First of all, the written instructions suggest bridging the Data+ and Data- points on the USB board, but the picture shows the positive and negative wires being soldered only to the Data- point, and there is NO bridge between the Data- and Data+ pins. That’s the first point of confusion.
    Second point of confusion is that I had the red light on the USB board turning on when I put the switch in the on position, but plugging in my cell phone with the USB setting on, charging didn’t actually work. I let it sit for over an hour and I didn’t gain a signle percent. After rewiring everything again (to make sure I didn’t have any shorts, had good connections, etc, the red light never comes on regardless.
    Last point of confusion is that when I have it with the Data- and Data+ pins bridged, and everything put together, I’m showing 10.3 volts when checking the +5v and Data- connection with a multimeter. How is that possible? I’m working in doors, with just regular house lighting, at night, and have 2 x AA batteries connected.
    No matter what configuration I’ve tried, my phone always successfully suggests it’s charging (charge icon comes on) when I plug it in AND switch to the USB mode, but it never successfully charges, batteries in, batteries out, bright sun, no sun, etc.
    Any help and/or troubleshooting tips would be greatly appreciated 🙂
    Thanks all,
    Rob

    • David Fries

      With an unmodified charger I’m seeing the following values. On USB setting, red LED on, USB output + is jumping around 5.05 to 5.12 V, D- around 3.2 V, D+ 4.8 V. I tried it with my cell phone, Nokia N900, with three different sets of batteries, the first set was NiMH and wouldn’t charge, and the red light would blink off at times, I think those batteries didn’t have enough current to charge with. The second set was an alkaline and charged just fine, the third was NiMH and also charged fine.

      The instructions from the hobbyist for step 7 does say to bridge the Data+ and Data-. But the pictures in step 9 and 10 only on the one pin. I’ll ask for clarification.

      After you made some changes and the red light was no longer turning on, did the white flashlight turn on?

      If your multimeter is showing 10.3 V I would not plug your cell phone into it, that high of voltage might damage the cell phone. 2 * 1.5V = 3 V, so the charger must have a voltage booster IC in there.
      Depending on the configuration the output could be configurable. If you remove the extra resistors and Data+/Data- bridge does it return to 5V?

      At one point in time I read that these solar cells are rated at 75 mA, I didn’t get that much when I was testing, but that will trickle charge the AA batteries, but when you go to use the charger, will contribute very little to the power going into the charger, so I wouldn’t expect hardly any difference with using the charger whether it is in the sun or not.

    • David Fries

      The response was “The D- and D+ should be bridged.”

  • This was posted in September, I haven’t received any kits and nothing new has been posted since. What’s going on?

  • Matthew Parets

    Yea. it would be nice to work on this months kit, but the instructions haven’t been posted.

    • David Fries

      Which kit were you looking for instructions for?

  • Nick Arancibia

    ok this sucks, i get it that you might add something extra from the beginner kit onto the hobbyist kit but saying the kit is a solar charger when the beginner kit is not a solar charger! Just please don’t do this in the future.

    • I apologize about that Nick. We won’t do that in the future, it was our mistake. We’re currently working on other kits to make up for this one. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

      • Nick Arancibia

        thank you, i appreciate it alot. 🙂

  • Rafly Safadanu

    the problem is, i couldn’t get the usb pcb. is there any schematic for this?

    • David Fries

      I don’t follow your question. What do you mean you couldn’t get the USB PCB? Which kit did you receive?

  • This company is a joke. Charge for kits and never send them, and stop replying to emails after they say they’ll send them. Not very cool

  • Pingback: Best Writing Service()

  • Pingback: grading rubric for reflective essay()

  • Pingback: Best Writing Service()