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Solar iPhone/ iPod Charger;

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Solar (Altoids Tin) iPhone/ iPod Charger; Original Article;

Step 1What You Need

For this project I’ve stolen a charging circuit from an Emergency iPod charger I got off ebay.  You can find these all over the place.  The key is to find one that will work with an iPhone.

Apple decided to have it’s newer iDevices not follow USB standards.  When an iDevice is plugged in it checks the data tabs on the USB to see what it’s plugged into.  Depending on what it finds it sucks more or less power, which makes sense but is annoying because NOTHING ELSE DOES THIS.  Thus no charger out there has any power flowing to the data tabs.

So the key is to find one that works for your newer iPod or iPhone.  If you have an older iPod or iPhone when you don’t really need to worry all that much.

Altoids Tin

Soldering Iron
Hot Glue Gun
Wire Strippers
Protective Goggles

Charging Circuit
2x AA Battery Holder
2x Rechargeable Batteries
1N914 Blocking Diode
Solar Cell greater than 4V
Stranded Wire Tape.

If we use two rechargeable AAs that put out a total of 2.4Vs we’re going to need a solar panel that is at least 3 – 4Vs just to meet basic levels of charging. The higher the voltage of our solar cell (or cells) the less light we need to charge up our batteries.

First strip your wires. Cut off 1/3rd of the wire from the battery holder and then strip some coating off the end.
Now cut a couple lengths of wire about 8 inches long.  Strip the coating off each end.

Solder The Solar Cell

First wrap one of your 8inch wires around your diode.  Look at the diode.  One side has a black bar.  This is the negative end.  Wrap your wire around that end.

Then just solder the wire to the negative end of the diode.
The positive end of the diode should then be soldered to the solar panel’s positive tab.

Use your second wire on the negative point on the solar cell.

Take the red wire (positive) from the battery pack and twist it together with the positive wire from the solar cell.
Take the black wire (negative) from the battery pack and twist it together with the negative wire from the solar cell.

This is the most difficult part of the project.

Look at the circuit.  You should be able to find a Positive (+) and a Negative (-) point on it.  Just look for the battery tabs.

Now you don’t have to remove the battery tabs, you can leave them where they are.  Usually they are very easy to break off and it does save you some space.

Now just solder the positive cluster of wires to the positive point on the board, and the negative cluster of wires to the negative point on the board.

Now the big problem I see people having with projects like this is that they use too much solder. .

Lets refresh how we solder so we don’t cause any shorts

Touch your soldering iron to the wires and wait five seconds.  Then touch the solder to the wires.  DO NOT directly touch the soldering iron with the solder.  The goal is to heat up the wires.  When they’re hot enough the solder will flow nicely.

You don’t need a lot of solder to get the wires to stick.  Just a dab.

Now that we’re all done you can tape things up.

Use some electrical tape and tape up your solar cell.  Cut off any extra diode or wire.

If you’re using a tin it wouldn’t be a bad idea to tap up the area where you’re going to put the circuit.  Just on the off chance that you might get a short because of the tin surface.

The top right corner is a good spot to put the circuit.

BUT WAIT!  Before we glue down why not test out the circuit to see if it’s working?  You can even just throw in some regular AA batteries to see if everything is charging up well.

Throw some hot glue down on the far left side of the tin where your battery holder will be.  Then, put the battery holder down.

TAKE BATTERIES OUT BEFORE YOU DO THIS.  Otherwise they’ll probably get glued down as well.

Now throw some glue down where you want your circuit to be.  Place the circuit on top of it and hold it down.  You want it as far back as you can in the tin.

Once the glue is dry we’re going to go back for Round 2.  We want to make sure the retractable cable is nice and secure.  I usually scrunch the cable into the back corner and then throw down a whole lot of glue over the top of it.  This was I don’t have to worry about pulling the cable off.

Once that’s dry you’re totally done.

Before Using

Before you start using the charger you should do a couple of things.

1st, charger up the batteries.  You can do this either through large amounts of sun or by using a wall charger.

I’ve found that if the batteries get low on power the iPhone will throw out an error message saying “Not compatible for charging with iPhone” and then refuse to charge.  Just charge up the batteries again and life will be good.

2nd, figure out how everything fits in there.  The retractable cable will lay flat on the bottom if you’ve got everything spaced out correctly.  The solar cell will also fit inside the tin.

If you’re having issues with the solar cell try turning it around clockwise.  This bunches up the wires and allows for it to fit in a bit better.

It can sometimes be a tight fit, but believe me, everything fits.

3rd, if you’re having issues with your iPhone or iPod and charging try using some regular batteries.  If they work then that means that your rechargeable batteries just need a recharge.  Also keep this in mind.  In a pinch you can always throw in regular batteries to charge up your phone.  Like if zombies are attacking at night.

Finished article.

It's finished!

Origional article


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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