Solar Charger For Occupy Boston

As soon as the team at Revolt Labs heard Occupy Wall Street was coming to Boston, they decided to pick up their soldering irons in support of the throngs of protestors. They came up with a Solar charging USB box to keep those cell phones and digital cameras charged.

The case came direct from an Army surplus store. Originally, the box was used by the Dutch military to test the air for poison gas and signal when it was safe to remove a gas mask – hopefully not a portent of things to come.

On top of the box is five solar panels that output two watts each. A bit of breadboard holds a 7805 voltage regulator, a few caps and a diode. This regulated output goes to a USB hub and provides power for recharging.

For a cheap and easy project for our brothers without arms, we couldn’t think of a better project for the Occupy Boston tent city. Of course heating units will be needed at the Occupy protests this winter, but at least now the protesters have the means to power their communications equipment.


update: Once again, this has devolved into political argument and name calling. We, as hackaday, really couldn’t care less which party you are for or what your political beliefs are. We want to talk about the project, in this case a portable solar charger. We go to other sites to argue politics. Maybe you should try here.

58 thoughts on “Solar Charger For Occupy Boston

  1. brillent … here in occupy DC i have a hand crank for my laptop and a 3G hotspot … up to 20 devices p2p blocked i2p open ESSID BioLess open with AES encryption to stop hijacking (says WPA but any connection works)

    sorry to advert but its free and gota keep people connected -3-

      1. yeah, couldn’t have said it better myself.

        “useful idiots” just about sums it up.
        pawns for bloodsucking unions and the
        social-welfare “gimme gimme gimme” crowd.

        if they’re so jealous of corporate CEO
        perks, maybe they should’ve studied a
        bit harder when they were in school and
        learned how to play ‘the game’.

        or better yet, target the shareholders
        who have the final say on who sits on the
        board of directors of these corporations
        they’re protesting against. since the
        shareholders have the final say in how
        the company is run. if enough of them are
        vocal enough, the board is gone.

        when i see signs saying “capitalism is
        organized crime”, their credibility is
        diminished to nil !

        especially when capitalism is the key
        enabler of all the technology the dufuses
        are using so profusely.

        idiots !

      2. not protesting all fo the top 1% were protesting the tax breaks and super-human freedom there getting from the government along with the lies and control there aloud to have over the population lean your facts dave

      3. In a world where corporations make everything, you really have no option. What would you have them use instead? Carrier pigeons?

        The issue is that the same people own the post, the bank and the shop and are the sole employers in town. They pay your wages and set the prices, and mercilessly crush competition.

      4. “if they’re so jealous of corporate CEO
        perks, maybe they should’ve studied a
        bit harder when they were in school and
        learned how to play ‘the game’.”

        How many CEOs do you want? A hundred million?

      5. Look, most of us in Engineering are sort of in “no man’s land”. I see the protesters points, and myself would like to some of the abuse that CEO get away with curved (most get large severance packages for being fired, while we get unemployment!).

        Not long ago I walked through our plant and found nearly 50% of all our product that was being made was products I created, yet the top managers make most of the money. Yet I can’t complain as my pay is well above the national average.

        I have no real issue with guys like Gates, Jobs and others making a fortune from companies they create. I do have a problem with other like Apotheker that “claw” their way to the top of an existing company, and then imaging they are worth 1000 times my pay. The recent bank failures that CEO wanted bonuses when they were bailed out (meaning that they failed, in case you are slow) show they type of person that run the average large corporation.

        Most of there guys have very little vision, and mostly succeed by taping other peoples talents. That might be the sign of a good leader, but still such a person does not deserve that much more than those whose ideas make them succeed. Of course, most took the easy way out and just outsourced the real work. Most of these CEO’s could be replaced by an Arduino-level processor.

      6. @Dax: couldn’t hurt. Starting or owning your own company is probably the single best way to build a stable financial foundation for yourself. The kind of person needed to BE a CEO embodies a level of resolve, determination, and willingness for hard work that is rarely seen in modern society.

        I mean hey, why work hard and give up your drunken weekends to be successful when you could instead camp out in a futile attempt to stick it to the Man?

      7. >”How many CEOs do you want? A hundred million?”

        No doubt. There’s too many wealth destroyers already. I think most of the wealth destruction in this country has come from MBA programs, schools where individuals are “taught” to run a business. In the past the Great Industrialists were engineers/tinkerers themselves, but things really took a turn for the worse a little over thirty years ago. Now there is just way too much capital chasing way too few investment options….

  2. So quick and dirty estimate – 2 Watts per Solar panel, 5 solar panel, 10 Watts total. USB spec is 5V, with some devices charging at 1A, or 5 Watts. This device can charge two USB devices at a time. Neat.

  3. 2W can run 4 devices at full power but because of lenier regulator power drop 2 or 3 devices can be charged at full power if the sun is directly hitting but about 2 devices at near full power is best in my mind

    a battery to charge at night would be nice but i can see he tried that

    i leach off my truck battery for my hotspot and just rev the engine every 6 hours or so for my hotspot and charging my camera … luckily my hotspot reaches close to 2 miles XD

    laptop as i said i hand crank

    1. How much carbon does your truck put out? How much did your hotspot cost? How much gasoline are you wasting idling your truck every 6 hours just to keep your batteries charged? How much is your 3G subscription per month? How much did your laptop cost? How new are your laptop and car?

      Whining about how poor you are over a 3G connection seems a bit mixed-message to me. Like a good friend of mine who just bought a brand-new 3DHDTV but routinely ends up broke before the end of the month.

      1. That’s odd. I responded to your point about Acorn lawsuits, but you didn’t challenge a single point that I made. So I guess I’ll go with some more data, feel free to challenge any of it.

        Here is a chart showing by date the issuance of asset backed securities:

        Note that this chart only starts at Y2000, as previous to the passage of Gramm Leach Bliley, and the Futures and Commodity Act of 2000 (written, introduced, and passed by conservatives) these types of investments didn’t exist. Also note the significance of subprime equity relative to the others.

        Here is a chart showing historical home prices, going back to 1890. You can clearly see how significant the recent real estate bubble actually was in this chart.

        This real estate bubble is why the last decade has been referred to by many as a “Lost Decade”. Do you think this bubble could have occured had conservatives not eliminated the separation of commercial and investment banking, allowing investment bankers to sell securitized residential mortgages? Why would a bank lend money to a minority with no chance of repayment? Is it because of “an Acorn lawsuit”, or the fact that Wall Street is giving the banks thousands of dollars in mortgage origination fees to push a sub prime mortgage? Which one? I’m truly interested to hear your opinion.

  4. What do people protesting corporations need chargers for? It isn’t like they’d have phones that are made by corporations and services by corporations…would they?

    1. So anyone “in the system” shouldn’t complain?

      Like slaves didn’t have the right to complain because their masters put roofs over their heads, firewood to burn, and food and clothes and work.

      Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, right?

  5. Occupy Boston has been getting a power feed from a Mass Highway building next door for free (probably sympathetic state employees who are unionized) for chargers and whatnot.

    1. It’s actually being paid for by the greenway assoc. They agreed to this because the alternative was to have the protesters bringing in gas generators. Letting them use their power was a better solution.

  6. Isn’t it great to see that those who are protesting corporate America and capitalism (as well as those who are cheering them on)are dependent on the very products which were created because of the freedoms enjoyed only in America!

    Without corporations like Google, Apple, or any of the various communications giants, the protesters would be hard pressed to organize such a movement.

    Thank God the visionaries like Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla or any other great inventor and/or capitalist of your choice did not decide to spend the days protesting the success others enjoy or else we might still be using oil lamps to light our way through our dark city streets at night.

    While this hack is clever, it just underscores the fact that we ALL enjoy the creature comforts which came about through hard work, determination and good old fashioned American ingenuity. Lets’ not begrudge others because they were able to EARN a very nice living creating the things we all take for granted.

    1. “And yes I recognize the irony, that the system I oppose affords me the luxury of biting the hand that feeds. That’s exactly why privileged fucks like me, should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream, till everyone has everything they need!” And old punk lyric that explains how I feel about that.

    2. Yeah, I read recently where Edison and Tesla used to round up stray animals and shock them to death with the opposing voltage (Tesla used DC, Edison used AC) to show how dangerous their competitions system was. I think Edison even shocked an elephant to death. Capitalism is AWESOME.

      1. Allow me to correct certain factual errors here.

        Westinghouse owned a gas company(the Westinghouse Gas Company, as it was called) which provided natural gas heat and light, of the sort used nationwide. Thomas Edison figured out how to produce an electric-powered lightbulb with a decent lifespan(carbon-laced cotton thread in a vacuum-pressurized bulb, to be quite specific. And all that without any government grants!). Edison replaced the universally-used gas lighting with DC electric lighting, which put a significant dent in the profit margins of the Westinghouse Gas Company.

        Edison had a young employee named Nikola Tesla, an immigrant with a fancy-schmancy engineering degree, who pointed out that DC electricity is really inefficient when run over very long wires, such as from the Edison power plant to the average suburban home, and pitched his brainchild, AC, which he pointed out would be cheaper to produce, more efficient to transmit, and would increase the serviceable area and profit margins by a rather significant amount. Edison told him not to bother coming in to work any longer.

        Westinghouse knew a good deal when he saw one, though, so he hired Tesla to build him a fancy-schmancy new AC generator with which to power the city, at the lower costs, wider ranges, and higher profit margins that Tesla had bragged about. Edison stubbornly insisted that DC power was the way to go, and to prove it, he began rounding up stray animals and electrocuting them.

        The execution method was a metal plate with a water bowl on it, and a second electrode inside the water bowl. The dogs, however, had a sixth sense that allowed them to know that drinking from the water would close a lethal electric circuit. Edison’s workers remedied this by dunking the animals’ heads in the water bowl.

        Tesla didn’t electrocute anything. Direct Current can be lethal, but the required wattage is simply higher than that of Alternating Current, simply because Alternating Current transmits far more efficiently than DC. Instead, Tesla charged HIMSELF with a good dose of AC and put on a show: the first ever recorded Lightsaber battle. Or at least a technique demonstration, as the supply of jedi with which to duel was abysmally small.

      2. Yeah, Edison electrocuted an elephant too, that was awesome. Capitalism is AWESOME! You’re right, Tesla shocked himself with high frequency signals, which relied on the “skin effect”, where electricity at high frequencies travels to the outside of a conductor, thereby bypassing the heart and central nervous system, avoiding death….

    3. Not just those companies. But to get quality people to work at the companies mentioned and develope those products usually means that a 401K, stock options or something is offered. These accounts are managed by the very financial guys that they are protesting against.

      To protest large corporations and then enjoy the products of large corporations is hypocritical.

    4. Logical fallacy overload.

      Discoveries and progress are better made through public effort and funding, such as public universities and colleges. Sadly, those are exploited too by corporations when they steel their work and patent it, even though the actual work and funding was done by those who will never see the benefit thanks to corporate greed.

      1. I’m not going to trust you, since you were kind enough to warn us ahead of time that you’re not trust worthy.

        Thanks, as well, for warning ahead of the logical fallacies in your post: no citation, no references, unverifiable statements.

      2. To back Volfram’s claim…

        Please find enclosed a patent for a Unique T-lymphocyte line and products derived therefrom

        Please note the inventors: David W. Golde, Shirley G. Quan
        And, please note the original assignee: The Regents of the University of California. (A collection of public universities, notably including UCLA for where the work was done.)

        This is an interesting story if you read Moore vs. Regents of the University of California (Moore was the patient from whom the cells were used…) Long story short, Golde negotiated agreements for commercial development of the cell line and products to be derived from it. Under the agreement, Golde would be paid and the Regents would be paid.

        Corporation paid for research developed and patented by a public university, not to be confused with a public company, i.e. A Company which ANYONE can own a part of.

    1. The police removed protesters from parts of the park they were told they couldn’t set up tents on. Some protesters got a little fresh when the police came to kick them out, and got taught a lesson in how to protest. No real harm done.

  7. Oh come on, that is NOT a 10 watt charger. I know those panels and they put out 2 watts each if they are on the surface of the sun, here on earth it’s more like .5watts each.

    It’s going to be ineffective, a better choice is a pair of the Harbor Freight “tool charger” briefcasees and solder up a parallel connector setup to get a full real 15 watts of charging power to at least charge someone’s phone. Otherwise the 45 watt kit will be needed to run and charge a laptop in any decent amount of time.

  8. I’ve been at Occupy Wall Street since September 17th. Granted we haven’t had much sun in Liberty Square, but I made 15 solar chargers for the community. I tore apart old solar garden lights, wired them in series with a 7805 and connected it to the severed female side of a USB extension cord. Full charge, 2 hours!

  9. You could be right, my reasoning was to mostly focus on getting enough current for a fast charge and then dropping it to 5v to use USB plug chargers. How would you make them more efficient?

  10. In New York? HA! Thats about 4 hours of “usable” solar per day that far north.

    Maybe someone can come up with a hack that makes these crybabies stop whining, maybe get a job, or not go to art school for nine years and expect a liberal arts degree to pay 200K a year (it would be GOOD if THEY got that pay, but its TERRIBLE that someone in a suit does).

    I’m Union, yes, I said it.

    1. So let me get this straight.

      It’s perfectly fine for the liberal left wing media to not cover the violence of the union thugs beating up *peaceful* Tea Party people protesting against more government spending ? (which by the way FOX news was the only ones reporting – with videos, that no one denied was authentic).

      Or what about the pig sty left behind in DC by the folks at the rally sponsored by al sharpton ? When contrasted to the crowd that picked up after themselves at the rally run by Mr Beck (the videos showing how the Tea Party folks picked up after themselves, leaving a spotless DC mall, vs. the garbage strewn about where mr sharpton was, is an incredible contrast).

      So you tell me, who are the more respectable people? Tea Party represents rational folks who want an end to out of control spending – there is some overlap with what the OWS crowd wants. It’s unfortunate those “useful idiots” are too stupid to realize it.

      1. Yep. You would’nt see the Hackaday crowd cover this if it was promoted from a tea party demonstration.

        Can’t wait until the government tells you guys what to post and not post. You will blame it on Bush, I am sure.

    2. Oh, okay. I’m “Tea Party” because I dont agree with the simpletons who are doing nothing but wasting their time, making each other “feel good”, and otherwise have no IDEA why they are there, other than a poster gets thrown up on 4chan every few hours.

      By the way, “Tea Party” isn’t an insult to me. Lefty radicals have ruined all credibility of the current Democratic party. The Dems are losing the “undecided” party – the one who elects the President every four years. Radicals like these WANNA-BE ANARCHISTS who use technology developed by “corporate greed” to protest everything about it; they are the epitome of ‘Idiocracy’ and should instead GO GET A HANDY AT STARBUCKS.

      If you know anything about fashion, take a look at some of the DESIGNER CLOTHING these people are wearing at the protests. Yeah, no wonder they eat Ramen noodles and still have a $120k college debt. Spending $250 on jeans is in no way anyone on Wall Street’s fault. They still have a smartphone with a broadband plan, cable TV, broadband at home. When *I* was poor and ‘starving’ in college, I didnt blame anyone. I got by on my own and didnt bitch. These KIDS who were barely out of diapers on 9/11? WTF do THEY know about anything? They just dont know ^$#% yet about how the world works, and wont for a long time. Proof of this is a “protest”. Seriously, name one that “worked” since Ghandi?

      1. I think this is what they are protesting:

        Or this:

        Or this:

        Cuts in corporate taxes can generate wealth and stimulate economies in the short run. In the long run they lead to income disparity, massive deficits, and declining standards of living for most.

  11. don’t get me wrong.. it’s interesting.. but isn’t random political ranting in technology threads for slashdot?

    I’m here for the converted dutch backpack.. is that like a dutch oven?

    1. Agreed. But, the title includes a pretty charged topic between those who believe the world owes them something and those who believe the movement is filled with socialite leaches on society. While it is an interesting hack, I’d rather not see it on Hack-a-Day because of the charge, electrical and political (HEYO!), it has.

      P.S. Mods, sorry, I meant to hit reply, not report! Sorry!

      1. for all you people talking about how the protestors are all leaches… you should visit what you call a “3rd world country” to see what capitalism is all about.
        It’s all good when your american corporations rape and pillage the world (strong words? Oh… sorry. What are the oil companies doing in the middle east again?)… it’s all good because you don’t work on sweat shops that make your iPhones, you don’t bust your backs on farms that feed your via McDonald’s, etc.
        Capitalism is destroying our planet and out prototype of democracy. If you don’t see that you are either blind or too self centered.
        I’m more than willing to give up some technology (mostly useless, like iPads) if I would be offered a saner world where 1 billion people ARE NOT STARVING TO DEATH.
        We live in a system that rewards selfishness and personal gain. Lookup how much is spent researching a cure for Alzheimer disease, for example, versus what is spent trying to find a “cure” for baldness.
        It’s all wrong… all wrong…
        Travel a bit, get to know the REAL world and than you can spew all your “I’m a winner, screw the losers” speech…

      2. Related to Hack:
        Now that I think about it… Something else the guy could have done further is punched a few holes in the case for either a USB slot or USB cable so that the case wasn’t opened. It would help with checking the device’s charge level as well as protecting the internals.

        Other business…

        I really wish you remained quiet instead of jumping on a soapbox…

        People make the evil decisions, not corporations. People have always had an agenda with different morals and goals. These morals and goals are set inline with what the people’s morals and goals are.

        If… Capitalism = root(evil)… And Capitalism = sum(people), then sum(people) = root(evil), or Power of people = evil!

        If you take a history lesson on the world’s evil, you’ll see that evil existed far before capitalism. Rape existed before capitalism. Pillaging existed before capitalism. To blame these problems solely on “american corporations” is ignorant, sophomoric and painfully inhumane.

        Capitalism is obviously not destroying “our prototype of democracy” because:
        a) We have a democratic REPUBLIC.
        b) We all have the power to vote (unless you’re a convicted felon… I won’t judge you if you are. Unless you’re a child rapist, then I will.)

        There have been many systems for living that have been explored in this world. As it turns out, none are perfect. All have a fair share or problems, and as it turns out… And all have a partial system for self-benefit. Even communes provide a service that benefits the member which is why they are drawn to the commune in the first place. So, in a basic sense, every system MUST provide personal benefit and gain. In early times, hunting together enabled larger game to be killed. Protesting together enables bigger welfare checks to be shipped. Without a personal gain, there is no motivation. Even you have personal gains you’re seeking… If you’re willing to work and live without personal gains, I could use those services. (I kid by the way.) Re-hammering the point, as it turns out in history, personal gain provides a HUGE boost to motivation. “Work like you want it!”

        Now, speaking of balding versus Alzheimer’s disease cures. Lets face it. Balding is not caused by capitalism. Capitalism does not cause Alzheimer’s disease. And, people vote, democratically, with what they want. “A beautiful full head of hair!” Who doesn’t want that? But, a better example is cure for cancer. Everyone wants that to be cured. There have been successful fundraising drives for various types of cancer, speaking of which, BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH! Donate and save a pair of beautifuls today!

        But, to finish, I’d like to leave you with this… My great-grandfathers were farmers. My grandfather was a farmer. My father was a farmer. I’ve done farming. LORD FORBID EVIL MACHINES ON FARMING! ESPECIALLY IF THEY INCREASE PRODUCTION! I’ve had it with your inefficient, ineffective human pulled horse plow. Instead of crying about the billion people who are starving to death, send forth to those people money to buy bread. And then send forth to those people, money to buy tools to produce something. Send forth education to create tools and products with those tools. Influence a company to invest in the infrastructure of an area. Influence people to develop rather than hand out. But, most of all, get educated. Calling out a few scapegoated things, e.g. oil/McDonald’s, has no place in solutions.

        A society that develops will thrive. A society thrives on the developed will eventually fail.

  12. I think the protesters are basically highlighting their frustration with conservatives’ deregulation of Wall Street, and the resulting economic chaos it has created. That and the fact that the percentage of federal spending that comes from corporate taxes is at an all time low. And the destruction of the middle class. Oh yeah, the ratio of CEO pay to the average American at an all time high. But mainly their issues are with conservatives. Nice hack BTW…

    1. Still on about that? Clinton himself SPONSORED AND SIGNED that bill, are you saying he’s a Conservative now?

      ‘Cause I don’t know about you, but he might take that a bit personally, and his enemies have this habit of “disappearing.”

      But hey, don’t let reality interfere with your inane preaching.

      Seriously though, what do you do for a living? I’m curious now, because you’ve also represented yourself as a hard-line Conservative on other sites.

      1. Conservatives believe in less government and less regulation. Clinton signed a bill into law that deregulated Wall Street. Therefore, Clinton’s position on this particular issue was a conservative one. He also deregulated the oil and gas industry, allowing Exxon to merge with Mobil, Chevron to merge with Texaco, BP to merge with Amoco, etc. He also signed NAFTA into law, supported and promoted by conservatives. Why are you so fascinated with me? Do I strike a nerve in the things that I say?

  13. Seriously, you aren’t special, unique or deeply insightful if you make the stupid point of “hurr, they’re protesting corporations but have cell phones.”

    You do realize that it’s possible to protest some of the less desirable properties of corporations without actually being anti-corporation?

    I also think it’s not anti-capitalist to criticize people who were awarded for failing and made overly risky moves that were safeguarded by taxpayer money.

    What ever happened to the idea that capitalism is self-regulating based on the actions of individuals? The whole idea is that if you do something unfavorable, the market swings away from you and makes room for new people who didn’t make the unprofitable mistakes you did.

    What’s anti-capitalistic is letting those people stay and giving them bailouts whenever they mess up.

    1. These people aren’t protesting CEOs who get fired and take home a 25 million dollar severance package though, they’re protesting the idea that corporations are allowed to pay less than 100% taxes based on their quarterly profits, but at the same time aren’t terribly interested in hiring people whose idea of a good day’s work is sitting in a blanket on a sidewalk in the middle of Woodstock 2.0 and not bathing.

      They don’t care about corporate corruption as much as they care about paying off their ludicrous school loans without having to give up their brand-new iPhone 4(with unlimited data and texting plan) and morning Venti Latte, but they also don’t want to work more than 20 hours a week to pull it off.

      And if you oppose bailouts, you’re probably voting against these guys’ favorite candidates.

  14. Still patiently looking for those “left-wing extremists” that FOX keeps talking about…

    I certainly remember them (and some without fondness): the SDS, Huey Newton, The Yippies, the Symbionese Liberation Army, etc.

    Instead Barack Obama are and Bill Clinton are “radicals” (that’s a good one ;-). And Social Security is “socialism” (look up the word–it’s not). So the middle is now “the left.”

    Good health to OccupyX. Ironically, it’s interesting there is some conjunction of issues within Occupy and Tea Party .

  15. How about all those skilled workers do something useful?

    Perhaps even earn some extra money? And.. gasp.. purchase shares of those ‘evil’ corporations?

    It seems that people who complain.. are the people who can’t earn, can’t save, can take credit.. and can totally organize a massive waste of manhours.

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