Hackaday Prize 2021 entrant [Philip Ian Haasnoot] has been building a well-polished power bank. But this is no ordinary little power bank the like you would throw in your rucksack for a day out. No, this 2.5 kW luggable power bank is neatly encased in a tough, waterproof Pelican 1550 case, and is suitably decked out with all the power sockets you could possibly need for a long weekend of wilderness camping and photography.
This box sports USB-C and USB 3.0 connectors for gadget charging, as well as 12 VDC cigarette lighter and XT-60 ports for high-drag devices. Also it provides a pair of 120 VAC sockets via an integrated inverter, which at 1.5 kW could run a small heater if you were really desperate, but more likely useful to keep your laptop going for a while. Now if only you could get Wi-Fi out in the desert!
[Philip] doesn’t actually talk much about the solar panels themselves, but we know the box contains a 600 W MPPT boost converter to take solar power in, and feed the LiPo battery pack in the correct manner.
The battery pack is custom-made from salvaged and tested 18650 cells, as you would expect, which we reckon took an absolute age to make by hand. The whole project is nicely finished, and looks like something we’d be happy to throw in the back of the car before heading out into our local wilderness.
As [Philip] says in the project description, it’s a tough job to carry enough power and keep all his drones, cameras and lighting equipment charged, not mention helping prevent the campsite occupants from freezing overnight during the chilly Arizona nights.
Many power bank designs have graced these fair pages over the years, like this rather polished build, and long may they continue to do so.
[Gijs Gieskes] has a long history of producing electronic art and sound contraptions, and his Zonneliedjes (sunsongs) project is certainly an entertaining perpetuation of his sonic creations. With the stated goal of making music from sunlight, the sunsongs most prominent feature is solar panels.
Although It’s not clear how the photons transform into the rhythmic crashes and random beep-boop sounds, the results are quite satisfying. We have a strong suspicion that the same principals that turn random junk into BEAM robots are at work, maybe with some circuit bending sprinkled on for good measure. One detail we were able to glean from a picture of the device he calls “mobile” was a 40106 oscillator, which [Gijs] has used in previous projects.
The construction style that [Gijs] uses reminds us of the “Manhattan” construction style the amateur radio homebrewing community favors. Squares of copper PCB are glued directly to the back of the solar cells and the circuits are built atop them. Looking carefully at the pictures we can also see what look like cutoff leads, suggesting a healthy amount of experimentation to get the desired results, which we can all relate to.
Be sure to check out the video after the break, and also [Gijs] website. He’s been hacking away at projects such as these for a very long time, and we’ve even featured his projects going back more than 15 years. Thanks for the continued hacks, [Gijs]. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next!
They say once you start using twin monitors on the desktop, you’ll never want to go back. It’s even worse when you upgrade to three or more. However, it can be difficult to take such a set up on the road. Desiring better productivity on the go is what spurred [Brian Whitsett] to develop the Solar Display Case to solve this problem.
The Solar Display Case aims to pack three 17″ full-size monitors into a portable waterproof case. Brian has already built a prototype, which puts the monitors on folding arms so that they can be quickly stowed or deployed when needed.
The build also relies on solar power to charge batteries, in order to make the solution as portable as any laptop or other hardware you may be using with it. It’s no good having three mains-powered monitors sitting in the field with no AC power, after all. [Brian] aims to use a flexible solar panel to make the most of the surface area of the deployed assembly, for maximum power generation.
It’s a great project, and one we’d love to see fleshed out to the fullest. Imagining a briefcase that folds out into a triple-monitor workstation is exciting, and it looks like [Brian] is well on the way to making it a reality.
As more and more ports are removed from our smart devices, it seems that we have one of two options available for using peripherals: either buy a dongle to continue to use wired devices, or switch to Bluetooth and deal with perpetually maintaining batteries. If neither of these options suits you, though, there’s a third option available as [befinitiv] shows us in this build where he integrates a tiny solar panel to his earbud case to allow them to automatically charge themselves.
To start, he begins by taking apart the earbud case. For those who still haven’t tried out a set of these, they typically charge only when placed inside of their carrying case, which in his case also contains a small battery itself. Soldering wires directly to the battery allow for the battery to charge without as much electrical loss as he would have had if he had connected to the USB pins on the circuit board. Even then, the cell only generates a single volt so he needs a 5V boost converter to properly charge the battery. That came with its own problem, though, as it wouldn’t fit into the case properly. To solve that issue, he desoldered all of the components and deadbugged them together in order to fit the converter into a much smaller space without having to modify the case in any other way.
With all of that done and the small solar cell attached to the case, [befinitiv] has a smart solution to keep his wireless earbuds topped up without having to carry cables or dongles around every day. We’ve seen plenty of interesting solutions to the problem of various electronics manufacturers removing the ubiquitous 3.5 mm headphone jack too, and not all of them have dealt with this problem without certain other quirks arising as a result.
Light has always been a key part of the classic Game Boy experience. Some of us have fond memories of riding along in the back seat of a car at night, pausing and unpausing the game as the street lights overhead briefly give enough light to see the unlit display. The availability of third party IPS displays for these classic handhelds has largely eradicated this problem today, but as you might expect, the increased power requirements of the more modern screen reduces the system’s runtime.
In the video below, you can see the modification starts by cutting away a large section of the Game Boy’s rear panel to fit the 1000 mAh LiPo battery. The solar panel is then affixed over the back with super glue. A diode is soldered onto the solar cell, and then wired into a charge controller that came with USB-C input. The placement of the charge controller ended up being trickier than expected, but with a little hot glue, it works just fine. Overall this is a simple mod but a brilliant idea.
This isn’t the first solar-powered handheld game system we’ve seen, but it’s nice to see the idea revisited and expanded on, particularly regarding ergonomics. In addition, we love the incredible detail of narration that’s given as this hack slowly takes shape. Video after the break.
While it might be nice to imagine owning a cabin in the woods to escape from society, complete with an outdoor sauna to take in the scenic views of nature, most of us will be satisfied with the occasional vacation to a cabin like that. For those trips, or even for long-term camping trips, [Schitzu] and a group of friends thought it would be nice to be able to ensure access to a sauna. For that, they created this mobile, timber-framed sauna that he can tow behind his car.
The sauna is built out of a combination of spruce and Douglas fir, two types of lumber with weather-resistant properties. For an additional layer of protection, the frame was varnished after assembly. The walls are filled with baked cork for insulation, and heat is provided by a small wood-fired oven placed in the corner of the sauna with a stove pipe plumbed through the roof. Performance of the sauna shows good design too, as it can heat up quickly and performs well in all of the tests so far. The final touch on the mobile sauna was to finish the roof with some solar panels in order to gather some energy for long-term camping trips and also to ensure that the roof was protected from rain and weather.
The sauna is designed for two adults to sit in, but it will also accommodate a single person to lay down and sleep (presumably when not using it as a sauna), so the entire trailer actually makes a fairly capable mobile camper too. With the addition of a panoramic window, anyone can take in the sights as well as someone with their own permanently-located sauna could, which is a win in all of our books. If you’re looking for a mobile sauna that’s a little more discrete though, be sure to check out this one which is built in the back of a white panel van.
One key thing about this project is that you shouldn’t be fooled by the solar panels. They’re not here to generate power for external use. Instead, they’re wired up in opposing polarities to a DC gear motor. The motor turns the panel assembly. As one panel is hit by the sun, it turns the assembly to bring the other panel into the sun as well simply by applying a DC voltage to the motor. The other panel is wired up the opposite way, so if it is in the sun, it brings the other panel into alignment as well.
This serves as a very simple planar solar tracker. If you want to track the sun with minimal parts, this is a very easy way to do it. You’ll just need to put whatever you want to actually aim at the sun on top of the assembly. if that happens to be a larger solar panel, it may be cumbersome and another more complex design may be more suitable.
It’s an ingenious and easy way of tracking the sun, even if it’s not immediately apparent how the device would be useful in its current form. If you’ve got an idea how you would use such a mechanism, let us know in the comments.