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DIY Solar Powered USB Charger

Photo-Jul-13-15-53-23Today we built a simple do-it-yourself solar USB charger that fits in an Altoid tin.  This little guy will charge most mobile devices that charge via USB using 2 rechargeable AA batteries and flexible thin-film solar panels.  All the parts we used totaled less than $30 and can be as low as $10 if purchased in bulk, which includes:


  • thin-film solar panels
  • 2 NiMH AA batteries
  • pre-assembled USB charging circuit board
  • a diode
  • battery holder
  • wire
  • and the Altoids tin.

Tools needed:

  • soldering iron
  • tin snips
  • wire cutters
  • hot glue
  • electrical tape

This little project is a great first step into building your own electronics and should take less than 1-2 hours even for those who know nothing about assembling circuitry or electricity.  Here is a great step by step over on Instructables by Joshua Zimmerman, and a link to the kit he makes with all the necessary parts.  There are many different designs floating around the web, but this is the most straightforward and cost effective one. So get out there and build yourself some solar, even if you do have an extra $140 laying around for the factory-made version.