JDIY5 : Solar Radio


I appreciate all types of DIY project, but I have an affinity for solar related projects. I like the re-charging capabilities, powering homes potential, overall running our lives as we know it. I have ideas for running an entire tiny home on solar and wind, there is couple of other ideas of using hydro as well. I think an iconic project would use them all to run a useful function. There is also a special place with me renewable energies:

I have an affinity for solar related projects, and music in general; so naturally a radio that can recharge using solar panels while out hiking is a logical next move. Standard radio controls, Scan, Volume, and 3 Saved Channels and power switch. While I was out hiking, I commonly ran out of battery juice on my devices listening to music, tracking GPS, and Geocaching as I travel around. I needed a radio that could recharge while I was using it, and hold a charge for the evening; the Solar Radio idea was born.

A main focus was using parts that I already had instead of just ordering parts, which I find the "easy way". I used almost all existing parts, I didn’t have enough 100KΩ resistors, other than that everything was used from parts existing. :)

I used 4x 6V 300mA solar panels with some 9V clips for the recharging system, and a light and durable ABS plastic 5x5x2.5 for the housing. I didn't want buttons that could be pressed inadvertently or anything complex to break down, so I went with some copper sheets with 100kΩ pull-downs that picks up moisture on fingers good and a basic power switch. Went with a 3.7V 2600mA battery and since it is oddly shaped, I had to build a holder re-purposing some Ethernet ports, came out great. Cut a hole in the middle and mounted a speaker that was able to produce sound at a decent quality, better than I originally thought when I started testing the speakers I had.

I wanted to leave the option to still use headphones so I cut a spot for the headphones next to solar re-charging port. Looking back, I should have made it turn off the main speaker once the headphones are plugged in, but that can be on the next version. All in all, takes about 2 hours to re-charge from a dead battery to full charge, it's great. After the final initial charge everything is working out just as I planned.

Difficulty: !!
This is rated 2x!! because of the programing that it took and soldering the copper tape and odd pieces together to create this project. I was very happy to complete this project, and use it on a hike in Colorado. There was a 12-mile hike-in camping trip we did for my birthday, and this went along for the adventure.

The video below shows the functions of the Solar Radio, but with the Garage Radio demonstration video. The function of the radio portion is the same, however I did not get video of the recharging process.