PadGadget’s DIY iPad Project Spotlight: Modified Solar Powered iPad Charger

DIY Solar iPad ChargerIt is time again to spotlight another awesome DIY iPad project. Every week, we try to find interesting and innovative projects that are made by people like you and me. Some projects are simple and take only a few minutes and some scraps of things from around the house. Others are more complex and require a bit of know-how.

Last week, we spotlighted an adorable felt iPad cover. This week, we are going with something a little more complicated. Grab your soldering iron and an Ohm resistor because this project is battery powered.

Phillip Stearns at Voltaic has figured out a way to turn a low-voltage solar lamp into a USB compatible high-powered charger. Incidentally, Voltaic is the company that makes the solar powered rechargeable iPad backpack. This DIY modification is fairly complicated and Stearns points out that without proper knowledge of what you are working with, you risk damaging the lamp, batteries, or even the iPad. You’ve been warned.

DIY Solar iPad Charger 3

For this project you will need an IKEA Sunnan Lamp, a soldering iron and accessories, pliers, wire cutters and strippers, a utility knife, a Phillips screwdriver, a rotary tool, cutting wheel, routing bit, epoxy putty, a power drill and 5/16” bit, a MintyBoostKit, two Schottky Barrier Diods, a 39K Ohm resistor, a piece of circuit prototyping or perf-board, a USB output wire and a 2Watt solar pane. The last two can be purchased from Voltaic Systems.

The first thing you will need to do is upgrade the batteries from the current ones in the lamp. After you remove the included AA NiMH batteries, replace them with higher capacity cells like the Tenergy 2700mAh cells.

DIY Solar iPad Charger 2

Next, you will need to increase the solar panel landscape. The how-to guide explains the details of removing the current regulator, solar panel, and fuse. It goes on to offer step-by-step instructions for adding the USB output wire and the additional 2Watt solar panel.

Then, you will attach the MintyBoost by replacing the R4 that comes in the kit with the 39K Ohm resistor, which reconfigures the pin voltages.

After a series of complex electronic steps that, frankly are beyond my abilities, you’ll be able to piggieback the desklamp to a bigger, more powerful solar panel that you can take outdoors for a full charge. Then, when the lamp is fully charged, its battery modifications will allow you to charge your iPad when you are sitting at your desk.

Thanks to Phillip Stearns over at Voltaic for this interesting, if not challenging, DIY project.

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About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik