Solar-Powered Phone

Charger Case

The solar-powered phone charger case can charge a cell phone anywhere in the world, as long as there is sunlight exposure. The solar panels, battery, and all other parts needed to charge the phone are attached to the case in order to make it easily portable. The design is both convenient and environmentally-friendly, benefiting both the user and the earth.

Engineer

Matthew F.

Area of Interest

Environmental Engineering

School

Garden City High School

Grade

Rising Sophomore

Reflection

I had an amazing experience at BlueStamp Engineering this summer. I am not only going home with a functioning product that I can use in my everyday life, but a device I have always wanted to make and designed myself. I also had an amazing experience at the program, learning a lot more about engineering and how things often go wrong. In addition, I learned how to identify and find solutions to problems, which is a skill I can use to succeed in future projects. At BlueStamp, I grew as an engineer and I hope to return next year.

Final Milestone

For my final milestone, I attached my solar powered phone charger to my case. In order to keep all of the parts secured to my case, I velcroed the battery, solar panel, charger, and MintyBoost to it. However, in the process of doing so, the velcro constantly did not stick to the MintyBoost. After many trials and errors, I tried using Command Strips, which finally got the job done. Another issue that came up while attaching all of the parts to my case was the lithium ion battery losing its charge. Because it was cloudy, the solar panel was not receiving light to be able to charge the battery, causing it to lose its charge. Luckily, the battery contained a safety circuit which prevented it from going completely dead, but the battery needed to be charged for over an hour to work again. However, now all parts are assembled, and in the direct sun, my phone charges. From making this project, I learned that making a device solar-powered is not as complex as I thought it was. Also, I now know the very basics of electrical engineering, including the functions of parts like capacitors and resistors. I hope to return next year for a longer amount of time and build a much more complex and involved project to learn more skills in all different engineering fields. I truly enjoyed my time here at BlueStamp and I’m very happy I made a self-designed project that I can use in my daily life.

Second Milestone

For my second milestone, I built the MintyBoost Charger and connected it to the lithium ion/polymer charger. When building it, I soldered resistors to the circuit board in order to control electricity flow. In addition, I attached a 5V boost converter to increase the voltage of the charger from 3.7V to 5V. I also soldered capacitors and a power inductor to stabilize the voltage since the battery may not release electricity at a constant rate. Finally, I connected the rest of my project (battery, charger, and solar panel) by attaching two wires and added a USB jack so that a charging cord can easily be plugged in. I’m very happy that my charger works and I really want to attach it to my phone case soon.

First Milestone

Figure 1: Flowchart of Energy Path

For my first milestone, I connected the solar panel, charger, and battery of my solar-powered phone charger case to each other. They will all eventually be connected to the MintyBoost Kit by another wire (see Figure 1). When the entire project is complete, this three-way connection will provide the energy necessary to power the entire system. First, the lithium ion battery receives energy from the solar panel. Once the battery provides the electricity, the current flows to the lithium ion/polymer charger. This piece contains a capacitor to maintain a constant voltage entering the system. Once the current makes it through the charger, it will reach the MintyBoost Kit which will increase the voltage from 3.7 V to 5 V in order to ensure that there is enough power to charge a phone. From connecting the solar panel, charger, and battery, I learned that solar panels are fairly straightforward to work with; it’s just a matter of connecting its wires to a battery. I look forward to continuing with my project and I’m excited to present on Demo Night next week.

Starter Project: TV-B-Gone

My starter project, the TV-B-Gone by Adafruit, is a remote control that can turn on and off any television. Within seconds, any TV within one hundred fifty feet will turn on as long as there is a direct path through which the infrared waves, or invisible light, can travel between the device and the TV. It is imperative that there is a direct path because the infrared waves cannot travel through glass, and therefore will not reach the TV if blocked. The device consists of a circuit board, two AA batteries, a microcontroller, two capacitors and resistors, five LEDs and transistors, and a button. The circuit board is connected to two AA batteries by wires, which power the remote. When electricity is flowing through the wires, a green LED lights up on the circuit board. To operate the device, the small button in the bottom right corner of the circuit board, shown below, must be pressed. Pressing the button completes the circuit and therefore turns on the LEDs to emit infrared waves. Once the button is pressed, the current continues through the board where it reaches resistors and transistors that control the amount of electricity that’s able to flow through the circuit board. Following that, the current reaches the capacitor and the microcontroller. The capacitor stores electricity and releases it to stabilize voltage; the microcontroller controls the circuit board. The microcontroller allows the device to turn on and off 150 brands of television. Once the button is pressed, it releases a certain pattern of frequencies of infrared. Each pattern is specific to a certain brand of TV. In order to accommodate many brands, the microcontroller makes the LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, release many patterns of frequencies in just a matter of seconds. In order to ensure that the infrared waves reach the TV, there are two types of LEDs to emit them. The blue LEDs have a narrow path of release, but travel far. On the other hand, the white LEDs have a wide range of emission, but the waves only travel a short distance. The two types of LEDs help to ensure that the TV-B-Gone will turn on any television. Through this project, I soldered a circuit board for the first time. Once I got a hang of it, I was able to move pretty fast and finish it in just one day. I now know that working with circuit boards is not as complicated as I originally thought, especially when given instructions for assembling parts. I’m very excited to work on my main project now, a solar-powered phone charger case.

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