A smart interface that allows you to build your own powerful and portable solar charger for your phone and other mobile devices.
About this project
Hi, my name is Malick Fofana. I am the founder of Hackenchip Electronics and the creator of SolarBoost.
WHAT IS SOLARBOOST?
SolarBoost is the first open-hardware and open-source smart interface designed to give you the freedom and flexibility to make your own battery- and solar-powered power bank for charging cellphones, tablets, MP3 players, speakers, GPS navigators, and much more. Use it to also power your DIY electronics projects!
As a fanatic and avid follower of the portable power banks and solar chargers trend, I encountered two major problems that I decided to address by designing SolarBoost.
Problem 1. Charging Speed
Most existing solar chargers don’t charge mobile devices as fast as you would like them to. Because of the way they are designed, they limit the rate of power your phone or other gadgets can take at once. As a consequence, your devices cannot charge at their maximum charging rate. An iPhone 5, for example, would take about 2.5 hours to fully recharge; sometimes even longer (3 to 4 hours).
Problem 2. Battery and Solar Power
When you purchase an existing solar power bank, you are limited by whatever battery capacity and solar panel power that come with it. The truth is, sometimes, you need some extra power just to get through your busy workday, or you need more power to enjoy that fun day at the beach, or even a considerable amount of energy to keep you and your friends or family powered up during that long camping trip.
THAT’S WHERE SOLARBOOST COMES IN!
SolarBoost has been designed to offer you a smart power converter and controller interface in order to enable you to build your own solar power bank.
With SolarBoost, you can:
- Decide what battery capacity suits you for the day or for that long journey you are about to embark on. Combine two batteries to get the total capacity you desire or pick one single powerful battery.
- Use as powerful of a solar panel as you like for greater solar energy conversion or simply combine two solar panels as well.
- Build your own enclosure and mount everything the way you prefer, or just leave everything free-hanging – that’s perfectly fine too!
- Fully charge any mobile device at fast speed. For example, I charged my iPhone 5, from 0% to 100%, in around an hour and a half; and my Galaxy S4, from 0% to 100%, in about two hours.
- Save your phone’s energy by using the built-in bright 32-lumens LED flashlight instead of using the one in your phone.
- Recharge extra batteries during the day with solar energy and use them at night to power lights and more.
- Smartly designed power conversion circuit for fast mobile device charging.
- Intelligent control and monitoring circuit for reliable feedback and robust safety.
- Conveniently charge any device from any manufacturer
- Compact size offers great portability, ease of use, and seamless integration into any of your projects.
- Size: 85mm x 53mm (3.347in x 2.087in) – about the size of a credit card
- Output Ports: 2 USB Type A ports
- DC Output: 5V, 2A on each port
- Input Port: 1 USB Micro B port
- DC Input: 5V, 1A
- Battery Ports:1 battery connector (Molex Micro-Fit 3.0) + 1 extra battery connection pad
- Solar Ports: 1 solar panel connector (JST XH) + 1 extra solar panel connection pad
- Pushbutton: 1 button for ON/OFF, solar power only, battery charge level, and flashlight
- LED Flashlight: 32 lumens bright cool white LED flashlight
- Sensors: battery charging temperature sensor + board ambient temperature sensor
- Indicator Lights: board ON/OFF, battery and solar voltage monitoring, solar charging only, and battery charge status indicator LEDs
- Controller Unit: 8-bit 32MHz Microchip PIC micro-controller unit (MCU)
- Safety: Built-in protection features including soft-start, over-temperature, over-charge, over-discharge, short-circuit and current limiter
- Battery Chemistry: Lithium Polymer or Lithium Ion
- Battery Voltage: 3.7V
- Battery Capacity (Minimum): 1000 mAh
- Solar Panel Voltage: 5V
- Design SolarBoost board – DONE
- Develop SolarBoost embedded software – DONE
- Build SolarBoost prototypes – DONE
- Test, debug, and troubleshoot SolarBoost – DONE
- Manufacture first large batch of SolarBoost – I NEED YOUR HELP!
At this stage, I have completed the design of SolarBoost’s board. I have developed the embedded software for the on-board micro-controller unit. I also had a PCB manufacturer make five prototypes for testing, debugging and troubleshooting. SolarBoost is fully functional and very reliable. I use it, EVERYDAY, to charge my smartphones, tablet, e-reader, earpiece, and the rest. Check out the video below to see SolarBoost in action.
Manufacturing electronics in large quantities is very cost-intensive. That involves the fabrication of the bare PCBs, the components procurement, the assembly of the boards, the programming of the micro-controller unit, and finally the testing; without forgetting the tooling and shipping charges.
I need your help to manufacture the first large batch of SolarBoost in order to make it affordable for everyone who needs it to charge their beloved electronic gadgets during their daily commute, their day at the beach, their picnic or camping trip, their hiking and biking adventures, and much more.
I have quotes from various PCB manufacturers, parts suppliers and board assembly and testing houses.
Be among the first to build your own solar charger or charging hub by backing this project. All rewards are estimated to ship by the end of May 2016.
*** Early Bird Specials (Limited 100 each) ***
- The Mercury – $25: Get 1 SolarBoost
- The Mercury Solar – $30: Get 1 SolarBoost + 1 Solar Panel (1.5W)
- The Mercury Battery – $45: Get 1 SolarBoost + 1 Battery (37Wh)
- The Mercury System – $50: Get 1 SolarBoost + 1 Solar Panel (1.5W) + 1 Battery (37Wh)
- The Double Mercury – $50: Get 2 SolarBoost
- The Triple Mercury – $75: Get 3 SolarBoost
*** Kickstarter Specials ***
- The Venus – $35: Get 1 SolarBoost
- The Venus Solar – $40: Get 1 SolarBoost + 1 Solar Panel (1.5W)
- The Venus Battery – $55: Get 1 SolarBoost + 1 Battery (37Wh)
- The Venus System – $60: Get 1 SolarBoost + 1 Solar Panel (1.5W) + 1 Battery (37Wh)
- The Double Venus – $70: Get 2 SolarBoost
- The Triple Venus – $105: Get 3 SolarBoost
- The Saturn – $175: Get 5 SolarBoost
- The Jupiter – $350: Get 10 SolarBoost
I would like to thank all the DIY electronics community for their support for this project.
A special thanks goes to the folks at:
- Lifehacker: http://www.lifehacker.com
- Hack-A-Day: http://www.hackaday.com
- Evil Mad Scientist: http://www.evilmadscientist.com
- Instructables: http://www.instructables.com
Risks and challenges
As a computer engineer, I have a lot of experience with designing, prototyping, and building electronic devices. As such, I have mitigated all the potential challenges that may arise due to device malfunctioning. I have designed SolarBoost to be robust, safe and reliable. In addition, as the project gets funded, I am going over the design, re-checking all the components and their specifications to ensure that the end user of SolarBoost obtain full satisfaction.
On the other hand, as an entrepreneur, I have dealt with various manufacturers, vendors, parts suppliers, and others. When there are delays or problems of any sort, I am always all over them making sure that things are completed and delivered on time, every time. You can, therefore, rest assure that your SolarBoost will get to you as soon as possible.