Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Solar powered fireflies

I've been wanting to make something solar powered for some time & figured the firefly kit would be perfect to upgrade to solar power.

I just came across some cheap, second hand, solar powered light fixtures from allelectronics, which is a great place to pick up bits and bats for your electronic projects. Here's the actual solar lights I bought - solar-cell w/charging circuit. As the description says, they come with two solar panels, an LDR, a charging circuit (including - old - batteries) and some LEDs (one LED with this particular one and three with a different product).

As you can see from the pictures, all the components are easily acessible; these seemed perfect for hacking.

My first attempt was pretty simple, I just de-soldered the battery wires from my old JarOFireflies project, snipped the leads to the LED on the solar light kit and soldered the two kits together (the leads to the LED actually have a + and - designation printed on the board).

The LED wires are solid core and quite thick so there's no worry about them snapping under the strain and it made positioning the firefly board easier too. Speaking of which, I cut down the board to a more reasonable size for this project.

I didn't know if the batteries on the solar kit were duff so I left the hybrid out in the sunshine for a full day to charge then brought it indoors to see if it works:

And it does! What a pleasant surprise for something to work first time!

I think I'll cut a hole in the original jar's lid and place the kit in it more securely. Might be nice just to put it out in the garden to confuse the next door neighbours cats who seem to prefer our back yard to their own...

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