Occupy Wall Street Spawns DIY Solar Power

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DIY solar charger for Occupy Boston, via Hack A Day.

Back in the Fall of 2011, during the first wave of Occupy protests, a team from Revolt Labs apparently built solar-powered chargers for Occupy Boston protesters to help them charge their portable electronics. This was done using what I used to construct my own 5-volt USB charger: a 5-volt 7805 voltage regulator which is capable of charging all USB devices using a vehicle’s cigarette lighter outlet, or most cordless phone chargers.

This commonly available $0.56 device (yes, 56 cents) will accept any voltage ranging from 7 volts to 35 volts, from solar panels, hand-cranked generators, UPS batteries, car batteries, and any other DC power source, and put out the standard 5 volts DC required by most cellphones, mp3 players, and other portable electronics.

USB-charged devices automatically draw the correct charging current, which is 500 mA from the charger. Rechargeable laptop or disposable batteries can also be integrated into USB chargers like mine so that they can act as a backup battery for portable electronics (I’ve done this as well), a car charger, and a 120-volt charger. Just an idea for anyone who wants to do that.

The DIY Revolt Labs project generates 10 watts of power, sufficient to sustain small electronics such as cellphones. And, of course, cellphones and socket-free recharging are particularly important to protesters. Another even more portable and helpful device for charging portable electronics, which can fully sustain cellphones, is a 12-watt solar-powered foldable charge available from Wagan Tech for $130. The price is $11 per watt of power generation capacity, which is high, but can be expected from foldable solar panels.

For protesters who are on the move, the portability may be worth it, and they can use it personally at home too. For protesters who need more to power their laptops and other devices, and who need extra energy storage capacity, there is an 80-watt power cube I took a look at in a local store recently, also available on Amazon.

Any other ideas?

h/t Hack A Day

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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

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