Solar Powerbank. DIY

in engrave •  2 months ago 

powerbank DIY prototype

This design was created because I needed a portable 12Vdc supply to power my underwater LED fishing lights. As this is a seasonal pastime, to make better use of the project I added LED lighting and 5V USB out, ideal for camping.

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3 sides of the case

I have quite a collection of unused VHS cases, a bit large for a project like this but the solar panels I had, 165 x 135 mm fitted perfectly (totally unplanned).

diagram of connections

I'll briefly explain this prototype:

  • the USB charger module is the heart of this project. With this I can recharge the batteries via the solar panel or a USB mini cable.
  • the voltmeter is not needed I just put it in to read the charging voltage (cheap enough it can stay there)
  • the boost module gives me the 12Vdc I needed regardless of the input voltage controlled by switch 1, which also controls to 5V USB Out.
  • switch 2 determines whether I want the 12V DC Out on OR switch on the LED lights. Using this configuration saves me the cost of another switch, not convinced this was a good idea.

Time to build it ...


Pretty rough I know, plonk the bits inside the case using a glue gun then solder in the wires. The holes were made by pushing a heated soldering iron tip through the soft plastic case.

Testing Prototype


  • via solar: yes
  • via USB: yes


  • 12V DC at RCA plugs: yes (fishing lights worked fine)
  • 5V USB Out: yes (charged my mobile phone)
  • 9 LED lights on case: yes

I removed the Green SMD LED from the USB Charger Module, put a 3mm Green LED on the case then connected back to the module. This gives an external indication that the batteries are fully charged.

I made a 2nd Powerbank ...

a few changes made on this one

This one definitely looks a lot better, using strip LEDs and push switches gave the project cleaner lines. I didn't use the 12V DC Out on this one, no point in having 2 identical Powerbanks.

unexpected bonus

I can remove 2 batteries and place them in my headlamp when required. Using the headlamp instead of walking around with this VHS case in hand is so much better. The 2 remaining batteries can still be used as intended, the Powerbanks capacity is reduced by 50%. The next Powerbank I make will have 6 batteries, once I obtain them.

Thoroughly enjoyed making these ....

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👍You have received a 100% upvote with over 19k of build token, please keep up the good work and embrace the community.

Hi kiwibloke,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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Very interesting this solar bank. I ask you about the construction plan: if you use 8 batteries, how much time do you have light? And I did not understand how the usb module changer works with the solar panel. Regards @kiwibloke

Here's an EBAY link to the new version of a 18650 Lithium Battery Charging Board with a better battery protection. This charges Li-Ion batteries (in parallel) as is (without the solar panel) using a micro USB cable.

18650 Charger Module (200x316).jpeg
18650 Micro USB Lithium Battery TP4056 Charger Module

If you look at the Micro USB socket at the top of the board, it has -ve and +ve 5V terminals either side of this socket. This is the point where we connect the solar panel, you need to ensure the solar panel delivers 5V at this point. Depending on the solar panels max output you can use diodes in series (cheapest), or a 5V buck step down converter (ideal), or a LM7805 voltage regulator.

Always use blocking diodes when working with Solar Panels!

I use 4 batteries recovered from discarded laptop battery packs, when I run the fishing lights at night, 36 LEDS, it lasts all night (10hours)

LED Fishing Lights(465x240).jpeg
my Solar Powerbank with Underwater LED fishing lights

hope this helps ...

36 hours long ... magnificent!
Ok, I already understood the scheme is in parallel.
Thanks for your kind reply

you did a great job with your video with this construction, now you will have a great charge for your fish !! congratulations on your curie vote

Congratulations @kiwibloke, your post has been featured in the latest Curie Author Showcase.
On behalf of @curie I thank you for your time and for creating amazing content. Keep up the good work!
Ivan (@curie curator)

This is so freaking epic! Where are you and why are you not selling this in South Africa? Lol we cant keep the lights on for a full 24 hours here we need people like you!

Congratulations @kiwibloke!

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Wao that's great! An instrument not so difficult to make and that helps a lot in society and nature