No matter whether you felt that Earth Hour was a terrific conservation tactic or an overhyped PR stunt, energy on our planet is in peril. Our daily juice (be it electric, gasoline combustion, atomic, or carbon-based), has become a precious commodity with at least one guaranteed effect: to elicit an instantaneous hot-button opinion from just about everybody.
What can you do about it? Well, one great proactive demonstration would be to stop your regular consumption of dry-cell batteries. Yes, there are numerous substitutes, ranging from rechargeable varieties to alternative energy replacements, but each of these substitutions has a debit that few of us are willing to pay. You know, "costs" like always hunting for an outlet to power a battery recharging station, or getting rid of a clean, slim-line AA battery for a gargantuan solar-driven bat-winged monstrosity.
Hidden on a page of a recent DigiKey catalog, I found a glimmer of hope for beating this battery dependency. A small SOIC-16 SMD clear IC that is capable of generating electricity when placed in sunlight or strong artificial lighting. The CPC1832 from Clare is an 8V solar cell that is capable of powering CMOS ICs while sitting on top of a penny (U.S. monetary unit = one red cent).
The specifications for this diminutive wonder chip are impressive: 8VDC with a current of 50 µA. Even better, the CPC1832 has a built-in switching circuit that triggers the solar cell's output when it is stimulated by light. Sorta like a switch that also provides power. Likewise, with such a small footprint, several cells can be joined together for increased voltage and/or current supplies, without creating a freakish Frankenstein battery replacement circuit.
Although there are 16 pins on the CPC1832, only two are used for supplying voltage/current at its output. Pin 16 is the positive (+) output pin and the negative (-) output terminal is pin 9. While the remaining 14 pins don't have to be soldered, establishing a connection with these unnecessary pins will help ensure a mechanically stronger solar-powered design.
Oh, your designs aren't the SMD type. No matter. If you have a through-hole circuit design, you can still adapt the CPC1832 to your project. For example, Bellin Dynamic Systems makes a series of SOIC-to-DIP boards that can easily convert the CPC1832 to a 16-pin DIP IC platform. Even SMD soldering rookies can firmly attach a SOIC solar cell to a Bellin board.
Here are a few pointers for the inexperienced SMD worker that will help to guarantee successful professional-looking soldering:
1. Hold the solar cell SOIC package in place on the Bellin board and attach a small piece of masking tape to the chip for keeping it in contact with the board.
3. Touch the soldering iron to one of the board's pads, not the solar cell's pins. Carefully, apply solder to the point between the soldering iron tip and the solar cell's pin. As the solder liquefies, slide the iron's tip towards the SOIC pin. Remove the iron and examine your solder joint. When the solder is solid, test for a strong connection, by tweaking the pin with a wooden tooth pick.
4. Solder all of the solar cell's non-output pins (i.e., pins 1-8) first. When these pins are all solidly connected, remove the masking tape and solder the remaining pins (i.e., pins 9-16).
Bellin Dynamic Systems #505
By adding CPC1832 8V solar cells to your next project, you will be able to hold your head high with tree-hugging pride during the next Earth Hour.
what do you know, Its April fools day
Kardashev 1 here we come !!!!
What I don't understand is why the chip itself runs only just over $1.50, but an adapter to switch it from SMD to a through-hole design costs like $46. Would there be any way to MacGyver together your own converter?
I'm a sailboater and am removing my solar panels. I have 2 Shell 75 watts and 1 Shell 120 watt. It was more then enuf power for my boat. The boat has a 2000 watt Heart inverter/charger that needs to stay. And I used 6 - 6 volt golf batteries.
If I use them on my home, what would I expect to run and how to do it? And what is the best way to hook the system up?
I hate to sell them if I can use the power.
GYPsea Joe -
Please refer to "Home Power Magazine:"
Specifically, the Solar Electricity Basics section:
What do they use to generate this much power from such a small space. Also how much light do they need.
That is a lot of power for such a small, cheap unit. Was this really an April Fools joke?
solar power is definitely one of the nest alternative fuel sources. Storage of the power is the only hurdle holding it back.
Wow, right on! Such a nice unit. We've been doing our own analysis of those DIY solar panel programs out there. Most actually work super well, it's great!
- Brett @ www.efficientsolarpanels.com/
Im impressed that is some prety amazing technology that much output from such a small cell. I can only imagine what it would be like if the same thing were built on a larger scale... Does any one know if there are plans to super size this thing? i know that i could use something like that to put out there on my site http://www.greenlivings.biz/home-renewable-energy/home-solar-energy/diy-home-solar-panels/learn-how-to-build-solar-panels-from-scratch
im still new to all this but the link u gave is really cool .thanks !!!! im actually trying to build my own now :-D