How to make a solar car – A homemade simple solar powered car made out of mostly dollar store materials. A great tutorial for people who enjoy DIY projects. The car is nice because we go about a clever way of using a gearbox to gain a mechanical advantage that allows the drive system to have enough torque to move the vehicle. The solar car also has a rechargeable battery added to it so that the solar panels can charge it and it can travel even when the sun isn’t very powerful
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Step 1: Materials
From the dollar store you can obtain:
-Friction activated car (gearbox needed)
-4 wheels (from the tune up kit)
-3, 1.5 volt solar panels (from dollar store garden lights)
Elsewhere you must obtain
-a small 4.5 volt motor (you might be able to use a larger motor such as the motor from the tuneup kit but will probably need a bigger rechargeable battery or 3 of the ones i used wired in parallel)
– a small 3.7 volt rechargeable battery
I sell both the small motor and battery pack on my website
Step 2: Setting Up the Solar Panels
firstly if wires are not attached to the solar panels start by soldering wires onto the solar panels.
Next wire the solar panels in series. To do this we wire the positive of one solar panel to the negative of the panel beside it. And the positive of that solar panel to the negative of the next solar panel. the finished wiring can be seen in the last picture.
After that glue to solar panels together as seen above
Step 3: Attaching the Drive System
We now need the gearbox. To obtain the gearbox take apart the friction powered car.
Once the gearbox is obtained glue it onto tho solar panels. To add structure you can see on the bottom i attached 2 toothpicks with glue. This improves the structure of the gearbox and solar panel connection and enables it to bear a load more effectively. Then take 2 wheels from the tuneup kit and attach them onto the axle of the gearbox. Some glue may be needed.
Step 4: Preparing the Motor
The motor will drive the gearbox by simply using friction. To ensure there is enough friction to drive the gearbox i attach power (3.7 v) to the motor to make it rotate. I then bring the glue gun to it and add glue to the axle. It is important that the glue does not connect the rotating axle to the stationary, non rotating part of the motor. After a bit of glue is applied it should distribute evenly in a round shape because of the centrifugal force. While the axle was rotating with the blob of glue on it, i pressed my finger against it lightly to flatten the glue out evenly.
Step 5: Completing the Drive System
I then attach the motor to the gearbox with glue. I attach it so that the glue on the axle will come in contact with the rotation metal piece on the gearbox. by driving that piece, it will transfer power to the wheels and give us a mechanical advantage
Step 6: Attaching Front Wheels
For the front wheels i cut a piece of straw out and glued it on the front. I then stuck a toothpick through it and attached wheels on both side (wheels from tuneup kit).
Step 7: Wiring
First i attach the battery pack with glue to the car.
I then wire the positive of the battery pack to the positive of the solar panels, and the negative of the battery pack to the negative of the solar panels. This makes it so that the solar panels will charge the battery.
Next a switch is attached. One side of the switch is connected to the negative of the solar panel and battery. The other side of the switch goes to the negative of the motor. The positive side of the motor is attached to the positive of the motor and battery. A comprehensive picture can be observed above of what the final circuit should look like.
Once that is complete the car is ready to test.
A few things should be noted however. When testing the car i found that the combined heat from the intensity of the sun and the spinning of the motor can melt the glue attaching the motor and possibly overheat the motor. so be careful about using the car for prolonged periods in intense sun and consider touching the motor occasionally to see if it very hot to the touch. If so take a break and let the motor cool off.
Thanks for checking this out, if anyone tries the build, be sure to share the experience