In under two hours, I had gotten most of the way there, and just need to attach the solar panel and cut out the Altoids case.
As a "maker" n00b, I can’t express how awesome it is to build a homemade solar-powered iPhone charger. The little 2W solar panel currently sits in the window of my west-facing home office (more on that later). Now, every afternoon, as the sun starts blazing onto my desk, I soak up a little power.
I know probably hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people have built similar chargers before. After all, 20,000 people attended the first San Francisco Maker Faire in 2006, and it's only grown since. Nationwide, there are tens or hundreds of thousands of makers out there. But there are probably plenty more would-be DIYers who are intrigued but haven't yet taken the plunge. I’m here to tell those people that for just $90 in parts and three hours of time, you too can keep your iPhone going, wherever you go. Seriously.
1% inspiration: Getting started
I know what you're thinking. Sure, I could just get an official Apple charger for $30. Maybe there's a third-party option for less. And yes, I could throw down $80 for a Mophie Juicepack to meet my external battery desires. But where's the fun or satisfaction in any of that?