iPhone Charger Comes In Solar Altoids Tin

Just last week we covered a slick little solar charger that masquerades as an Altoids tin. Inside the tin is a solar panel and some simple electronics, most of which can be purchased online or at retail electronics parts stores. The device works by charging rechargeable batteries, which in turn can deliver power to almost any device compatible with a USB cable. The only drawback to the device was that it wasn’t capable of charging certain iPhones, iPads or some other iDevices.

That it didn’t play well with Apple products wasn’t an oversight of the device’s designer, Joshua Zimmerman of BrownDogGadgets.com. According to an email discussion we had with Zimmerman, the issue is that some of Apple’s devices look for signals from certain data-point connections that standard USB charging circuits don’t take into account. Zimmerman said the technology that Apple builds in works well for telling the iPhone or iPad how fast it can charge, but makes  some of the company’s devices incompatible with his USB charger.

image via BrownDogGadgets

So, Zimmerman set to work finding a circuit that would handle Apple’s devices and creating another version of his charger that would play nice with all of Apple’s devices. That work is finally complete and the new Solar Altoids iPhone/iPod/iPad charger design has been finalized and put through rigorous testing on the display models at Zimmerman’s local Best Buy store.  Zimmerman reports that it worked with every product it was tested on.

Zimmerman says that while he and his team do have parts to create more of the new iCompatible charger, their supplies are currently limited and shipments of the product are not likely to go out until June. We’ll keep our eyes out for another instructables post that would allow DIY-ers to try their hand at making their own.


  • Reply May 16, 2011


    u00a0Cant imagine that you could make a built in solar panel to a charger. Many will buy this one because many are now using iphone. This can come in handy, it gives benefits and advantages. It could save you money in some ways.nnGreat post.

  • Reply May 18, 2011


    u00a0Cute, this beats placing the real iPad charger in my bag. This should be lighter too.

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