It can be hard to charge your electronic devices when you’re in a tent city like the ones found at the Occupy Wall Street movements happening across the country, and so the people at Revolt Lab, according to HackADay, created the Solar USB Box, or SUBcomandante, a solar-powered charger made for powering cell phones and other USB-using devices, and they are kind enough to provide instructions, complete with a wiring diagram, on their site for others to try.
The USB Box was specifically designed for the Occupy Wall Street movement in Boston. As media and information sharing via smartphones, cameras and laptops is a crucial element to the movement, having a place to charge said devices is necessary. The solar panels ensure that the energy used to recharge electronics is clean, free and renewable, something that resonates with the demonstrators. If you’re not the protesting type, however, a solar USB Box could be useful on a road trip, while camping, or anywhere else electrical outlets aren’t readily available.
The USB Box is fairly straightforward in design–it’s a solar array mounted on a military surplus case (though any sturdy case ought to do), a 5 volt regulator, several capacitors, a switch, and a USB hub. According to Revolt Lab, a 5-volt regulator will work for most USB-charged items, like digital cameras and mp3 players. It can be built easily, according to the instructions, with materials easily obtained from hardware stores.
Inside the case, a zippered pouch (taken, in this case, from an old pair of pants) was attached to protect the charging devices during transit. The creator of the USB Box seen on the Revolt Lab site found that their smartphone would only charge when in the off position using the configuration, but alternate configurations may yield different results. Remember, though, if you’re going to try this, please practice safety precautions and keep yourself safe!