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    Solar Powered Yard Gadgets

     

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    This month's theme is from dougw and is for Solar Powered Yard Gadgets (tiebreaker) - an ornament, weather sensor, intruder detector, smart doorbell, car parking assistant, swing set activity counter, pool toy, electronic fence, etc.

     

    After the Monthly Poll to Decide August 2017 Project Competition ended in a tie between Solar Powered Yard Gadget and The Fourth Dimension (anything that uses or alters timing) the winner of this month's project competition was decided in favor of solar powered yard gadget after dougw expressed an interest in a yard project to coincide with the summer month's, assured balearicdynamics that living on the beach counts as a yard, jomoenginer suggested a solar power Yard/Beach Gnome or objects that come to life after dark (certainly fits the theme), jack.chaney56 suggested doing a time lapse of the solar eclipse (also fits the theme), and ninjatrent concurred that this was a great idea with images as well as ideas of his own on how the community should approach the solar eclipse.

     

    This themes focuses on solar power to create gadgets for the yard, and the world would be better place with more yard gadgets that use the sun as a seemingly inexhaustible (billions of years) source of energy. Among the many benefits of using solar power is the fact that it saves money while providing energy reliability, energy security, and energy independence. The sun doesn't shine 24/7 but that's hardly a drawback.  In theory, with proper storage, you could theoretically use solar power to provide for all of the world's electricity needs.  Solar easily dwarfs all potential energy sources combined and an electronics project that makes use of it, is well awesome!

     

    Looking through some past projects in the community, it was a little surprising that there weren't more projects involving solar power. Perhaps, there are some great projects buried in comments.  I know I've come across quite a few in comments for Ben Heck giveaways.   That's OK, perhaps an organized project competition is exactly what was needed to draw most of these out into an organized archive of projects!

     

    Here are some examples of Solar Powered Yard Gadgets to Inspire you:

     

    Chicken Coop Livestream

     

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    The featured example for this month comes from the recent Going Green project competition from Project14. fvan created a solar powered video streamer for his chicken coop as a weekend project. For this project he used a Pi Zero with Pi NoIR and a set of IR LEDs that can be enabled/disabled on demand. An external wifi dongle ensures connectivity from the back of the garden.  The combination of a solar panel and battery pack allows the circuit to remain powered and automatically charge during the day. As fvan tells our own e14phil who was looking to monitor the hedgehog house in his parent's backyard,  power consumption of the Pi is 140mA while idle, 250mA while streaming.  He also discusses the charge from the battery pack storage. View the blog post and read the comments to learn more!

     

     

    Solar Garden Light

     

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    jc2048 was visiting a store in the UK when a couple of solar lights caught his attention. He disassembled the light and took photos of it to post on the community. According to jc2048 the battery is a 1.2V Ni-MH cell.  Because the cell voltage was very low he stuck it on a window sill for a day to soak up sun. By evening it was charged with a terminal voltage (off load) of around 1.3V. Getting 1.32V up to the 3V required to power the LED requires a switching circuit and a choke (coil). Pictured above you can see the schematic he drew. In his blog post he shares images of the waveforms and roughly calculates the coil value from the waveforms. In the comments section jw0752 some really cool images of two styles of solar circuits!

     

    The Clear Walk System

     

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    dougw grand prize winner Design Challenges for the Make Life Accessible is thoughtful, creative, and amazing (everything you would expect in a project from dougw )! The Clear Walk system is also the "Main Deflector" of his Pi IoT project, Star Trek IoT Alcove.  Fellow Trekkie and element14's  danzima highlighted this project in his Star Wars vs Star Trek  project roundup in support of the Geeky Gadgets competition from Project14dougw brought attention to the fact that nearly half of all injury-related deaths for seniors in Canada are caused by falls, seniors are Canada's fastest growing population, and the combined social and health cost of falls on stairs alone has been estimated at $8.8 billion a year.  His solution was to make a solar powered machine that uses solar power to melt snow and ice on walkways and steps, even when the air temperature is well below the freezing point of water. You can see the finished project in his Make Life Accessible - Clear Walk - Melting Snow - blog 19 post.

     

    Modular Farm Blog: Post 9 - Solar Energy Part I

     

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    jmbranco76 won the grand prize in the Vertical Farming design challenge in his  Modular Farm project. His completed project was able to generate and store energy locally using a solar panel, a battery pack and auxiliary hardware modules (MPPT and BMS). All system modules were designed for energy efficiency.  A nutrient dispenser made use of gravitational force to control the amount of nutrients in the tank. Magnetic sensors and solenoid valves made it possible to build reliable and precise systems with minimal energy input. The project is definitely worth checking out in its entirety and demonstrates outside the box thinking such as a Vision System with artificial intelligence.  It's not so much a yard gadget but its worth checking out to see what's possible.

     

    BitScope Blade Uno Raspberry Pi Weather Station Project in Nepal

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    Following the exclusive launch of the BitScope product range at element14 a team led by Prabesh Sapkota and Binod Kandel from the Robotics Association of Nepal built a battery backed solar powered weather station using a BitScope Blade Uno, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino. The project is the end of result of series of STEM workshops led by Australian educator Michelle Jensen in 2016 and run with help from Nepalese enthusiasts.  The Weather Station Project  Weather Station Project demonstrates how you can use low cost electronics components to power electronics and computers in remote areas without access to reliable energy.

     

    Watch the Ben Heck Team do a project revolving around solar power and energy efficiency:

     

     

     

    TI Launchpad Plant Booster Episode

     

    Directions:

    Step 1: Log in or register on element14, it's easy and free.

    Step 2: Post in the comments section below to begin a discussion on your idea. Videos, pictures and text are all welcomed forms of submission.

    Step 3: Submit a blog post of your progress on your project by the end of the month.  You are free to submit as many blog entries as you like until the beginning of the next theme.

     

    You have until October 14th, 12:00 AM CDT to submit your completed project!

     

    Be sure to include video proof of your project!

     

    What's kind of Solar Powered Yard Gadget are you thinking about doing?

     

    Let us know in the comments below!