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The Solar Powered Yard Gadget contest from Project14 challenged you to take a seemingly inexhaustible source of energy in the Sun, and come up with a creative way to harness its power, to create a Yard Gadget. This wasn't too dissimilar than the Going Green project fvan did with his popular Chicken Coop Livestream. At its best, engineering is used to come up with creative solutions that solve problems and make the world a better place. Getting people to think creatively around gadgets for the yard, that taps into a seemingly inexhaustible source of energy in the sun, is what made this project competition interesting.
This contest featured a Tilt Solar Light that carmelito plans on gifting to his cousin who has a couple of patio tables. He demonstrates that having a source of light, while you're enjoying yourself outdoors at night, doesn't require you to rely on disposable batteries or an electrical outlet. With the help of a 3D printer, a trip to the dollar store, and some know how, carmelito shows you how you can have your very own custom branded Project14 Solar Powered Yard Gadget! pettitda worked on really cool project that involved an old solar sidewalk lamp and a wireless sensor. You can use solar power to light up the night with solar powered lighting solutions, or as shabaz shows us in his project, you can use the sun to not only light up your night with lighting, but also light up your life with sound! By building himself a Solar Charger he can do what a lot of people like to do outdoors, listen to music with powered outdoor speakers!
A Problem in Need of a Solution
In less than a century, the year 2088 is a number that gets thrown around, we'll run out of fossil fuels used for energy at the current rate that we're consuming. There's no shortage of consumer electronic devices that people have come to rely on, such as that smartphone in your pocket, so thinking about solar energy, and how you can keep doing the things you love to do outdoors using a clean energy source, is something good to think about whether you participated or not.
The way we use energy in the US, for instance, is not sustainable and the debate got heated this past summer on the best way to switch over the US energy grid system to clean energy sources such as wind and solar by the year 2055. The idea that a solution was within reach is something that first picked up steam in 2015 when a Stanford professor, Mark Jacobson, and his colleagues put forward the a study that suggested that between 2050 and 2055 the US could be entirely powered by "clean" energy sources with "no natural gas, biofuels, nuclear power, or stationary batteries needed.This was a bold claim because as late as 2016, clean energy in the US only accounted for 6.5% in the form of hydropower, 5.6% coming from wind, and a measly 0.9% coming from solar.
Their findings predictably touched off a fierce debate between proponents of the study who found a scientific framework to solve a problem calling for a solution and those who argued that dependence on intermittent energy sources that were unavailable during "peak" usage was insupportable. Opponents argued that adding large amounts of intermittent energy such as wind and solar to the energy grid would be destabilizing as it does not align with energy needs for when people need it the most. They also take issue with what they feel is the omission of nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage, and bioenergy.
The debate isn't likely to end any time soon and the problem is not likely to go away in our lifetime. Every solution that's offered is likely to be met with strong resistance and the only thing scientists can seemingly agree on is that a problem exists that is calling for solution. Its also got a lot of political ramifications and involves powerful interests which means that its likely to get mired in gridlock and the usual tug-of-war which happens with these type of things.
The Solar Powered Yard Gadget Competition
Solving the debate over how to switch over the US energy grid system over to Clean Energy sources such as Wind and Solar is beyond the scope of the Solar Powered Yard Gadget from Project14. 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.
The idea for this month's theme came from dougw . 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 this competition was for simple electronics project that makes use of it
"This is a good project and I am glad you are sharing your research with us." - Community Member Feedback
"Nice project. ...I can see several applications using your basic design." - Community Feedback
shabaz wanted to have a general purpose outdoor solar charger that could be used for (say) powering outdoor speakers, or for evening lighting. He wanted something with plenty of available power but small enough that it didn't require a massive panel. He had several compact solar panels and a few rechargeable batteries to get started with the initial testing. He designed a schematic, did a PCB layout, and made some circuit calculations. While he intends to use larger panels and more batteries in a future project, his Solar Powered Yard Gadget is a compact, general-purpose solar charger for small to mid-powered outdoor projects!
"This is a great concept and a nice build. Your cousin is going to be lucky to have such unique lights for his patio." - Community Feedback
carmelito project shows you that even if you don't have solar panels lying that you can use a trip to the dollar store to make your own Solar Powered Yard Gadget by demonstrating how to make your own Tilt Solar Light. Outside of a trip to the dollar store you'll need access to a 3D printer. The tilt switch is just added before the LED in the circuit. The tilt switch allows you to control when the LED turns on in the dark, instead of always being on. For more info on the Solar Garden Light circuit he suggests checking out Solar Garden Light from jc2048. He uses Fusion 360 for the printed enclosure and to add text on the curved surface for Project14 and Tilt Solar Light!
pettitda did some impressive work and provided good details on the steps for his Upcycled Wireless Sensor Accent Light . His plan was to design a wireless sensor for his old solar sidewalk lamp. He tested the solar panel to see how much power he could get out of it. To do this, he set up a variable resistor load ton the output of the solar panel. His next step was to use the solar panel to charge a supercap so that he could store the energy for reporting the sensor reading on a regular basis. While the competition closed before he had a chance to finish, there's always room for more Solar Powered Yard Gadget on the community!
Badges and Trophies
With the Jive update it appears there were some missing trophies and badges for Project14 so we restored some of the past badges and trophies that were previously awarded. Whenever possible we'll try and use these winners announcements to provide you with updates on Badges and Trophies won as we love gamification on Project14 !
- Solar Powered Yard Gadget: carmelito for Tilt Solar Light and shabaz for Building a Solar Charger
- DIY Test Equipment: shabaz for Cyclops-1000: An Electronic Eye for Rotational Speed Measurement , jw0752 for Process Duration Timer, rsc for Mini Air Jet, and ipv1 for DIY Constant Current Load
- Going Green: idanre1 for IOT Irrigation valve, and fvan for Chicken Coop Livestream
- Geeky Gadgets:fvan for Project Portfolio Badge, dougw for Geeked Out Business Cards, and shabaz for Build your own Torch/Flashlight
- Techno Toys:dougw for Sparky the Power Chick, Molham for DollaS Dancer, and idanre1 for This little bug has a bug
Step Climber Badges:
Earn a Shopping Cart for Your Project Proposal
This time around we only had two winners for Solar Powered Yard Gadgets so there is still a shopping cart up for grabs. So to encourage more participation we'll be offering a shopping cart around the following project competitions that you voted on:
- Wacky Automation Devices
- Simple Electronic Repairs
- Cool LED Display (The Theme You Voted on for November)
The idea is that you would get a $100 shopping cart (the prize for winning a competition) to help you complete a current or upcoming project.
In the comments Below Let us know how you would use $100 to complete your Project14 competition.
While, we can't guarantee that we'll do this every time, the idea is to have at least 3 first place winners with every competition, it made sense to run this experiment now while we had the funds available!
In the Comments Below: Let us Know What Project Competition how a $100 shopping cart would help you complete your next Project14 project!