Up next in How to Do Fun Tech & Science Projects (52 videos)
School science fair coming up? Don't worry: We've got step-by-step instructions to dozens of science projects in this Howcast video series, including how to build an erupting volcano, how to make glow-in-the-dark art, how to make a weather barometer, how to make disappearing ink, how to make 3-D glasses, and how to make a marshmallow gun.
You Will Need
- Solar-powered garden lights
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Wire cutters
- Wire stripper
- Voltage meter
- Soldering materials
- USB-powered drink cooler
- Hot glue gun
- Styrofoam cooler
- 5V regulator (optional)
Remove the solar panel
Disassemble the garden lights with the screwdriver and carefully remove the solar panel, which will have 2 wires attached. Using the wire cutters, cut off the ends, and then remove 1/4 inch of the plastic coating with the wire stripper.
Test the voltage
With the solar panel in direct sunlight, touch the positive probe of the voltage meter to the solar panel’s positive wire and the negative probe to the negative wire. Check the voltage meter screen to see if the output is 5 volts.
Get 5 volts
If your solar panel doesn't generate 5 volts, add another solar panel by soldering the positive wire of the first solar panel to the negative wire of the second one.
Add a diode
To prevent any electricity from flowing back into the solar panel, solder a diode to the solar panel’s positive wire. Make sure the diode's stripe faces away from the panel.
Prepare USB drink cooler
Cut off the flat end of the USB cord on the USB-powered drink cooler, exposing its wires. Strip about 1/4 inch of the coating on the red wire and the black wire, ignoring any other wire colors.
Attach the solar panel for solar power
Solder the red wire of the USB cord to the positive wire of the solar panel and the black wire to the negative wire to attach the solar panel, and place the device in direct sunlight to make sure it powers up. Then, position the solar panel neatly onto the underside of the drink cooler and hot glue it into place.
Prepare the beer can cooler
Place the drink cooler on the lid of the Styrofoam cooler so that the cooling element is facing down. Trace the outline of the drink cooler onto the Styrofoam lid and cut out the outline.
Finish the beer can cooler
With the solar panels facing up, fit the drink cooler into the lid until half of it protrudes through the bottom. Then hot glue it into place. Congratulations: You've got yourself a beer can cooler. Here's to solar power!