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Building a solar garden light

Posted by Matthew Little on

This blog post covers my prototyping of a simple solar garden light. I wanted to make a simple kit to convert a jam jar into a solar powered garden light. These kind of lights are readily available, but they usually contain a nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) battery (usually a 1.2V AAA sized cell). I have seen a lot of these lights which use cheap solar panels and the batteries have failed due to being left for a long time (over-winter) with a discharged cell. I thought I could use an ultra-capacitor for energy storage, as these can be left for a long...

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Developing the Solar Soil Sensor

Posted by Matthew Little on

My houseplants have been dying due to a mixture of over and under watering. So I thought something to help stop that would be good. And even better if it's solar powered. I've been working with a solar powered ATTiny85 for the Solar 8 Ball and Solar Dice kits and thought I could use the same basic circuit to implement a solar powered moisture sensor. So I came up with the Solar Soil Sensor. This blog post highlights some of the design decisions and how I implemented everything. Moisture Sensing The first this was to figure out a good way...

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Workshop Environmental Monitoring Project

Posted by Matthew Little on

I have built an environmental monitoring unit for my workshop. This measures: Air Temperature, Humidity & Pressure PM2.5 and PM10 Particulate values Radiation levels It shows the data on a small OLED screen. There is a large LED RGB display which changes colour if data goes above warning levels. This unit sends data to AdafruitIO via MQTT messages. This is all based on the 'Cheeseboard', which is an ESP8266 development board, based upon the NodeMCU. Pretty pleased with the end result. You can view my data here on Adafruit IO dashboard. (Please note: there are a few blips in the data...

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Inventors Kit 5: Solar Light

Posted by Matthew Little on

We are going to make a light that is powered by the sun! We need to use the little LED which is in your kit: it has a clear plastic case and two small wires. An LED is a Light Emitting Diode. It is a very efficient light. You might see some on devices around your house. They can be in lots of different colours: you probably have one on the front of your TV or on a radio. Some torches and house lights also use LEDs now. An LED has a positive (+) and a negative (-) lead and...

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Inventors Kit 4: Solar Spinner

Posted by Matthew Little on

We are now going to use the solar panel to power our motor with the sun, no batteries required! This time we want to use two cable connector block to connect the solar panel directly to the motor, as shown here. If you put on the motor connector to the motor then you can see the motor spinning more easily. Takes this to a window or (if you can) outside and try pointing the solar panel at the sun. What happens to the motor? Does it start to turn? If not - is it a sunny day? Are you pointing...

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