Solar powered boombox

DIY vs. Off the shelf



We'll get back to the nuclear crisis in Japan later in the week, but I needed something a little lighter for the middle of the week!

Pool and beach season is only a few months away, and aside from sunblock (I'm light skinned and adverse to skin cancer) and a cold drink, nothing goes better at the pool than some tunes!  The problem I had last year is that there are few electrical outlets at my neighborhood pool, and it's a pain to find the large "d" batteries required to power my the cheap boom box I have.  And the batteries I do find only power the boom box for a few hours.

So I started thinking about how I could use solar power panels to make a boom box that I could use to play my iPod!

After a little searching on the web, I found 2 solutions:

  1. Build my own solar powered boombox
  2. Buy a solar powered boom box

Instructables has a great post up on building your own DIY solar powered boombox.  This system is composed of:

  • Solar panel
  • Batteries
  • Digital amplifier
  • Speakers
  • MP3 Player

Here is another good page for a DIY solar powered boombox.

I'm thinking about building my own solar powered boombox because I think it would be a great learning experience and a good conversation piece, but I'm not sure if the money I spend on all the parts and the time I spend learning the circuitry and assembling the boombox would be any less than I would spend if I bought one from a manufacturer.

Luckily I have that option because I could buy the Etón Soulra Solar Powered Sound System for iPod and iPhone (Black) for about $170 on Amazon.  Yes, this sounds a bit pricey, but you have to account for the "cool" factor right?

The Soulra can plug into the wall outlet and charge the battery for about 4 hours, but as this video review from the WSJ on the Eton Soulra points out, if you use the built-in solar panel you can extend the battery life for 8 hours!  The key is that the Soulra has to be in direct sunlight to charge, but that shouldn't be a problem if you are at the pool or beach.

The biggest problems with solar sound systems seems to be that the solar panel used often isn't large enough to power the boombox on its own (without charging the battery beforehand) and nobody wants to lug around a solar panel that they can't carry in one hand.  Maybe someone needs to invent a solar umbrella that could power a boombox...and maybe a blender!  I'm going to continue researching this idea, but if I don't end up shelling out the dough to get  a solar powered sound system, at the very least I'm going to make sure to get rechargeable batteries for my boombox!



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Neat idea but apparently the Instructables guy failed Solar 101! (Image on the left) He put a handle across the top of the solar panel and did not consider that shading the solar panel will prevent it from generating power! Duh! An ideal boom box would allow the panel to be tilted toward the sun to get maximum power and reduce the size and cost of the panel.
ckmapawatt's picture
Good catch Guy! I missed that one.

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