Solar toy energy booster (D.I.Y.) package
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Solar toy energy booster package
With most if not all of the solar toys sold on the market today, they lack the mechanisms to store electrical energy until it is strong enough to drive the motor. That is why they appear not to work most of the time. Only very bright and direct sunlight can produce enough voltage to instantly drive the motor.
The idea of using a capacitor to trickle charge the electricity generated (in this case from the solar panels) and store it up to a level which can power a motor is not new. Storing electrical energy in a capacitor to drive the mechanisms (e.g. motors and gears) inside the solar toy is like storing up water droplets in a bucket and then letting it all pure out at once. That is the only way to drive something that needs a lot of force to turn, like a water wheel.
How to use the Brainchild Solar toy energy booster package
Children and student alike can convert any small electrical device into a solar driven toy or robot which can work under a proper light source. For instance, you can put it under a reading lamp (be careful not to make contacts with the light bulb because some light bulbs can be very hot) and wait for few minutes and turn it on to see you product actually works.
The relevant circuit and instructions to assemble on an electrical board is shown here. You would need soldering skill for this project and I would recommend it for older students with practice and proficiency in soldering techniques. Ask your technical teacher for help for this part of the project.
The electricity (Direct Current) storage mechanism is really two individual circuits combine into one, the left circuit (Fig1) charges up the capacitor while the right circuit (Fig 2) runs the motor. The Diodes (shaped in a triangle and a line stops the capacitor from over charging).
The combined circuit which you need to build (see Fig 3) has a switch in the middle which can turn either circuit on but not the same time.
The components provided in the kit are listed below:
1- 2.5V, 3.3F Capacitor
1- 4.5cm x 4.5cm electrical Board
1- Double Pole DF Electrical swith
2- Electrical Diodes suitable for solar panels of around 3-6 V
Solar Toy car not included
After finishing the circuit, you can test it by putting it under a reading lamp and applying the positive and negative led of a multi-meter on either leg of the capacitor and watch the voltage go up. You can now mount the completed circuit with on the back of the solar car or robot provided and starts to have fun.
Solar Car Race
After you have completed the circuit and mounted it on the back of the solar car or robot you would most likely want to have a race. To make a racing circuit, you would need very straight and flat tracks. May I suggest going to your local Ikea store and buy any straight piece of bookshelf (about $300 for a 2meter bookshelf) and modify it by gluing plastics on the two sides. Now you can have a straight road for your solar car to travel without it going all over the place.
Here is an example of what could be like with the solar race in action. You also need a stop watch, electrical tapes to mark the start and finish and an impartial judge.
Hints to speed up you solar car in the Solar Car Race
To improve the performance of a vehicle either real or just a toy solar car, there are a number of standard modifications you can make to the vehicle. These are:
1) Reduce the weight of the vehicle because this will allow the energy of your motor to concentrate on speeding up and not moving the weight of the vehicle.
2) Reduce friction in all the parts that waste energy of your motor.
3) Increase the size of your motor if that is possible or allowed.
4) Reduce the traction of the wheels which also take away some of the energy from the motor.
5) Improve stability when the vehicle is in motion, in this case do things to your model solar car that can make it go straight and not hit the sides.
6) Reduce the air drag by mounting a more streamline outer shell. (In this Solar Toy Car race, I would safely say that the speed the toy car is travelling will not have much effect on the air drag hence I would ignore this modification and emphasize on the points above)
Here is where I will stop and let you figure out how to incorporate the above improvements on your solar car.
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