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The Easter Solar Engine
by TinkerJim on November 9, 2009
Table of Contents

License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Intro: The Easter Solar Engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

step 1: Easter Engine Circuit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

step 2: Stripboard Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

step 3: Trigger Voltages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

step 4: Capacitors, Motors, and Solar Cells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

step 5: External Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

step 6: Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

step 7: NPN Easter Engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

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Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)

Intro: The Easter Solar Engine


A Solar Engine is a circuit that takes in and stores electrical energy from solar cells, and when a predetermined amount has accumulated, it switches on to drive a motor
or other actuator. A solar engine is not really an 'engine' in itself, but that is its name by established usage. It does provide motive force, and does work in a repeating
cycle, so the name is not a complete misnomer. Its virtue is that it provides usable mechanical energy when only meager or weak levels of sunlight, or artificial room
light, are present. It harvests or gathers, as it were, bunches of low grade energy until there is enough for an energy giving meal for a motor. And when the motor has
expended the serving of energy, the solar engine circuit goes back into its gathering mode. It is an ideal way to intermittently power models, toys, or other small gadgets
on very low light levels.

It is a great idea which was first thought up and reduced to practice by one Mark Tilden, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He came up with an elegantly
simple two-transistor solar engine circuit that made tiny solar powered robots possible.

Since then, a number of enthusiasts have thought up solar engine circuits with various features and improvements. The one described herein has proven itself to be very
versatile and robust. It is named after the day on which its circuit diagram was finalized and entered into the author's Workshop Notebook, Easter Sunday, 2001. Over
the years since, the author has made and tested several dozen in various applications and settings. It works well in low light or high, with large storage capacitors or
small. And the circuit uses only common discrete electronic components: diodes, transistors, resistors and a capacitor.

This Instructable describes the basic Easter Engine circuit, how it works, construction suggestions, and shows some applications. A basic familiarity with electronics and
soldering up circuits is assumed. If you haven't done anything like this but are eager to have a go, it would be well to first tackle something simpler. You might try the
The FLED Solar Engine in Instructables or the "Solar Powered Symet" described in the book "Junkbots, Bugbots, & Bots on Wheels", which is an excellent introduction to
making projects such as this one.

Image Notes Image Notes


1. When a predetermined level of energy has been collected in the capacitor, the 1. The Easter engine circuit uses only a few resistors, diodes, and three
Easter engine circuit switches on, connecting the motor to the capacitor for a brief transistors.
run.
2. This solar cell collects useful energy at low light levels.
3. After the motor has run a bit on the stored energy, the circuit disconnects itself
from the motor, or other load device, so the capacitor can recharge and the cycle
can repeat.
4. Energy from the solar cell is stored in this capacitor.

step 1: Easter Engine Circuit


This is the schematic diagram for the Easter engine together with a list of the electronic components that make it up. The design of the circuit was inspired by the
"Micropower Solar Engine" by Ken Huntington and the "Suneater I" by Stephen Bolt. In common with them, the Easter engine has a two-transistor trigger-and-latch
section, but with a slightly different resistor network interconnecting them. This section consumes very little power in itself when activated, but allows enough current to
be taken out to drive a single transistor that switches on a typical motor load.

Here is how the Easter engine works. Solar cell SC slowly charges up the storage capacitor C1. Transistors Q1 and Q2 form a latching trigger. Q1 is triggered on
when the voltage of C1 reaches the level of conductance through the diode string D1-D3. With two diodes and one LED as shown in the diagram, the trigger voltage is
about 2.3V, but more diodes can be inserted to raise this level if desired.

When Q1 turns on, the base of Q2 is pulled up through R4 to turn it on also. Once it is on, it maintains base current via R1 through Q1 to keep it on. The two transistors
are thus latched on until the supply voltage from C1 falls to around 1.3 or 1.4V.

When both Q1 and Q2 are latched on, the base of the "power" transistor QP is pulled down through R3, turning it on to drive the motor M, or other load device. Resistor
R3 also limits the base current though QP, but the value shown is adequate to turn the load on hard enough for most purposes. If a current of more than say 200mA to
the load is desired, R3 can be reduced and a heavier duty transistor can be used for QP, such as a 2N2907. The values of the other resistors in the circuit were chosen
(and tested) to limit the current used by the latch to a low level.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
step 2: Stripboard Layout
A very compact embodiment of the Easter engine can be constructed on ordinary stripboard as shown in this illustration. This is a view from the component side with the
copper strip tracks below shown in gray. The board is only 0.8" by 1.0", and only four of the tracks must be cut as shown by the white circles in the tracks.

The circuit depicted here has one green LED D1 and two diodes D2 and D3 in the trigger string for a turn-on voltage of about 2.5V. The diodes are positioned upright with
the cathode end upward, that is, oriented toward the negative bus strip on the right hand edge of the board. An additional diode can be easily installed in place of the
jumper shown from D1 to D2 to bump up the turn-on point.

The turn-off voltage can also be raised as described in the next step.

Of course, other board formats can be used. The fourth photo below shows an Easter engine built on a small general purpose prototyping board. It is not as compact
and orderly as the stripboard layout, but on the other hand it leaves lots of room for working, and space for adding diodes or multiple storage capacitors. One could also
use just plain perforated phenolic board with the necessary connections wired and soldered below.

Image Notes
1. Less than one square inch when built on stripboard.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
Image Notes
1. This is an Easter engine built on a DATAK "Experimenter's I. C. Protoboard" .
Radio Shack supplies a similar board (#276-159).

step 3: Trigger Voltages


The table below shows the approximate turn-on voltages for various combinations of diodes and LEDs that have been tried in the the trigger string of various Easter
engines. All of these trigger combinations can be fit onto the stripboard layout of the previous step, but the 4-diode and 1 LED combination would have to have a diode-
to-diode joint soldered above the board.

The LEDs used in making the table measurements were older low intensity reds. Most other newer red LEDs that have been tried work about the same, with maybe a
variation of only about plus or minus 0.1V in their trigger level. Color has an influence: a green LED gave a trigger level of about 0.2V higher than a comparable red. A
white LED with no diodes in series gave a turn-on point of 2.8V. Flashing LEDs are not appropriate for this engine circuit.

A useful feature of the Easter engine is that the turning-off voltage can be raised without affecting the turning-on level by inserting one or more diodes in series with the
base of Q2. With a single 1N914 diode connected from the junction of R4 and R5 to the base of Q2, the circuit turns off when the voltage drops to around 1.9 or 2.0V.
With two diodes, the turn-off voltage measured approximately 2.5V; with three diodes, it turned off at about 3.1V. On the stripboard layout, the diode or diode string can
be located in place of the jumper shown above the resistor R5; the second illustration below shows one diode D0 thus installed. Note that the cathode end must go to the
base of Q2.

Thus it is possible to effectively use the Easter engine with motors that do not run well near the basic turn-off of about 1.3 or 1.4V. The solar engine in the toy SUV in the
photo below was made to turn on at 3.2V and turn off at 2.0V because in that voltage range the motor has good power.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
Image Notes
1. Diode D0 installed here raises the turn-off voltage of the circuit.

Image Notes Image Notes


1. This toy "Jeepster" SUV has been driving in circles on our living room floor for 1. Controlling the SUV is an Easter engine with a 1 Farad storage capacitor.
years.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
step 4: Capacitors, Motors, and Solar Cells
The capacitor used in the toy SUV is like the one shown on the left in the illustration below. It is a full 1 Farad rated for use at up to 5V. For lighter duty applications or
shorter motor runs, smaller capacitors give shorter cycle times and, of course, shorter runs. The voltage listed on a capacitor is the maximum voltage to which it should
be charged; exceeding that rating shortens the life of the capacitor. Many of the super capacitors intended specifically for memory backup have a higher internal
resistance and so do not release their energy rapidly enough to drive a motor.

A solar engine such as the Easter engine is fine for driving motors that have an internal static resistance of about 10 Ohms or more. The most common variety of toy
motors have much lower internal resistance (2 Ohms is typical) and so will drain all the energy from the storage capacitor before the motor can really get going. The
motors shown in the second photo below all work fine. They can often be found as surplus or new from electronic suppliers. Suitable motors can also be found in junked
tape recorders or VCRs. They can usually be singled out as having a diameter larger than its length.

Choose a solar cell or cells that will provide a voltage somewhat higher than the turn-on point of your engine under the light levels that your application will see. The real
beauty of the solar engine is that it can collect low grade apparently useless energy and then release it in useful doses. They are most impressive when, from just sitting
on a desk or coffee table or even on the floor, they suddenly pop to life. If you want your engine to work indoors, or on cloudy days, or in the shade as well as in the
open, use cells designed for indoor use. These cells are usually of the amorphous thin film on glass variety. They give a healthy voltage under low light, and the current
corresponds to the illumination level and their size. Solar calculators use this kind of cell, and you can take them from old (or new!) calculators, but they are quite small
these days and so their current output is low. The voltage of calculator cells ranges from 1.5 up to 2.5 volts in low light, and about a half a volt more in the sun. You'll
want a number of them connected in series-parallel. Wire Glue is excellent for attaching fine wire leads to these glass cells. Some solar rechargeable keychain
flashlights have a large cell that works well indoors with solar engines. At the present time, Images SI Inc. carries new indoor cells of a size suitable for directly driving
a solar engine from a single cell. Their "outdoor" solar cell of the same type works quite well indoors as well.

More commonly available from many sources is the crystalline or polycrystalline type of solar cell. These types put out a lot of current in sunshine, but are specifically
intended for life in the sun. Some do modestly well in lower light, but most are pretty dismal in a room lit by flourescents.

Image Notes
1. This junked CD drive unit has two motors that are good candidates for driving
with a solar engine circuit. This is one of them.
2. This looks like another motor suitable for a solar engine driver.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
step 5: External Connections
To make the connections from the circuit board to the solar cell and motor, pin tail sockets taken from inline strips are very convenient. The pin sockets can be easily
emancipated from the plastic setting in which they come by careful use of nippers. The tails can be snipped off after the pins are soldered in the board.

Solid 24 gage wire plugs into the sockets nice and secure, but usually externals are connected via flexible stranded hookup wire. The same sockets can be soldered to
the ends of these wires to serve as little "plugs" that fit into the sockets on board beautifully.

Board sockets can also be provided into which the storage capacitor can be plugged. It can mount directly into the sockets, or be remotely located and connected via
wire leads plugged to the board. This makes it possible to easily change and try different capacitors until the best one is found for the application and its average lighting
conditions. After the best value of C1 is found, it still can be permanently soldered in place, but rarely has this been found necessary if good quality sockets are used.

Image Notes Image Notes


1. Single-in-line sockets (SIPs) are supplied embedded in plastic strips. With 1. Some styles of sockets will require enlarging the holes in the circuit board to
care and a little practice, the plastic body can be carefully cracked away with get a firm fit. This can be easily done by hand with a drill bit held in a pin vise.
nippers to release individual sockets.

Image Notes Image Notes


1. This underside view shows a socket properly fitted in the board prior to 1. This is a partly finished Easter engine showing the sockets and some of the
soldering. The excess pin tail can be clipped off. electronic components soldered in place. The red and blue marks on the board
identify the positive and negative connection points for the solar cell and the
storage capacitor. The black marks indicate where the copper strips have been
cut away on the underside.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
Image Notes
1. The is how the underside of the circuit board looks at this stage.

step 6: Applications
Perhaps our favorite application of an Easter engine is in the toy Jeepster SUV illustrated in Step 3. A thin plywood bottom was cut to fit the body, and large foam
wheels were made to give it a "Monster Wheel" look, but in operation it is quite docile. The underside is shown in the photo below. The axles are set to make the car run
in a tight circle (because we have a small living room) and the front wheel drive setup greatly helps it stick to the intended circular path. The gear train was taken from a
commercial hobby motor unit shown in the next photo, but it was fitted out with a 13 Ohm motor.

A 1 Farad super capacitor gives the car about 10 seconds of run time each cycle, which takes it almost completely around a 3 foot diameter circle. It takes a while to
charge up on cloudy days or when the car happens to stop in a dark spot. Anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes is usual during the day in our living room. If it finds direct
sunlight coming in a window, it recharges in about two minutes. It travels around in a corner of the room and has logged many revolutions since being built in 2004.

Another amusing application of the Easter engine is "Walker", a robot-like creature that waddles along by means of two arms, or rather, legs. He uses the same motor
and gear train setup as the Jeepster with the same 76:1 ratio. One of his legs is purposely shorter than the other so that he walks in a circle. Walker also carries a
blinking LED so we know where he is on the floor after dark.

An simple use for a solar engine is as a flag waver or spinner. The one shown in the 5th photo below can sit on a desk or shelf and every now and then it will suddenly,
and rather wildly, spin a little ball around on a string thereby attracting attention to itself. Some embodiments of these simple spinners had a jingle bell on the string.
Others had a stationary bell mounted nearby so that it would get smacked by the flailing ball - but that tends to become annoying after a few sunny days!

Image Notes
1. The gear train for the red Jeepster SUV came from this kit, but the frame was
modified so a motor suitable for solar engine power could be fitted.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
Image Notes Image Notes
1. This Jeep is the younger brother of old red. It has smaller wheels and the 1. "Walker" spends every day alternately soaking up sun and hobbling around in
gear ratio is correspondingly lower. circles.
2. This LED blinks all night so that we know where the car has stopped for the
night and won't accidentally step on it (horrible thought!) in the dark.

Image Notes
1. Tucked neatly away in the base of the spinner is an Easter engine with a
10000 microFarad storage capacitor.

Image Notes
1. The solar cell powering this spinner came from a keychain flashlight.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
step 7: NPN Easter Engine
The Easter engine can also be made in the complementary or 'dual' version, with two NPN transistors and one PNP. The complete schematic is shown in the first
illustration here. The stripboard layout can have the same component locations and the same track cuts as the first or 'PNP' version, the essential changes being
switched transistor types and reversed polarity of the solar cell, storage capacitor, diodes and LEDs. The NPN stripboard layout is shown in the second illustration and
incorporates an extra diode D4 for a higher turn-on voltage, and a diode D0 from the base of transistor Q2 to the junction of resistors R4 and R5 for a higher turn-off
voltage as well.

Related Instructables

The FLED Solar


Solar powered Solar Powered Cheap Easy Solar Powered Dooms Day
Symet (video) Battle Symet - Engine by Solar Powered Miniball Survival Box by
by porkisgreat BEAM Style by TXTCLA55 Robot by Wannabe by TXTCLA55
Solarbotics leevonk Solarbotics

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Comments
30 comments Add Comment

wareneutron says: Oct 6, 2010. 1:05 AM REPLY


your brain is holymoly

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
wareneutron says: Oct 6, 2010. 1:03 AM REPLY
it is best

caret says: May 20, 2010. 10:33 AM REPLY


Hi! what program did you use to draw the board above??? Sorry my bad English :D

Thanks in advance!!!

TinkerJim says: May 21, 2010. 7:19 AM REPLY


It was done in VectorWorks.

Tigrezno says: May 5, 2010. 3:30 PM REPLY


Why are you using a "double latching" system? That part is not clear to me.

Is it possible to remove Q2?

TinkerJim says: May 6, 2010. 7:14 AM REPLY


It is not a double latch. It is a single latch formed by two transistors. Each transistor in the pair is set up to feed the base of the other. In that way, once
the first transistor turns on, even a little, the second one gets turned on by it, and then it in turn turns on the first even more, and then the first turns on the
second even more, and so on.Thus both transistors find themselves locked on. This condition persists until the supply voltage drops below the combined
diode drop inherent in the transistors. Now read Step 1 again and follow along in the circuit diagram and it should be clear.

Robootzz says: Feb 17, 2010. 1:24 AM REPLY


Hello! im trying to build this one myself. but i come across some problems, so i hope i can get some help. ive built it up like this, but my capacitor wont stop
recharging. it just keeps going and going. i suppose it has to do with the diodestring. however i have the components that it says in the circuit. and is it true,
that the more resistance i have in that string, the more the capacitor will charge?

thanks

TinkerJim says: Feb 17, 2010. 7:20 PM REPLY


It might be that the solar cell isn't producing a voltage high enough to trigger the diode string. Measure the voltage output of the cell you are using and
make sure it is at least half a volt above the diode string trigger voltage as listed in the table in Step 3. You can also try fewer or different diodes in the
string. It could be also that the circuit has triggered but the capacitor has a high internal resistance not allowing it to drive the motor but just slowly drain
through it - this happens with capacitors that are intended for memory backup. I often test solar engine circuits by feeding from batteries through a
resistor - about 1 or 2K. Monitor the voltage at the capacitor to get a better idea of what is happening. If you still have trouble, send a photo if you can or
a sketch of your circuit setup with the values and types of components you are using.

Robootzz says: Feb 18, 2010. 2:56 AM REPLY


thanks for the input. yeah, i think the solar cell is too weak. therefore ive tried with a battery, to just load the capacitor, and the see how the drain
goes. and its like you said, it drains sloooow. but it seems to just drain, and never stop. what decides when the capacitor should charge again? cant
seem to figure that out.

TinkerJim says: Feb 18, 2010. 8:46 AM REPLY


The circuit will recycle when the voltage across the capacitor drops below 1.3 or 1.4 volts as described in Step 1. If yours is not turning off, it
means the supply current is exceeding the output current. Increase the resistance in your battery feed enough, and the circuit will cycle. Of
course this assumes a suitable capacitor. Look at Step 4 to see what kind work well in solar engines. The caps must have a low ESR value like
the Powerstor PA series. Look at www.mouser.com/powerstor and get a PA-5R0V224R or PA-5R0v474R - these work great in all solar
engines. The motor must be right also -Step 4 for more details again. If you still have problems, go to the Intro Step and look into the FLED or
Symet solar engines to gain more experience.

Robootzz says: Feb 24, 2010. 11:52 AM REPLY


tried to pm you, but it wont work. very nice. although i have one problem. everything works like a charm, until the capacitor should begin to
discharge. i have a voltage over the load, but it wont drop (not even if i short circuit it). nothing ive tried have worked.

TinkerJim says: Feb 25, 2010. 2:47 PM REPLY


What does "tried to pm you" mean? To send a private message? That would be the best way to handle your problem, but I don't know
how to initiate that. Maybe you can explain how to do it

Robootzz says: Feb 25, 2010. 3:35 PM REPLY


yes. i tried to take this over the "private message" system. but i couldnt. it wouldnt send. so instead i wrote to you here. the problem is
that the capacitor wont discharge. i have the components you have, but there seems to be a problem with the discharging part. as i
said i have a voltage over the load ( a motor). but it wont drive, and the capacitor wont discharge.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
gangeya says: Jan 7, 2010. 11:36 AM REPLY
Your 'structable was great, infact it was awesome!
I too had been working on a SolarEngine n was confused regarding many points. I need someone to prove my points regarding motor selection and turn on
voltage. And you did it so very neatly!
Keep up the good work!

egbertfitzwilly says: Jan 3, 2010. 5:17 PM REPLY


Thank you for an excellent instructable. If I used a toroid instead of a capacitor at C1 can I integrate a joule thief circuit to get power amplification? Is there a
benefit to doing that? Could I put rechargeable batteries in this circuit and get 24 hour operation?

TinkerJim says: Jan 4, 2010. 8:06 AM REPLY


The circuit would not act as a Joule thief with a toroid in place of C1. However, you could use a Joule Thief as a source for a solar engine, that is, in
place of the solar cell. Instead of connecting the Joule Thief to an LED, make the connections to the solar engine through a diode and a maybe a
resistor. It would supply the solar engine and you could thus operate a motor - intermittently - from a very weak battery.

Are you asking if a rechargeable battery could replace C1? The tight range of voltage variation would make it hard to set up. There are other circuits to
solar charge batteries and then have them work at night or with say a 555 timer.

egbertfitzwilly says: Jan 4, 2010. 2:20 PM REPLY


Actually I'm just trying to figure if I can leverage this design for my 3rd world 1 kW power supply project. Basically the strategy is power multiplication,
use a small amount of power from MFCs to charge some batteries, use the batteries in an electrolysis device to create sodium hydroxide from
saltwater then use the sodium hydroxide in a aluminum oxide fuel cell to get usable juice.

With some animal waste, salt and surplus aluminum i think a sustainable, residental or hamlet power supply is readily available.

I was thinking of a joule thief on the MFC array for charging but am certainly open to any thoughts you might have.

Scubabubba says: Jan 4, 2010. 5:52 PM REPLY


Aluminum oxide fuel cells may not be all that "sustainable" -- it requires a lot of energy to extract that metallic aluminum from it's mineral source.
That's why so much aluminum is recycled. I guess if you're using something like used aluminum foil that is hard to recycle that would be a better
use than chucking it in the dump.

Scubabubba says: Jan 4, 2010. 6:09 PM REPLY


"its" not "it's". Sorry.

mhkabir says: Jan 3, 2010. 9:56 PM REPLY


Yes, but a battery charger would be necessary and a heavy duty capacitor would have to be installed to suppress the current spikes from the joule theif.

drj113 says: Jan 4, 2010. 1:42 PM REPLY


Wonderful project - Beautifully clear. The use of a discrete circuit makes it much more accessable to those who have a junk box full of parts - Most BEAM
robots use a voltage sensor IC, which seems kind of overkill to me.

Well Done!

KT Gadget says: Jan 4, 2010. 9:59 AM REPLY


I have some capacitors that are 10 Farad and 2.5V and they would be perfect for this project. Although the max they can go is 20F at 5V because of burnout
at higher voltage (so 2 capacitors in series and 2 pairs in parallel). The size of these caps are a little longer than the biggest caps in computers, but they can
power a 6V electric screwdriver for small projects and can be powered via USB.

GreenD says: Jan 3, 2010. 3:41 PM REPLY


haha look at that old school led in pic #4.

Ok so, just in general what type of diodes can you use for this?? How do you figure out the voltage required for diodes?? Sorry I'm noob!

TinkerJim says: Jan 4, 2010. 8:18 AM REPLY


Instead of being thrown out as being too dim and unwanted, the old LEDs are quite happy to be put to work in trigger strings!

The very common small signal diode 1N914 are the ones I use. They work fine for this low voltage low current application.

geeklord says: Jan 4, 2010. 5:22 AM REPLY


So, is it some sort of electronic sin to have an NPN in a configuration OTHER than grounded emitter? Why did you have to switch the schematic around in
the end for the NPN, couldn't you have just left it in the same place with the collector at positive?

biker_trash_1340 says: Jan 3, 2010. 4:25 PM REPLY


Nice Job, Very good info

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/
xtremd says: Jan 3, 2010. 3:21 PM REPLY
Beautifully clear explanation and schematics! Good work!

lukaj2003 says: Jan 3, 2010. 2:52 PM REPLY


This project is set out very clearly and has room for experimentation and multiple applications. I wish I could say the same about other instructables...
Great project! Keep up the good work!

Kiteman says: Jan 3, 2010. 1:49 PM REPLY


Very nice project - I especially like the clear layouts for the normal perfboard, rather than expecting people to make up custom PCBs.
And the little foam-wheeled car is just cute!

Bongmaster says: Jan 3, 2010. 12:57 PM REPLY


neat :)

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Easter-Solar-Engine/