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Weekend Workshop: How to build a DIY solar charger out of Altoid tins

weekend workshop diy solar charger 061816
Need something to keep you busy this weekend? Look no further. The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. We’ve dug through all the online tutorials on the web, and gone the extra mile to pinpoint projects that are equal parts easy, affordable, and fun. So put on your work pants, grab your tool belt, and head to the garage — it’s time to start building!

There are few feelings capable of leaving some as dejected as having a smartphone with less than 15 percent battery and a full day’s worth of activities ahead — be it an eight-hour work day or weekend outing with your friends. Considering the fact that 15 percent will likely drain itself completely before you even get to your desired location, you don’t simply want a portable charger, you need one. But who wants to spend upwards of $50 on a power bank from Radio Shack?

Certainly not Instructables user Sethaulton who devised an incredibly savvy method for assembling their own portable USB charger out of nothing more than a couple old Altoid tins and some small solar panels. Sethaulton’s finished product — a fully-functional USB charger with an additional power bank — is the best solution for not only keeping your phone charged throughout the day but doing so on the cheap.

To help you get started on this project, we’ve gone ahead and sifted through the Instructables walkthrough to piece together an exact list of tools and materials needed for the build. It is worth noting that this particular walkthrough requires the use of a soldering iron, so it’s imperative you either know how to use one — or know someone who does who can help — before attempting to construct this solar charger. Here’s everything you’ll need to get started:


  • Dremel tool
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue stick
  • Soldering iron


  • Electrical wire
  • Altoids mint tins (2)
  • DPDT switch
  • SPST switch (2)
  • Rechargeable AA batteries (5)
  • MintyBoost 3.0 kit
  • 0.5W solar panels (2)
  • Packing foam
  • Paint — color of your choice

Now that you’ve assembled the necessary build list, it’s time to start building this innovative DIY solar charger. Simply follow Sethaulton’s step-by-step Instructables walkthrough and before long you’ll be the proud owner of an incredibly unique Altoids tin portable USB charger. Happy building!

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