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€8,436 pledged of €10,000 goal
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€8,436 pledged of €10,000 goal
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About this project

PiSolMan is a highly integrated electronic module designed to continuously power the Raspberry Pi Zero from a 12 V battery and a solar panel. It is also capable of providing key information in terms of current, voltage, power and overall power efficiency. Intended to be as efficient as possible, the module implements highly sophisticated integrated circuits in order to achieve an overall efficiency of up to 90%. Its compact size makes it ideal for space sensitive applications with the Raspberry Pi Zero.

 

PiSolMan Module Description
PiSolMan Module Description

 

PiSolMan Dashboard: Controlling PiSolMan with a web interface running on the Raspberry Pi.
PiSolMan Dashboard: Controlling PiSolMan with a web interface running on the Raspberry Pi.

  

In almost every battery operated system it is essential to monitor energy consumption at all times. PiSolMan turns out to be a perfect choice when implementing solar powered projects with the Raspberry Pi. The variety of application where it could be used is endless. It is only limited by your imagination. 

Powering Weather Station

PiSolMan can be a very useful module to implement a simple solar powered weather station with your Raspberry Pi. Without precise information about the battery state, many times the system runs out of power without previous notice, often when most needed. However, having constant information about the battery state, power consumption, or even charger efficiency you can manage the system in such a way that power is saved when possible and used when most needed. 

For example, when using a Wi-Fi or 3G module the majority of the power is consumed by these devices. With a simple script running on the Raspberry, the connection could be disconnected and used only when needed based on the power level information provided by PiSolMan.

Powering Wireless Camera

Wireless Camera applications are very demanding in terms of energy. Although the Raspberry Pi Zero energy consumption is relatively small, when adding the Pi Camera module and a wireless modem (3G/4G or WiFi) the situation changes drastically. PiSolMan is capable of powering such a system from solar energy while continuously monitoring and optimising the energy consumption.

PiSolMan powering Raspberry Pi Zero + Pi Camera + Wi-Fi + 11.1 V Li-Poly Battery + 10 W Solar Panel
PiSolMan powering Raspberry Pi Zero + Pi Camera + Wi-Fi + 11.1 V Li-Poly Battery + 10 W Solar Panel

Similar Applications

  • Remote Automation System
  • Remote Irrigation System
  • Remote IoT applications
  • And much more...

 

PiSolMan Prototype Assembly
PiSolMan Prototype Assembly

PiSolMan has numerous advantages compared to current solutions:

  • Compact size (6.5 cm x 3.05 cm) matching the Raspberry Pi Zero dimensions
  • 40 pin surface mount connector that allows for stacking others shields or HATs
  • Only 3 GPIO needed (2 for I2C, 1 for Interrupt)
  • Completely autonomous operation
  • Configurable alarms depending on certain voltage, current or power thresholds
  • Battery charging capability for 12 V Lithium-Ion/Polymer and Lead-Acid batteries
  • 5 V high efficiency DC-DC converter to power the Raspberry Pi
  • Current and voltage monitor for monitoring the power delivered by the solar panel, the power consumed or delivered by the battery and the power consumed by the Raspberry Pi
  • Onboard Real Time Clock (RTC)
  • I2C serial interface to retrieve the overall power status information
  • Compatible with any of the Raspberry Pi models with the 40 pins header (PI 3 Model B, PI 2 Model B, PI 1 Model A+, PI Zero)
  • Compatible with any 5V device like Arduino or BeagleBone
PiSolMan Module + Raspberry Pi Zero + 11.1 V Li-Poly Battery + 10 W Solar Panel
PiSolMan Module + Raspberry Pi Zero + 11.1 V Li-Poly Battery + 10 W Solar Panel

 

PiSolMan Module + Raspberry Pi Zero + 12 V Lead-Acid Battery + 10 W Solar Panel
PiSolMan Module + Raspberry Pi Zero + 12 V Lead-Acid Battery + 10 W Solar Panel

Why use 12 V Battery

After an extensive consideration it was decided to use a 12 V battery, instead of typically used 3.7 V, in order to have more flexibility and allow for using both, Lithium-Ion/Polymer and Lead-Acid batteries. In the following table you can appreciate a list of commercially available batteries and their respective price per Watt. It can be seen that for these particular set of batteries, the cost per Watt for the Lead-Acid ones is around half the price of the Lithium ones.

Example of commercially available batteries
Example of commercially available batteries

Note that the intention is not to establish which type of battery is better, but just to emphasise that in some cases Lead-acid batteries could be a viable solution for a particular project. For that reason PiSolMan has the possibility to use both battery technologies.

  • 16 V to 28 V solar panel input  
  • Solar panel maximum power point adjustable (16.5 V to 20.5 V)
  • Compatible with 11.1 V (3 cells) Lithium-Ion/Polymer and 12 V Lead-Acid batteries
  • Battery charging current up to 1 A
  • 5 V output for powering the Raspberry Pi with up to 1.8 A
  • I2C Serial Interface (Configuration & Power Information)
  • Onboard Real Time Clock (RTC)
  • Pushbutton for general purpose use
  • User programmable RGB LED for charging status Information
  • Automatic power down when low battery level detected in order to protect the battery

Additional Features

  • Unpopulated header for an external battery temperature sensor
  • Unpopulated microUSB connector for powering 5 V devices

 

In order to make PiSolMan affordable, electronic components need to be acquired in bulk quantities. In terms of price, these represent the most significant part of the module. Moreover, manufacturing costs can be drastically reduced if the device is produced in higher quantities.

Considering that the Raspberry Pi Zero costs only 5 USD, it is very challenging to produce add-on modules matching that price range. The idea is to make PiSolMan as affordable as possible to the final user. But without your support it will be more difficult to make it accessible to as many people as possible. That's why we are counting on you backers, in your passion about technology and innovation, in order to bring this project to life.

Two working prototypes have been under test for the past three months. Although they were created as a proof of concept, they have exceeded the expectations. At this point in time all main functionalities have been successfully verified. Minor modifications are underway in order to make PiSolMan even more robust and efficient. The bill of materials, most commonly known as BOM, has been optimised in order to reduce the number of components. In addition, the design has been polished according to the manufacturing process.

PiSolMan prototype manufacturing
PiSolMan prototype manufacturing

 

PiSolMan working prototype
PiSolMan working prototype

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

Risks and challenges

The risks and challenges associated with this project are few since working prototypes have been under test for almost three months with successful results. Minor modifications were made to the design and a second revision is actually under development and almost ready for fabrication.

The most risky and challenging aspect is the delays associated with suppliers and manufacturing houses. In order to reduce the possibility of delays all necessary components to complete this project will be acquired from professional distributors. Electronics components has been chosen according to providers availability and taking into account at least two providers, in most cases three.

A local assembly house (where components are mounted and soldered into the printed circuit board) has been chosen allowing us to closely follow the manufacturing process and solve any problem that could arise.

Moreover, the schedule for the campaign has been arranged in order accommodate small delays. Better to under promise and over deliver.

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  1. Reward no longer available

    Pledge €39 or more About $41

    PiSolMan Module Super Early Bird

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    You will get the PiSolMan Module at a significant reduced price.

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    PiSolMan Module Early Bird

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    You will get the PiSolMan Module at a reduced price.

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    Pledge €59 or more About $62

    PiSolMan Module

    Thank you very much for your contribution!
    You will get the PiSolMan Module.

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    Pledge €59 or more About $62

    PiSolMan Module

    Thank you very much for your contribution!
    You will get the PiSolMan Module.

    Includes:
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    Pledge €109 or more About $115

    PiSolMan Module Twin-Pack

    Thank you very much for your contribution!
    You will get 2 X PiSolMan Modules.

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Funding period

- (35 days)