Solar power is becoming more and more relevant in our every day lives. From rooftop installations on homes to keeping your mobile devices charged, the daily applications of solar energy are numerous. However, they seemingly have always been used to provide dim lighting to walkways or home garden paths. While those lights are great for adding style to an outdoor landscape, they serve little purpose in our homes.
Introducing the first solar lantern designed with indoor and outdoor functionality in mind. From the minds that brought you the Folding USB Solar Cell, this Do-It-Yourself Solar Lantern is the newest idea from the team over at Brown Dog Gadgets.
Our lanterns use a simple yet very powerful circuit to collect and control solar energy. This solar charging circuit charges up two AAA batteries. Also within the lantern, a dark-detecting circuit acts as the on-switch for the internal LED, ensuring that it only turns on in the dark. A voltage boosting circuit provides even lighting to all four sides of the lantern.
It takes around 10 hours to fully charge the batteries in direct sunlight, and when fully charged, they offer up to 60 hours of light.
Each kit comes with 5 different LEDs: Red, Orange, Green, Blue, and White. These jumbo LEDs provide more than enough light to illuminate the lantern, ensuring that each silhouette design will glow in all settings.
Each design is cut from 1/8th inch Baltic Birch wood. The laser-cut Baltic Birch looks stunning on any surface and adding a splash of paint or stain really makes it pop!
The lanterns feature 100% original artwork designed to capture everyone’s imagination. To start the campaign we will be releasing 4 designs: Biohazard, Globe, DNA, and Math. All of these designs, and future designs, will be available in either Baltic Birch wood or colored acrylic (black and red, maybe more!).
Once the goal is reached, we will release two new designs for every $1,000 raised!
Don’t worry if you back the project and then later see a design that you like! You will have the opportunity to pick your favorite design using the survey that will be released at the conclusion of the campaign.
One of the more popular DIY projects floating around the web is a variation of a mason jar solar garden light. While they are a fun and easy project for students to build, potential issues may arise with the electronic assembly. During Josh's teaching days, he routinely ran into problems when attempting to fully assemble these garden lights. While his classroom had the artistic part covered, they had a difficult time free-forming the electronics and fitting the breadboards into the enclosures. It made it difficult to have fun and to learn about the electronics in these kits.
Our Do-It-Yourself Solar Lantern allows our customers to do the electrical assembly themselves and provides a great platform for learning about circuitry and electronics. The soldering version requires the most basic soldering skills. Both kit versions take only 30 to 60 minutes to build!
Our circuitry design is similar to what you'd find in an outdoor garden light, only you get to build it!
In the past, many in the DIY community have made their own versions of this project. The downside was always trying to free form the circuit or solder it onto a breadboard. We know first hand how frustrating this is, as Josh has released several guides on how to make a similar circuit on instructables.com. What we've done is streamlined the circuit into an easy to solder PCB board— something that everyone can enjoy.
We have decided to offer two different versions of our electronics kit: one soldering and one non-soldering (same price). Each version operates the same, offers the same designs, and shares 95% of the same parts. Our soldering kit is centered around an easy to solder PCB (circuit board), whereas our non-soldering version is centered around a small breadboard. The PCB version is right for experienced builders. Students or someone new to circuitry can't go wrong with the Breadboard version.
We plan on releasing the PCB design as open source once the Kickstarter has finished.
Support of this campaign gives backers their choice of stylish designs and electronics. This is something we hope that you'll unbox, make, and put in your home. The higher pledge levels give you the ability to get more than one kit and more than one design. Also, you have the option for a wooden lantern or a fancy colored acrylic case!
Through your support we can get these mass-produced and drop the price. Our goal is to get these into the hands of students and adults. The lower the price, the more options we will be able to offer to scout groups, students, and other community organizations.
On a personal level, you'll be helping out a small business. Brown Dog Gadgets will use any leftover funds to attend teaching conferences, Maker Faires, and to create solar-electronics curriculums.
Our goal for this project is $1,000— enough to get a couple of laser-cut designs done as well as the electronics packages. For each additional $1,000 raised, we will be releasing two new designs!
During the campaign we're going to finalize designs and electronics. While we're 90% done, we do have some tweaking to do. We also want to be open to suggestions from our backers.
Once funded, we will be able to quickly get these out to our backers.
The PCB Boards will take around 30 days to reach us. Then, depending on how many backers we have, we're going to either do the laser cutting in-house or outsource it to some local companies. We expect that to take no more than 30 days. Packing and shipping will probably take another 30 days.
So all in all, we hope to have these in the hands of our backers in under 90 days, post-Kickstarter.
Much of these estimates depend on how many backers we have and how many designs we have to cut out. Our plans are to do runs of each design and then send those out to backers. This way we're constantly sending out rewards and not doing them all at once.
We are a group of people with all different background and interests.
Combine us all together and you get Brown Dog Gadgets.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge will be the laser cutting. We can easily handle a small run in-shop or at our local Maker Space, but we're going to have to get industrial if things get too big.
As a backup, we've found several local companies to supply our wood, do the laser cutting, and if necessary, packing and shipping. While we would rather do everything ourselves, we understand that things can get out of hand rather quickly (things Brown Dog Gadgets learned the hard way when doing our previous Kickstarter).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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