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Want to power your smart phone, tablet, Raspberry Pi, or Arduino project with green solar energy? This kit includes everything you need!
Want to power your smart phone, tablet, Raspberry Pi, or Arduino project with green solar energy? This kit includes everything you need!
251 backers pledged $31,941 to help bring this project to life.

Solar Panel Backing Board Prototype

Posted by Ryo Chijiiwa (Creator)

Here are some pictures of the solar panel backing board that I've mentioned in the past. I just got the laser cut pieces back today, though it definitely needs a bit more work...

The backing board is a 1/4" thick piece of bamboo ply board that the solar panel can mount to, and serves two purposes: it adds a nice hard board to better protect the solar panel, and it adds more mounting options. The board has fourteen 1"-wide slits and four 1/4" holes, so that it could be strapped, tied, or bolted onto just about anything you can think of.

For the prototype, I epoxied the panel on there because the solar panels I have are early models that don't have the mounting holes, but in the final thing, the panels will be bolted on using binding posts. 

Using bolts instead of epoxy to attach the panel to the board have a number of advantages. The main benefit is that the solar panel can easily be taken off the board, if the board isn't required. Or, in the unlikely event that the solar panel breaks, the board can be bolted onto a different panel and thus be reused. The bolts attaching the solar panel to the board will also have a little bit of play so that the board and panel can shrink or expand at different rates without stressing each other. Along a similar vein, if the board is dropped, the board will likely hit the ground before the panel (since it's bigger), and the shock may be absorbed before it transfers to the panel, which may help protect the solar panel.

The backing board also comes with a notched stick that allows the solar panel to be lifted up in 4 different angles. The stick also has a 1/4" hole at the bottom, so that a stick weighed down with some stones can help keep everything in place if used outside in windy conditions.

There are some tweaks that need to be made, but I think this could be a really nice addition to the kit for some folks, especially those of you who want the additional impact resistance and mounting options for outdoor use. I'm also considering a Lexan cover that can be bolted on, so that the solar panel is sandwiched between a thick bamboo board and a layer of highly impact resistant polycarbonate. Need less to say, the board will be completely waterproof (I'm considering using a bamboo ply that is supposedly dishwasher safe). 

Anyway, as always, feedback is welcomed...

Note: Because this board did not exist when the Kickstarter campaign launched, the rewards were not priced to include this component. Since margins are already very thin, I likely will not be able to include this board in many of the reward levels. I can probably include it for the $250 and $500 levels, but it will likely be an additional option for the other levels (for the $115 level, it will count towards the one extra item).

  • Image 69913 original.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
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    1. Missing avatar

      The SBW on

      I guess I'll wait for the countersunk one?

    2. Missing avatar

      The SBW on


      I'd like a backing board, and I'm not sure if I've been charged for [int] shipping? Please advise.

    3. Ryo Chijiiwa Creator on

      Walter - Yes. I'm already working on version 2 of the board ;-)

    4. Walter on

      Since I'm certain you need MORE ideas... Have you thought about countersinking? a place for the panel to fit down in the backing board to give the corners/edges of the solar panel some extra protection? Maybe even just some bamboo corner pieces that could be glues onto the backing board.

    5. Missing avatar


      Can you add new pledge levels that include this? I'm at the $140 and would be willing to increase it for this. Thanks.

    6. Adrian T. on

      Yeah curious to how much it'd be. Looks awesome enough that I might pay extra for it. I'm at the 140 level too.

    7. Rene Ochoa Dorado on

      meant to say, how much extra would it be? i'm currently pledging 140.

    8. Rene Ochoa Dorado on

      i much extra would it be?

    9. Missing avatar

      Henri Clinch on

      The enclosure looks really nice. So for those levels that would not qualify, would the solar panel be the same with plastic stand setup as shown in your earlier video?
      Also, what about asking backers to add an additional $x dollars if they want the bamboo solar panel enclosure?

    10. soxcited

      I guess if needed one can always use velcro tapes to attach the stick to the board if they work with bamboo...same for the enclosure.

    11. Ryo Chijiiwa Creator on

      I like the idea, but it complicates the manufacturing process and would substantially increase costs because that screw hole can't be done with a laser cutter. Carrying around that stick could get annoying. In practice, I suspect most people would ignore the stick, and simply prop the board against another object to angle it.

    12. soxcited

      Why don't you attach the stick to the board with a screw and instead of having notches on the stick have a long slit? That way you can change the pivot point to where ever you want giving you more than just 4 angles and keep things organized with less item to carry around.

    13. Ryo Chijiiwa Creator on

      David, I agree with you, and that's one of the changes I'll be making for production.

    14. Missing avatar

      David Hilton on

      The teeth on that stand look a little delicate... well, I can see children applying force in bad ways, breaking it, is all. Of course it's not like I'm planning on letting children play with it, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

      Any way you do it is fine, but having a little extra sturdiness is a plus.

    15. Corey

      This looks awesome. Can't wait to get my hands on one of these bad boys.