Why We Created the Solarpod Pyxis™
We rarely get the most out of our mobile devices because we don’t want to drain our battery. Using bluetooth speakers, wearables, enabling location services, and firing up the 4G LTE will sap the battery in no time. Heaven forbid we do all of these things at once. So we turn off all those goodies and dumb down our smart phones in the process. That is just not acceptable.
The solution is to carry around a battery pack to recharge our mobile devices. But this is one more device we need to remember to charge. What we wanted was a battery pack that could charge itself using solar power. But we didn’t want it to take all day (or several days) to do so.
With that goal in mind we set about designing the Solarpod Pyxis™. We started with a 5,000 mAh hour battery so we had plenty of juice. Then we mated that to three monocrystalline solar panels. This gave us a full amp charge so we could fill the battery from empty to full in 4½ hours in direct sunlight. The solar panels are very efficient when you consider it takes 4 hours to charge the battery via USB.
We also wanted to charge multiple devices at the same time and we wanted them to charge quickly. We have two USB outputs, one rated at 1Amp and the other at 2Amps. This allows us to charge our phones quickly while still charging our Fitbit, bluetooth headphones, or whatever else we’ve got with us.
Solar charging isn’t always convenient so we added a Micro USB charging port. Since we were plugged into our laptop anyway we figured why not add some internal memory? It mounts like any USB drive and now we’ve got an additional 32GB of memory to play with. This is great for photos, videos, and backing up important files.
Once we added the 32GB internal memory we decided to take it to the next level and add an SD card slot. Because why not?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app to access that memory from mobile devices? We’re thinking the same thing. Maybe we’ll make that a stretch goal if there is enough interest.
Does it work?
The fine folks at Dragon Innovation took a look and they said YES! Dragon Innovation has done a lightweight review of our project and has pre-qualified that we appear to be an educated team with a buildable product
We’re still making improvements to the internal firmware, but this is just fine tuning. It charges every phone we’ve tested, all manner of wearables, and the internal memory is easily accessible. The solar panels do a great job, but we do need to remind you that direct sunlight means you’ll get best results when Pyxis is charging outside. Shadows and coatings on glass can dramatically reduce efficiency.
What we’ve found in testing is that we rarely drain the battery completely. In real world use it has been about keeping our devices powered on the go and keeping our smartphones from dying at the end of the day. And it works great. It’s been fantastic to have on beach days since we can pump tunes to our bluetooth speakers while we’re charging our smartphone. Pyxis can charge its battery while discharging so we could be out all day and never need to go searching for an outlet.
Stretch Goal #1 : $58,000
Dust Proof & Water Resistant
Most smartphones and tablets aren't dust proof nor are they water resistant. They'll survive if they get a little wet or if some sand manages to find its way into a port or headphone jack. But you typically want to keep your mobile devices protected. In other words, it's typically not a big deal.
However, a number of backers have asked us if we could make Pyxis dust proof and water resistant. We want to make the best USB charger & battery pack possible so we said why not! We looked into it, and if we raise $58,000, we can add dust proofing and increase water resistance without increasing the price. So please spread the word and help us reach $58,000!
Stretch Goal #2 : Solarpod Spectrum
Ok, Backers, it's time to talk colors!
There are significant costs associated with creating a whole spectrum of colors. This is mainly due to Minimum Order Quantities per color. Now, these MOQ's aren't minimum profit quantities for our suppliers, they simply deal with the realities of setting up plastic injection moulding. Too small of a batch and you get inconsistent color quality. We don't want that so we have to make a full production run of each color.
But we have a solution!
If we reach $68,000 we'll release a color. We don't know which one, yet, because we're going to let you decide! After we reach our stretch goal we'll ask you, our backers, which color we should release. Whichever color gets the most votes wins!
What happens if your personal favorite doesn't win? Well, we have a solution for that, too. We'll put another color up for vote at $78,000, $88,000, and $98,000. So if we pass $98,000 all the colors will be unlocked! Then we'll have to think up some more stretch goals.
Stretch Goal #3 : $108,000
Many of you have asked us to add an easy way to hook up your Pyxis to your backpack. It's simple enough to design some 'eyes' for the case so you can just use a carabiner to do the job. But we do need to reinforce the eyes and change the spine material to make it durable. So, if we raise $108,000 we'll be able to make these modifications and throw in a couple carabiners while we're at it.
Stretch Goal #3.5 : $118,000
64GB Internal Memory
We've been working with our engineering team to improve the design of our PCBs. The initial prototype works fine, but there's no reason we can't make it better. At this point in the development it would be easy enough for us to change the internal memory from 32GB to 64GB. So if we reach $118,000 we'll make that jump.
Stretch Goal #4 : $128,000
When our solar panels are tested under Standard Test Conditions (STC), they give an optimal output and the battery charges at full speed. But in overcast or cloudy weather, or when the sun isn't directly overhead, the panels give a lower voltage output. When voltage drops, charging efficiency drops very quickly. We've been doing our research and have found an excellent "Maximum Power Point Tracking" (MPPT) system that will help us increase efficiency even when conditions aren't optimal. You'll get a better overall charge even on an overcast day.
The MPPT circuitry will make your Pyxis even more versatile, and it's now our $128,000 Stretch Goal - and thanks to all of you, one that we're sure to hit!
Why We Need Your Help
We want to take solar mainstream. The problem is many others have tried this before and failed. We’ve got the technology, we’ve got the manufacturing capability, and we just need funding to tool up for production.
If you believe in renewable energy and if you want to have a solar powered battery pack that works we’d appreciate your support. We’ll deliver on our promise. Before December!
Risks and challenges
Our biggest advantage is the fact that we are the manufacturer. We'll be building each Pyxis in our own Sunbird facility. So finding a supplier is not a risk for us.
However, since we know manufacturing, we also know there are some real challenges ahead of us.
We have a working prototype, but it is still a prototype. We want to make Pyxis the best solar battery pack out there. We're constantly looking to make improvements. In this process materials can change, components can change, and these improvements may cause delays.
However, we won't cheap out on you and we won't change the form factor. We promise any changes will be for your benefit.
We'll keep you updated as to what's changing and why we're making those changes.
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