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DIY USB 5V Solar Power Bank

Solar energy is renewable, free, widely available and clean form of energy. It is considered as a serious source of energy for many years because of the vast amounts of energy that is made freely available, if harnessed by modern technology. Many people are familiar with so-called photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, found on things like spacecraft, rooftops, and handheld calculators. The cells are made of semiconductor materials like those found in computer chips. When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity.

In this project, we are building a power bank which harvests energy by using a solar panel. The energy gained by the solar panel is stored in a LiPo battery. Then the battery is used to supply a stable 5V which is used by USB gadgets. The power bank can also be charged by an external 5V source. The best thing for this power bank during day that you don’t need to remember to charge it. It charges itself by using the sunlight and you don’t come up with an empty bank.

DIY Arduino RGB LED Controller Shield


This Arduino shield is designed to drive RGB (Red Green Blue) LED strips by using PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) method. It can brighten up and down each color independently by changing the duty cycle of PWM.You can produce any color by mixing the different percentage of colors. The endless turn rotary encoder on the board allows the user select the channel and change its brightness. Low Rds-on resistance MOSFETs, which are the switching elements, generate very low heat dissipation even used with large number of LEDs.

DIY Capacitance Meter


We are building another opensource project which is very enjoyable to build and use. In our electronics works, we frequently need to know the actual value of a capacitor. As you know, small sized SMD capacitors have no markings showing their values. Or there are lots of fake electrolytic capacitors which are rated much lower than their stated values. Sometimes the capacitors have large tolerances and we want to choose the best fit for our circuit. What we need is an accurate capacitance meter.

This is a capacitance meter which can measure capacitors rated from picofarads to millifarads. The principle of operation is simple. Just apply voltage to the capacitor and measure the elapsed time to charge it. The circuit is based on Atmega328P and it is Arduino IDE compatible. It includes the voltage regulators which output 5V and 3.3V from 9V input. A Nokia 5110 LCD is used to display the measured information. Thanks to the 4mm banana jacks, various kinds of probes can be used such as SMD probe, crocodile probe etc.

DIY USB Line Power Meter Stick


Another DIY project designed with FabStream’s SoloPCB tool is ready to be shared with Electro-Labs community. This is an USB stick which measures the supply voltage of the USB port and current drawn by the device connected to the port over the stick. Then it calculates the power consumption of the device and displays the whole information with the help of the small OLED display on the board. The stick itself is also powered from the USB port.

The board is built around an Atmel ATMEGA328 microcontroller. To make the circuit as small as possible, the MCU is used in minimal configuration. Internal 8MHz oscillator is used. The voltage and the current are measured by the internal 10 bit ADC. To make the measurements more accurate, an external 2.5V voltage reference IC, Microchip MCP1525 is included. The current is converted to voltage on a 0.01R sense resistor and precisely amplified by LT6106 before read. The stick can measure up to 2.5A. Since the OLED display requires 3.3V supply voltage, L78L33ACUTR linear voltage regulator is used for 5V to 3.3V conversion.

DIY Dual Stepper Motor Driver Shield for Arduino


Stepper motors are brushless DC motors which can move in discrete steps thanks to the special coil arrangement inside. They are very popular in DIY and industry projects which require accurate mechanical movement control.  In this project, we are building a dual stepper motor driver shield based on two Allegro A4988 ICs which can supply up to 35V and 2A and provide overcurrent and thermal protection.

DIY ESP8266 Development Board


ESP8266 is an 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi module which became very popular recently because of its capabilities and ease of use and integration. Many electronics hobbyists are building projects on ESP8266 and they generally need to connect the module to a PC or a microcontroller. Some interfacing problems arise at this point.

In this project, we are building an ESP8266 Development Board which lets the user make connection to ESP8266 from a PIC microcontroller and a PC. The board also provides all the needs to be used as microcontroller peripherals such as LCD display, pusbuttons, indicator LEDs and GPIO extension. The PC connection is done by the help of FT232RL USB-UART converter over a Mini-USB connector. Since the PIC microcontroller used is a 5V chip, 5V-3.3V bi-directional level converter circuits are also included on the board.

DIY Digital AC Watt Meter


Have you ever been curious about the power consumption of an appliance? For example did you wonder how much it will cost you to leave your television in standby mode whole night? Or did you want to learn how much change your refrigerator settings will make on your electric bill? If your answer is yes, you can use a wattmeter to measure the power consumption of a device. In this project we are building one.

This is an AC Watt Meter which can measure the real power consumption of a device connected to the 230Vrms/50Hz mains line. The PIC microcontroller collects the voltage and the current information with the help of ADCs and then calculates the RMS voltage of the mains line, RMS current drawn by the device and the resulting average power consumption. All these information is then displayed on the dot matrix LCD.

The meter itself doesn’t need an external power source. It is powered from the mains. Despite this, the microcontroller side is fully isolated from the parts interfacing to the mains.

DIY Lithium Battery Charger Shield for Arduino


In this project, we are building a programmable single/multi cell lithium battery charger shield for Arduino. The shield provides LCD and button interface which let the user set the battery cut-off voltage from 2V to 10V and charge current from 50mA to 1.1A. The charger also provides the ability to monitor the battery status before and during charge.

The charger is based on LT1510 Constant Current/Constant Voltage Battery charger IC and controlled by Arduino UNO. The display on the shield is Nokia 5110 LCD which is very simple to use and still available on the market. There are two different battery connectors available on the shield, a two contact screw terminal block and a right angle 2mm JST-PH connector.