Friday, 19 August 2016

DIY - Solar Car

Yes! You read that right. We are going to build a car which runs only on solar energy! Well, a solar toy car to be exact.  If you are interested in playing around with solar panels, motors, wheels etc. then this article is for you. What better way to spend your leisure time building a solar toy car and flaunt your engineering skills with your friends and family, right?

This is a very simple yet exciting project for any class 8 and above student. With all the right components in place, it should take you anywhere between 1-2 hours to finish this. An instruction video is attached in the end and in case you get stuck somewhere, feel free to drop your queries in the comment section.

Let’s get started
You will need the following components. We bought our components from various places in Delhi NCR, like Chandni chowk , Sadar bazaar etc. you can order the components online and the link for each component is attached in the end.

60 RPM DC motor
Dummy for the wheels
3W solar panel
Soldering Iron
Wire stripper
Insulation tape
Soldering wire
Shoe box
Connecting wire
Tester or screw driver

This is how most of the components look like.

Once you have bought all the components and identified each of them, it should be fairly simple to finish the project.

Construction principle

This will be a four wheeled toy car. These wheels should be attached to the sides of a shoe box in the way shown in the picture below.  Make sure that the wheels are aligned i.e. the line joining the centre of the two wheels should be parallel to the side of the box (red line is parallel to the side of the box). Height of the wheel from the box edge is chosen in such a way that the cardboard doesn’t touch the ground when the car is resting on the wheels.

We need motors to run these wheels. A motor each is attached to both the back wheels. The other two wheels in the front are fixed with a dummy. These motors run on DC electricity and this will be provided by the 3W solar panel.

The job of the solar panel is to convert solar energy (sunlight) to electricity. Every solar panel has a junction box behind it. When you open the junction box, you will find two terminals namely a “positive +” and a “negative -“.

Connect wires to these terminals. The convention is to use a red wire for the positive and a black wire for the negative. This makes it easy to identify, helps avoid shorting and makes the connections easier. The other end of wires are connected to the motors as shown below. Use soldering iron to solder the wire on to the motors. A hump in the circuit diagram signifies there is no connection at that point. In this case, there is no connection between the black wire and the red wire.

To test if you have soldered properly, place the panel in direct sun light and see if both the motors rotate. Use trial and error to figure out the correct connection to the motors so that the car moves forward. Once you have figured the right combination, solder the joints and use insulation tape to cover the open ends.

The final product should look something like this.

or may be like this

Where to buy the components?

Soldering station

Check out the video

And here is a video of a solar toy car race that we conducted for school children: Solar Toy Car Race

Enjoy and let us know your experience with this

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