This week I returned to the electronics store in Arusha, and discovered that they actually had a lot of the components I had asked for the previous time I visited. This time, I brought pictures and had more success specifying what I needed. In addition, I found more old electronics to take apart. In Arusha, there are a number of fundis that repair things and know where to find old, dead electronics. I was able to salvage a number of useful pieces by using a soldering iron to pull components off of old PCBs. I needed a battery pack, so I improvised by cutting open an old flashlight and removing its battery pack. I needed four batteries instead of three, so I wedged an extra battery in and held it in place with an old empty piece of PCB, creating a connection with a blob of solder.
After scavenging some, I found enough pieces to begin building a little solar USB charger. The charger consists of 4 AA rechargeable batteries, a 5V solar panel, and a solder USB jack. The batteries are used to charge a phone or music player. The solar panel then recharges the batteries. This allows the user to charges things at night or during the day. Yesterday I was able to charge a phone using my prototype. It needs more testing, but so far it looks promising! The design of the circuit is really simple, and should be easy enough to teach people to build in a workshop if we can find enough of the right supplies.
Setup of my solar project. Next week I will shift it to a prototyping board, and solder the connections to make it more secure.