The goal of this project was to produce a self contained reading lamp that could be used by students in developing countries for reading at night.
The circuit can be used for a wide variety of lighting applications.
The reading lamp consists of a small solar panel, a standard UPS style lead acid battery, and an LED circuit board. The circuit board contains a low power solar charge controller (regulator), a set of 8 white LEDs, a switch, an LED current regulator, and a low voltage disconnect circuit. The circuitry will insure a long battery life by preventing over charging and excessive discharging. The circuit was designed to work with lead acid batteries, it should also work with a string of 10 NiCd cells. Both the charge controller and LED regulator circuits can be used independently for other applications.
Newer VW and Audi automobiles come with small solar panels for keeping the battery charged in the sales lot. These panels are available on eBay for around $15 and are a perfect fit for this project. An inexpensive 12V 7AH lead acid gell-cell battery that is typically found in a computer UPS is also a good fit for this circuit. Be sure to use a new battery.
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