This site documents how to make 100% solar powered video kits with on-camera training for about $300 or less using off-the-shelf products. Last update, May 26th, 2010.
These kits are designed to enable anyone to record and upload great documentary-style video that is both sustainably powered and low-cost. The kits are housed in crush-proof cases that withstand harsh travel and shipping anywhere in the world.
- Non-profits who want staff to inexpensively documentation projects for Web broadcasting
- University study abroad programs that want to equip students to document their experiences for their studies and Web 2.0 marketing initiatives
- Travelers, scientists or researchers who are going off the grid
- K-12 student video curriculum, combined with environmental education around solar panels
Fast Charger Still and Video
< $300.00. Any location. Charges batteries in 4 hours of direct sunlight.
- Canon A480 video and still camera with Pelican Brand Model 1050 Micro Case with Foam.
- Flip Ultra video camera, Pelican Brand Model 1040 Micro Case with Foam.
- PowerFilm AA solar battery charger with 4 Sanyo 2000 mAm
How To Build
- Order products
- Download training video and load onto the camera
- Put printed directions that come with camera and solar battery charger into kit
- Tightly fold solar panel so it fits into case with Flip camera
- Optional: Use “Pick-N-Pluck” foam to keep camera in place inside kit (Buy on Amazon)
Uses: Sunny locations where you only need to shoot about an hour of video a week, while batteries charge
Charge time for two AA batteries : 18 hours of direct sunlight
- Flip Ultra, with 50% charitable organization discount.
- Pelican Brand Model 1040 Micro Case with Foam
- DIY AA solar battery charger, or assembled solar battery charger.
- Shoe Goo
- 1 foot “Industrial Sticky Back” Black Velcro.
- 4 Rechargeable 2000 mAh AA Batteries.
- Tools: Solder iron if you use the DIY panel, solder, flux, knife.
How To Build
For unny locations, where you only need to record about an hour of video a week while batteries charge.
Training Video that plays in the camera’s viewfinder
- Flip Ultra
- Pelican 1020 Case.
- Silicon Solar 2AA battery charger. Charge time for 2 AA batteries: About 24 hours direct sunlight
- Shoe Goo
- 1 foot industrial Velcro
- 4 Rechargeable AA Batteries
How To Build
- Glue Veclro strips to top inside of case and back of solar panel and battery tray using Shoe Goo type glue
- Reinforce where wires meet solar panel with some Shoe Goo
- Download training video and load onto the camera.
- Canon A series of in expensive still and video cameras, (Amazon search for “canon powershot a”)
- Flip Cameras (Site)
- Powerfilm brand AA battery chargers on Sunsance Solar, or Amazon
- Silicon Solar 2AA battery charger, on Silcone Solar Site.
- Pelican 1020 Case, on Amazon.
- Shoe Goo on Amazon.
- Pelican Brand Model 1040 Micro Case with Foam, on Amazon.
- 4 Rechargeable 2000 mAh AA Batteries, on Amazon.
- DIY solar battery charger, Sundance Sunbender DIY 2AA Charger, Or Pre-assembled solar battery charger from Sundance Solar.
- 1 foot “Industrial Sticky Back” Black Velcro. Hardware stores usually sell by the foot, or on Amazon.
All configurations have a training video on the camera that plays in the camera’s viewfinder.
The training video helps anyone get good light, sound and framing in any language. The training is usable with no audio and/or by non-English speaking people, but the videoalso has an English voice over explaining the three lessons.
Load the Training Video
- Download the video by clicking this link (243 MB, will take a little while!).
You will be taken to Blip.tv where you can download the video. Use the below graphic to help you.
Load Training Video: Set your camera up in a dark room, level with, and about 18 inches from, your computer screen. The goal here is to set up your camera up in front of your computer, then “Play” the video on your computer while you “Record” it onto your camera. It’s a simple and wonderful hack to load any video on any camera for playback in the camera’s viewfinder.
- Open video and put into full screen mode and frame camera so video fills camera’s viewfinder.
- “Play” the video to test the audio level. Make sure the audio plays loudly. Then reset the video the beginning.
- Click “Record” on the camera, and then immediately click “Play” on the video.
- When the video stops, click “Stop” on the camera.
- Play the video on your camera to make sure it’s OK.
Now try playing the video in your camera. Make sure to delete all other videos before loading camera into case.