Solar Hood

Initially I wanted to build a flexible solar phone charger, to roll it out and attach to the top of your backpack and charge your phone on the go with green energy. But then I considered the costs and the challenges, and went for a playful option.

So here is a brief tutorial on how to make your own solar hood, or whatever you want to attach it to.

Collect your Materials.
You will need:

- solar motor
- solar cell 
- 3V coin battery
- battery holder
- conductive fabric
- conductive thread
- velcro
- fusible interfacing (in German: Vliseline. A double-sided sticky material for ironing two pieces of fabrics onto each other)
- something light like feather or small leaves
- felt

STEP 1: Plan your circuit. Position your motor, battery, solar cell and velcro switches, and draw the connection, so that you're able to switch the energy source.
STEP 2: Make your motor wearable.
Depending on your motor shorten the wires, remove the isolation and form a loop. Solder this wire loop to a metall popper. Repeat for the second piece of wire.

I used a different motor for my circuit, with wires thick and stable enough to be sewn directly into the fabrics. So I used plastic poppers as an addition, as on the very first picture. Play around with yours!
 Make a felt holder for your motor. If your felt is thin or your motor rather tall, put two layers of felt together. Cut out a form which covers your motor and add two symmetrical "legs" on the bottom.
Secure the two layers with pins and cut it out. Then sew the two layers together.

Wrap the felt holder around your motor and secure it with a pin. Take the motor out and sew the holder together. Take conductive thread and sew metal poppers onto the "legs" of your holder.

Attach a feather or anything light with hot glue to the very top of your motor. This way you'll see the movement of your motor immediately. Be careful not to put too much glue, otherwise it will be too heavy for your motor, and it won't rotate.

STEP 3: Make your solar cell wearable. 
Strip the isolation off a piece of wire and form a loop with pliers. Then cut off this piece. Repeat for another three pieces. Then solder two loops onto the plus and minus contacts in the corners. And glue the other two loops with a hot glue gun onto the opposite corners.

STEP 4: Assemble your circuit. 
Now place all your components on your piece of felt according to your circuit plan, and mark their position with a pen.

Draw your circuit connections on a piece of your fusible interfacing, then put it on a piece of conductive fabric. The paper side of it should be facing you.

Note! The lines on the fusible interfacing paper will be mirrored later, so consider this for your circuit.

 Then iron the fabric.


 Cut out your lines.
 Peel the paper off and put your conductive connectors on the felt. Iron them onto it.

 Establish connections to your components by sewing them onto conductive fabric with conductive thread. Make sure your connections are tight enough. Otherwise there will be an unstable contact.

 STEP 5: Make a velcro-switch.
 Sew the bottom-side of velcro onto the end of your battery connection with conductive thread. Make sure to establish a good connection. Do the same for the solar cell connection. Then sew the third bottom part with normal thread, to make an off-mode for your switch.

Sew the other two metal poppers into your circuit for your motor holder. Thread through one of the poppers with conductive thread and stitch through the upper part of velcro, so that it's moveable and long enough to touch each of the three bottom velcro parts.

Now attach your motor holder.

Here are two examples made during the workshop:

This workshop is inspired by Kobakant's Solar T-Shirt, though in the end I chose to simplify the circuit and make it possible to switch between different power options. Also, I'd like to thank Hannes from eHaJo for helping me with electric troubleshooting!

Creative Commons License
Solar Hood by Anna Blumenkranz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


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