July 1, 2016 | ProgressTH Putting together a 5V regulator is surprisingly easy to do if you already know how to solder. There are lots of plans out there for different versions depending on what sort of parts you have access to.
This is being built to supply a steady 5V to a power bank that will (hopefully) power Arduino projects bound for both the rooftop garden and the smart farm outside the city.
We're using a Gravitec 3-terminal 5V 1A switching voltage regulator and two capacitors (50v 470uF and 16v 1000uF) as well as a basic barrel power adapter and a female USB breakout board to bring the power in from the solar panels and out to the power bank.
We first tested it with a 9V power supply and it worked. We also tested it outside with the power bank hooked up to see if the power bank would begin charging and it has.
We also took some time to design, 3D print, and assemble a custom case for the regulator and adapters. If you have your own 3D printer and are good at SketchUp or a similar 3D design program, designing and fabricating cases can take less than an hour of your time (not counting the time you wait for the printer to print which you can use to for other projects).
Next we will need to explore the limits of what a power bank can do as far as powering Arduino projects, and how long a solar panel can keep the power bank going with the project running.