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SOLAR DISPLAY CASE v2.0

A Weatherproof case housing three portable monitors allowing for increased productivity no matter where the user is working from.

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The Solar Display Case makes a multiple display setup portable, energy efficient, and accessible. Multiple displays help increase productivity and multitasking by giving the user more room to organize their workspace, however, traditional multiple display setups are bulky, energy inefficient, and nowhere near portable, making it difficult to transition the location of your workspace. The Solar Display Case solves this issue by mounting three 17 inch low-voltage portable monitors inside of a rolling briefcase with a hinged design for easy storage and transportation. The Solar Display Case gets it's name from the solar panels fixed to the exterior of the case and on the three monitors so it continues to store power regardless of whether it is in use or being transported. The briefcase used for this project also has the ability to roll making it accessible to everyone. The Solar Display Case is perfect for anyone looking for additional productivity without sacrificing portability.

2021 HACKADAY PRIZE CHALLENGE TWO: REFRESH WORK-FROM-HOME LIFE

In a world like we see in the hackaday prize images, individuals are required to work in a variety of environments. Since we are always multitasking, it does not make sense to only be limited to one screen when working on the go. The Solar Display Case solves the issue of having to compromise productivity for portability by using 100 watts of solar energy to charge a 50,000 mAH powerbank in order to power three low-power portable monitors and an additional source device so you can experience all of the advantages of a multi-monitor setup no matter where you are.

Inspiration

This project was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic first hit, many employers and employees in tech and other industries had to transition to working remotely, and experienced difficulties moving their multi screen setups home due to complex wiring and bulky monitors. Many businesses just decided to provide employees with a stipend to purchase new equipment for their home office to solve this problem. As an IT Director I understand how much a multi-monitor setup impacts productivity, so I sought out a better solution that could save companies money in case another disruptive event such as a pandemic forces employees to relocate their display setups. What I created ended up being so much more than a way to trim the budget, my creation gives the user the freedom to work wherever they please.

Specifics

The Solar Display Case consists of:

1. Three 17'' Inch Portable Monitors

2. Five 20 watt solar panels for a total of 100 watts of input

3. A weatherproof, wheeled briefcase for transportation

4. One work light for working at night.

5. Lithium-Ion Battery back consisting of 1650 Cells.

4. IO Panel with 3 Female USB Ports (For Powering Monitors), 3 Female HDMI Ports(For Connecting Monitors to Source Device), One AC Port for charging a laptop or other source device, One Fan to Cool the Battery.

Design Features

  • The final build will have solar panels mounted to the back of each display in addition to BOTH sides of the case, making the case completely solar.
  • Three Monitors with open hardware IO panel configuration so mixing source devices or power delivery options is possible.
  • Wheeled design so the case can be transported without exerting too much energy carrying it.
  • 100 Watts of Solar Energy will Charge the battery faster than the monitors deplete it, making long remote working stints in the field possible.
  • The inclusion of an AC port also allows you to charge your source device, at the cost of depleting your battery life faster, but no worries! The Solar Panels will recharge the case even during transport since two of them are affixed to the outside of the case, so you can rest easy knowing your power gradually being replenished while moving to the next work site. Long trip between sites? Strap the case to the top of a vehicle or put it in the back of a pickup truck and your case will continue to restore power to itself. 

Usage

I designed the Solar Display Case so it is simple enough to be used by anyone anywhere for any purpose. Some specific fields where it would be useful include:

  • 3D Modelers
  • Developers
  • Digital Artists
  • Drone Pilots
  • Graphic Designers
  • Industrial Professions
  • Law Enforcement
  • Military
  • Penetration Testers
  • Photographers
  • Preppers
  • Researchers
  • Scientists
  • Video Editors

Want to code on top of a mountaintop? Done. Want to explore remote areas with your drone with an amazing field of view? You can. Want to screen share during your company meeting and be able to see the reactions of your co-workers while you create your amazing graphic design project in real time? Do it. The possibility and applications this project have are limitless. The Solar Display Case has removed a huge hinderance to productivity, and will change the way we work and communicate for the foreseeable future.

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  • 1 × Weather Proof Case with Wheels Waterproof container to store and transport all of the components. $90 Retail, $35-$40 wholesale.
  • 5 × 20w Solar Panels For storing energy from the sun. $50 per panel, can be reduced wholesale.
  • 3 × 17'' Portable Monitors Can be purchased wholesale for ~$90-100, or sourced from recycled laptops.
  • 3 × HDMI Cords To connect the monitors to the IO Panel.
  • 3 × Female HDMI Ports For connecting source devices to monitors.

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  • Parts Acquired!

    Brian Whitsett07/19/2021 at 13:09 0 comments

    Since the last version of the Solar Display Case, I have been planning and acquiring parts for the second version. I am pleased to announced that I now have the case and battery and am constructing version 2.0 now! I have yet to acquire the panels and the third monitor but those are the last of the materials I need before I have everything required for the final build.

View project log

  • 1
    Choose your case

    I knew right away that this case needed to be waterproof to protect the sensitive electrical contents inside. I searched for cases built to Ingress Protection Standards (IPxx), and settled on the fact that my case needed to be at lease IP67 to have the amount of protection I desired for this project. I also wanted my case to have wheels to make the burden of transportation a little bit easier. You can check wholesalers, online retailers, or hardware stores to find a case that meets your needs.

  • 2
    Choose your Monitors

    You are in control of the quantity and size of your monitors, but they have to fit inside your case even when folded on top of each other. If you are on a budget or environmentally conscious, use old laptop displays as your monitors. Arsenijs has a great tutorial on how to utilize old laptop displays. Make sure your case is deep enough to accommodate your monitors and the solar panels attached to the back. Design how your monitors will fold in and out of the case before moving on to the next step. Another consideration is power consumption, you must ensure your monitors will not out-draw your power source before the solar energy replenishes it. To calculate this, you can track your monitors required input power, then make sure your power bank has enough Watt Hours to support 7 Hours of use (8 hour work day - 1 hour lunch). This will ensure your battery will last as long as you need it to, with the solar energy replenished to it being a buffer to tide you over if you need to clock in some overtime.

  • 3
    Affix the Monitors to the Case

    I accomplished this using hinges so the monitors can fold back inside the case. Plan out the motion and position before making permanent changes to your project. This step is difficult because it requires a significant commitment to a design plan. Another tip is to avoid compromising the structural integrity of the case when affixing the monitors to it. In order to maintain the case's IP67 rating, I plan on gluing two pieces of wood to the inside lid of the case, then screwing the hinges into the wood so I don't actually break the seal of the case itself while still securely mounting the monitors and hinges.

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Brian Whitsett wrote 07/19/2021 at 12:04 point

Please provide feedback or voice your concerns, your input will help make this project the best it can be!

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