Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spy Camera Solar Power Box

Battery life has always been a critical consideration for most of the electronic gadgets and equipment. When we talk about spy  cameras,  which  normally  function  round-the-clock, they often run out of power within a few days.  Many spy cameras (CCTV cameras) are powered by 9V PP3 type batteries that offer five times more energy  than the regular 9V alkaline battery.

Mini CCTV cameras also accept 6-12V DC supply from AC mains adaptor through the DC IN jack. AC mains adaptor for the camera increases the capacity of the 9V PP3 battery but is bulky and noisy. Whether disposable  or rechargeable batteries, making frequent replacement or recharging them is a cumbersome job. The unique solar power box described here serves an alternative solution to the problem. 

Spy Camera Solar Power Box Circuit diagram :

Spy Camera Solar Power Box-Circuit Daigram

The circuit of the solar power box is simple. It contains a  battery charger and a battery health indicator and  a few other components.  As shown in the circuit,  DC supply available from  the solar panel (SP1) is  directly applied to the in-put of the circuit through  a protection diode (D1).  This diode is used to pre-vent  the  reverse  current  flow from the battery to  the  solar  panel  during  night. Thus, D1 allows  the current to flow from the solar panel  to the battery only. Low-voltage-drop  type 1N5817 diode is perfect for the  job.
At the heart of the circuit is an integrated current source, realised using a  popular 3-pin adjustable voltage regulator LM317T(IC1). 

This IC is designed  to adjust its internal resistance between  the In (pin 3) and Out (pin 2) terminals  to maintain a constant voltage of 1.25V  between the Out (pin 2) and Adj (pin 1) terminals. Here, a 9V, 280 mAh  rechargeable PP3 type Ni-MH battery  (BATT) is used as reservoir. Normally,  a charging current of about 10 per cent  of  ampere-hour  rating  is  safe  for  the  battery. Resistor R1 (39-ohm, 0.5W),  connected between pin 1 and 3 of IC1,  limits  the  charging  current  to  about  30 mA. DC output from the battery is  available at output jack J2. Red LED  ( LED1) is used as a battery ‘health’  indicator. Switch S1 is used to start the  charging while S2 is used for connect-ing the load. Note that suitable heat  sink should be used for the IC1.

The proper selection of solar panel  is important but not critical. A miniature 12V type solar panel with a cur-rent output of about 100 mA can be  used. Even if you have a solar panel  with  higher  voltage  rating,  it  will  not  create a problem as the circuit ensures  that the charging current cannot exceed  the predetermined value.

The circuit can be easily assembled  on a general-purpose PCB and housed  in a small plastic cabinet.

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