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Camp Contraption

Homemade Solar Powered Radio

If your like me and spend plenty of time outside, you probably have a radio nearby. I like to unwind in the evening with some music while indulging in my favorite hobby. I’m sure you can tell my favorite hobby is Dutch oven and Outdoor Cooking along with camping.

After being outside for a long weekend I would find myself looking for batteries or the rechargeable batteries were dead. That’s why I started thinking about an alternative.

“A Solar Powered Radio”

The solar panel charges the battery, the battery runs the radio. The solar charge controller stops the solar panel from overcharging the battery. Simple!

Everything you need to build this project can be found on the internet or the local home improvement store.

What you will need for this project:

Old AM/FM Radio – Free!
12 Volt Solar Panel – About $40
12V Solar Panel Charge Controller – About $20
12 Volt Motorcycle Battery – from $35 and up, mine was Free!
Wire and Connectors Kit – in the toolbox
Soldering Iron and Solder – in the toolbox

Start by opening up the back of the Radio. Find the positive and negative connections. Solder 6 inches of wire to each, 1 (red) positive and 1 (black) negative each. Locate where you want the wires to exit the radio and drill a small hole. Measure and mark wire the wires where they will exit radio. Tie a knot in the wire at that point, the knot should be right on the hole inside the radio. The knot will keep the wires from being pulled out and break the connection. The radio is still capable of playing with batteries is why we bypassed the battery holder.

The Solar Panel came with the swivel base. Mount the panel on a small board as shown. Mount the solar charge controller under it. The panel will shade the charge controller when centered underneath. At this point the solar panel can be connected directly to the radio for a test. The only problem here is when a cloud rolls over the radio stops playing.

We are almost done, add connectors to the radio and solar panel charger wires. Make up four wires 12” long with connectors to match for use as extensions. I screwed the solar panel and charge controller wires to the board and the 12” extensions have alligator clips. This makes it simple, just clip them the screws. Find a nice sunny spot and face the panel towards to sun, set the battery on the ground under the table out of the sunlight.

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See the wiring diagram for the final assembly and you now have a solar radio.

You could have a radio like this for under a hundred bucks. I figured mine was paid for in one summer, at about $10 for batteries every other weekend. Think of all the batteries you will save, not to mention money. “Going Green to Save Green”

Homemade Cardboard Box Oven

This is a glorified Box Oven compared to the one I made as a kid in the scouts.

For this project the best box would be a banana box or fruit box because of the heavier thicker corrugated design. This box can be picked up for free at your local grocery store. A printer paper box from work would do the job too. The Box Oven can be completely free or as expensive and high tech as you want. The following items can be purchased for about ten bucks or liberated from somewhere else around the house or garage.

4 – 1/8” Diameter Steel Rod (36” long)
1 – Metal Trivet (Steel or Aluminum)
2 – 8 x 8 aluminum Trays
Roll of Aluminum Foil
Aluminum Duct Sealing Tape (optional)
Digital Thermometer with probe (optional – we’re going high tech)
Super Glue

Most boxes I have used are 20” long by 15” wide x 9-1/2” deep. Turn box up vertical on end. Measure up 9-1/2” up from bottom and strike a level line on both sides of the box. Measure down 4″ from top and strike another level line on both sides of the box. If you do not have a trivet, strike a level line 1” up from bottom.

Mark the top line for two 1/8” holes four inches apart. Mark the middle line for three 1/8” holes three inches apart. Mark the bottom line the same as the top, if you’re not using a trivet. (See Photo)

The lid needs to be modified to fit properly. Trim the lip on one end of the lid so it will fit flush on the box without having to handle the box. Use the leftover cardboard to fill the gap in the lid. Use the foil tape to seal off. (See Photo) Remember when baking that the box will be HOT, especially at the top. Caution: Do not use the tape on the inside of the box. The glue on the tape is good for sealing, but not for eating.

Line the inside of the box and lid with two layers of aluminum foil and glue as needed. Be sure and put the shiny side out.

Cut the metal rods in half or have them cut at the home improvement store. Use the rod or an ice pick (be careful) to punch the holes in the box. Brace the box from behind as not to bend or crush it. Also, punch a series on holes on both sides of the box just up from the bottom for ventilation. The handle hole on top can be vented as needed when baking, by taping a foil patch on it as an adjustable flap.

The top and bottom rack will support the aluminum trays and the middle rack with hold the food. (See Photo)

If this oven is going high tech a hole for the digital probe will be needed. The probe should be as close to the food as possible with out touching. Install it about 2” up and near the back of the baking rack.

For a test drive used a tube of store bought biscuits and bake as directed. This oven will need nine briquettes, four on top and five on the bottom. When the charcoals are just turning gray, put four, one in each corner of the tray for the top rack and five, one in each corner and one in center for the bottom rack. Put biscuits in Box Oven. Put on Lid and bake.

The temperature will soar up to 400 degrees or so, then slowly drop to about 225 degrees and hold. Check after about ten minutes or so.

Cardboard Box OvenCardboard Box OvenCardboard Box OvenCardboard Box Oven

You will be pleasantly surprised. With a little practice you can bake many different types of bread. I pull mine out when I’m grilling, so I do not have to run back into the house for bread.

Write me and let me know how you did and what you baked. Maybe some improvements made.

Good Luck and Enjoy.
Camp Master

What’s Cooking?
How do we know when its done?
We use the smell test.
When it smells done, its done.
When it smells burnt, its burnt
When you can't smell it,
its not done.
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