Tripod footage of me helping people find the glasses the need for reading and other activities when I went to Enugu State, Nigeria with ACRT (AIDS Crisis Response Team) to participate in various humanitarian activities. This mainly included health based support, like a travelling clinic.
The process of helping over 100 people find glasses, by talking to them and letting them try several pairs, was one of the main inspirations behind my work in creating sustainable design projects that bring light to people who need it.
When I returned home I began work in my Bachelor of Fine Arts – Visual Arts program to create rechargeable solar powered LED light sources.
I found that I needed quite a bit of help in figuring out what kind of components I needed to use. I had found most of the parts, and what’s needed to get them working, on my own. This included, LEDs, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries and several other components. I was especially inspired by the writings of Stuart Walker, from his book Sustainable by Design. All of this research also led me to use the Lilypad Arduino, which uses waterproof circuitry and conductive thread in order to create simple/repairable/waterproof/wearable circuits, which also encourage young children and women to get involved in electronics, especially in the type of “traditional” societies I was working in in Nigeria.
In order to get more information on the electrical engineering side of my project I asked a friend/colleague to help me out. Bob from Windsor Starter’s Powerhouse had helped me on a couple projects when I was enrolled in the Green Corridor course at the University of Windsor. In Green Corridor, Bob supplied a portable, solar and wind rechargeable, battery based generator for the outdoor performances during the Open Corridor event on Huron Church Rd.
Bob is drawing a diagram showing how the circuit should look.
Here, he is testing the LED to see how much current is coming from the battery.
Bob is using a potentiometer (variable resistor) to figure out what resistor the LEDs will need.
We figured that the LEDs will need a 22ohms resistor in order to make sure the LEDs don’t burn out. Bob also explained to me how you read the coloured stripes on the resistor and other useful tips.
After getting the information I needed, I began constructing my circuits for the lamp. The idea for the lamp is that I will use highly efficient, low cost and readily available LEDs to create a bright light source for people who have little to no access to electricity. The lamp will be charged with solar and a battery.
I started by soldering the LEDs to the Lilypad Arduino PCB.
The 22 Ohms resistor can be seen on the right side of the circuit.
Here is the first test to make sure the connections are correct.
Then I sewed the circuit to a piece of canvas, which is a cheap and durable type of material that can also be treated to increase it’s life span, and easily changed if there is a problem or for aesthetic preference.
I used the conductive thread on the back of the canvas to make the connection to the battery.
I attached the light to the rest of the pamp which is a clothing hanger placed in plaster in a found flower pot.
I added a switch and attached the solar panel to the re-apropriated portable phone battery.
After this project, I began constructing an over the shoulder bag that houses a more powerful solar panel, a lithium-ion battery and more robust wiring.