A few weeks ago, we posted a guest article submission from Brandon Barton, the man behind an emergency preparedness Facebook page known as Last Man Projects. With a budget of just $200, Brandon constructed his own DIY emergency power pack for charging electronics in remote areas. Off-the-shelf products exist for this purpose, but Brandon saved hundreds of dollars and got more of the features he wanted by creating his own solution — click here to read the original article if you haven't already.
Brandon's power pack was built to sit in the back of his '78 Ford Bronco bug-out truck project, Lucille. At the end of that article, we mentioned that Brandon planned to integrate the battery pack into a solar panel on his truck so it will always remain charged and ready to use. This weekend, he posted an update that showed how he did just that.
In a Facebook post detailing phase two of the build, Brandon wrote:
To finish up this project, I wanted to mount a solar panel to Lucille's roof rack with a charge controller that monitored the battery and kept it topped off. That way it would always be ready to use; I could take off in Lucille for weekend of truck camping and have power ready to go, or remove the pack from my truck during short-term power outages when firing up the generator isn't necessary.
In keeping with the intent of the project, I wanted it to be as easy and cost effective as possible to encourage the most people to build one. This portion of the project… is a little more involved than simply hooking up prefab components as I did with the battery pack itself. It's not hard though. All you really need is a pair of wire strippers.
Here's a list of the parts and costs associated with rigging the $200 DIY power pack to a solar charger:
Brandon goes into much more detail about why he chose these items and how he assembled everything in a Facebook post — click here to read more. He also leaves his readers with some wise advice: Always be safe! Don't try anything that's beyond your skill level. If you have a question, research it online, ask a professional, or get group feed back. Have fun and send pics of your applications!
Also, ensure your battery setup is properly-ventilated if you're storing it inside a vehicle. Repeated charge and discharge cycles can lead to the release of hazardous gases into the sealed interior, so be cautious of this. Brandon says his Bronco's cab is far from air-tight and he takes relevant precautions, so it's not an issue for this application, but it would be on a newer vehicle.
For more prepper projects, survival tips, post-apocalyptic artwork, and more, be sure to follow Last Man Projects on Facebook.