How to Make a Mini Solar Car?

Let’s face it, the holidays gifted many children with toys requiring batteries and chargers. Why not ditch the electric bill and gift the renewable power of a mini solar car?

Building a mini solar car with your child will not only keep their interest from beginning to end, but will provide the learning opportunity of renewable energy innovations.

Solar energy is an alternative energy provided by the sun that can be converted into useable electricity. Through this provided photovoltaic technology, solar products – such as mini toy cars – can be created, replacing the need for batteries and chargers on automatic products.

Mini Solar Car

Not handy with a hammer? Pre-built cars such as OWI 7-in-1 Rechargeable Solar Transformers are easy to assemble and come in a variety of styles such as dump trucks and race cars. This toy will jump start the interest in science and technology, raise awareness in solar energy, and initiate creativity within your child.

More importantly, mini solar cars are fun! If you don’t want to get a pre-build model, you can also make one just from scratch.

Here’s how to make one:

  1. Stock up on supplies:
  • Sun (The key to success!)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Plastic Straw
  • Utility Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Four 1-inch wheels
  • One 1 ½ volt motor
  • Two, 4 ½ inch steel rods (12cm)
  • Four washers (that fit over steel rods)
  • Two gears: 1-inch gear and ½-inch gear
  • One 1 volt solar cell (wired, for motor attachment)
  • One Balsa Wood Sheet – 2.5 inches wide (6.35 cm) x 8 inches long (20.3 cm)
  1. Take one of the wheels and one of the steel rods. Place the wheel down on the work surface. Place the steel rod into the hole of the wheel. Tap the steel rod into place. Place washer on steel rod and move it down to the wheel.
  2. Measure and cut the straw so that it fits on the steel rod between the wheels when they are both on the rod. The straw length depends upon the inside length of the wheel length where the rod is inserted. Cut the straw to fit this length. The straw should turn freely when both wheels are on both ends of the steel rod.
  3. Place the cut length of straw onto the steel rod. Place a second washer onto the steel rod. Put a wheel on the open end of the steel rod and tap into place.
  4. Take one of the wheels and the other steel rod. Place the wheel down on the work surface. Place the steel rod into the hole of the wheel. Tap the steel rod into place. Place washer onto steel rod and move it down to the wheel.
  5. Measure and cut a second length of straw but this time leave space for a gear which will be placed on the rod before the second wheel.
  6. Place cut straw on steel rod. Place washer on steel rod. Place gear on steel rod and tap gear into place. Place wheel on steel rod and tap into place.
  7. Use the hot glue gun and place a line of glue along the length of the straw. Carefully place the balsa on to glue ½ inch from its end. Repeat with the other axle.
  8. Attach the smaller gear to the motor to form a gear/motor assembly. Place the gear/motor assembly so that the teeth of the small gear line up with the teeth of the larger gear.
  9. Move the assembly out of the way enough to place a line of hot glue on the balsa wood. Set the assembly on the glue line.
  10. Glue the underside of the solar cell to the top the balsa wood.
  11. Connect the wires of the solar cell and the motor.
  12. Place in the sun on a smooth surface.

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