So one of the things I tend to do is build projects that need to be mobile. I have tried several things and what seems to work really well is simply using rechargeable USB batteries. I have them in several sizes. The smallest form factor I use is a 2400 mAh enercell USB battery bank that is approximately the size of an Arduino Uno and will power my bike light for about ten to eleven hours which in my case works out the be about five or six rides. I picked it up at radio shack and it quickly became my favorite portable Arduino Uno power supply. Next up is the 2000 mAh Solio® Bolt Solar Charger which is easily the most expensive solution I have. It has a compact pair of solar panels that charge an internal lipo batter and then steps the power up to 5 volt which is supplied to a USB port. The down side is to charge it via the sun takes eight to ten hours. The up side is during a power outage you can easily get a little power from the sun to power your cell phone etc. The third solution I use is a Chinese made 10,000 mAh battery bank I picked up on ebay. That is not a typo its really a 10,000 mAh battery bank… perhaps it should be called a battery tank since it is so hefty. I actually have a couple of them and I use them for Arduino projects as well as charging cell phones and tablets. I charge them either via a USB cell phone charger or via a solar panel. I do tend to run into charging issues if I try and charge them via a solar panel when the temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The obvious issue being if the battery gets too hot it will stop charging to protect itself from damage. You could also power your project directly from solar but you may run into problems on a cloudy day. I personally prefer to go from solar to battery and then power my project from battery but to each their own. I have added some images for reference.
If you don’t happen to have a rechargeable USB battery you can also do a lot with a 9 volt battery strap, a 2.1 mm power plug and a little heat shrink tubing. The on-board voltage regulator works quite well with a wide range of voltages. The recommended voltage is from 7 to 12 volts but they will run at six volts.
Now you can also obviously use rechargeable batteries in any of these situations. I just used what batteries I had on hand for the pictures.
For more information on using lipo batteries in your projects you can head over here.
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- just a few random photographs