This incredible guide by Parker Jardine can be found in the Make magazine, in the Primer section. You can also read it online in the Make digital edition. Jardine details how he created a solar panel from scratch. This build can get complex pretty quickly, so it's not intended for people who are just starting out. This build involves soldering and working with electricity, so it's best to try this if you are comfortable working with these.
The first step involves creating the plastic case and fixing in the solar cells. What's really cool is that all of this is detailed in the article. You'll know where to find the most important components of this build. If you've never soldered solar cells before, Jardine recommends that you try out with scrap cells first to practice. When you solder the solar cells, it's important to go step-by-step, waiting to solder the rows together once everything else has already been soldered. Once the cells have been soldered, you'll need to wire the case. You can then seal the case. Next, you'll need to add the junction box. The junction box needs to be water tight, so apply a good dose Duco cement and of silicone sealant . Finally, the whole thing should be grounded so that it's up to code.
We think that this is a great project to try out. The costs involved are pretty low and that means that if you mess up, it's no big deal. The result is something that can be used every day and that won't have cost a fortune. [via Make, images via Make and Wikicommons]