JuiceBox Project

(scroll to the bottom for the latest news)


Every couple of years I try to come up with a special activity for our 11th and 12th grade students that is both fun and educational.  In 2009 and 2011 we constructed mini-Sumo robots and held competitions. My goals for this type of project are to share some aspects of physical sciences that touch on real world applications. The students learn about electronics, physics and soldering and troubleshooting. Along the way, we have a lot of fun.  As I started brainstorming a project for 2013, three things struck me: (1) the robot kits are somewhat expensive at $78.17 each, (2) each robot kit uses 6 AA batteries (that’s a lot of batteries), and (3) while the robots are fun, they serve no purpose after the competition.  I came to the conclusion that we needed a new kind of project that would address some of these issues. I believe the JuiceBox project solves 2 out of 3 of these issues.

3.4 watt 6v solar panel

JuiceBox is a portable power pack that can be used to charge phones, cameras, mp3 players as well as provide light for reading or doing homework.  The JuiceBox is an educational project with several goals. Construction of the JuiceBox will be completed over 4-6 after school sessions. Each session will address specific areas of knowledge including solar energy, electronic theory, circuit design and construction, battery chemistry (and charging physics). Also included throughout the project are topics such as project design, construction (soldering and selecting/modifying the enclosure) and business topics such as part sourcing, wholesale/retail/unit cost.  homework. It can be charged with the included solar panel, or on cloudy days, using a 6v DC adapter or even by plugging it into a computer USB port.

Most people in the Port-de-Paix area do not have electricity. Where electricity is avalable it is very sporadic, often only on at night, perhaps only one night each week. With the JuiceBox project we hope to teach chemistry and physics as they apply to electronics as well as share hands-on skills such as soldering/fabrication. At the end of the project each student will have a portable Li-Poly-based power pack capable of recharging a mobile phone about 5 times or an mp3 player about 8 times or providing homework suitable lighting for 45 hrs. The pack will include a 3.4w 6v PET coated solar panel and charging cord.

charge controller
Adafruit USB/DC/Solar charge controller

What the JuiceBox does:

The JuiceBox charges phones, mp3 players and provides light for reading/doing homework. It’s capable of charging or powering any device that can be connected via USB. The solar panel provides power to the charge controller which can simultaneously charge the Li-Poly battery pack and power/charge small loads (< 500mAh) via an LT1302-based voltage booster.

As a project, it offers several learning opportunities, it doesn’t have ongoing costs such as batteries and it’s beneficial to the students and their families.

Educational Value:  The JuiceBox project will touch on each of the following knowledge areas:

  • Chemistry (various battery chemistries including Li-Poly cells)
  • Physical sciences (solar and electrical circuits, charging profiles)
  • Soldering, assembly and light machining
  • Business and project planning (sourcing, wholesale/retail, costs and overhead)
Hammond Diecast Al enclosure
  • We’re not designing the circuits from scratch. We’re using existing, tested designs which are available as separate parts and/or kits.
  • We’re not selling any products. Each of the 26 students will have the opportunity to participate and construct one JuiceBox.
  • We’re not charging the students. Our goal is be able to provide this project to our 11th and 12th grade students at no cost to them.
  • We’re not making any money. All of our project finances are detailed and available.

Costs: At this point, cost per student estimates are 98% accurate. Our components are sourced from Canada, China, and the U.S. and include all freight costs.


Be Part of the JuiceBox Project: We looking for financial support to help us make the JuiceBox project a reality for October 2012.Current funding as of 6-13

As of June  13, 2012 we have $1238 toward our goal of $2503. If you’d like to help out, you can send checks to:

Sonlight Ministries
P.O. Box 8031
Evansville, IN 47716
Write ‘JuiceBox Project’ on the memo line. This donation is eligible for a tax receipt.


If you’re not concerned with a tax receipt, you can send any amount via PayPal  to sabridges@gmail.com or use the donate button below.  I will continue to update this page as our support nears budget.

UPDATE 6-13-12:

We’ve received some funds (Thank you!) and I’ve ordered the first set of parts so that I can begin testing layout within the enclosure. It will require some light machining, so I’m hoping to get started on a jig for the drilling. Stay tuned!

UPDATE 7-1-12:

I’ve assembled and tested the electronics portion of the first prototype and everything looks good. I still have a decision to make as to where to set the maximum charge rate. The next step is drilling and filing the holes in the enclosure and then making a jig so the students can drill those holes with confidence.


I don’t have an update for our project funding right now. If you’ve sent money to the Evansville address, THANK YOU! I’ll try to get the numbers updated soon.  We’re still very much in need of project funding. If you can help out or if you know someone that wants to get involved and might be looking for a one-time ministry project in need of funding, please pass the word, Tweet us, Like us, +1 us, whatever it takes. Please help us spread the word.


We completed 22 JuiceBoxes between the Junior and Senior classes. Everyone was able to build one and they all worked perfectly by the time we got done! What a success! I wanted the project to be useful and it really has proved to be that. We couldn’t have done this project without the financial help of several people. I can’t thank you enough. I can’t tell you this, when I have parents that greet me and thank me again and again for the JuiceBox project, it’s very humbling. These students worked hard on fabrication, electronics, soldering and troubleshooting. What they’ve achieved is a big deal. Thanks for believing in them, me and our project.

Juniors (now Seniors) proudly displaying their JuiceBoxes
Juniors (now Seniors) proudly displaying their JuiceBoxes

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