Energy Options > Solar Power

Making solar cells from transisters for cheap electricity...

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I found an interesting video on YouTube from Romania that shows how to open up transistors, and make them into photovoltiacs.

Check out

The process is fairly simple: open up the transistor case, clean off internal paint or dye, and wire them up into modules. Then wire the modules together until you have enough power.

I don't know what the relative efficiency is, but they wouldn't really need to be super-cells if they were cheap enough and easy to make.

I think that a motivated person could probably scrounge transistors by the bucket wherever dead electronics are found, and probably for free, at that.

One interesting sidelight: this Romanian guy claims the power outputs may jump 300 times over, occasionally. That ties in with something I read years ago. A guy in Oz pulled the glass cover off of a small bank of ordinary solar cells, and found they could slurp up atmospheric ions, and so produce large amounts of excess energy. Not always, of course, but especially just before storms.

The Aussie could make the meter jump just by pointing the array at distant stormclouds.

The Romanian guy doesn't specify that a glass cover is required on his modules, so he may be getting the same effect.

This same guy, by the way, has another video where he shows how to use diodes like solar cells. I don't know much about electronics, but he may have something neat there.
Check out


--- Quote from: ldmorgan on May 04, 2009, 10:44:39 PM ---The Aussie could make the meter jump just by pointing the array at distant stormclouds.

--- End quote ---

This sounds a little too much like voodoo science.

Lots of people believe in finding water with divining rods, "measuring" paranormal activity (ghost hunting), etc.  I don't go for faith-based science.  Scientists and engineers call that junk science.  Lots of what passes for news is based on junk science.

Yes, you can create photons with electricity, and electricity with photons; but you need more than voltage.  You also need current.  As inefficient as existing solar cells are, his are almost zero efficiency.

Regarding "slurping up atmospheric ions", this is hogwash.  I tried to find a less confrontational way to say that; it probably cost me my first negative karma.  I am saying the guy in Oz is full of hogwash.

In defense of basement "mad scientists", the guy from the UK that invented the ceramic we use on the space shuttle tiles did not understand the chemistry behind why his invention worked, but that did not stop it from working.  He tinkered until something worked.  Just like Edison and the lightbulb; he tried everything for the element including wood and eventually found the right material.

Even though these guys are off base, we need lots of people inventing stuff, not just scientists and engineers.



--- Quote from: UnderTheRadar on May 05, 2009, 12:11:19 AM ---
Regarding "slurping up atmospheric ions", this is hogwash.  I tried to find a less confrontational way to say that; it probably cost me my first negative karma.  I am saying the guy in Oz is full of hogwash.


--- End quote ---

(Heheheheheheheh!) All karma is good karma. If ya call it like ya see it, I'll never complain.

The thing about slurping up ions is probably more my informal way of writing than anything else. I make it sound a little goofy, perhaps.


There really is some substance there. The atmosphere is chock full of ions, and it gets chockier just before thunderstorms. And ions can be turned into useful power in several different ways. There are a lot of patents on atmospheric ion collectors as power supplies--mostly antennas of one kind or another. Most use the potential differences that exist between ground level and various altitudes.

RC hobbyists have been using automatic leveling circuits on large model airplanes for decades. (By large, I mean about a 6 ft. wingspan.) If the plane banks, the wingtip that is elevated senses the increased electric potential, and the change is used to initiate a turn back to level. When the wingtip potentials are equal again, the bank signal stops.

Likewise, if you have a mountainside handy you can run a few hundred yards of bare (no insulation) wire up the slope--say by going from tree to tree & using glass insulators while keeping everything at least 6 feet above the dirt--and you'll get a very decent current out of the low end of the wire. That's usually tapped with some kind of capacitor circuit, BTW, and used to charge a battery bank.

You can do the same with a bare horizontal wire, as Bill Beatty recently found out when he built a huge loop antenna around his property for his ham radio station. He used about about 3 miles of wire, if I remember right, and almost got electrocuted when he closed the loop.

Horizontal wires usually produce less power per foot, but he had a lot of feet.

Both kinds of antennas can be beefed up by adding collector surface--aluminum pie pans, foil streamers, etc, to boost the ion harvest. Both could be quite dangerous to passers-by. 

Ions are just naturally happy to hop out of the relatively non-conductive air and take a free ride to ground down a better conductor. Any old wire suits them fine.

And yes, you can harvest the occasional lightning bolt, so you don't want to hook that wire up to the old hot tub...

First thing I have to say is forget the whole idea, it would not be cheap electricity even if it worked as the video said.

Do a little research and see just how bad this idea really is.

Consider the information given in the video.  He says a large transistor (the item shown in the (TO-3 size transistor case) "might" produce (.5 volts at 1 mA).  A milli-Amp is one thousandth of an amp.  I don't believe him, but lets go with his number for our back of the envelope analysis.

Doing the math would mean you need at least 2000 of the power transistors wired in parallel to get one watt of power (2 amps at .5 volts= 1 watt).  Keep in mind that power transistors like those shown in the photo cost over one dollar each, more like 2-3 bucks each. 

Personally I haven't found any power transistors that would work as he described, some are indeed photo sensitive, will work like a switch with light applied to the chip inside, but not as a photovoltaic cell. 

Rather than spending the thousands of dollars, and thousands of hours cutting the tops off those transistors consider spending 10-20 bucks for a cheap dash mounted solar battery maintainer, it will be ten times more powerful that the thousands of dollars spent on trying to make this guys science fair project. 

One more thing, the panel he shows looks more like a bunch of LED's mounted on a circuit card, and not transistor chips gutted from small signal devices. 

Keep in mind these are probably the same guys (who produced the video) that tried to convince us they could bend spoons and folks with their mental powers back in the 1970's and 80's, ha..

Yup--yer probably right. At that power density (and for the price) it wouldn't be time or cost effective even if it worked. Time to Dead Thread this one, I guess, and move on toward something more practical.


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