Its been a relentless process of failure, failure, failure to finally get to this: a functional solar panel mandala! Here are the first pics… they could be better, but its -20C outside today and I was keen to just get the test done!
For those who’ve known me a while, you’ll know that I really hit my stride in my art practice with Mandalas. I loved mandalas the moment I first made one. My mandala making journey began with some pastels, then film, then it took me around the world for a giant mandala made of portraits… and now… solar panels!
When I would lead mandala making workshops I would often talk about “the powerful ancient and sacred art of the mandala”. And its true mandalas are a potent means for personal and communal transformation. And now they are powerful in yet another way! My mandala literally generates power. 1400 milliamps at 5 volts to be precise. That’s easily enough to charge big tablets and even my new mini-board PC.
When I first had this idea over a year ago I thought it would be pretty straighforward Right. For those of you who ordered your OpenCharger over a year ago, you know this really well… a process that I thought would only take a month or two, has taken ten times longer! I’ve basically had to teach myself solar panel manufacturer in order to make this a reality. FOUR different attempts to manufacturer the panels failed for varous reasons of shortsightedness and technical ignorance. But for those of you who did order a charger a year ago good news: every element is designed with intention and these panels are twice as powerful as I first pitched.
And… infinitely exapandable! …in two dimensions, three dimensions and in terms of power. That’s right, should you have a basic cellphone you can literally cut a usb cord and weave it onto one panel and start charging it. If you have a bigger phone you can configure three panels together to get 600 mA. If you have an iPad, then configure seven! These panels are attached simply by cutting up an aluminum coke can and screwing the strips of aluminum together to the panels.
And how about if you want to power your house– say to charge a bank of carbon based supercapacitors or lithium cells? . Well… you could literally assemble dozens or hundreds (each panel is 1W for easy calculations) of these in a day into a 2D flat hanging mesh or a 3D geodesic dome.