Have you ever wanted to kit into solar electronics but don’t want to spend time learning how to solder or about how to put together solar panels yourself? Then B-Squares might be for you.
B-Squares was created by engineers Jordan McRae and Shawn Frayne, based in Seattle and San Francisco, respectively.
B-Squares is what its inventors call “a 3D modular electronics system with an emphasis on (but not limited to) solar power and expandable energy storage.” The “Squares” each have their own function and snap together using magnetic contacts without the need for tedious wiring and soldering. This means that you can try out ideas quickly. Have an idea? You can put your squares together quickly and see if your invention works. If not, put together different squares or put your current squares in a new combination. It’s rapid prototyping for solar power. The “3D” part comes from the fact that you can stack these Squares in any direction, forming a cube, for example.
Flipping the Square around changes the circuit. For example, to change the color of the LED Square, you can turn it to flip it from red to green.
The currently available Squares are the LED-square, the Solar-Square, the Battery-Square, the Speaker-Square, iPod-Square, the Arduino-Square, and the Proto-Square. Most of these are self-explanatory. The solar square is a small photovoltaic square that has microsuction technology from Japan that lets you stick it on a window to let it get some sun.
The really cool squares are the iPhone/iPod dock connectors and the speaker squares. You can put together a DIY solar-powered iPod boombox that charges your device at the same time. The dock also features stereo outputs so you can hook it up to a real system and rock out in an eco-friendly way.
If you are good with a soldering iron, you’ll love the Arduino-and-Proto-Squares. The Arduino lets you use power any Arduino device and the Proto-Square lets you design your own Square.
The designers are still looking for funding on Kickstarter. If you pledge $15, you’ll get the solar Solar-Square. $50 nets you a “B-Ginner’s Kit,” consisting of a Solar-Square, Battery-Square, and LED Square. Pledge $100 and you’ll get all of that plus an Arduino-Square and Proto-Square. $250 nets you everything plus a book of “recipes” to let you build a bunch of devices. For more solar-powered fun, check out our posts on a solar-powered watch design and a solar USB device charger.