How to Build a Model Solar Powered Car

Written by hilarypost
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How to Build a Model Solar Powered Car
Solar powered cars are very fun and easy to make. (sporty model car image by Ray Kasprzak from

Anything that is powered by a battery can also be powered by solar rays, and many people are switching to solar power to heat and cool their houses and run other home appliances. Making solar powered toy cars with your child or on your own is a great way to learn about solar technology. Not only can you learn about this global trend, you'll also have a lot of fun working on and playing with your solar powered model car.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • DC motor 2v, 145mAmps
  • Wood board
  • Foam board
  • 2 dowel rods
  • Pulley
  • Rubber band
  • Plastic bottle
  • Motor clip
  • Instant glue
  • Solar panel
  • Drill
  • Angled platform (optional), 4 1/2 inch by 2 3/4 inch
  • Tape
  • 2 model-car wheels, 1-inch diameter

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  1. 1

    Cut the wood board down so that it's a little bit larger than the plastic bottle. This wood block will be the car's body platform, and the plastic bottle will be the car body. You can use foam board instead of wood.

  2. 2

    Cut two sections of foam about two inches in length and the width of the body platform. Glue the pieces to the top and bottom edges of the body platform. Use a ruler to place a mark on each of the pieces once inch from the front and back and from each side. There should be a total of four dots on each piece of foam.

  3. 3

    Screw in a screw eye into each of the four dots. The axles of your car will thread through these eyes, so it's important to make sure that the two eyes per axle are the same height off the board.

  4. 4

    Use a saw to cut the two dowel rods. The dowel rods are to be used as axles. Make sure the axles you measure extends one inch outside of the platform on each side. Then use sandpaper on the tips so that the wheels will fit on the rods.

  5. 5

    Attach a wheel to one of the axles. Then put the axle through the screw eyes before attaching the second wheel. Put the large pulley on the front axle between the body of the platform and the right wheel.

  1. 1

    Place the motor into the motor clip and affix the small pulley to the motor's shaft. Put the rubber band around the small pulley and the large pulley. The band should be tight but not overstretched.

  2. 2

    Take off the rubber band and glue the motor clip on the platform of the body near to the right front wheel. It's important to make sure that the engine wire is free, as you will need to attach this to the engine.

  3. 3

    Thread the rubber band through the motor pulley and the drive pulley.

  4. 4

    Drill a hole through the bottom and the top of the plastic bottle. Put the wire through the holes and glue the bottle to the platform body.

  5. 5

    Connect the wires from the engine to the wires from the solar panel. Glue the solar panel to the top of the bottle. Make sure to tape or glue any loose wires onto the car body to ensure that these don't drag on the floor.

Tips and warnings

  • When building your car, you have the option to have the solar panel lay flat or raised. If you choose to make yours raised, the car will move faster, but only when it's going toward the sun. The car will work in other directions, but will go slower.
  • Keep the solar panel covered while you wire it to the engine so the car does not automatically start.

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