A totally solar-powered server. The conclusion.

I’ll be straight with you. I’ve had a long career in IT. I’ve done some proper geeky things in my time, including having an old server in my garage running VMware. That means that I can run a stack of machines, test things out and generally be a super geek. It’s been my test bed, my sandbox.

Trouble is, the server I have is noisy, big and drinks electric.

It’s a problem I have to deal with in my day job too. Amperage, load, heat, these are all considerations that need to be looked at in datacentres.

A while ago I got myself a Raspberry Pi. For the unaware, this is a credit card-sized computer which can run Linux (and lots more) and do lots of useful things. However, I wanted to make use of an old Android smartphone and, without having to mess around with it too much, make it live on a little longer after I’d upgraded to a shiny new phone. The Raspberry Pi is arguably better in some respects, but I wanted to make it as simple and straightforward as possible.

So, the phone already has a battery in it and, like most Android phones, we know it’ll probably need one charge per day to keep going. I strapped a solar charger to it, stuffed it in my shed, installed a web server app and hoped for the best. Would the amount of sunlight be enough to keep the phone alive all the time?

It marked the beginning of “The Shed Project“. The steps involved are below…

Day 1    Day 2    Day 3    Day 4

The API I’d installed – which basically lets me get bits of info from the phone remotely – told me the live battery percentage. So, I’ve took that reading every 5 minutes and plotted it. Here’s how it looks over the last few days…

There’s a few gaps where I broke bits, but you can see that the charge hasn’t dipped below 70%. We can also see when we had sunnier days and when there wasn’t quite enough sun to push the battery back up to 100%. However, as a proof of concept, I can confidently say that you can indeed run a web server from an Android phone without paying a penny for electricity.

I’d love to hear if you’re doing anything wacky or weird with solar power or with old bits of phone. Do let me know via Twitter or the contact form.

Here’s the live stats and a live image from the phone..