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☀️🔋 Let’s Make a Solar-Powered Chat Network

May 13, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

A black-and-white illustration of a smiling cartoon mushroom holding a solar panel, with the sun overhead. In the background, a backpack with a LoRa radio on top leans against a hill. The text reads as follows: Let's Make a Solar-Powered Chat Network Saturday, May 13th / 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. / at Iffy Books / Learn about solar energy and help build an encrypted chat network across Philly! Each participant will get a free kit to build their own off-grid LoRa radio node. Registration opens Monday, April 3rd at 8:30 PM: iffybooks.net/event/solar-chat-network

We’re looking for help to build a wireless, solar-powered chat network across the Philly area! Are you interested in learning about off-grid solar power? Do you have a sunny place on your roof, in your yard, or near an upstairs window where you can leave a small radio transceiver? This workshop may be for you!

Each participant will receive a free kit with all the parts needed to build a solar-powered LoRa node. You’ll assemble the kit, mount it in a weatherproof enclosure (provided by you), and use the Meshtastic app to start sending encrypted text messages. Here’s what the kit contains:

• Heltec LoRa32 v3 w/case
• 5V 6W monocrystalline solar panel
• TP4056 battery charger module w/ header pins
• 18650 lithium-ion battery
• Battery clip
• MCP1700-3302E low-dropout (LDO) regulator
• 100uF electrolytic capacitor
• 100nF ceramic capacitor
• Micro breadboard
• 1.25mm JST connectors
• DuPont jump wires
• USB-C cable
• USB extension cable
• Heat shrink tubing

This workshop includes some light soldering, suitable for beginners. We’ll provide soldering irons and lead-free solder. If you don’t feel comfortable soldering, we have a solder-free option for assembling the kit.

To complete this project, you’ll need to bring a weatherproof enclosure for your LoRa node. An opaque, light-colored material is best to keep the temperature down. Avoid metal containers, which may block radio communication. At the workshop we’ll show you how to cut a hole in the bottom of your enclosure to pass a power cable through. Here are some items that would make good enclosures:

• a plastic ammo box from Harbor Freight
• a waterproof container for boating, such as an Otter Box
• an empty Gatorade bottle painted white
• a food storage container with a good seal
• a plastic bucket with lid

Registration opens Monday, April 3rd at 8:30 p.m. We’re expecting this workshop to fill up quickly, so we’re keeping a waiting list. If you register but can’t attend, let us know ASAP at iffybooks@iffybooks.net. We can’t reserve kits for folks who miss the workshop, but Iffy Books will have a limited number for sale after the event.

Supplies for this workshop are funded by a grant from the Engaged Humanities Studio at Swarthmore College.


Registration for this free workshop is full. Thanks for your interest! You can join the waiting list here.

We’re also offering a paid version of the workshop on Sunday, May 14th at 1:00 p.m.

A circuit diagram for a solar-powered LoRa radio node, including a solar panel and battery. The text reads as follows: Iffy Books / Let’s Make a Solar-Powered Chat Network / 5V 6W monocrystalline solar panel / 100 nF ceramic capacitor / 100 uF electrolytic capacitor / MCP1700-3302E LDO regulator (flat side facing forward) / TP4056 battery charger w/ protection circuit / USB-C cable / 18650 lithium-ion battery / Heltec LoRa32 V3 w/ antenna


May 13, 2023
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Iffy Books (319 N. 11th St.)
319 N. 11th St. #2I
Philadelphia, PA 19107 United States
View Venue Website


Iffy Books