How to Make (Almost) Anything

MAS 863 2010
Final Project br> Week 11 assignment: -Final Project: Down and Dirty with Dirt batteries.

Making soil batteries and trying to make them power the microcontroller and lcd (which is the voltmeter measuring the voltage and current of the battery itself). So, for my project, i am making my own fab multimeter with an LCD screen that can measure 0-5 V and the dirt batteries.


  • cathode: aluminium window screen sheets
  • anode : carbon cloth and copper plates
  • fuel: dirt soil
  • container: shop bot press fit boxes
  • wires for connections

  • yup, that's all. before we go over how the setup was done, here are some numbers and an image of the final products:


    Box A (smallest size) has a set 2.5 x 2.5 inches electrodes.

    Box B (midium size) has a set of 5 x 5 inches electrodes.

    Box C (largest size) has a 10 x 10 inches electrodes.

    Voltage readings
    Immidiately after set up of batteries

  • Box A = 1.2V
  • Box B = 1.2V
  • Box C = 1.1V

  • 12 hours later
  • Box A = 0.66V
  • Box B = 0.67V
  • Box C= 0.67V
  • Current Readings
    12 hours later

  • Box A = 0.3mA
  • Box B = 0.5mA
  • Box C = 0.8mA
  • Dirty Combos

  • Voltage: Since voltage can be added in series, there you go, you are in luck. you can get as many voltage as you want. We think voltage is a function of the metals used as electrodes.
  • Current: The bigger the dimension of the electrodes and soil, the higher the current. I predict that this will tip off around 1.5 (with just tap water). Salt increases this electron flow. richer soil might also help.
  • Current in Parralel: we can increase the current of the cells by connecting in parallel. any two of the boxes gives more than 1mA. Connecting all three box sizes in parallel gives about 1.5mA

  • Long and short of it all, we can increase the current and voltage by connecting in parallel and series and use that to power your low energy requirements. I will update at some point on Watt-hours. Otherwise, check out Lebone Solutions Inc.

    Some stuff to Power:
  • a microcontroller (requires 1.8-5V and 1- XX mA)
  • a very high efficient LED (for lights in off-grid areas)
  • and yes, almost anything (yes, i went there)(/li>
    to begin, I made the eagle schematics


    then the board. See the air wire?


    then the milling.



    then the breadboard


    then it was to make the boxes



    then we cut the electrodes



    then we matched


    then we tested see video here

    youtube video
    microcontroller needs about 2 V. LCD requires 5 V. I can’t quantify current needed but they both say 1mA. That means, I can technically power the whole thing with the battery (dirty battery I mean).

    this is the next stage

    Biggest irony is that i think dirt went under my microcontroller and it is eh not making it see stuff on the lcd