Designing More than Robots - The JuiceBox Project

For almost two seasons I have have had the pleasure to work with an amazing and inspiring group of young high school students involved in the FIRST Robotics competitions at Catlin Gabel in Portland Oregon. The FIRST Robotics Team 1540 the Flaming Chickens are also looking for ways they can make the world a better place using technology and design. One recent example that has been the project they worked on with the Catlin Gabel InvenTeam to solve a local challenge to provide a power source for some local shelter pods housing formerly homeless people. The FIRST team had left over competition robot batteries that were no longer able to be used in competition but would provide a nice power storage for something else. The project was named the The JuiceBox Project and provided an eco friendly way to provide an energy source to some shelter pods in Portland.

The Juice Box Project ( There are even instruction on how to build your own JuiceBox.

Video of the JuiceBox Project which has also made the television news. 

What Is JuiceBox?

JuiceBox is an efficient and sustainable way to provide electricity for off-the-grid, portable pods for previously homeless people.

  • The shelter "pods" are equipped with 100W solar panels that deliver power to the JuiceBox, mounted inside.
  • The power of the sun is harnessed to charge an 18 AH 12V battery. Batteries are recycled from FIRST Robotics teams.
  • This power can then be used to power devices that plug into a wall outlet  (120V AC, 300W max) or 12V DC automotive accessory socket.
  • The battery also powers a bright LED light bar mounted on the front of the JuiceBox, perfect for illuminating rooms at night, and extending the day of the user.

JuiceBox is a winner of The Lexus Eco Challenge First Round, where they won $10,000. All that prize money is being put back into making more Juice Boxes. 

One of the students building a JuiceBox unit.
One of the students building a JuiceBox unit.

Some of the assembled JuiceBoxes ready to be delivered to the Hazelnut Grove site and installed for use by the residents in need of them.

JuiceBoxes ready to be delivered to the Hazelnut Grove

Read more about Team 1540’s outreach as well as the upcoming plan to announce a new LEAP design competition (Linking Engineering and Philanthropy) sponsored by Autodesk where fellow FIRST Robotics teams will compete for prizes designing for local philanthropic projects in their community. 

I cannot over emphasize or underscore how much these Catlin Gabel student inspire and humble me. They are absolutely amazing humans and I am so grateful to get to know them and witness them in action. Past Team 1540 students are currently attending Yale, Stanford, Cal, UCLA, and many other great schools and will no doubt make a positive difference in this world once they graduate. They embody a similar philosophy as Autodesk of Imagine Design, and Create a Better World and also get that being part of a FIRST Robotics team is about more than just robots.