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The BPW34 is a tiny, general purpose PiN photodiode. This photodiode has a ton of uses, one of which is to use it is a mini solar cell to power small, low power projects. It is also useful when used as a sensor to detect light. The cell is sensitive to a wide range of light wavelengths (430-1100nm), so it should produce power in a number of different settings. The rated open circuit voltage is 350mV (900nm, 1mW/cm2 light source), and short circuit current is 47μA.
These are fun (of course)! We shined a 940nm infrared LED on one of them and it produced about 0.5VDC open circuit voltage. Stringing four together in series, we were able to turn an LED on with them. They'll also produce a small voltage, ~250mV, in a brightly, fluorescent-lit room.
For examples using the BPW34, check out the resources below:
This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.
Skill Level: Noob - Some basic soldering is required, but it is limited to a just a few pins, basic through-hole soldering, and couple (if any) polarized components. A basic soldering iron is all you should need.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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Most light-detection circuits will use a CdS photoresistor like SEN-09088. Unfortunately, they are somewhat slow to react (a few ms). Find for detecting big shadows, but too slow to measure fast-blinking LEDs accurately.
Photodiodes like this product react much more quickly (in the hundreds of ns), so you can get very quick measurements if you have a high-speed ADC (like the MCP3002 (COM-08636 at SparkFun)).