Tracking Solar Panel

Ask questions about projects relating to: aerodynamics or hydrodynamics, astronomy, chemistry, electricity, electronics, physics, or engineering.

Moderators: MelissaB, kgudger, Ray Trent, Moderators

Tracking Solar Panel

Postby dvscrobe » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:18 pm

Last year, my daughter hypothesized that a set particular angle on a given clear day of a static solar solar panel would provide for the greatest efficiency in electrical output. This year, she is thinking of using the same panel but designing a device that would allow the panel to track the sun. To help her in her design, I imagine this device could be made by using two servo motors, one to control an axis that would allow the panel to follow the sun's elevation angle and another to control a different axis that would allow the panel to follow the sun's azimuth angle. Looking for design ideas on this.
dvscrobe
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:04 am
Occupation: Parent of Student, 9th Grade
Project Question: Creating A Motorized Tracking Solar Panel
Project Due Date: Dec 15, 2013
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Tracking Solar Panel

Postby kgudger » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:32 pm

Hello and welcome to the forums!

I used a search engine on this topic and found several good sites. The MIT design without any motors sounds very interesting! I noticed most of the motorized designs are only single axis, however. Let us know what you find!

Keith
kgudger
Moderator
 
Posts: 403
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:20 pm
Occupation: electronic engineer
Project Question: n/a
Project Due Date: n/a
Project Status: Not applicable

Re: Tracking Solar Panel

Postby John Dreher » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:01 pm

You might want to take a look at the type of single axis drives used by some of the old-fashioned backyard TV satellite antennas. They use a linear actuator to push a lever about a pivot to generate the desired rotation. They run open-loop which is much simpler than a servo or other closed-loop control systems. Orbitron used to be the biggest supplier, but I don't know if anybody still makes these. Amateur radio operators sometimes use these dishes, and they often get them for free either via craigslist etc. or by driving around in rural areas until they spot one growing weeds in a back yard which the owner will often be happy to get rid of. You, of course, would only want the ones that had the electrical hour-angle drive option (common). If you are lucky, the owner may still have the controller box that was used to drive the dish from satellite to satellite along the geostationary satellite arc. Also, rather than servo-motors, consider stepper or DC motors, and running the control open-loop with a microswitch to "find" where you are whenever the position zero is lost.

Good luck with what sounds like an interesting project.
John Dreher
Expert
 
Posts: 294
Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:33 am
Occupation: Astronomer, Professor of Physics, SETI Researcher (retired)
Project Question: n/a
Project Due Date: n/a
Project Status: Not applicable

Re: Tracking Solar Panel

Postby dvscrobe » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:21 pm

John, thank you for your reply. I am going to start a new thread, as my daughter has completed this project and she is now thinking of how to approach next year's project. I will keep your post in consideration on new thread and on the design of next year's project.
dvscrobe
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:04 am
Occupation: Parent of Student, 9th Grade
Project Question: Creating A Motorized Tracking Solar Panel
Project Due Date: Dec 15, 2013
Project Status: I am just starting


Return to Grades 6-8: Physical Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests