This is a first post to get stuff out, I'll briefly run over the details available right now.

First, a more comprehensive description, and then I'll get into the specifics of the different aspects of this design. The premise of this is to generate steam power by focusing sunlight with a lens onto a heat sync of aluminum with a copper tube wound through it (think light bulb filament of copper in a solid aluminum tube of a 'bulb')

  1. The nuts and bolts hardware. most of these parts are component parts, but some may necessitate forming operations such as casting, drilling, milling, filing, and lapping. None of these are especially complex themselves, but they are not generally known or intuitive in all cases, and it is also the explicit goal of this project to bring the ability to make this to people who do not already have it.

    I will assemble and publish a list of the specific things off amazon that I have gotten (or if there are better deals on identical function, I'll post those). For the current prototype I am using 1/4" threaded rod to assemble parts, pegboard to make frames and structures that require alignment (seriously, pegboard rules for prototyping), standard ball bearings, nuts and washers with 1/4" internal diameter. The current fresnel lenses are 8"x10", but I am searching for a fresnel lens with a much shorter focal length than the ~18" it takes to center a beam of light with the pictured prototype.
  2. The Electronics/controllers. I purchased 3 Raspberry Pi Zeros (Henceforth "pi0's") for the initial run of 3 prototypes, and then the pi0 wifi model came out- and is a much better bargain. But that said, I am currently doing all the development on a pi3B, with the adafruit stepper hat and 2 Nema 17 steppers, with a handful of other standard components. Again, the point is that this can be implemented anywhere from the ground up.
  3. The software. The current plan is to use python 3 as the main development language for local development and to have a javascript web API for control online. I've developed similar code before for similar applications and am just starting down this road on the stepper/adahat versions. What I can say right now is that we're probably looking at a Flask API to expose the python functions, some web stuff to expose stats and allow manual intervention to correct things remotely (if needed) so that Flask API may change to Django for the purposes of spitting out formulaic data presentation for us Humonkeys to read. Beyond that, the plan is to implement the most basic object tracking in openCV and to track the brightest object, which will always be the sun, using two webcams- one pointed at the sky, and one pointed at the heat sync unit where the lens is focused to allow precise control of beam placement, so that the most intense point of heat generation can be moved around the surface to heat evenly. This will be tied in to Google Earth to calculate sun angles and so on. All open stuff with good documentation that has been reliably deployed elsewhere.

I'll cap this here, the Ada hat board has just arrived this week and I've just begun getting code working on it and will update the git with the details soon.