While I was interning with Micro-Finance Institutions in India, I was tasked with interviewing farmers and ask how they used subsidies and micro-loans to acquire capital equipment for their farms. Solar-powered bore wells were common all across this region of India. They told me that the water flows at different rates throughout the day due to the position of the solar panels. I knew solar trackers were used heavily in large solar farms but were too expensive for the small farmers. Providing a motor or a system that can modify a regular solar panel into a tracker can greatly benefit these farmers by boosting their crop yields resulting in an increase in revenue.
This project did not work as intended. I ran into structural problems along the way, in other words, the structures I made to support the solar-panel could not hold its weight. The electronics and programming were fairly easy due to the wealth of information available on the internet in the form of DIY tutorials. I have learned alot about robotics from this project and engineering in general. For example, I learned about structures such as cantilevers and the uses of BiPolar Stepper Motors. Along with that, I was able to learn that solar-panels are long-term investments with a significant payoff team.
I have begun to design a frame for my solar panel in order to mount my high power stepper motors in cadd. I have designed part of the frame so far, and I am still trying to design the base that connects to the solar panel. The mount is important because the high power steppers have to be connected through the mount. My vision for this problem is to have a box that contains the motors on top of the mounts that attach to the solar panel. In addition, I expect to experience a few problems with the connections to the solar panel. I will need to plan ahead to connect the motors in a way that will mitigate problems in the future.
I researched more pan and tilt models to figure out how to scale my solar panel. It is pretty heavy so the motor used for tilting would need to have a gear box attached to it so I have the correct torque ratios. I've also found out that my arduino should not be connected to the deep cycle battery. Even though I can regulate the voltage, it is probably too risky to connect sensitive electronics to a high voltage system.
The Solar Panel, Solar Charge Controller, Deep Cycle Batter, Luminosity Sensor, and GPS shield are all in. Right now I need to calculate the degrees of freedom to figure out where to place my light sensors. This allows for the light sensors to capture the full area of the tracker's range and adds to its active tracking functionality. I am also exploring the basic mechanics of pan and tilt models for my dual axis tracker. I will need powerful motors, but the gearing will be much more important. In addition to that, I will be using T-slotted frames to move the solar panel which ways ten pounds. The 80/20s will be mounted along the solar panel's COM. I might explore cantilever structures if the tilting aspect of the panel might be easier.
Over the month of November, I was waiting for my purchases to come in. The Solar Panel, Solar Charge Controller, and Deep Cycle Battery arrived today, and I am planning to purchase DC motors to hold the weight of the 50W solar panel. I started to research ways to code my project on Arduino. The inputs for this project will be a light sensor and a gps shield to optimize the travel of the solar-panel. The output would be the motor movements. Before Winter break, I intend to make significant progress on the building and coding side of my project. Due to a slight delay I expect the apparatus to be fully built and prepared for my experiment by the end of January.
Turn in Amazon purchase orders and finish EAGLE updates
Place Amazon purchase orders on the mass purchase orders and start the EAGLE diagrams.
Finished placing the purchase orders for the Solar Panel, Solar Charge Controller, Deep Cycle Battery, Light Sensor, and GPS sensor. Began my EAGLE design and added vital components including inputs and motors.
Trying to research what motors will suffice for this project.
Complete my CADD drawings and start to fill out purchase order forms.
Completed my CADD drawing on OnShape and uploaded the screenshots to my website. Filled out some of the components on the purchase form.
I completed my CADD drawings over the past week, and filled out purchase order forms for my solar panel, solar charge controller, and deep cycle battery. Once these components come in, I will determine the motors that are required to move the solar panel.
Did not include ASINS in the purchase orders, so I have to redo them.