- The Open Source Sun Tracking / Heliostat ProjectThe initial goal of this project was to make complex solar energy projects more accessible to the DIY hobbyist. Over time though, it has grown sophisticated enough to be used by both amateur and professional alike.
The images below give a general overview of the Open Source Sun Tracking / Heliostat Project and also show some of the projects where I served as a consultant.
More info can be found at www.CerebralMeltdown.com
- What is a Sun Tracker?A sun tracker is a machine that periodically reorients itself throughout the day to keep its solar collection surface directly facing the sun. Typically, this surface is comprised of a solar panel, but other options are also possible. The tracker in the picture below, for example, has both solar panels and a hot water collection system integrated into it.
- What is a Heliostat?
Put simply, a heliostat is just a mirror that follows the sun in order to reflect its light at the same spot throughout the day. Although not as popular as solar panels, they can potentially give you access to considerable amounts of untapped heat energy for a much lower price.
- The Sun Tracking / Heliostat ProgramOver one thousand lines of code and hundreds of hours of development time were required to make the Sun Tracking / Heliostat Control program applicable to a myriad of situations. Additionally, the code is written for the extremely popular Arduino microcontroller which is designed to be approachable to individuals with a wide range of different skill levels.Some of the features of this program are as follows:
- Capable of controlling either a sun tracker or a heliostat
- Can control multiple machines simultaneously
- Customizable for different types of machine designs
- Able to control either linear actuators or gear reduction systems for machine's motion
- Integrated stepper motor acceleration
- Can be used at any latitude and longitude
- Integrated wind protection mode that moves machine into horizontal position
- Manual control of machines for maintenance purposes
- Manual control of heliostats during target selection
- Able to program multiple targets into each heliostat
- Sun Tracking / Heliostat Electronics
Naturally, it takes more than just a computer program to control a sun tracker or heliostat. Thus, one of the objectives of the Open Source Sun Tracking / Heliostat Project is to provide examples for an electronics system as well.
- User Projects
To wrap things up, a few of the projects that have been made possible thanks to the Sun Tracking / Heliostat project are shown next.
- Heliostats Designed by Students from Haagsche Hogeschool
- Heliostats Applied to Rotational Casting by Light Manufacturing
- Sid's Sun Trackers
- More Information
More information about the above user projects can be found at the following links.
(This site is in Dutch, and you may have to search through the previous posts to get to the heliostat stuff)