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Author Topic: Looking for Linear Actuators for small 10W solar panels  (Read 2387 times)
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Hi all,

I'm looking for linear actuators, controllable by Arduino with appropriate shield. Can anyone point me to a source?

My project is optimizing the angle of small 10 watt solar panels for maximum efficiency. In other words, I want to track the sun as it moves across the sky daily, with the panels pointing in the optimal direction.

For this, I'm thinking 4 linear actuators at each corner of the panel are the most appropriate.

As a starting point, I'm looking for units that have up to 30cm of extension, with the ability to hold the panel in place in "light to moderate wind".

I would also be grateful if someone would like to translate my layman's explanation into correct technical terms :-)

Thanks in advance.

Andrew.
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The usual source.

http://www.firgelliauto.com/
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Wow! Thanks a lot!
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Left Coast, CA (USA)
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A much more economical solution would be to consider using inexpensive R/C servos. By attaching push rods to extension arms from a rotary servo you can get linear travel. Think how they make a rubber move in a linear manner + and - from a neutral position using a rotary servo in any R/C controlled airplane. You can probably buy 10 or more servos for the price of a single industrial type linear actuator. Servos are available in many sizes to handle just about any torque load, your small panels should not be a problem in that manner.

Lefty
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Seattle, WA USA
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Quote
Think how they make a rubber move
Geez, I always thought airplanes had rudders. Who knew? Sounds like a MUCH more interesting hobby, now.
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Think how they make a rubber move
Geez, I always thought airplanes had rudders. Who knew? Sounds like a MUCH more interesting hobby, now.

LOL, thank you Paul, glad to see your humor coming out sometimes rather then the forehead slaps you give many/most for posting dumb errors or questions. I guess many and most airplanes do use rudders, but then some don't, like the B2 flying wing bomber.

But a servo driven rubber? That kind of smacks of a profitable commercial project idea that could make someone very rich?

Lefty
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Much appreciated, lefty.

BTW, loving the good natured banter  smiley

Thanks guys.
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A much more economical solution would be to consider using inexpensive R/C servos. By attaching push rods to extension arms from a rotary servo you can get linear travel. Think how they make a rubber move in a linear manner + and - from a neutral position using a rotary servo in any R/C controlled airplane. You can probably buy 10 or more servos for the price of a single industrial type linear actuator. Servos are available in many sizes to handle just about any torque load, your small panels should not be a problem in that manner.

Lefty


Gosh. I see what you mean about R/C servos being much more economical!
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See what this guy did .

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Hi, have a look at these low cost ones, for schools projects

£5
http://www.mindsetsonline.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=204

£10
http://www.mindsetsonline.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=937

Cheers
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Craig Turner, blog: http://gampageek.blogspot.co.uk/ It helps with my learning if I write things down, esp. for others to follow (constructive comments welcomed to improve)

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Hi,

Thanks! They might be just what I need to get it up and running! I guess it's a ready-made solution somewhat like the suggestions below.

Looks like it will work for me!
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Looks like it will work for me!

Why are you wanting to use four linear actuators? Why not two simple and cheap servos with a pan/tilt bracket set (which you can homebrew if you want)?

None of the commercial (ie - large scale) 2-axis solar panel tracker designs use four linear actuators; believe me, they would if it were something that was more efficient for solar.

Also - for most latitudes, 2-axis trackers can be overkill, as the position of the sun doesn't vary enough to change the efficiency of the panel all that much. Instead, you see a single axis being used for the tracker, with the other angle fixed based on the latitude and the average position of the sun in the sky at that latitude over the course of a year...
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Yeah. I've realized a 2 axis setup is quite an overkill  smiley

I think using a servo for daily sun tracking is enough.

As for the seasonal direction change, I can adjust it manually once every month or two.
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