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Author Topic: Arduino solar tracker  (Read 28837 times)
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Hey guys, i want to make a solar tracker, using arduino.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_tracker
I need some advice or maybe some code on how to do this. Some other questions i have is in what orientation should i put the LDR sensors that i plan to use. Should i have four, all pointing in north south east west  configuration, or use on one LDR sensor. So the servo that drives it rotates all the time, until the LDr sensor that points in the same way as the solar panel, get to a certain threshold, as in, pointing towards the sun.
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FWIMBW, I was once going to build one and thought of a concept that may help you.

Instead of looking for the brightest point, if you have a "stick" between the sun and the LDR, you can look for the shadow of the stick. It would seem to me the shadow would be more distinct.

There are also formulas that can be used to track the sun. However these are pretty complex and I never had much luck porting them to C.

Sounds like a very interesting project. Please keep us posted.

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Good idea! The thought of this project might be though, to  be as compact as i can. Im still working on the code for this.. i hope to post it soon for anyone else who's watching.
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Is it mobile or a fixed installation? I am building a fixed installation with 1.3Kw of tracking panels. I will be using Arduino as a clock drive, driving spit-roast motors for a short time each hour. For a fixed installation, a clock drive avoids the deterioration of the sensors by the constant exposure to weather & sun.
Total power collected will increase by 30% at this latitude (-34) when tracking is enabled. Currently (non-tracking) I am generating about 6 kwh per day, exporting 1.5 kwh per day (Southern Spring)
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This is mobile, only because i am just experimenting. This could also apply to larger panels, it just would need better motors.
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i have figure out the program, i think? I do not have a motor handy, or a TIP120 circut to drive the motor.

int value1 = 0; //analog reading from light sensor
int value = 0;  // variable to keep the actual value for PWM


int threshold = 512;
int motorToTurnSolarPanel = 11;  //with a tip120 transitor circut to drive the motor, using PWM

void setup(){
  Serial.begin(9600);//set the baud rate  
 
  Serial.print(analogRead(1));
  value1 = analogRead(1);
  
}
 void loop() {
   for(value = 0 ; value <= 80; value+=5) // fade in (from min to max)
  if (value > threshold) digitalWrite(motorToTurnSolarPanel, LOW); else analogWrite(motorToTurnSolarPanel, value);//primary command to move the motor

Serial.print(analogRead(1));
  
 
  }
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I'm doing the same thing for my final year project at university, but I'm using GPS to get the time, date, elevation, longitude and latitude.

From this I can work out the azimuth and the elevation, then moving two motors.
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That is a very cool idea! Very nice
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Instead of using one motor as described earlier, would it be more simpler to use one servo and two LDRs
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I'm with robotkid249 on this. Golden rule of engineering: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

Use two LDR's pointing in the same direction, but separated by a sheet of black cardboard/plastic/whatever. Unless they are facing the sun head on, one will show a very low value and one a very high as one is in the sun and the other is in the sade of the cardboard/plastic/whatever separator. If their values are not within a certain threshold of eachother you tell the servo to run in the appropriate direction.

2 LDR's, a servo (or stepper motor), and less than 20 lines of code. KISS FTW! 8-)
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Dreaming of extra senses through sensory substitution/agumentation since.. well, for ever.. =P
Going to automate my home, just gotta find the perfect DIY solution first!

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Im aware of this IC, but it might not be as "smart" as i need it to be. Generally you use this with the BEAM bicore
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Soryy i forgot to post the link...http://www.solarbotics.com/products/74ac240/
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Hello everybody. I'm still quite new at this, so bear with me, please.

I have only very recently been introduced to Arduino, and it's a wonderful thing!

I have wanted to implement an idea for a solar tracker for some time, but haven't had the development platform handy to do so with conventional MCU's so discovering the Arduino has been a complete bonus.

Co-incidentally, I've only just discovered this topic when searching around the Playground and Forum in order to work out how to get my finished prototype up on display. Should have come here first ..........

Until I have somewhere public to post my images and code I will just have to e-mail anyone who's interested any or all of the above, until I can get me head around how to get it up here.

In summary, I've used four small solar cells on a backing plate, separated by baffles that provide shadows when the plate is off axis (vertical of horizontal). The shadows are interpreted by the Arduino as differential voltages, which then translate into motor movement. I've used a simple robotic arm kit to get the articulation needed for movement of the panel, and control is achieved with a few IC's and a couple of relays on a breadboard hitched up to the Diecimilia.

What I've built is a model, but easily extensible to the real thing with appropriate interfacing on the output of the Arduino. I have produced circuit diagrams and code, for anyone who wants to have a look.

I'm open to suggestions for improvements, and also any practical help from those of you who have used the Forum and Playground a fair bit, as to how to post my work. At present I do not have a web host for any of this work (it's on my PC at home), so could use some advice about posting content from here.

I can be contacted at the following e-mail address:

strounson@students.ballarat.edu.au

Have fun, the Arduino way ! smiley
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Hello Alll....

I m too new to Arduino... I have just ordered it and I also will try to work on this project as I do have few solar panels but they are not tracked.

One suggetion that strcuk my mind was, why not we decide a goal and start working together on it.

For Example :

GOAL - To make the most efficient and cost effective solar tracker using Arduino.

So we cannot use GPS (as we want to make it cheap) we can use a LDR circuit then.... etc...

Then we can upgrade this project... like using Xbee shield to enable remote data tracking of the solar panel etc....

And and this way we shall be able to implement entire project that is well documented

Let me know what do you feel about this...

Thanks
dufferdev
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I want to try that solar tracker. Can you give me some information about that? http://www.sunpowerport.com
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