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"Compound" parabolic solar cooker, make a template with technical drawing

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Compound parabolic dishes have a super advantage over parabolic dishes. You rarely have to reposition them as the sun moves. So you can leave them unattended for long periods!
There are many possible compound parabolic dish configurations and rather than me try to satisfy everyone, I though it would be better to give you a method to make your own petal templates.
Then you can make a 1 hour, 2 hour 3 hour or 4 hour compound parabolic solar cooker.
Whatever you want is within your grasp! You can easily make petal templates for parabolic dishes with this method too.
For 12 petal templates the error in the method (because you are using flat material to make a surface curved in 3 dimensions) is about 1%. I believe that is acceptable.
If you do not want to read the whole instructable, just read the image notes on the first image.
It should suffice for many people.
Brian
 
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Step 1: Compound parabolic concentrators, what are they?

The typical compound parabolic concentrator is a fairly old device, They are shaped like a bicycle light or a tulip flower with a hole at the bottom and as long as the sunlight enters within the acceptance angle it gets reflected all the way down the concentrator and gets trapped there at the bottom. They are made by putting the focus for 2 identical parabolas on the curve of the other one. To do this you have to twist each parabola (which gives you the acceptance angle) and the resultant 2 dimensional shape is spun on its axis to get the flower shape of the compound parabola.

Many times the reflectors for box ovens are based loosely on this type of concentration. They are good because if you face the box cooker the right way it stays collecting sunlight well for a long time.
But I wanted something different. I set out to apply the same principle to parabolic dishes.
Parabolic dishes are great because they can focus a lot of energy but they quickly go out of focus and have to be readjusted. There is virtually nothing out there about applying the same principles to parabolic dishes so I had to start from scratch. My first compound parabolic dish was a great success but not many people were interested in copying my construction method. They prefer a template.
pdrodrig1 year ago
Hi all,

I read carefully all information posted by gaiatechnician.

I found this webpage that might be interesting for those of you reading this post:

http://solarcooking.org/plans/parabolic-from-flat-sheet.htm

Cheers!
static2 years ago
I was wondering if you experiment with the compound parabola. Where I live if there is sunshine, on any given day there is enough of it, there's no need to go with extra ordinary measures. A blessing in Winter, a curse in the summer.
gaiatechnician (author)  static2 years ago
I have done hardly any experimenting this year due to workload. I gave a better and far more useful reply on your other comment, check it out.
Thanks Brian.
mscir2 years ago
Great article, thanks!
Please post the patent number for the work you mention by Roland Winston, I'd like to see what he did.
I wrote a freeware program that calculates parabolas of any depth and diameter, you can see or download it here . I'm thinking of writing a calculator to help people make compound parabolic collectors as you've described in this article, they are extremely useful because they don't have to be aimed as parabolic reflectors do, looking at his patent might help me get a few ideas about how to approach it.
Thanks, Mike
gaiatechnician (author)  mscir2 years ago
Hi, Mike, glad to hear from you. I gave a talk in February and in the research for it I found a very good pdf about Winston and other curves. (All seem to be for troughs). Anyway, several might be good, winstons with a 47 degree acceptance angle, (horizontal and aimed at the equinox sun would work), and there are 2 "seashell" troughs, and the trombe minell cusp. I don't remember the patent no. but if you send me your email address, I can send you the "interesting curves" PDF, etc.
It contains some of the math that you need.
Anyway, the seashell troughs are completely new to me but they help show that I was on the right track with my "clam shaped" solar cookers. (Even if I only ever made one).
Have you seen the solar design T-square? Thats what I used to make the clam shaped design. Maybe you could do a better design and more repeatable design with your grasp of mathematics? Brian
User1133 years ago
Patents themselves are public domain, you can always copy and publish them (the documents themselves), even if they have not expired. The idea behind patents is that by telling others how to make and use the invention, they (the others) will be able to use that knowledge to improve other things. There is an incredible amount of information residing in the U.S. patent database, just waiting to be rediscovered and/or reapplied.

However, if the patents have not expired, you just have to be careful about making, using, offering to sell, selling or importing anything that is covered by the patent's claims. All modern U.S. patents have claims. See 35 U.S.C. 271.
nrevelis3 years ago
would like to make one to accept a 9.5 in. pot .Just scaling up approx 49 in petal. can scale up be used or do i have to try to start from scratch.
I misspoke I intend to take half of template and cut a curve as in the template using 3/8 ply. then duplicate this curve 6 timesto create a half circle. On half circle i will place formica to make a crved half circle,affixing formica as needed with fir strips for backing to hold curve and half circle, repeat for other half making of course a ltittle overlap to connect the two half circles . My computations using your template shows me that this will create shape that is approx 31 1/2 inches in diameter at top and approx 48 inches in height along centerline(focus line ). will line surfaces with mylar. Will also affix a swivel platform for pot and add a side door opening to allow access to food pot . Mount side brackets to allign parabolic to sun and put on a swivel base for any other adjustments to alignment. It seems that this shape is very close to what you would make with wet clay. If you take this concept further you could use these curves to make your cob dome. My real concern is have i done the scaling right. . all i did was measure and expand by 10x. Surly do arrpeciate ypu taking the time to respond. I am a almost total novice . Have built large solar oven that gets to 400 on a nice day . This should have about 800 sq in surface and be suitable for cooking . Question "is this doable?
gaiatechnician (author)  nrevelis3 years ago
I think you should check out http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-quotcompoundquot-parabolic-solar-cooker/?ALLSTEPS and see if it suits your needs.
If you make "petals" scale them up to be similar size to the ones I used there and there should be no problem. I collected a lot of details about that solar cooker and it worked pretty good. The pot was a similar size to yours. (Fits in an oven turkey bag). I forget exactly what size it turned out but it was more than 800 square inches. The second version (just with mylar without a backing (and an attempt to hold it open like an umbrella) did not work so good. The mylar must be stuck to a rigid surface for best results.
I hope that helps  
I still think you should try the cone solar route, it is newer, less traveled but has great potential.
Brian
took your advice googled winston cone came up with a drawing of cone had it blown up 10x and am in process of making one not being a techie i would not even try to understand the math but if a guy like winston says it works i will take his word for it. if i am able to get it done right i will let you all know how i did it. nick
gaiatechnician (author)  nrevelis3 years ago
Just be careful that the drawing is correct. Some of the winston drawings I saw on the net were scanned in and one of the dimensions got changed somewhere along the way.
Yeah, the math is scary hard. I avoided it too.
gaiatechnician (author)  nrevelis3 years ago
Hi, Thanks for the comment. In my world, I get sidetracked a lot and I have been off this path for a while. From this I went to clam shaped reflectors. However I think these compound parabolic dishes are probably a bit better than parabolic.
I suggest that you do not use the petal method.
A guy called Magnar suggested I look into something that I have been calling cone solar. My cone solar project got stalled for the winter but there are several videos on youtube about  it.   I certainly do not claim to have invented cone solar but currently videos about it are very thin on the ground.
So, I suggest you make the elevation and plan of your proposed dish,  with a circle or ball representing the size of your pot and work from there to design your cones for it.
I made this playlist of videos  just for you!  I hope it helps. I will add videos from other people as they become available and probably remove mine.   Best of luck   Brian
http://www.youtube.com/my_playlists?p=608E5F0EB26CDDE0
Hello, I'm a first year student for engineering and we've been given a project to design and construct a solar cooker. I'm finding it hard to follow these steps because I'm not familiar with all the technical steps. please summarise these steps in simpler language for me to follow, starting even with potential material to be used. I'd appreciate it so much if you do. pictures not necessary.
Hostlerguy3 years ago
Nothing in your instructions showed how you made the base for the reflective strips..... There's a huge leap from drawings to finished bowl to glue reflective strips to
gaiatechnician (author)  Hostlerguy3 years ago
Yeah, sorry. I made a template and rotated it in the middle of the bowl filled with wet clay. The reflective strips were stuck on by squirting a plant mister on the clay and sticking the mylar directly on to the wet clay.
It was really more to show myself and other people what happens with off focus paraboloids and other shapes.  YOU are the SUN and the reflection you see is the same size (pretty much) as the area that reflects onto the target.
I spent ages trying to do this in software. It ended up being the basis for the solar design T-square idea. 
Is the energy less intense on the focus than a standard parabolic reflector because your sacrificing direct aim at the sun?
gaiatechnician (author)  robbtoberfest5 years ago
Yes, the energy ends up in an area behind the focus. So you put your cooking pot in that area to catch the heat. Ideally you make the cooking pot the same size as that area. The important points are that although it is less intense, it is (almost) the same amount of energy. And in my view, "sacrificing direct aim at the sun" is no sacrifice at all! I discovered last summer that keeping a parabolic dish automatically pointed exactly at the sun is really really hard! No matter what you do, the seasons can screw up your parabolic tracking device or at least add substantially to the cost. Having a device with virtually the same power ( without the need for exact pointing at the sun and constantly readjusting its aim is a super advantage). It means that cheap tracking (the clock based tracker or even the water clock tracker) might be good enough to keep food cooking or water pasturising all day. Brian
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