This is a very basic "no frills" Dodgy brothers style of tracker......but it works.
Because I'm old I'll be giving most measurements in Imperial measure
. A good converter can be found here http://www.helpwithdiy.com/metric_conversion_calculator.html
As I mentioned earlier I bought my Actuator
and Sensor unit
is an 18 inch, 90 pound thrust 12v electric Ram.
The Sensor Unit
is an East-West unit with automatic darkness return to East.
Building the Demountable Tracker.
As I'm in rented accommodation I had to build the tracker to be demountable.
My methods and materials will differ to an extent when I rebuild it as a permanent rooftop unit (when we finish renovating the house we own). The Star Picket Posts, for instance, will be replaced by an angle Iron Frame.
1 X 10ft Farm Gate..
1 x 12ft length of 1" Galvanized Pipe.
1 x 10ft length of 2" Gal Pipe.
2 x 6ft Star Picket fence posts These can be replaced by lengths of 2" heavy gal pipe if desired.
1 x Right angle Shelf Bracket.
1 x Packet of 1/4 inch x 2 inch gal bolts, nuts and washers.
1 x Packet of 1/4 inch washers.
1 x 3/16th inch? (depends on the hole in your actuator ram) x 2 inch bolt with 2 extra nuts and washers. This bolt is for the end of your actuator ram so check the size first.
Heavy Poly pipe or similar for spacers.
Various bits and pieces for attaching the bottom of the Actuator to the post.
The 2'" Gal pipe
is welded to the centre of the "back" of the Gate. (the side the mesh is Not welded to).
I have not included close up photo's of my welding lest you be overcome with mirth.
To make the unit not seasonally adjustable
as I did the 2 Picket Posts are hammered vertically into the ground about 10ft 6" apart on a North South alignment.
The 1" pipe and posts are drilled, the 1' pipe slid into the 2" pipe (if necessary a Spacer slid on to prevent the gate touching the post) and the 1" pipe is bolted to the Picket Posts.
To make the unit seasonally adjustable
the Equator end of the unit needs to be able to be lifted up and down to keep the panels pointing as directly at the sun as possible all year.
To achieve this you will need to put that end post in the ground on an angle so that the 1" pipe can be lowered and still be bolted to the post.
The following is Theory
only and has not been tested.
Hammer the non equator end post vertically into the ground. A foot or so should be far enough.
Drill a hole at least 1/4" dia in one end of the 1" pipe about 3" from the end.
Drill a 1/4" hole through the stationary end post 2" from the top.
You can find the angle your adjustable end
post needs by bolting the 1" pipe loosely at the other end and resting the unattached end on the ground.
Put the end of your post on the ground a few inches along the 1" pipe and mark the pipe.
Correction....I woke up with a start at about 3 this morning (yep ...weird I know) with the realization that the bottom hole on the post will need to be approximately half the width of the gate up from the ground. If it's not then the gate won't have enough room to do it's East West thing.....
Have a helper lift the 1" pipe halfway up the post and mark the pipe again then lift it to the horizontal position and line the top end of the post up with the mark you made.
Hammer the post into the ground keeping it lined up with that mark.
Drill 2 holes, one at each mark through the adjustable end of the 1" pipe. Make sure they line up with each other.
Drill the same size hole through your post 2 inches from the top.
Drill 2 holes down the length of the angled post, one near the centre and one near the ground.
Find the exact positions by lining the up with the holes in your 1" pipe.
These will be your seasonal adjustments.
Cut 2 Spacers. Refer to Diagram2. This spacer will stop your gate from touching the post.
The 1" pipe
is slid into the 2" pipe, the spacer put in place, the gate is lifted up and the 1" pipe bolted to the posts.
Attaching the Actuator to the gate is done via the Bookshelf bracket.
The bracket on my unit attaches to the end of the gate about 8" from the side. See Diagram 3.
The "leg" of the Bookshelf Bracket not attached to the gate is twisted at right angles to allow it to be attached to the Ram.
The bottom of the Actuator attaches to the Post about 32" down from the Gate.
These distances are another Trial and Error thing. Experiment till you find the positions that allow the Actuator to move the gate from a morning position facing Sunrise to an Evening position facing Sunset.
You Must use a method of attachment that allows the actuator to move at each end.
At the end of the Ram I achieved this by using 2 nuts tightened against each other either side of the Bookshelf bracket, See Diagram 4.
A lot of head scratching and shed searching went into the bottom attachment.
I was lucky enough to have a bolt like part that suited the job at hand. See Diagram 5.
I don't know what it's called or where to buy one but I do believe it's an auto part of some sort. The head part is about 1" dia and the bolt is 5/16"dia and about 2" long. The hole needs to be able to accommodate a 1/4" bolt at least.
If you've made it this far you'll work it out.
Maybe Dave at http://campatracka.com/
can suggest something.
The Sensor Unit.
My unit did not come in a weatherproof casing. To overcome this I Temporarily I mounted it to the Gate in a "Tupperware" type clear plastic container.
I drilled and screwed the lid to the gate at a right angle and drilled another hole in the lid for the units mounting screw.
Two holes are cut in the bottom of the container for the wires and the container simply attaches to its lid.
I intend building a box out of Perspex to house the Sensor unit permanently.
My Tracker unit is Powered by an old car battery which I trickle charge with a small Solar Panel.
A small 12v deep cycle battery such as those found in kids Electric Scooters would be perfect and should only cost $20 or so new.
Alternatively you can power from your controller.
Once the unit was finished I braced the posts with Wire "Guys" using some large Tent Pegs and some recycled fencing wire. See Diagram 6