Step 6: Focal Assembly

Picture of Focal Assembly
The focal assembly is simply four angle stock pieces set up so that they are screwed to the corners of the concentrator and meet at the center. If you use 8 foot pieces, they will meet at a point about 7 feet from the center of the mirror assembly. This gives you about 1 foot between where they meet and the focal point so you can mount things easily at just about the exact focal point.

NOTE! When you're not around the concentrator make VERY SURE that it is pointed in a direction that the sun will NEVER be. It WILL catch things on fire. Think very carefully about how the sun moves and remember that it traces out an arc in the southern hemisphere (northern if you're an Aussie).

The broom below took only 30 seconds to burst into flame. I cannot stress enough that concentrated sunlight is VERY dangerous. Also much fun if you're careful.
Another focus method :Cover all facets with pieces of paper. Suspend a fixed target at the intended focus point. Uncover one facet at a time and adjust until reflected light is cast onto target. when finished, turn assembly away from sun and remove all the paper sheets. No math, no spreadsheet and very accurate. Not my idea (found it on the web) , but simple and effective.
I think that you would have to be very quick to set each panel and maybe reference to the first panels focus (by moving your hole frame) every five or so minutes to allow for the suns movement in the sky @ 15 degrees per hour. If you were taking 3 hours to set up, the last panel would have a very different focal point.
jarney1 (author)  Johhny6 years ago
The focal point is set by the parabola formula. It does not have to be pointed at the sun for an accurate focus to be achieved. The system was designed to be mounted on a tracking device that moves the entire assembly to track the sun. I agree that if I was aligning the focus by moving the mirrors and aligning them to the sun, that would be highly impractical. This is why I decided to calculate the height of each corner based on a parabola and aligned it in my workshop in the shade. Only when it was complete, did I take it into the sunlight to test the quality of the focus and make minor adjustments.
Johhny jarney16 years ago
Sorry Jarney1 I was directing my thoughts to Burnerjack01 and his method, I forgot to address it properly. I fully agree with the 'measure first' then if thats not quite good enough correct it practically way.