This instructable describes how to build a rotating platform that is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller. It follows the Sun until the food has cooked for a
predetermined amount of time and then it will turn the oven away from the Sun. I've only had a few opportunities to use it, because our rainy season just started, but I am
very pleased with the results and I can't wait for more opportunities to use it. After spending so much time on a project, it's very gratifying to know that it will actually be
Note: These instructions assume that you are using a box cooker. If you are going to use some other type of solar cooker, you will have to make some modifications.
Note: If you live in the tropics, the Sun may be so high that there is no way to completely turn the oven away to stop cooking. In that case, I think the best solution is to
make a mechanism that closes the reflector over the top of the oven.
The system consists of
- a circular platform on a lazy susan bearing
- a geared motor that turns the platform and a circuit that drives the motor
- an optical sensor that the microcontroller uses to determine if the oven is facing the Sun
- a temperature sensor that is stuck into the food being cooked
- the Arduino and a bunch of electronic components
- the Arduino program that I wrote
Step 1: Videos
Here's a short video show what the end-of-travel switch does when it works properly (See Step 6 of this instructable).
This video shows the platform working under simulation conditions. A desk lamp was used to simulate the Sun and a cup of hot water was used to simulate the food being heater.
This video shows my oven and platform tracking the Sun for the better part of a day last summer. For this video, I was using a circuit made of discreet components and the platform was not yet programmable.
This video is a benchtop simulation that I ran before running the program on the actual platform. I used a small DC motor to simulate the platform motor, a flashlight to simulate the Sun and a cup of hot water to simulate cooking food. I altered the Arduino program to operate with the lower light level and lower temperature. I also programmed the "cooking time" to be only four minutes.