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SOLAR CHARGING TRACKER

This is a tutorial on a modification done on a project present in the Arduino official page, The solar charging tracker by ladyada: https://learn.adafruit.com/portable-solar-charging-tracker/introduction , I simply modified the circuit design and the code so that the project would support a higher range of current values outputted by the PV cell (Up to 2.13 Amperes without damaging the Arduino) and at the same time low values for current ( 21.3 microAmperes steps , although not very reliable its pretty good for a mobile and relatively low cost project).

This device allows for a common Lithium-Polymer battery charging tracking, although I deviated from that purpose a bit and focused on measuring the Short Circuit Current of PV cells and the Open Circuit Voltage.

Step 1: Materials Used:

0.1 Ω Precision resistor

1Ω 1-Watt

10 Ω Quarter-Watt

100 Ω Quarter-Watt

10k Ω Quarter-Watt

15k Ω Quarter-Watt

34.5k Ω Quarter-Watt

47k Ω Quarter-Watt

67.9k Ω Quarter-Watt

3 x 3.5mm terminal blocks

4 Positions rotary switch with at least 2
pathways in parallel

TS922 Op Amp

8 Leg IC holder

Arduino Uno: https://www.adafruit.com/product/50

Prototyping Shield: https://www.adafruit.com/product/2077

Standard 16x2 LCD: https://www.adafruit.com/product/181

Solar panel for testing: https://www.adafruit.com/product/200

Enclosure for Arduino: https://www.adafruit.com/product/271

Copper telephonic wire

Tin solder wire

Female jumper wires : https://www.adafruit.com/product/266

9V Battery Clip

3 x 3.5 mm Phono Jacks and Plugs

(Optional):

Battery and charger for testing:

https://www.adafruit.com/product/258

https://www.adafruit.com/product/259


Step 2: Analog Circuit

Analog 1:

To measure the current the solar cell is outputting we first need to measure how much potential falls in a given resistor an take the current that passes through it using Ohm’s Law, in this case the 0.1-100Ω resistors (for different ranges of current), this potential is too small to be measured directly by the Arduino , so we have to use an inverting amplifier with the Op Amp and two resistors R1 and R2, the Gain will be given by R1/R2, in this case it will multiply the voltage by 23.5 so it can be measured by the Arduino. I used 4 different resistors for different ranges of maximum current that can be read as you can see in the table above.

Analog 2:

To measure the voltage that the cell is outputting a simple voltage divider is used (to increase the maximum voltage that can be measured, in this case 10V), two 10 resistors are used.

Analog 3:

To measure the voltage that a Lithium-Polymer being charged by the cell another simple voltage divider is used.

Analog 0:

This part is simply to select the between the 0.1-100Ω used in Analog 1, it can be done using the rotary switch that corresponds another resistor to each of the resistors in Analog 1 and then measuring a simple voltage divider being powered by Arduino between the variable resistor and a 10k resistor.

Step 3: LCD

Solder the header and clip pins 1,2,3,5,7,8,9
and 10.

Connect pins 15 and 2 together aswell as pins 1, 5 and 16 with wire and solder them.

Connect the 10k potentiometer to pins 2 and 5 and the middle contact of the potentiometer to pin 3.

Step 4: Analog Circuit

After soldering the header pins to the
prototyping shield, start by soldering the 3 terminal blocks to the top-most edge of the shield, after that mount the circuit as shown in the scheme provided.

Now the tricky part, the variable resistors controlled by the switch must be soldered in different pathways, one way to test which terminals are connected is to use the “Beep” function on your multimeter. Solder one end of the switch to the prototyping shield in its positions, and the variable resistors to the other ends. As you can see, it is not very pretty, I am sure it can be made in a much more elegant way.

Solder the female jumper wire cables to digital slots 2-7, ground and 5V in the shield.

Make sure you connect the resistances in the right positions and position the switch so that it pops out of the Arduino enclosure through the slot that can be opened.

Step 5: Program Upload to Arduino

In this step you will need to connect your Arduino Uno to your computer via USB and have the Arduino IDE compiler installed.

After instaling the compiler open the .ino file in this step and upload it to the Arduino


Step 6: Testing LCD

Now , you must connect the female jumper wires in the following order:

Ground to pin 16

5V to pin 15

Digital 7 to pin 14

Digital 6 to pin 13

Digital 5 to pin 12

Digital 4 to pin 11

Digital 3 (RS) to pin 5

Digital 2 (EN) to pin 4

With nothing connected all values must be equal to 0.00 , an oscilating value means you are appliying a negative potencial to the analog pins , that could damage the Arduino! So beware and make sure you connected everything where you should.

Step 7: Enclosure Montage

Make sure you make room for everything in the enclosure and try to fit everything nicely.

Now you just need to drill 3 holes in the top of the enclosure for the phono plugs and solder the jacks to the solar panel, for more detailed steps consult the original tutorial:

https://learn.adafruit.com/portable-solar-charging-tracker/introduction

Step 8: Done

You are now ready to use your solar charging tracker to:

Measure the OC Voltage of a solar panel (Have only the panel connected to it)(Up to 10V)

Measure the CC Current (Just short the Charger phono plug) (Up to 2.13 Amps)

Track how a charger charges a battery (Connecting the battery and charger yo its corresponding phono jacks)

This project was made in FCT UNL (Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

by Guilherme Ribeiro , under the orientation of Professor Manuel Mendes.

<p>Thanks for sharing :)</p>

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