Step 4: Adding the linear actuator

I purchased the 12 volt linear actuator on Ebay. It's built to hold up in the weather, is strong enough to move however many panels I would want to add to it, and has a long enough stroke to move the panels all the way from one side to another. (I think the stroke is 8", but I'd have to double check.)

I mounted it on the one side of the frame with a through bolt, and attached it to the movable solar panel frame. To mount it to the side of the frame holding the solar panel I just used a staple on the board that moves on the bicycle wheels. A short piece of cable goes through the hole on the linear actuator and the staple, and iIused a small cable clamp to secure it. This allows everything to move around and flex as needed when it's moving. When hooked to the battery the actuator moves the panel all the way to one side, and reversing it moves it all the way back.

The next step is giving the tracker the smarts to know when and how much to move.
I love the idea of solar or wind energy but dont know too much about them. How much power does this give and how can it be used inside?
<p>If you go on YouTube you can find any information you want. I put 400 Watts on a Bimini Top on our Motor Sailer and also 378 that glues down flat and you can walk on it on the roof of the cabin. Fantastic. Love it and it is easy.</p>
<p>Nice! For those who want to spend less for the system, you can build your own sun sensor for about $2 and use a $20 stepper motor to rotate the panel to track the sun. I followed the directions in Chapter 16 of the Arduino Projects for Amateur Radio book. It is an Arduino-based system using a 10W solar panel. The code for the Arduino is also included. It does not rotate for elevation, but the system was designed for using power on camping trips where elevation doesn't change much over a long weekend. Of course, you can adjust it by hand when needed.</p>
<p>What 12 volt actuator did you use stroke 8 or 12 inch?</p><p>What torque? 225 lbs?</p><p>what led tracking sensor did you order from redrok?</p><p>Thanks</p><p>Larry08</p>
<p>What 12 volt actuator did you use stroke 8 or 12 inch?</p><p>What torque? 225 lbs?</p><p>what led tracking sensor did you order from redrok?</p><p>Thanks</p><p>Larry08</p>
<p>Don't you need to move the panel in two axes?</p>
Absolutely genius. thanks I'm going to try this
<p>Hello ,</p><p>This is really awesome </p><p>but if we don't have LED sensor tracker </p><p>Can we replace it ?with what ? </p><p>Thanks ! </p>
<p>you use photoresistors, mounted to the panel, and rotate the panel twords whichever has the higher value</p>
look for solar trackers here in instructible they have a few that use smaller solar cell to control the power to the motor.
<p>What solar panel did you use? And how much was it, and where did you get it?</p>
Thank you for the idea. Jere is a pic.
I want to add this tracker to my solar array over the next month or two. It seems the largest consideration is going to be which linear actuator to use. <br><br>Obviously if you can find a free or cheap one from someone who is junking an old satellite dish that would be great. <br><br>But if left to buy one, other than the stroke and finding one of the appropriate voltage, how much force should one be able to exert on say, 2 45W panels and still be able to operate in blowing winds? It seems like you would want to minimize this in order to draw the lowest amount of current from your battery bank so that you gain the maximum power from your tracker and invest as little power as possible into driving the thing. Thoughts?
<p>trackers will make you solar array work better.</p><p>sales5@vigordigital.com</p>
Should two Linear Actuators be used for a larger array? Say Four Panels?<br>Thanks folks.<br>
<p>yes, it should be</p>
Hi hdb111; <br> <br>I think I understand what your asking: <br>Can one drive multiple independent linear actuators from a single tracker. <br> <br>The simple answer is no. Due to friction and different weight balance they tend to get out of sync. <br> <br>A better, and cheaper, method is to link multiple bicycle rims together with a cable. A single actuator moving the cable can drive quite a few panels. <br> <br>Note! These multiple panels should be separated so there is minimal shadowing. <br>I have a Excel spreadsheet that deals with shadowing issues. See: <br>http://www.redrok.com/led3xassm.htm#shadowing <br>http://redrok.com/Shadowing1.xls <br> <br>Duane <br>Red Rock Energy <br>redrok.com/led3xassm.htm
<p>We have produced wifi and tilt inclinometer for 15 years in Shanghai, China.</p> <br><p>These inclinometers are used on solar tracking system such as single-axis, dual-axis, 0~360&deg; range. There are more specifications in my computer. Once you are interested, I will send them to you.</p><p>Many solar tracking companies, such as Juwi Solar, Scatec Solar, have chosen us as a long-term supplier.</p><p>For example, Scatec Solar has built two PV plants in South Africa.</p><p>One is in Dreuenberg, which used 535 sets of our inclinometers. The other is in Linde, which used 300 sets of our inclinometers.</p><p>Our cost and quality are very competitive.</p><p>If you are interested, please let me know. Thanks</p><p>sales5@vigordigital.com</p>
<p>Great work ....Solar energy is becoming best solution for Energy Crisis in the world.</p><p>http://www.uenergysolar.co.uk/</p>
<p>I was looking into solar trackers when I found your project. Very nicely done ! I would also like to point to something I have found on youtube =&gt; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljTJqQYSJ8g</p>
<p>Sometimes simple is better. thanks for the link.</p>
u r brilaint
cool and nice many thanks for the helping people.
cool and nice many thanks for the helping people.
Hi Team, <br>Here is Wunderbar 12, <br>Just an update on my Bike tracker Project. <br>After building 2 and got them working by hand, I was a happy person, sending a photo to my friend a German Tool Maker, he warned NOT to build my trackers like this, as the roof is not a good environment, and he believes I must redesign the lot to do without the Bike wheels. He said you have 30 years warranty on this solar panels, and the wheels will fall apart after 3 years, when I am also 3 years older! <br>We started on the redesign, so far so good, when I have a array going, I am happy to post a few photos. <br>Yes it is NOT easy to build something low priced but high Chocolaty, <br>Have a good KW day! (KW stands for Kilo Watt)
Hi bwiter, <br>Thank you very much for your WUNDEREBAR Idea. I love it so much! <br>I have just copied your tracker, I used my existing Alu frame. I am waiting for some panels to complete my test unit. Then I will give you some Photos. <br>I will build 108 trackers, as I have 9 arrays of 12 panels on my very large roof all up 30KW. My production is down to 100KW average per day. I need to get 150+KW to repay my $80,000 loan. <br>I adjust the angel every month, but I find I need to track East - West the panels for more production. <br>We got winter here in Brisbane and it is nice to work on the roof now. Can anyone help me: I will put the panels 250mm apart and join the trackers with a rod to have 12 trackers working of one linear actuator, with this nice freely movement of the bike wheel, I am sure I will get it working, the shade problem is my worry, right now in winter I find 250mm a bit to small, but I need to save some room, would 500mm be better? <br>Any comment would be welcome. <br>Thank you again, you Gays are helping me a lot with all your input. <br>E-mail: Solar_Lover@bigpond.com
ALL electronics has a linear actuator for 36$ but its also 36volts,&nbsp; Do you think you could string 3 panels together to power the actuator. Will the redrock run on 36vs?<br />
These types of actuators use permanent magnetic DC motors. Just run the 36V, or 24V, actuator on 12V. They will move slower, a good thing, with little loss in force.<br><br>Duane<br>Red Rock Energy<br>redrok.com/led3xassm.htm
Will the 12v be enough to trip the relays though?
Hi wmiles: <br>There are no relays in linear actuators. <br>Just the motor and asociated limit switches. <br>Duane <br>Red Rock Energy <br>redrok.com/led3xassm.htm
On the redrok site, the pictures show the LED tracking sensors attached to the moving reflectors. Your picture shows the sensor attached to the fixed frame. Does your arrangement track OK?
Great project but honestly it could be so much more better looking. Please may I suggest that you find a hippy, artist friend to carve some awesome nature scenes into the wood, faries, suns, moons, stars. etc, then stain it, and you're ready for the solar festivals.
I'm new to the electronic field and sometimes it seems intimidating to me. About the Led tracker, do I need to know how it works in order to use it? I would like to know how it works. Can you explain a little on it. Thanks
&quot;Bicycle wheels, working tirelessly (no pun intended)&quot;<br><br>No pun intended? Really? Because it sure looks to me like you absolutely intended to make that pun.
It was still funny.
Very helpful, thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing the photos are good
A nice simple and effective design. Thank you for sharing it. Isn't it funny how the minute you share your project with the public, we instantly began re-analyzing and re-designing it to death and flooding you with a million ways you could have done it better? Oh well, that's just human nature I guess. You did a great job!
You know you could have said that a better way LOL 9-)
Yeah, I know...I had that one coming didn't I? lol
Thanks for making this. It is truly instructable. <br>I have a question about the movement. <br>How many degrees do the panels move each day? <br>
great project
red rock just keeps your money
Great work.. Now I just got to get a solar panel to put on it hehe Thxz for the post.
I really like the design where you bolted boards to bicycle wheels -- it's an elegant, strong solution that uses (as you mention) free resources. Even bent rims would work fine.<br> <br> I'll have to give this some thought ... I'm working on a design for an &quot;external <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombe_wall">Trombe wall</a>&quot; which I can attach to an existing window for the venting.&nbsp; Of course, making it insulated, situated off an existing wall, and now pivoting, I'm getting away from the simplicity of Trombe's design.<br>
Not to denigrate the work you did, but do you really need the photo sensor?&nbsp;The position of the sun can be calculated for any time of day, any day of the year. Why not just program an EPROM&nbsp;to store a lookup table for the correct angle, hour by hour, day by day (about 4,000 data values for the daylight hours of a single year), and use it with a simple microcontroller to adjust the angle incrementally? A bit more complicated at setup, but probably about the same total price, more accurate, and likely more reliable.<br />

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