It IS working! 2august 2009 and the latest scene file is wfunnelandotherstiltedforward and is available for download and improvement below
http://blip.tv/file/2429375/ is the latest how to about using the art of illusion software.
check it out! (It is 11 minutes but worth it and I could not edit the screencast to the 10 minute maximum for other video sites)
The Kyoto trough was placed in the plans and designs section at http://solarcooking.wikia.com by their webmaster a couple of days ago. (May 5th 2009)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp4TWLQbYJ4 is video to explain the trough.
and I have a video showing differences between different dish shapes at
26th March, I added a movie (covering 6 hours) for a dish made with the Roland Winston "dimpled curve" to this page.
Winston had a host of patents and he is pretty famous. (His proper design is a trough). Anyway, the dish made to his trough specs seems to be the best of the lot when it is aimed badly.
Check the movie clips to see for yourself! If you want to know more about Winstons famous w curve, check the yahoo fossilfreedom group. A guy has done an excell file of his design there. (Lapsed patent).
15th March, I added a zipped folder on step one to get you quickly started with this software.
Draw elevation, plan and end view of your solar reflector, drop it into a scene, run the program and you can directly compare it to traditional reflectors! Before you build it.
Step 2 has photos in sequence with image notes, to walk you through the software.
Image notes are used lots in this instructable! Click on the mov files at the bottom of this page to see my first (not quite right) attempts at modeling the sun moving across a reflector over 6 hours in movie form. This shows how 5 differently curved dishes perform!
There are many other curves to try out! And troughs can be tested too!
People in Chad are not allowed to gather firewood anymore due to desertification.
(see the solar cooking wiki for more details)
So now many people cannot cook their food.
Lets design better solar cookers to help out a bit!
You do not even need to get your hands dirty if you design with software!
Traditional parabolic solar cookers are great as long as you keep repointing them at the sun.
But who wants to stand in 35 degree C heat doing this for a couple of hours?
Let us use the software to design reflectors
that maximixe the collected sunlight for an hour or 2.
My thanks to Peter Eastman, Pete and others on the art of illusion forums for helping me with
this. Nothing would have happened without their help.
The basic idea behind this instructable is that if the sun could see, It would see the reflection of the cooking pot bouncing back from the reflector.
The size of the reflection that the sun sees should corelate with the cooking efficiency of the reflector. Lets put a camera where the sun is!

Step 1: Searching for software. Finding it! And zipped folder to get you started!

I have been on the lookout for cheap easy free software to do this for about 6 months.
Most have very difficult user interphases or super high prices or only work on one computer platform.
I think I have found a good one in Art of Illusion. It is free, it is a java program so it works on all the computer platforms and it is simple to use. Its main window is elevation, plan, endview and perspective view. If you want to get fancy, it has additional windows for materials and making movies and animations.
A great bonus with art of illusion is that the people in their forums are really helpful.
An additional great bonus is the scene files. I asked for help and someone did the bulk of the scene file work for me. I then modified it a bit, put it on the web and they suggested additional modification.
This means that a solar cooker development tool can become good really quickly!
The picture below is a physical model of a solar cooker. The picture was taken at an angle.
The reflection gives an idea of how good the reflector would be if the sun shone in at that angle.
The zipped folder will allow you to compare 5 solar cookers. Use A.jpg B.jpg etc as the starter files.
You can use zero as start time and 9.5 as end time and 1 frame per second to get a table covering 6 hours of time (90 degrees of sun movement). Use different start times and different frame numbers to "focus in" on any part of the 90 degree time period to study that part in greater detail.
Hey, this is a great instructable and is very informative. Just one thing is missing... pictures! It really helps a lot when trying to follow directions so you should consider taking some photographs. Once you do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks! Thanks for the cool instructable and we hope to publish this soon!
I have a new step 2 which contains 15 images (screenshots from art of illusion) that are in sequence which I think will help people come to grips quickly with it. I have image notes on each one to explain what is going on. I would greatly appreciate if you put it back online because I already have links to it and a better art of illusion scene file is ready to go into it to be looked at by the art of illusion forum.. Thanks Brian White

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Bio: I am a stone mason. My hobby is making new solar cooking and gardening stuff. I have used solar heat to cook soil for a ... More »
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