Build a big array of mirrors for a solar collector and you still have one problem, it has to follow the sun as it travels across the sky. Solar trackers are expensive and complicated. Heres one that is simple, cheap and strong.
You can make it from parts found in the hardware store and garage sales.
First you need to know some navigator and sundial facts. As the Sun travels across the sky daily its astromonical position is called "right ascension"
This Sun Tracker will move the position of a solar array, heliostat or solar furnace as it makes its daily trip across the sky.
The other change your collector has to make is its altitude which changes as the season changes. This adjustment can be made on a weekly basis, and an automatic adjustment isn't usually necessary.
I will keep you up to date with the progress of my prototype equitorial mounted solar furnace with more pictures and add ons.
I felt the neccesity to publicize the Strong Simple Solar Tracker as an inspiration to anyone else that might be thinking about building a large solar furnace, but were intimidated by the tracking drive.
Now that you know you can make one cheaply and quickly, maybe you'll be tempted to take the plunge.
Step 1: Look Ma, No Solder!
You can put all this stuff together without solder. Make sure to observe the correct polarity when hooking up the cord to the holes on the plug. The white wire goes on the big lug.
Step 2: Its All Together
Just screw it all together, use the holes in lugs to wrap the stripped ends of the wires in . You could use solder to secure them, its optional if you don't know how to solder. Just make sure the feed wires are tight. Tape them up.
Step 3: Wrap It Up
Like a sore thumb. Leave a space for the sensor opening to look at the Sun and make sure the adjustment ring is loose.
Its ready to go into the housing.
Step 4: A Possible Setup
I don't have the equitorial mount ready yet, but the idea is that the control moves the right ascension axis when the Sun Blocker darkens the sensor. The motor drives the array into the direct sun, the sensor shuts off the drive until the sun moves again to shadow the sensor.
Step 5: All the Theory
Read this pdf file and get the details on how the tracker works and how to put it together. As always, use your imagination. Thats what my fourth grade science teacher told us from the beginning. It works for me.
Goodnight Mrs. Hall, wherever you are!
Step 6: Building the Base
The base or carriage of the Sun tracker was built out of scrap lumber and an old set of wheels from a rusted out garden cart. This is what it looks like upside down.
Step 7: Building the Pedestal
Here's the pedestal that will hold the entire assembly .It's made out of 2'x4' screwed and glued together to form and equilateral triangle.
Step 8: Mounted Pedestal
The pedestal is screwed and glued in place, and the mounting block ties the two arms together.
Step 9: The Dobson Mount
This is the rotating part of the Tracker, when it is inclined to the angle that is parallel to the equator, the frame mounted on the hinges will track the Sun.
Step 10: Rotating Frame Mounted
Whatever device we have in mind for capturing or reflecting solar energy goes on the wide end of the frame. The second picture shows the position of the frame during the summer solstice.