Clock Based Solar Tracker Experiment





Introduction: Clock Based Solar Tracker Experiment

About: 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 couple of years. In mother earth news in January, i read that their compost expert does...

This is my first attempt at the clock based solar tracker.
I suggested the idea to solar cookers international several months ago.
This shows the idea much clearer than my diagrams from that time.
Please make your own.
They should improve solar panel productivity by 20% or more.



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    13 Discussions

    Hook it to the center dials of (2) 24-hour plug timers ($3 each) powered by the AC current of a 12v solar panel mounted on a long pole between the 2 plug timers ($10-$50) themselves both hooked up to a car battery by means of 1 cigarette lighter DC/AC converter with 2 outputs by extension cords ($15) hooked up to the car battery by a cigarette lighter that terminates in +/- battery clamps ($5).

    6 + 10 + 15 + 5 = $36

    24 hour plug timers are easily found at any store and use less than 1/2 volt. You will need an DC/AC converter anyway if you want to power anything.

    So logically the cost is really ONLY $11...

    The earth spins every 24 hours, it doesn't matter that at night the solar panel is upside down pointing to the ground since there is no sun anyway, in the morning just aim it at the sunrise and adjust for the time change.

    If the solar panel is constructed in a slim configuration and centered on the dial, little or no power at all is needed to rotate it on it's pivot point 360 degrees, the weight balance evenly on top/bottom. (plug timers won't rotate backwards either, so just shield from wind on 1 side.

    Place both plug timers facing the same way, route the face of the second timer around to the back by means of a barb metal square glued to the face of the timer running around the timer to relocate movement to the it's back but keep it rotating paralleled with the other plug timer on the other end.

    How about this:

    I think there is used a magnetic compass needle approach.

    Just a note that I have another tracker idea in concept form at It should be a bit more accurate that this one.

    Hi there,<br/><br/>I found this other Instructable that you may be able to incorporate into your water based sun tracker. <br/><br/>Take a look at step 4. This is an interesting electronic control that this guy is proposing. I think that you could use this same principal to control the flow of water from one tank into another. <br/><br/>My thought was this: utilize a small solar panel for the electronic control. When is operating the shadow switches a the electricity on a low voltage system say, 12 V for instance. This in turn could operate a solenoid valve that would allow the water to drip into the bucket raising or lowering the mirror as needed. (they sell low voltage plastic solenoid valves for lawn watering systems that would be perfect in this application). Maybe a small timer could be incorporated into the control so that it increments the mirror once every five minutes or so.<br/><br/><a href=""></a><br/><br/>Just a couple of ideas to kick around.<br/>

    Pardon, I don't speak English, then I do'nt understand the words. ¿Is the main axis inclined an amount equal to the local latitude? This is fundamental.

    1 reply

    Yes, the main axis that the reflector is mounted on is inclined an amount equal to my latitude. It is on equatorial or polar mount. For some reason, in English, both things mean the same thing. Happy New Year Brian

    If you want to retain your purest spirit you may consider eliminating the clock and substituting an hour glass for your control, Maybe this could then be a weight based control like a balance scale controlling the valve/drip for your water. I have not seen an hour glass that would work for the entire day of tracking but you could make one. Just don't get the sand wet.

    1 reply

    I have used a water clock (just water no clock) with one of my dripper trackers and it works pretty good once it is set up. Good for 8 hours in my system.

    Another though to add... You could power the clock with a small solar panel. I did hear you mention that you wanted to avoid solar panels but if your intention is to develop this for poor regions then eliminating batteries may be something to consider.

    1 reply

    Yeah, either or. I think for a clock to keep time, it has to have a battery or be mechanical. Otherwise you have to reset it every morning. The clock based tracker just needs the bucket to be refilled every evening and the string to be lapped twice round the clock "wheel" to be reset for the morning. So your solar panel can power a rechargable battery or a mechanical clock can be used. I have not seen a mechanical clock lately.