DIY Miniature Solar Tracker

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About: Awesome Electronics Tutorials, Projects and How To´s

In this project I will show you how to create a solar tracker which like the name implies can follow the movement of the sun throughout the day. And at the end I will show you the energy harvest difference between a solar tracker mounted solar panel and a flat mounted solar panel. Let's get started!

Step 1: Watch the Video!

The video gives you all mandatory information about the solar tracker. During the next steps though I will give you some additional information.

Step 2: Order Your Components!

Here you can find a parts list with example seller:

Amazon.com:

1x Arduino Nano: https://amzn.to/2MCkpI2

2x SG90 Servo: https://amzn.to/2lJDT24

4x Photoresistor: https://amzn.to/2tHYY1a

4x 1kohm Resistor: https://amzn.to/2KjGBds

Ebay:

1x Arduino Nano: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

2x SG90 Servo: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

4x Photoresistor: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

4x 1kohm Resistor: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?...

Amazon.de:

1x Arduino Nano: https://amzn.to/2KDRt5r

2x SG90 Servo: https://amzn.to/2lHKJoG

4x Photoresistor: https://amzn.to/2Kz7Gpb

4x 1kohm Resistor: https://amzn.to/2lIp1kD

Step 3: 3D Print the Solar Tracker Parts!

Here you can find the utilized model on thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:708819

And here you can also download the remaining part that I created by myself.

Step 4: Create the Circuit and Upload the Code!

Here you can find the schematic and code for the project. Feel free to use it to create your own solar tracker.

Step 5: Success!

You did it! You just created your own Solar Tracker!

Feel free to check out my YouTube channel for more awesome projects:

http://www.youtube.com/user/greatscottlab

You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for news about upcoming projects and behind the scenes information:

https://twitter.com/GreatScottLab

https://www.facebook.com/greatscottlab

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45 Discussions

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AdamW265

Question 3 days ago

Hi. insted of using 50-100kohm photoresistors i used 10-20kohm. What lines in the code should i change to make it work?

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oidjw

Question 2 months ago


Hi
1.Do you need to install a library for the timer one on the arduino
2. Will this code work on an arduino uno.
and the schematic given is different from that in the video 5.17

thankyou

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NIKOSGR

2 months ago

Hello im constructing this solar tracking system for a project. Would anybody be interested in explaining the code to me? I am new to coding and i would love to understand what the code does. Thanks alot.

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nikitaweka

11 months ago

This is the type of instructible I avoid. Its like saying 1 bye a ford engine, 2 buy a ford body work, 3 buy ford wheels. Put them together and you have a Ford car. It`s crapsmanship and must be avoided.

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offtherails2010nikitaweka

Reply 2 months ago

EXACTLY As mkphillips and BrownDogGadgets have advised, totally agree with them.

If all youre going to do is sit around here and criticize other people's projects, then your in the wrong website..

You should be in the;

"how many negative people does it take to change a light bulb ???
A= NONE because they'll all sit in the DARK and COMPLAIN !!!"

ROOM........................................................................................

We DARE You to do better...

But judging by your profile not having made a single thing to publish, it doesnt look like youre up to the task, so if you aint got anything nice to say, do as youre suggested by instructables and;

"We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive."

So, to be CONSTRUCTIVE, my mother brought me up teaching me that if you didnt have anything nice to say, then you should keep your thoughts to yourself and remain quiet...

Or you just dont belong here...

GreatScott has a MASSIVE FOLLOWING, HUGE YOUTUBE Channel with LOADS of video's showing how he gets things working and is an inspiration to many of us.. So unless you can do better i suggest you do as my mother instructed, i was brought-up, not "dragged up"

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mkphillipsnikitaweka

Reply 11 months ago

Really? If you can do better then let’s see it.

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BrownDogGadgetsnikitaweka

Reply 11 months ago

Wait... what? Your comment doesn't make a lot of sense. Yes, he's using standard off the shelf parts... but no one is going to build all these electronics parts from scratch (like who seriously builds their own servos?!?!). This is a solid project and a solid write up.

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Seacully

Question 3 months ago on Step 4

Will you please post the schematic file as well? I want to create a circuit board in Eagle. Thanks!

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Aljawasi

3 months ago on Step 4

Salaam alikom, I can't download the code

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munna1982

Question 4 months ago

hi there..does anyone has the image of the back part of the circuit which works.. it seem Great Scott forgot to upload that image as per his power logger video he did previously..

need help as mine, i could have wrongly sloder it..

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DaleW62

11 months ago

I am definnally a NEWBIE to the whole electronics ideas - it's looks like it would be handy but you don't explain how & where & what the back of you board looks like with your wiring & motors. Also You seem to have forgotten to tell WHAT THAT BIG ORANGE thing is on the front of the solar panel & why do you cover up a 3rd of the panels with it? Wouldn't the extra panels proved extra power to the servos for motion & not take a loss in the panels production? Ok I see that there isn't any panels covered by the Big orange thing but it still looks like lost space

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offtherails2010DaleW62

Reply 4 months ago

That big orange thing with the cross-segment on the solar panel is a divider that separates each of the 4 Photoresistor's so that each one can track only a portion or a quadrant, having all 4 gives the perfect tracking ;-

https://i.stack.imgur.com/qjBiV.jpg

Quote;
"A voltage divider is thus formed at the junction between photo
resistor and another resistor; the output is taken at the junction point to pass the
measured voltage as input to microcontroller."

SOURCE:
https://www.ripublication.com/irph/ijeee_spl/ijeeev7n6_04.pdf

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alecmaster

Question 8 months ago

It seems that the code he provided does not work, has it been changed since he uploaded this instruction?

1 answer
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JaidA1alecmaster

Answer 5 months ago

check if u used arduino uno instead of nano

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efoster6

5 months ago

Great instructable. I saw one recently on youtube using 4 small solar panels and 4 small dc motors I think it works on the same principal

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DavyR1

Question 11 months ago on Step 3

How much of the extra energy achieved is used up by the extra circuitry of the servos etc? I suppose it would be more efficient the higher the rating of the panels!

1 answer
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gmartin2000DavyR1

Answer 5 months ago

The system can be very efficient if the positioning loop is executed once about every 15 minutes and then put to sleep during the delay. The servos don't need to be run continuously (that really reduces their life). They only need to be run long enough to position the panel.

And yes, it is very efficient since this circuit will use only about 100ma at 5v (.5watts) when driving the servos. If you execute the control loop every 15 minutes and turn off the servos and go to sleep between loops you can really increase the efficiency!

Assume 10 seconds to position the panel each loop and do this only four times an hour. That's 100ma for 40 seconds out of an hour or about 1.1mah (5.5mWh). If you're using a small 100ma panel (12v nominal * 100ma = 1.2 Watts), that's a pretty high efficiency there alone 1.2W/.0055W = 218:1). Imagine what the efficiency will be with a 10 to 100watt panel!

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raphan

11 months ago

I think a system with only 3 sensors could work as well. Something cheaper.

2 replies
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KISELINraphan

Reply 11 months ago

Why only three sensors? The sensors have a ”bulk” price,
I guess you get them for $1,00/20pcs. Then there comes the mathematical issue.
To divide a circle in 3 or to 4? Fair enough, divide it with 3 gives you 360dgr/3= 120dgr. each, make that on your scetch. Divide it with 4 gives you 360dgr/4= 90dgr. I guess it’s a bit easyer to find a 90dgr. angle on your plan.

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BrownDogGadgetsKISELIN

Reply 11 months ago

KISELIN has the right idea. The sensors are one of the cheapest parts of this project. There are not many ways to reduce the cost of this project, minus the obvious of not building the watt meter.