DIY Miniature Solar Tracker

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Awesome Electronics Tutorials, Projects and How To´s

Intro: DIY Miniature Solar Tracker

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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    27 Discussions

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    fmarzocca

    14 days ago

    Very good job! Thank you. Could you pls provide your .123dx file in STL format?

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    Seacully

    Question 7 weeks ago on Step 3

    Do I need to own or purchase the .stl program in order to print those parts on a 3D printer. I have access to a 3D printer, but it isn't currently installed with that program.

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    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    2 months ago

    Cool. I did a project like this in college. I always had issues with the photoresistors having different resistance curves and different saturation points.

    3 replies
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    KISELINDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 2 months ago

    You’r so right about them photores. They ”fluctuate” not by the manufacturers def’s, but the behavior of themselves. Often them photores. sensors are used in co.op. with prosessors and thereby it’s advisable to make a multiple reading of the analog and calculate the average of them, don’t make them samples to be within a millisec. Like in this Instr. a sample rate of a minute or so guess could be fair enough.
    To get long time delays DON’T USE THE delay() command; because the delay() function HALT*S you’r total program for the whole delay() time.
    Look at my instr, ”how to hack the delay”.

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    DIY Hacks and How TosKISELIN

    Reply 2 months ago

    Another thing that we tried was to use a photodiode or a small solar cell instead of photo resistors. They are a lot more predictable and linear in their output.

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    KISELINDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 2 months ago

    So right you are. BUT… the photodiods are like hard ”ON-OFF”, of course you can make the ”set-point” with resistors, but this will result in that when the light fluctuates close by the ”set-point” it would go on-off-on-off-on wery rapidly. I guess that in this kind of applications it’s better to have a ”linear photoresistor” indication, because it’s hysteresis is a bit slow.

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    DaleW62

    2 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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    Jonathanrjpereira

    2 months ago

    Awesome. I had made a Single Axis Solar Tracker with just common analog IC's & no microcontroller.

    I used photoresistors to determine the direction of the sun & turn the DC motor accordingly but also used limit switches on each end to prevent the motor from turning excessively.

    IMG-20161023-WA0001.jpgIMG-20161023-WA0002.jpg
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    nikitaweka

    2 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.

    2 replies
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    mkphillipsnikitaweka

    Reply 2 months ago

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

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    BrownDogGadgetsnikitaweka

    Reply 2 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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    hallcp

    2 months ago

    Very informative! Your presentation was very clear. I can't help but think there is a simpler way to make this measurement and that has me thinking. But that's what a good instructable does! Thanks for sharing.

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    raphan

    2 months ago

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

    2 replies
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    KISELINraphan

    Reply 2 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 2 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.

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    Eddybb3

    2 months ago

    Instead of using the photoresistor, why not use the PV cell itsef?

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    he3r0

    Question 2 months ago

    Clearly having photovoltaic panel perpendicular to the solar "beams" is the most efficient way to harvest the energy, however, you have not specified, but how much power have you spend on operating the positioning device? it runs constantly and there is a lot of space for improvement in this design, but does it makes more efficient over flat panel without any additional energy draw?

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    richrobi

    2 months ago on Step 1

    Great presentation - thanks. I disagree with nikitaweka and think your explanation & video where good. I agree with YoramG and I would have liked a test with the fixed panel at optimum angle, and that lasted from sunrise to sunset. Thanks again for interesting Instructable.

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    YoramG

    2 months ago

    Nice project! But I feel the comparison is not totally fair. You compared a totally flat panel to sun tracking but I have rarely seen them implemented flat. Usually they are installed in an angle (at least in Israel). Also, the video suggest the flat one is laid directly on asphalt, which is likely to be much warmer then the wood, and there is no air circulation, making heating even worse...
    Nevertheless, very neat!

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    DavyR1

    Question 2 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!