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Finally finished my solar collector prototype. Answered

This has been an ongoing saga for the last six months or so, but with a lot of help from many of you here the Sunflower prototype is finished. And it works! It still needs perfecting, but the principle is sound.

This unit cost me less than $20, is almost entirely recycled and salvaged materials, was ridiculously easy to make (tho since I've thought of a way to make it much simpler) and seems to work fairly well. With a larger collector and light pipe in place this unit alone could collect up to a kilowatt of power, maybe more.

Now I need to start working on the Mk II perfected design, and some applications for electricity generation and water purification.

This will be an ongoing open source project. Once I've got a design which is nice I'll get a website up and be traveling round working with local community groups, inventors and NGOs.

If you have any desire whatsoever to take a crack at making this yourself please please do so. The video is a little light on the finer details, so if there are any questions just ask.

And thanks again for all those who helped out.


For those who asked for updates, I've got photos and video of the project as it comes together available here:


This will also be my journal for the trip as I travel round with this thing once it's done.


8 years ago

Awesome work- now I see where all that talk of inverse waterwheels was going. I was going to quibble that it's inefficient and a Stirling would be much more efficient and cooler, but this arrangement looks simple, low maintenance and does exactly what it's supposed to. I await the Mark 2 with interest :)

Blurb: Basically it's a solar tracker and concentrator, but one that can be made very easily from common recycled and salvaged materials. It can be made almost anywhere, by almost anyone, is compact, portable, involves no inputs or emissions and has no real limit on how much power it can produce. At the moment the device is prototyped, and works, but needs to be perfected before it can be fully released and put into use. Also I have several ideas for applications such as electrical generation, cooking, and water purification which need to be fleshed out. These would also fit the brief of being essentially free, safe, easily constructible and available to everyone. Once the device (I'm calling it, kind of obviously, the sunflower) is fully usable I'll be posting free tutorials to a website and traveling, working with NGOs and community groups teaching people how to make the thing and suit it to their local needs. I'll also be encouraging people to produce and sell them, royalty free.

It's great to see this - and the tracker works? For a sealed unit you've done good on this - I like the reflector unit. Instructable coming? L

Tracker works but needs fine tuning. The whole thing is a closed system but this version needs a pressure release... bladder... thing at the top where the vapour can recondense. Reflector works well and boils the ethanol in under 20 minutes from cold, under 5 after 5 off the heat. Instructable definitely once i get the overall design niced up and working efficiently.

Congratulations! Glad to see you persevered with it and got it to work in the end, I know I'd have given up long ago :-)