I want to build a simple and cost-effective wooden dual axis solar tracker, suitable for personal use or for small businesses. From this goal I can derive the following constraints:
Heavy machinery is not always or easily available for our target audience, hence tracker should be small enough to be installed on the site by at most 2 people, using only muscle power. Solar panel rated ad 600KW has dimensions approximately 2m x 1.5m, and weight of ~30kg. A pair of such panels can be handled by a pair of human hands, so we set tracker’s total output for ~ 1Kwh. (2 panels)
Tracker should have the option to be easily mounted on rooftops, in addition to the apparently common option of “burying” pedestal in the soil.
Both mechanical and software parts are in the scope of the project. The software should be capable of managing field of 8 - 32 trackers.
It’s not very common to see solar panels with dual axis trackers, and there is a reason for this: trackers are expensive, while solar panels are relatively cheap. Usually it’s economically not worth to invest in dual axis trackers - buying additional panels is more profitable. So why doing this?
Wood is cheap and easy to process. I want to test my idea that wooden tracker could be made of commodity components in a regular woodworking shop, and the final cost will be low.
Software is also part of the project. It might has it own value, regardless of wooden tracker.
I will build at least 1 dual axis wooden tracker at 1/3 of target size. The sizes are clear: it should carry 2 panels of 700x500mm, the weight and capacity to stand wind load are not so obvious… 1/3 in panel’s length and height yields 1/9 of area, so I leaving this question open.
I will evaluate several mechanical designs (tentative)
My vision of software architecture is as follow: must be a central computer that orchestrate the entire solar field and provides management and monitoring capabilities to the operator. It will be connected to an anemometer (wind speed sensor), and sun position sensor (or GPS sensor + astronomical algorithms for sun position calculation). This control center will handle strong wind escape maneuver, snow shake movement, broadcast sun position, etc… Also, it will record performance data and will serve an entry point for the operator.
Each tracker will be equipped with a pair of linear actuators (or pair or DC motors), tilt sensor (or accelerometer), a LED to indicate tracker’s motion (awesomeness!), temperature sensor, electric sensor, and networking device. Also, I gonna need Arduino board for each tracker to manage aforementioned components and communicate with the control center.
What has been done so far
On the image: pre-alpha of dual axis tracker almost done. Waiting for second linear actuator to arrive (already ordered).
Will keep posting as the project evolves.
Constructive discussion is welcome