Rotating Solar Panel
The Rotating Solar panel will be able to rotate a solar panel about an axis. This would greatly increase efficiency of the panel
Area of Interest
Mission San Jose High School
In an ideal world, my project would work really well and look really nice. However, I had to either sacrifice functionality or beauty. I made the decision to sacrifice beauty for functionality. I am proud of the project as it was functioning for the most part. I may not be able to spin the solar panel due to technical difficulties, but the motors function exactly how I wanted it to. In the future, I would want a much better method to attach the solar panel to the axle so that the solar panel will spin when the motor spins. Also, I will try to put some type of a support mechanism so that the first mount will not shake when the servo begins to rotate.
For my first modification, I made the solar panel rotate on a second axis. I approached this by adding an X brace to my design which I used for the single axis rotation. After that, I attached a servo cap to the X brace and attached the servo to the servo cap. I used a rectangular structure from my old mount(Mount #2) and I attached the cardboard to the bottom of the structure and then I mounted the servo to the cardboard. One major difficulty which I encountered was being able to fix the servo so that the servo will not rotate and the panel will rotate. I tried one approach, which was to use omnidirectional wheels, but that failed at the wheels weren’t high enough for the servo and the structure elevating the wheels was not sturdy enough to hold the wheels in place.
For my third milestone, I redesigned the mount for my solar panel. How I approached this was I used wood and create two A-shaped braces and one rectangular structure. I drilled one hole in both of the A-shaped braces to fit the rod through. Then I had to mount my servo to the rod to make the motor turn. I didn’t have any additional circuitry or coding to do because I already had coded for the LDR readings and the motor spinning in Milestone #1. One huge difficulty I faced was getting the axle to spin. I tried several ways. My first attempt was to mount a block of wood under the solar panel and use another rod to spin the axle. That failed. My second attempt was to direct mount the servo and try to spin the axle that way. However, that attempt failed. I tried a couple of other methods but they did not work. Finally, I mount a block of wood to the servo and the block of wood was mounted to the rod. This attempt succeeded.
My second milestone was to gather voltage reading from the charging station. How I approached this was I used a solar lithium polymer charger and an adapter to connect the solar panel to a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. I used a very simple circuit where I connected the two ends of the solar lithium polymer charger to the positive and negative terminals of the breadboard. After I completed that, I took two jumper wires and connected them to a signal port and a ground port. I did some coding and told the Arduino to read the value which it was receiving from the signal port and display that value. The value was around 669. The Arduino uses 1023 bits. So, I divided the value by 1023 and multiplied by 5 because of the 5 volts of the Arduino. The exact value of that is 3.2697. When I checked the voltage using multimeter, the multimeter showed 3.25. The result was close. Some struggles I encountered during this was when I initially was trying to figure out I was going to approach this, nothing was working. I overcame this with the simplest approach. Also, when I was dividing by 1023 and multiplying by 5, the serial monitor was display 0. It turns out that it was a simple fix. I needed to switch my variable types from integer to float. For my next milestone, I will be modifying my mount for my solar panel as my current design isn’t the best.