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

Engineer

Aakash S.

Area of Interest

Software Engineering
Mechanical/Electrical Engineering

School:

Mission San Jose High School

Grade

Incoming Junior

Reflection

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.

First Modification

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.

Third Milestone

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.

Second Milestone

Code
Code_2
Circuit
Circuit_2

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.

First Milestone

My first milestone for my intensive project is to get the motor to spin according to the Light detection from the two Light-Dependent Resistors. For electronics, I used an Arduino Uno, some jumper wires, 2 10kΩ resistors, 2 Photo Resistors(LDRs), a 9-volt rechargeable battery, a battery cap, and a servo motor. I connected some jumper wires to draw signal and current for the resistors and LDRs. I connected one of the 3 cables of the servo motor to the Arduino to draw signal. The other 2 wires were connected to a 9 volt battery because the Arduino wasn’t giving off sufficient current to turn shaft of the motor. As far as code goes, I approached it by receiving values from the LDRs, and then compared them, and according to which one was greater, then I coded the motor to spin to a certain position. I initially struggled a lot trying to come up with a way to allow the solar panel to rotate. After a while, I settled on to use a Servo Motor. I was struggling on how to code the servo to run. I pushed through the hardship and I now have the first milestone. For my second milestone, I plan to have the mount for the solar panel ready

Starter Project

My starter project is a MintyBoost 3.0 Kit. It is a device which can charge a cell phone using two Double A batteries. The device consists of resistors, capacitors, an IC socket, an IC chip, a power inductor, and last but not least, the batteries, battery holder, and the USB connector. The electric current moves from the batteries to the usb port to the phone. I did have some issues while working on this project. One was after I completed the majority of the soldering for this project, I realized that I did  it wrong. It was a simple fix. Another issue was having the solder stuck inside a hole in the PCB. I was about to solder the USB connector to the PCB when I realized that there was solder in the hole where one of the USB connector prongs was supposed to go through. Initially, I tried to use the Copper Wick method of desoldering. That method wasn’t successful as it only picked up the solder on top of the hole, and not the solder in the hole. I tried the pump method, but I could not figure out how to. Eventually, I managed to get the solder out by using a hand drill.

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