Thursday, 28 August 2008

Solar follower – a break through?

Yes I know, still no “funnies” this month. I have instead been spending on a less funny but equally pointless endeavour: to build a machine that will rotate to follow the sun.

As I pointed out in my last entry, I have been working on this one on and off for a while, with no success. Now, I hope, I have come up with a solution:

It’s not ideal (it still uses an op-amp), but it does at least work on paper (or at least simulator, which can be found here: ).

So this little chip, containing an op-amp, may be the solution to my problems:

It actually contains 4 op-amps. But at 70p, I’m not that fussed. The main issue will be if it is able to run with very little power to it. After all, it all needs to run on just the power generated by the solar panels. Hopefully I’ll know by tonight.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Solar plants

Re-instigation of the solar plant (xth iteration).

I say x-th because I can't remember exactly how many times I've picked up this notion and run with it before getting bored and putting it back down again. Let me give you a quick overview.

Whilst at uni, I thought "wouldn't it be cool if you could create a solar panel that follows the sun without any moving parts". Basically this would involve using electromagnets and the left hand rule to create a set of solar panels that track light.

This quickly snowballed in to a final dream: To have a bonsai tree looking creation where all the leaves were tiny solar panels which could all independently move on x and y axis to track the sun (or any other light source).

Of course this was a true pipe dream. I had no technical know-how to build something so intricate. The major stumbling point was to use the electromagnetic forces to move the object. It would have to have next to no resistance, and be perfectly balanced.

So we reach this point where I have looked at it again. This time my motivation is rather different. To start simple. I want to create a solar panel that will track the sun. First in the horizontal axis, and then in both axis. Possible? Well this guy thinks so:

So it actually looks possible. And looking forward, I'm already thinking how to create something smaller, with multiple ones attached to one another. That way when one turned, the others would have to "counter-turn" and the whole object would alter in shape.

It would be a work of art, and be a great yuppie office toy. (What would happen if you put the light at the top of the structure???)

Patent pending!