How To Build a Solar Tracker

kristielAll Topics, fischertechnik, National Instruments

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For this post, Studica’s Co-op student utilized all the skills they have acquired the past few weeks with products such as the National Instruments myDAQ and fischertechnik models. They built and programmed a solar tracker using the fischertechnik Oeco Tech Renewable Energy kit as well as various spare parts as well as National Instruments LabVIEW with the myDAQ and a stepper motor.


The solar tracker consisted of 2 fischertechnik solar panels and 2 photo-resistors that were attached to a rotating base.  This rotating base helped the solar panels achieve maximum exposure to the sunlight.  Now the solar panels are powering the board which has a buzzer for the load.  This buzzer is an indicator that solar panels are receiving enough sunlight to power a load.  The photo-resistors act as sensors on top of the solar panels and these sensors increase their resistance as it detects more sunlight.  Using this information we implemented a program that detects the resistance for each sensor and rotate the stepper motor accordingly.  This ensures a constant supply of the maximum sunlight throughout the day. In LabVIEW, the software we used for the programming, we had to continuously collect data from the sensors and compare them in order to determine the direction in which to move or when to keep the position of the solar panels.


The problem we had with trying to continuously collect data from each sensor but that the DAQ assistant we used to input the data from the sensors could only read one analog value at a time.  To fix this issue we decided to have a timer that would switch between the two sensors every second and compare the last two results and that’s how we made our solar tracker.

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