Author Topic: Applications for Heliostats  (Read 20291 times)

Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2009, 08:30:38 PM »
That seems very resonable Gabe now that I think about it.  Some people might not realize that using their few hundred watt solarpanels for long duration (say greater than 30 minutes) high power home applications (like air and water heating) may not be a good option since it will either drain the storage batteries or burn out the solarpanels from too much current being drawn.  Seems best to collect the heat and use it as heat rather than convert it to electricity, with an efficiency loss, and then convert it back to heat with even some more power loss.  Perhaps it is similar with solar light applications, at least during daytime, the sun can easilly put a "high wattage" value of light onto a surface without charging/draining batteries.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:51:06 PM by Jon »


Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2009, 08:03:35 PM »
I designed a linear to rotational mechanical movement.  I don't even know if it will function right or have any good use since I haven't made any working model of it.  Possibly, it can be used for steering a heliostat mirror, if direct drive to the wheel isn't used.

A Linear To Angular Movement

 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2009, 08:26:26 PM by Jon »


Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2009, 04:30:43 PM »

One awkward type of an engine is an electrical solenoid engine, I briefly seen one or two vids on YT.  I wonder if those can be used to turn a heliostat, maby I'll look up the mechanism.  I doubt the average person can make a stepper motor, but a solenoid engine, maby.

Gabriel

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2009, 06:20:54 PM »
  I doubt the average person can make a stepper motor, but a solenoid engine, maby.

That's something that I have thought about also. I haven't had the chance to try attaching one to a heliostat, but it seems like it could work.

A heliostat doesn't have to move very fast, so an electrical solenoid engine might do the trick in this case.

One thing that drives up the cost of my current heliostat is the driver board and the stepper motors. The electronics for a solenoid engine would no doubt be much simpler and therefore cheaper. I don't think it would be very hard for me to adapt the heliostat program I wrote for a solenoid engine either.

I think that this is something that I might experiment with after I have my heliostat array up and working. It's a good idea Jon.

Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2009, 05:47:18 PM »
I'm not sure if it's even called a solenoid motor or engine, or what.  But it would have to be some kind of basic solenoid that can be pulsed ocassionally to turn a wheel a small amout of its rotation, and have some stability or force to hold its position.  Here is an interesting site where solenoids are used extensively and other electro-mechanical gadgetry with arcade/pinball machines: http://www.pinrepair.com/em/index2.htm  Right now I have just an idea of a mechanism, but I'd rather look for something already made, perhaps something standard is in the link.

I seen some vids on YT where a "water moter" can turn a solar tracker.  He had three vids about it:
Dripper tracker for parabolic solar accumulator!
        It basically utilizes a "water drip/flow" mechanism/adjustment so that a rising water level can eventually turn a wheel to effectively track the sun.  I was thinking of a modification of this where that a solenoid valve, along with some light sensors/circuitry, can open and close the (water) valve and the water level can rise, and turn the wheel solar tracking movement, that way without any inherant timing method by just tracking the sun in a "visual-electronic" sense.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2009, 06:18:55 PM by Jon »


Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2009, 06:33:28 PM »
I found this stepper motor circuit board thing, says it makes things easier, but I have no experience with stepper motors to know, but it could be useful:  http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1202/pictures

travis77

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2009, 10:47:24 PM »
The other day, (saturday) I went to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA and they have a heliostat on top of the building that tracks the sun and feeds the light using multiple mirros to a prism and more mirrors that then displays the refracted light onto a giant wall. It was pretty interesting. People could move a set of the mirros to change the collideascpoe like designs on the wall.

If any of you techy people every are in San Francisco, go to the Exploratorium. http://www.exploratorium.edu/ They have tons of interesting interactive exhibits. Another place similar to the exploratorium but not as hands on is the Tech Museum in San Jose, CA. http://www.thetech.org/

Gabriel

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2009, 06:41:07 AM »
Oh bummer, I'm on the opposite side of the country. It sounds cool though. The whole prism idea is something that I actually want to try sometime now that I have my own heliostat up and running. It should be awesome.

Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #23 on: September 15, 2009, 05:05:44 PM »
I havent been doing much, a whole lot of nothing with this cold, but I managed to draw up some solenoid valve/water motor ideas here:  
More Solenoid Valve Ideas WIth Water Movements/Motors



I also have a similar video where you can use an "air lift" pump to pump/displace/add water inplace of teh solenoid water valve.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 09:17:36 PM by Jon »

Gabriel

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2009, 01:39:59 PM »
That's looks pretty cool there Jon.

scmtngirl

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2010, 01:01:55 PM »
Hello,

I found your forum because I am interested in using a heliostat to shine sunlight on a shady garden area. Before I even knew what a heliostat was, I started searching for something that would redirect sunlight into a shady area. I live on the north side of a mountain in the redwoods of Central California (Santa Cruz Mountains - Boulder Creek to be exact) and get limited direct sunlight (maybe seven hours on the longest day of the year) in my front and back yards during spring, summer, and fall and zero sun during winter. My roof, however, gets sunlight year round. Frustrated by the lack of space in my garden that gets enough light for sun-loving vegetables, I thought that perhaps I could redirect the sunlight that falls on my roof into the parts of my garden that are mostly shaded. I like to build things but my skills are somewhat limited, although I'm a pretty creative person and usually succeed when trying to make new things. My husband is a carpenter and pseudo-gearhead, so that helps my success rate, too. ;)

Anyway, I'm glad to have found your site and am looking forward to learning more about heliostats and whether I can make this work for what I have in mind.

Cheers,
Sarah

Gabriel

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2010, 09:27:33 PM »
Hello Sarah and Welcome!

It sounds like a cool idea. Plants that require long hours of sunlight before they really start flowering might do a lot better with a heliostat shining a few more hours of sunlight on them.

It's an interesting coincidence that you brought the subject up because I have been thinking a lot about gardening myself lately and am planning to start a new garden in a sunnier location as soon as it starts to get warmer. I recently read a book called Solar Gardening, and it made me decide that the location where my garden is now doesn't get quite enough sun.

I would definitely be interested in hearing more if you try anything. It might take some experimentation, but I'd bet anything that you can come up with something.

If I can help with anything, just let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

Thanks for sharing!
Gabriel


Jon

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2010, 09:20:24 AM »
For scmtngirl:   I read once or seen on TV that some town over there in Europe gets little light and so they put up some mirrors on top of the hills to direct some sunlight into the village.

I don't have a clear image of your situation/location, but alot of the discussion about common heliostats put the receiver or target location (such as your plants) in a southern-like location from the heliostat mirror, being the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west, but this is not too strict I guess.  Theres is alot to consider, like how big the mirror is, and is it flat or maby curved a bit to spread the light a bit more, and how big your garden is, and how much you want to illuminate it.  If you don't have some kind of automatic steering of the mirror, I guess it is possible to make some kind of hand method, maby like a rudder steering board, wheels, ropes, pulleys.  How high must the mirror be and how will it be held in position, safety, etc.  I'm kind of guessing, but it might give some ideas.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 08:12:39 PM by Jon »

winelvr

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2010, 04:44:52 PM »
Hello all,

I'm also interested in using a heliostat for gardening. My wife and I are about to move into a new home, and the home is on a north-facing hillside, in Oakland, California. The back of the building itself gets great exposure to sunlight throughout the year, but the back yard, not so much. There's also not much direct sunlight shining on the street-facing side of the building, which also faces north.

For a long time, I've wanted to grow grapes in my own yard and harvest them to make wine. In the past, I never had a yard of my own (being an apartment-dweller), but now that we finally have a yard to work with, the idea crossed my mind to use some kind of mirror contraption to improve the light in our garden. A couple minutes on the internet showed me that a heliostat is exactly what I'm looking for, and here I am. My first project plan is to put a heliostat on the roof of the house, in order to create a garden patch where grapes can thrive. After that, I may consider doing something to bring more light onto the front side of the house.

I'd like to get to know others who are serious about working on heliostat projects or just plain interested in helostats, and I'm very intrigued by the possibilities. Mainly just wanted to introduce myself for now and hopefully make some new friends who share this interest.

Cheers,
Mike

Gabriel

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Re: Applications for Heliostats
« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2010, 06:59:07 AM »
Hello Mike and Welcome to the Forums,

Sounds like a pretty neat idea. I guess you get lots of sunlight in California. I've considered trying to grow a few plants indoors by using the light from a heliostat, but, where I live, the clouds can be out for weeks at a time. I think I might still try it sometime though, just for the coolness factor.

I'd definitely be interested in hearing more if you do it.

Take care!
Gabriel