Author Topic: Heliostat Design(s) [Work in Progress]  (Read 17676 times)

Gabriel

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Re: Heliostat Design(s) [Work in Progress]
« Reply #30 on: October 08, 2014, 06:43:51 PM »
Well it took four tries, but I finally managed to put together a halfway decent heliostat. It's still not 100 percent finished, but I took it out for a test run and it did pretty well. I need to add more mirrors and finish off some weatherproofing but here are some pictures of what I have so far.





Here's a picture with the top removed.


Here's a picture of the bottom part opened up.


I hope to make another one in the future after I find all of the bugs in this design. Building these things has required a serious learning curve as I didn't have much experience with welding and machining when I first started. You can obviously tell by comparing some of the earlier pictures in this thread with the ones here that I've made some big improvements in the way I make things. I still need a lot more practice at making precision parts, but I'm getting there.

Hopefully I will get faster at making these things too. I think if I make jigs to help align everything then I should be able to make them pretty quickly. For this one, there was a lot of extra time taken where I had to do things like grind parts down to make them fit. This was due in large part to the fact that I didn't have everything completely thought out before I started.

I plan on showing it off some more once I get everything finished. We'll see how it holds up long term, but hopefully it should work well enough for me to get some good use out of it.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 06:50:37 PM by Gabriel »


Paul L

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Re: Heliostat Design(s) [Work in Progress]
« Reply #31 on: October 08, 2014, 08:11:31 PM »
Hey Gabriel!

    Well, I have to admit that I've been anticipating this post with bated breath for awhile - you always seem like you're making leaps forward on your design, and this is no exception.  Kudos!  Let me know when you have them for sale to the general public! :)  Fingers crossed that everything goes well for you - this build looks awesome!

Cheers,

Paul


Gabriel

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Re: Heliostat Design(s) [Work in Progress]
« Reply #32 on: November 11, 2014, 04:56:35 PM »
Here are a few more pictures of my more recent progress.


Each time I try building one of these things I get a little bit closer to achieving a solid heliostat design. This one still needs some improvements, but it does at least work well enough to try it out in the sun. I will post more on it in the near future, but, for now, here are some pictures to get the ball rolling.

Each of the 6 1ft^2 mirrors is adjustable. This way, the light can be focused on a smaller target. I originally planned on adding 12 mirrors total, but I decided to keep it at 6 for now while I try things out.



For now, Iím only shining the light through a medium sized window.



This picture doesn't really show it, but the reflected light does a good job of lighting up the room. Standing in front of the light beam feels just like standing in front of the light from the sun.


Paul L

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Re: Heliostat Design(s) [Work in Progress]
« Reply #33 on: November 14, 2014, 02:15:30 PM »
Nice work Gabriel!

   I'm wondering how you've made each mirror adjustable - are you using the same system in your first pics in this post with the adjustable blocks of wood with the threaded rod running through it? Set and tighten?   I've wondered awhile about making adjustable mirrors and the only other system I've seen is the one used in the "solar death ray mirror - I can't find the link now, but they used several small mirrors with a dab of silicone to hold it in place, and then used screws on the four corners to set the angle of the mirror.

Anyway, good job!

Cheers,
Paul

Gabriel

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Re: Heliostat Design(s) [Work in Progress]
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2015, 08:03:04 PM »
Sorry about the very delayed response, but here is a picture that shows how the mirror is attached. The plastic piece is made out of 3/4" pvc. There are two parts to it.  One mounts on the pipe for extra azimuth adjustment. The other has a rod that goes through both it and the first piece of plastic to give extra altitude adjustment. There is one of these for each of the mirrors.

The plastic is glued to the mirror using epoxy, which seems to hold really well.

This seems to work OK as a quick method of attaching mirrors and making them adjustable, but I think there is probably a better way to do it. You'll notice that the mirror in the picture is actually broken. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the epoxy seems to have bowed the mirror outward as it dried. In this case it did it enough that the mirror broke. This bowing also has the effect of spreading out the reflected light after it hits the mirror. If you look at the pictures posted earlier, you'll notice that the light is spread out from one side of the window to the other. If the mirrors weren't bowed, I would have been able to focus all of the light into the window, which is what I wanted.




If you are interested, here is the Sketchup model of this heliostat. It probably isn't exact to the real thing, but it should at least give an idea of how everything is put together. I don't really recommend building it. I'm already working on a better design which I hope to start building soon.
www.cerebralmeltdown.com/forumpics/HeliostatBuild/Heliostat%20Design.skp