Author Topic: GoSol (formerly SolarFire)  (Read 1036 times)

alobo

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GoSol (formerly SolarFire)
« on: August 08, 2014, 04:25:03 AM »
Hi Gabriel (and other CerebralMeltdowners),

I was reading up on other solar energy projects and came across GoSol. It used to be called Solar Fire. I'm willing to bet you've probably stumbled across it, since you've been at this longer than I have.
Anyway ... considering the success of your design, I would imagine this to be a really REALLY cool place for it. Apparently those guys have ready-to-build reflector designs for varying power levels - if the mirrors are all mechanically linked to maintain their relative angles, you could just plop in an Arduino, a motor to rotate the base and another motor to tilt the mirror elevation angle ... well, you can probably guess the rest (hint: AWESOME!)

Whaddya think? Imagine the potential for lower-income areas!  ;D
« Last Edit: August 12, 2014, 03:39:09 AM by alobo »


Gabriel

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Re: GoSol (formerly SolarFire)
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2014, 04:48:02 PM »
I have seen similar designs to those, but not that particular site. I think I have only seen one or two that have actually been motorized for tracking.

Unless each mirror is independently controlled, it would only work well for targets that are at relatively close range. I have experimented with this in computer simulation, and each mirror that is angled away from the calculated target angle will have a reflection that drifts.

It would be nice to have a complete design for one of these. It seems like these could be made to have a relatively low profile, meaning that if they were put on top of a roof or on the side of a wall without protruding too much.


alobo

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Re: GoSol (formerly SolarFire)
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2014, 02:36:10 AM »
Quote
each mirror that is angled away from the calculated target angle will have a reflection that drifts.
I'll take your word for it, I don't know how to simulate much, lol ... I had drawn out a small sketch for the multi-mirror geometry but I believe I was thinking of X-axis and Y-axis rotation (X and Y axes parallel to ground) whereas alt-azimuth rotation, as yours is, would be considered X / Z-axis rotation. Would that make a difference in simulation results? Possibly not, but can't hurt to ask. :)

According to GoSol's about page:
"GoSol catalyzes the peer-to-peer spread of solar thermal technologies by distributing Fab Kits, by disseminating open-source blueprints and by connecting users to builders and builders to information."
Key word being 'open-source' much like your tracker. I'm a little surprised that they don't keep designs openly available on the website if the idea is to spread the knowledge and know-how of solar thermal. I'm willing to bet you could ask them for a copy, though. Maybe you could ask them to figure out that drifting problem? ... if there's a mechanical solution to it that would be awesome. I'll be quite honest, I really like the idea of people being able to build an open-source mirror array and powering it with open-source electronics and code. If I had enough money, I'd KickStarter the hell out of it.  ;D And with this tracking setup you've got here you could probably become a celebrity in the solar thermal movement, hahah.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 03:35:17 AM by alobo »

Gabriel

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Re: GoSol (formerly SolarFire)
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2014, 07:36:54 AM »
The simulator is at this link if you are interested. http://cerebralmeltdown.com/forum/index.php?topic=361.0 I show the "drift" simulation in the video.
The drift isn't drastic, so for many applications it might not matter.

Technically, the mirror points in the same direction no matter whether it uses X,Y axes or X,Z axes. It just takes a different "path" to get there.

It doesn't look like GoSol's concentrators have tracking. Or maybe I missed it?

Now that I'm thinking about it, there might be relatively easy way to to add tracking though.
I'm looking at this image here http://symingtonsolarfire.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/pc020089.jpg
which I found at this link. http://symingtonsolarfire.wordpress.com/page/3/
To me, it looks like the entire concentrator could be made to rotate around the center pole (to match the sun's azimuth) where the pot hangs. If the pot could also be made to move up and down the pole (to compensate for the sun's altitude), you would have a mathematically simple tracker because the mirrors could stay fixed relative to the machine. To me, that seems a lot easier that trying to find a way to mechanically link a bunch of movable mirrors.
I'm not sure how well it would work without experimenting with it, but it seems like it would be doable.




alobo

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Re: GoSol (formerly SolarFire)
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2014, 03:29:02 AM »
Thanks for that! I'll give the simulator a try for sure.  :)

I didn't see any tracking on the GoSol concentrators, either. But I couldn't find any large pictures on their website to be sure.

That is a really awesome idea, though! All this time I've been thinking about how to move the mirrors in two axes - I never gave a single thought to the target. This is why people like you are the engineers, hahah