Author Topic: Hardware/software selection the sun tracker and Heliostat  (Read 947 times)

ideeladeel

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Hardware/software selection the sun tracker and Heliostat
« on: October 31, 2015, 03:14:49 PM »
Hello,
i was very happy to find this forum and there is so much information that is related to my project thanks to you guys.

-  my team and i have decided to build a sun tracker and a heliostat to shine light at a stationary solar telescope as long as the sun is out. we were given a task to keep the solar telescope stationary and engineer a system using micro-controller to track the sun and shoot sunlight into the horizontally laying solar telescope. we are thinking of building a tracker and have a mirror mimicking the tracker while throwing light at a fixed location.

-  we are at a point where we need to select which hardware/software are required to build a budget and i was wondering if guys can provide any options or lists of hardware.

- can a mirror with some photo-diode on it be enough or have the tracker and the mirror  working individually?
- what Micro-controller to use?
- what kind of motors/servos?
- how to transfer data (most cheapest way possible) over 30meter/100ft through USB 3.0?

Thanks
ideel




Gabriel

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Re: Hardware/software selection the sun tracker and Heliostat
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 09:30:14 AM »
Hi ideel and welcome to the forums!

I will try and answer your questions. I am assuming you are basically just building a heliostat, although your wording makes me wonder if you are doing something a bit different.

- can a mirror with some photo-diode on it be enough or have the tracker and the mirror working individually?
I have never tried this, but I have seen at least one person who has. http://www.heliostat.us/
The photo-diode isn't on the mirror though. It is basically in front of the heliostat in line with the target so that it picks up the reflected light instead of the sun's light.

- what Micro-controller to use?
If you want to reuse the code on this site you are probably better off sticking with either the Arduino Uno, or the Arduino Mega. The Mega is best if you want better accuracy, which you might need if you are doing something with astronomy. There are of course plenty of other microcontrollers out there, but they most likely will take more effort on your part to make them work.

- what kind of motors/servos?
Again, if you want to reuse the code on this site, you are better sticking with stepper motors. You will of course need a driver board to go with each stepper motor.

- how to transfer data (most cheapest way possible) over 30meter/100ft through USB 3.0?
I personally don't have a whole lot of experience with wireless communication other than a bit with XBee wireless. The XBees are fairly easy to set up, but they aren't necessarily cheap. Alobo posted some stuff on the ESP8266 which seems promising. http://cerebralmeltdown.com/forum/index.php?topic=854.msg3348#new
I kind of doubt that they would reliably operate over 30 meters without maybe adding an external antenna, but they are fairly cheap.
It also serves as the microcontroller too, although like I said earlier, you may have to work through some more issues when switching to another microcontroller. Alobo may already have everything worked out though I'm not sure. I haven't had the time to experiment with one yet.

Some of your choices should also take into consideration how much time you have to work on this project.

Hope that helps!
Gabriel


alobo

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Re: Hardware/software selection the sun tracker and Heliostat
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 11:55:12 PM »
It's taken me a while and I haven't been 100% successful, but here is my code for the ESP8266 (ESP-12) WiFi board.
http://cerebralmeltdown.com/forum/index.php?topic=854.msg3400#msg3400

I hope it will be useful to you guys and you can fix what I haven't been able to get working!