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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    4,758

    Default A Solar Tracker For My Campimg Solar Panel

    Inspired by a fellow camper on another forum, I decided to make a Solar tracking system for my 200w Solar panel.

    With Solar panels so cheap nowadays, Solar tracking systems have lost alot of their benefits. It's cheaper to just install more panels than to build/purchase a tracking system.

    However when it comes to camping, Solar panels are not necessarily easy to store so adding a compact tracking system can yield around 30% more energy from the same panel. It's also fun to watch!

    The brains of the setup is a single axis solar tracking module, bought on eBay for $70 delivered.

    It outputs power to a 12v actuator to move the panel as required.

    The module is supposed to be powered from an independent source but I have powered it directly from the solar panel. The panel only needs to generate 20w of its 200w potential for it to track the sun.

    When packed up, the from folds flat inside the rear of the panel taking up no space. The ground support poles unscrew in two pieces and store in some pipe.

    System takes 5 minutes to set up.

    Simon

    Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk
    Girl, I don't wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that." I mean, you tell me you're, uh, super-mega-ultra-lightning babe? That's all right with me. I'm good. I'm good.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    4,758

    Default

    Here's a pic

    Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk
    Girl, I don't wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that." I mean, you tell me you're, uh, super-mega-ultra-lightning babe? That's all right with me. I'm good. I'm good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Drouin Vic
    Posts
    438

    Default

    Great job, I've been wanting to do this for years but only ever think about it when we're camping. I'll have to look into that system.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    York, North Yorkshire UK
    Posts
    5,295

    Default

    Hi Simon,

    A chap we saw in France a couple of years ago was using a satellite dish mount on his camper to erect the panel and track the sun ! Quite interesting watching it working.
    Best Regards:
    Baron J.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    4,758

    Default

    Here's a screen shot of the tracking module that drives the system.

    It was pretty straight forward to wire up. From a metal working POV it's about as basic as a project gets on this forum but the design was a bit fiddly because I wanted everything to stow away compact, be reasonably light and not take a long time to set up. Oh, and stand up to strong winds, which it does.

    Looking at the frame, I can already see improvements that can be made. The frame can be made simpler and lighter. This one is a little over-engineered.

    Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk
    Girl, I don't wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that." I mean, you tell me you're, uh, super-mega-ultra-lightning babe? That's all right with me. I'm good. I'm good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    12

    Default Archimedes tracking of solar panels

    I know this thread has been out there long enough to have grown cold, but I worked in PV. for many years, including a a tracking system that had no moving parts. In essence a panel was set up facing the noon sun but on trunnions so it could rock to face to face the morning sun and so on. What moved the panel was along the two east west sides were a pair of 50mm steel tubes shaded partially by outward facing reflectors the tubes were linked by a small bore tube. The whole was then half filled with liquid butane. If the array was off axis that side that was more shaded and the liquid gas would move across to rebalance the array till equilibrium was achieved. It worked well as long as it wasnít windy. If it was then a double acting actuator was used. If you are interested in more details ask and Iíll dig out some old photos. QUOTE=simonl;1990105]Inspired by a fellow camper on another forum, I decided to make a Solar tracking system for my 200w Solar panel.

    With Solar panels so cheap nowadays, Solar tracking systems have lost alot of their benefits. It's cheaper to just install more panels than to build/purchase a tracking system.

    However when it comes to camping, Solar panels are not necessarily easy to store so adding a compact tracking system can yield around 30% more energy from the same panel. It's also fun to watch!

    The brains of the setup is a single axis solar tracking module, bought on eBay for $70 delivered.

    It outputs power to a 12v actuator to move the panel as required.

    The module is supposed to be powered from an independent source but I have powered it directly from the solar panel. The panel only needs to generate 20w of its 200w potential for it to track the sun.

    When packed up, the from folds flat inside the rear of the panel taking up no space. The ground support poles unscrew in two pieces and store in some pipe.

    System takes 5 minutes to set up.

    Simon

    Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk[/QUOTE]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    4,758

    Default

    Hi Blackpig,

    Thanks for sharing. While doing some research on this topic I did see a similar setup. Interesting concept for sure however not practical for camping.

    Cheers,

    Simon

    Sent from a galaxy far far away
    Girl, I don't wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that." I mean, you tell me you're, uh, super-mega-ultra-lightning babe? That's all right with me. I'm good. I'm good.

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