A brief video tour of the solar sensor housing (radome) I made from a standard plastic outdoor electrical box and a hobby store transparent globe.
I had written previously about the housing here.
This sensor housing is mounted on a moving part of the georgesworkshop gen2 solar trough heater. It finds the position of the sun and steers the solar array toward it. A very simple commercially available circuit (US$35) provides all the brains that is required. The entire array uses only a small amount of 12 volts DC and can operate from a gel cel for a week or from a small solar PV panel. I used this array for solar heating of a swimming pool.
Of the two spots, I now prefer the one at the top of the motor drive (the right lower arrow). Initially, I had decided to mount the sensor at the top left, since this was the earliest corner of the array to receive morning light and it worked fine.
I could have chosen any of the top or bottom hangers in the array to mount the sensor housing. There was an interesting failure that happened at the top left.
Here is a draft excerpt about melting the sensor housing, for your enjoyment:
"Appendix A - Lessons from Experience
In this section, I share with the reader some of the things that went wrong which were only evident with the passage of time.
Melting the sensor housing I wrote in the sensor section that the sensor housing should be located on a moving part of the array.
On the large swimming pool heater array, I chose to locate the sensor on a hanger at the top west end of the array since this corner received light first in the morning.
As I said in the last post, I am going to be away from the workshop for a week.
Thanks for your interest.
[to the gen2 intro and reading list]
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014
Some video thoughts on matching my gen2 reflector to insulated collector evacuated tubes of various lengths for solar heating and some hardware views.
This is a work in process, actually part of a book I will publish shortly about the work at it's current stage.
If you want more info, you might look at this:
or anything on the solar thermal tab at the top of this page.
Truthfully, the weather has been awful for two weeks and solar heating would have been useless here. The sun does not shine.
Thanks for your interest. I am able to work steadily on this effort but it seems to expand. I will be taking a short break for the next week to visit sunny california.
Thank you for your interest.
[to the gen2 intro and reading list]
Monday, January 06, 2014
I created this short amateur video to help explain some aspects about the motor drive that I am using for the diy gen2 solar parabolic trough heater.
The actual motor drive in this video has been in service for five years in a Canadian climate running a tracking heater for a swimming pool.
In a different use, the same motor drive served in a series of experiments done to compare performance of a concentrating trough with a flat plate collector where it was used to track both collectors. Here is the report on those experiments.
I have refined and improved the overall design through several iterations until the version published in my book. Other than some small tweaks and techniques, the motor drive shown is what I am recommending for upcoming gen2 book as reliable, inexpensive and easy to construct and maintain. If you built what I described in the book, this is how it should work for you.
There is some rust and wear to give it authenticity - it does work well. I did replace the gear motor two years ago as well as the axle nut which holds the bearings inside the arm. The bronze thread in the axle nut wore out while out riding repeatedly on the steel 1/2" threaded rod which is actually not very smooth.
In previous service this motor drive successfully swung 13 parabolic troughs following the sun over about 100 degrees of sky. It is important that the troughs be more or less mechanically balanced for the simple push pull mechanism used to be successful. A single steel rod (I used a 1/4" stainless) coupled to the end of the motor drive arm both pushes and pulls the array into position through control arms attached to the bottom of each reflector.
It is when the arm pushes the control rod that is the problem, not when it pulls. If there is too much unbalanced weight in the array, the control arm will tend to bend when it is pushed and that bending is a problem.
You can see the action on a properly set up array on a hazy day (some wandering as the sun goes behind clouds) in this video:
If you watch carefully, you will notice the vertical post which holds the motor drive moves slightly when the arm pushes the array revealing that some force is being exerted, enough to sway the post slightly. I could have done a better job with the balance and possibly have been able to move more than 13 collectors with the one motor drive but this is the largest that I have attempted.
After making this video I did brace the motor drive support post to the main array frame to give added support.
You can also watch the control arm from the other end of the array in this video:
As always, thank you for your interest in my work.
|Other articles I have written about the motor drive:|
|Reliability and repair of the solar gear motor|
|Sources for gear motors|
|Further improvements to the motor drive|
|Motor drive mechanical 2 (early work)|
|Motor drive mechanical 1 (early work)|
[to the gen2 intro and reading list]
Thursday, January 02, 2014
Now it is an LED light which uses only 10 watts and barely gets warm while throwing lots of light.
I have retrofitted the light to use two 10 watt warm white LEDs. The LEDs run at half their maximum power from a reclaimed printer power supply which now hangs underneath the light. The LEDs get DC from AC via the power supply. Not as bright as with the halogen bulb but plenty bright enough for most situations where it will be needed.
Because of the low power consumption and the low heat produced, I think it is much, much safer than before.
The cost of parts for my conversion was about $6 ($3 for the two LEDs on Ebay from China and about $3 for a used HP printer power supply at the local recycling center, also a bit of aluminum sheet and bar and a few tie wraps and screws, possibly another dollar?). It took a pleasant evening to sort out the method and to do the conversion.
Unfortunately, I did not take a "before" picture. The light that you start with might be different from mine but I think these were very popular five, ten years ago? This is a general guide. Some of my other relevant work with LEDs has links.
The first step in my retrofit was to remove the halogen lamp and its supports and contacts as well as all the high voltage (117VAC) mains wiring from the housing. The parabolic reflector and a mounting bracket were the only parts saved.
the diy garden lamp. The 1 inch aluminum bars acts as a heat spreader from the LEDs to the aluminum sheet and the existing reflector which provide a large surface area.
I laid out the holes on one bar, drilled them carefully and then used a punch to transfer the hole positions to the other bar. I drilled the second bar and the center hole in both and then used a medium sized bolt through the center hole to clamp everything together to drill the small holes through the existing reflector and the aluminum sheet.
This is the spreadsheet with the test results I got for the particular LEDs that I am using. The LED tests are described here
Thank you for your interest in my work.
Please see my other lighting projects at the tab above.