Friday, June 15, 2012

It's been a while since my last post, but fear not I am still working hard at this project.

In the last few weeks a few things have been done.
1. Moved the water tank inside our garage
2. Installed second pump
3. Put all the fittings together and hooked up to the pex that runs underground from the house to the pole
4. Filled the tank up with water and circulated it
5. I've also ironed out most of the tracking issues. The Heliotrack system was well worth the money.
6. We re soldered the collector after it ruptured due to the heat melting the solder last time we were doing testing. That means the copper got to over 360F! This is also what prompted the second pump. We should have no issues moving water now.

Next up is putting the collector back on the dish and hooking everything up. Following that will be installing an Arduino to turn the pumps on or off depending on whether or not the collector is a certain temp.

So things are certainly progressing. Once the collector is back up, we will be able to start actually heating water. I'm so excited!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Counter balance fabricated and installed.

This part of the project took many hours between my Dad my brother and myself. We had to fabricate 3 brackets which attached to the back of the dish, two 6' arms, one 50" arm, and one plate to hang our weights off of.

The end result was very encouraging. We now have a near 50/50 weight distribution which will reduce the load on our actuators significantly.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tracking completed (really!) and half the mirrors are on

So the tracking system from works great! All I had to do was hook up the wires and it did its thing. There are a few issues that I thought this system would address though, but it won't directly.

1. It doesn't have any relays to hook up a water pump when its tracking.
2. There is no way to integrate any safety measures based on water temp.

I'm working on both of these issues. I believe I have 1 figured out. I have a pretty good idea for 2, but it'll need some testing.

Now for the good part. I was able to get half the mirrors on over the past weekend. It's pretty impressive in person. I'll be taking better pictures in the near future.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Updated tracking system is getting the job done

I had some big issues with the last tracking system. I decided to go with a heliostat dual axis solar tracker. I hooked it up in the morning and it tracked the sun all day without needing a single adjustment. The only I made to it so far is to park the dish back in the East. This is a very nice feature.

Starting this weekend I'll be glueing mirrors onto the dish. I figure this will take a solid month. During this process I'll also be adding bracing for the second actuator, creating a collector out of soft copper tubing, and possibly getting a pump and preparing that for integration for the tracking system.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tracking system continued

So the tracking system is working, but it's just not accurate enough at this point. I've ordered a third sensor and I'm going to lengthen the tubes that allow the light to hit the sensors. I believe I'm currently getting too much light in the tubes even when it's not pointed at the sun. Lengthening the tubes should help that.

The shielded extension wires for the sensors are out of stock so it may be a week or two until I receive the parts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tracking system created, tested, and almost ready to go

This weekend I created a tracking system for the dish. It uses two photosensors which I put in pvc tubing. I then hooked these up to a FUSION BRAIN. The fusion brain is a micro controller that can be easily programed from a PC. I also took 4 on-off relays and wired them up so that based on the difference in my two photosensors it will either make the dish move toward the highest sensor or do nothing if the difference between the two sensors is too low.

I didn't have enough time to get it mounted to the pole, but I will probably be able to get to that this Saturday. I'll take pictures then as well and possibly a movie of everything working.

Once this part of the project is finished, I can start putting mirrors on the dish! I'm pumped!