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!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The dish moves!

So the  counterweight idea didn't work so well. What we ended up doing was putting an actuator on each side of the dish. We also attached garage door springs to each side to try and take some of the weight off of the actuators when it was to either side of the pivot point. This worked VERY well.

Next will be building a weatherproof box for the electronics and then setting up the automated tracker. Until then here are some new pictures.

This is the left side of the dish. The dish is centered so the spring doesn't have any tension on it.

Right side of the dish. Again, no tension.

Here you can see how close both actuators are to touching. The wiring looks like a mess, but when it's all in the weatherproof case it will look nice and neat.

The dish is pointed to the left here. You can see the right spring is extended. This will make pulling the dish back around much easier on the actuators.

This is a bit of a mess. We'll probably get a smaller chain and attach it closer to the bracket at some point.

Here is the dish partially to the right. It's starting to put tension on the spring.