SwitchDoc Labs has built a lot of solar power systems over the past few years. Project Curacao, SunAirPlus, WeatherPi and the recent Solar Powered ESP8266. We have fooled around with sun tracking systems, but we have never built one all the way out and then gathered the data to figure out if it was worth it. Now that the sun has returned to the pacific northwest, it was time to do it.
In this series of postings, we are going to show you how to build a simple solar tracking system using a Raspberry Pi and a stepper motor. The purpose of this project is to verify experimentally the gain in power from a solar panel from using tracking versus a fixed solar panel.
Small Reduction Stepper Motor – 5VDC 32-Step 1/16 Gearing: This is a great first stepper motor, good for small projects and experimenting with steppers. This uni-polar motor has a built in mounting plate with two mounting holes. There are only 32 step (11.25 degree) per revolution, and inside is a 1/16 reduction gear set. (Actually its 1/16.032 but for most purposes 1/16 is a good enough approximation) What this means is that there are really 32*16.032 steps per revolution = 513 steps! The shaft is flattened so its easy to attach stuff to it with a set-screw. A perfect first stepper motor and works well with the Motor Shield for Arduino. Read more.
Each Friday is PiDay here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts, tutorials and new Raspberry Pi related products. Adafruit has the largest and best selection of Raspberry Pi accessories and all the code & tutorials to get you up and running in no time!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.