New TinyTrackers in Stock

I'm happy to announce that the first 100 TinyTracker boards have sold out, and the second batch has arrived. The new boards feature a blocking diode that prevents the board from being damaged by reverse polarity at the power connection. The basic circuit remains unchanged having proven itself well with the first batch of boards.
A new version featuring MOSFETs instead of Darlington transistors is also under development, and should be available soon. The MOSFET version can easily handle over 10A at 24Vdc for large heavy duty actuators.

Power Supply Blues

I received a box full of rows of little shiny circuit boards. On the outside of the box was written "LM2577", and they looked so very similar - yet they were LM2596 step-down regulators. That means the supply of the 12-24v step up power supplies will be limited for a while. There are just some aspects of shipping that are completely out of control, but I'm trying my best to keep products rolling out the door.

Light Vane Template

While the TinyTracker usually works fine by itself, sometimes due to reflections or environmental factors (trees, clouds, buildings, etc.) tracking accuracy may be less than desired. The use of a light vane almost always remedies this situation. Azimuth trackers in particular may need this since the incident solar angle varies throughout the day, and is often far from ideal at noon.

New Product - Manual Control Switch

The latest HomeCSP product lets you take manual control of a tracking motor for those special situations where you need to do cleaning or maintenance of your array. A weatherproof PVC junction box with a clear polycarbonate cover houses the rubber booted toggle switches. One switch toggles between automatic (tracker) and manual control, while the other allows momentary forward or reverse control of the motor when in manual mode. Simply insert the manual control switch in between your tracking controller and motor, and supply DC power for the manual control operation.

Why are utilites interested in Smart-Grid technology?

Austin Texas is home to the Pecan Street Project, which sounds like a warm fuzzy downtown neighborhood group, but actually was created by the City of Austin and Austin Energy, and also included U.T. and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce as founding members. You may have noticed a little bit of the buzz in the utility industry surrounding new so-called Smart-Grid technologies. This is really just a fancy way of getting you to consume power when it's convenient for the utility company.

New R&D and the Solibrium Tracker Project

For those who missed it, I launched the Solibrium project on KickStarter.com a little over a month ago. Unfortunately I wasn't able to drum up the support for the project that I had hoped, and so it was canceled, but that isn't the end of the project. Thanks to everyone who's purchased a TinyTracker kit, there's enough money in the bank for some more R&D! The original Solibrium altitude-azimuth tracker design is being built, and plans are in the works for a polar mount version as well.

TinyTracker Documentation

I've been hard at work polishing up the documentation for the TinyTracker, and now it's posted on our site. In addition to the basic system wiring diagram that is shown below here, there is a PDF file available for download. Just go to the HomeCSP store and look under the Downloads tab on the product pages for the TinyTracker board, enclosure and kit. Thanks to those who provided feedback to help improve the documentation.

Self Destruct Lesson

Well it was a little too sad of a sight for me to want to take a picture of it at the time, but the day after I setup the CPT (Compound Parabolic Trough) one of the panels self destructed. I hadn't fastened the top edge down since it was close enough to horizontal to be laying on the frame by itself, and the wind had been pretty calm. I was out in the yard in the morning, and noticed a corner lift just a couple inches, but decided to fix it after breakfast.

Parabolic heater weekend

I made good use of the nice weather this weekend. For my Earth Day contribution, the compound parabolic trough project (CPT) saw some much needed effort. After three days of work, it's really almost ready to test!

Bicycle Tracker - Part 4

Bicycle Frame Dual-Axis Solar Tracker
Back side of bike frame solar tracker

This article will complete the process of assembling and setting up the dual-axis solar tracker. The last steps involve: sand and paint, assemble, setup, electrical, and calibration. I followed a philosophy of keep-it-simple where possible, and found the process went quite smoothly. It took approximately four days to finish, though I wasn't in a hurry.

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