Cloudy days mean work

Here's a couple picture's of me working on the compound parabolic trough project. It's been cloudy and rainy for the last 5 days or so. The batteries are pretty much drained from me staying up till 2:00am working on the website, so there's plenty of incentive to do something besides work at the computer. I've spent the last 3 afternoons working on the compound parabolic collector. I've got all 9 of the parabolic sections fully built, now it's just a matter of connecting it together.

The new H-Bridge boards are here!

New H-Bridge motor driver board

The first batch of the H-Bridge motor drivers arrived today. I soldered one up and it worked fine. Yeah! I'll make the pads a little larger if I'm going to make it a kit so that it's easier to solder. I also learned that manufacturing includes TNames but not TValues in the silk screen, so I had to look at a schematic to know the values for the resistors. No biggie.

First Blog Entry

Well I'm trying out the blog feature in Drupal. The first batch of SolarMEGA1 boards shipped today from China! Hopefully UPS will have them in my hands next week. I found a Cantex 4x4x2 pvc enclosure today that could make a nice enclosure. Lots of work on the store today as well as the rest of the website as I get things a bit more organized. Still waiting another week or so to do the big anouncement.

Solar Energy, Law, and the News ....

Belmont, MA proposes zoning changes to restrict solar power:
Here's a link to the article I read: http://belmont.patch.com/articles/solar-panel-limits-on-town-meeting-agenda
The proposed changes would prohibit anything over 12" above most roof surfaces. That means only flat panels allowed, no trackers, no trough's, no heliostats - not good.

Compound Parabolic Trough

After being intriqued by the subject for some time, I finally came up with what seems to be a practical design for a compound parabolic trough. Materials for the prototype should be less than $200 for a 4'x8' collector, and a huge part of that is the two 3/4 copper tubes I decided to run down the middle (to keep my connections at one end and increase heat transfer). I used Google SketchUp to draw the frame in 3-D and exported a pic. There's an interesting Wiki article about the subject of this shape here: Non Imaging Optics

The Vision

Imagine that the sun comes up in the morning, and your PV panels orient themselves to catch the light. While a few of the heliostats in the yard point towards the compound parabolic solar reception unit for heating water, another heliostat directs an extra beam of light into your breakfast nook and helps warm it up while providing light for the room. As soon as the water has heated up enough, or sooner if your batteries had been low, your heliostats direct themselves to your 1kw Stirling engine generator system.

Getting Started

We've just got our website up and there's lots of work to do!

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