Back in 2011, Jay Doscher had his power unexpectedly cut for 12 hours. After dealing with a refrigerator full of spoiled food, flashlights with dead batteries and a lack of candles, Doscher decided he needed to be better prepared for the next time the electricity went out.
His goal? To build a fully automated, portable solar tracking unit capable of automatically following the sun to optimize solar collection for those inevitable off-the-grid days.
As HackADay’s James Hobson notes, two-axis solar tracking units can help increase daily output by approximately 30%.
“Doscher’s makes use of a 12V gear reduced motor to provide panning and a linear actuator with positional tracking to control the tilt. To track the sun he’s got a digital compass and an Adafruit Ultimate GPS breakout board,” Hobson explained.
“To control it all he’s using is an [Atmel-powered] Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU). It’s a very slick and well engineered system and [Jay’s] hoping to spread it around the world — the entire thing is open source.”