Abstract

The purpose of this was to design and implement a two-axis solar tracking system utilizing the National Instruments C-Rio real time controller. In order to accomplish this a prototype was modeled in CAD. This prototype used two 12 V DC motors to change a solar panel's rotation and tilt based on feedback data from three cadmium sulfide photoresistors. This configuration was chosen for its ability to create both a left-right rotational and an up/down tilt differential. In Addition this approach uses National Instruments Labview to control a solar tracking system. Using Labview add uniqueness to this project by adding a graphical programming approach instead of conventional text based coding.

Solar collection data was taken for seven days. During the energy collection performed on the first day and the second day the sensitivity was calibrated for outdoor conditions. The results have shown that a 28% increase in energy collected with solar tracking, however due to the energy demands of C- Rio controller and motors the net energy gains were less than a stationary collector.

This project has resulted in a working solar tracking prototype. With a few design modifications an upgrade to this system may prove useful in future research. With the growing complexity of technology, interest in mechatronics will continue to develop requiring further research will be necessary. Therefore, this project provides Purdue University with demonstration prototype in the up and coming field of mechatronics.

Keywords

Mechatronics, Solar Tracking

Date of this Version

4-14-2011

Department

Mechanical Engineering Technology

Department Head

Vahid Motevalli

Month of Graduation

May

Year of Graduation

2011

Degree

Master of Science

Degree Type

Directed Project

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. Gary Bertoline

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

Professor Henry Zhang

Committee Member 1

Professor Mark French

Committee Member 2

Professor Brad Harriger