Intelligent Solar Mapping Tool
MetadataShow full item record
The goal of this thesis is to develop an overall cost effective methodology for regional tracking and measuring solar patterns and intensities, for use in solar concentration. The idea is to create a system that is modular, cheap, and easy use. Solar trackers serve many functions in that they allow for the scientist to get an idea of irradiance patterns for studies and other more specific uses such as determining the most efficient orientation of solar capture devices. The thesis focused mainly on raw data collection and visualization, and not on translation so the main challenges were to obtain the quickest and most accurate solar map. This meant deciding between having multiple sensors (photodiodes) versus fewer mobile sensors on movable axes. Using an open-source microcontroller, motors, and photodiodes, different configurations were attempted. It was discovered that better control could be obtained from having fewer sensors mounted on a two-axis system, and then varying the orientation of the sensors based on the region of space to be observed. The final system works scans a hemispherical surface by sweeping the detector head along two polar axes and storing the irradiance (as voltages) at each point. The sensor system consists of a wide-angle (65 degrees) and narrow-angle (10 degrees) photodiode (to allow for compensation of blind spots) connected to variable gain operational amplifiers to prevent saturation during high insolation, and high accuracy during low insolation. This allows for versatility for use during different conditions. The results showed the system built was capable of performing a full run in under 20 seconds and an additional 3 seconds to post-process the data using MATLAB. Complete data analyses is yet to be done, but simple visualization of the data showed that regions of high solar intensity can be identified easily, hence allowing for a solar devices to track maximal intensity. The device built serves as a pedestal for further advancements due to the use of cheap and open-source materials. The future plan is to extend the concept to solve more advanced problems such as determining diffuse versus direct components of solar radiation.
Adepoju, Adekunle (2015). Intelligent Solar Mapping Tool. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from