THE SHADOW PATH ANALYZER
Build Time: 9 Months
Copyright © 2015- Jesse Jay Wallace
Location of Build: Mechanical Engineering Lab and Mechatronics Lab Brunel University England.
Concept Description: A device used to measure the locations of casted shadows of objects. Used to determine where shadows of building, trees and other objects will fall at different seasons of the year. Shadow location information is then used to determine the loss of power at certain times of year that shadows are casted onto Solar Photo-voltaic panel arrays.
Application: Solar Photo-voltaic Contractors and Builders.
Operation Description and Build: The device operates on a custom designed circuit board utilizing a Micro Chip with the operating system programmed in assembly language. There are two stepper motors driven by a custom made motor controller. There is a screen output and a custom made UI and controller made out of Lexan. All the aluminum parts were built using lathes and Bridgeport mills by hand. I developed the entire mechanical system including all the code and acid etched the circuit board. The device was designed in Solidworks; CAD drawings for the circuit board where done in a rudimentary PCB software. The sensor used here is a sonic transducer which has a downfall and relies on the temperature of the air in order to echo located the distance of objects. A laser would be a far more accurate solution but at the time was too costly to implement on my university budget. The device steps in interval rotations taking a sample readout of the distance to an object. After one full horizontal rotation on the Zenith of the earth it continues another full rotation with one notch up on the vertical motor. After all points has been scanned the data can be fed into a digital model of the surrounding objects. Using GPS data, the calculations of the location of the sun can be found for the current location. This information can then be used to calendar date the different shadows casted from seasons of the year. We can then determine WATT loss for the array in any season. Other biological factors can be applied for measurement such as the growth of conifer and distiguous trees and to further calculate future shadow locations that can effect energy loss in solar. After a Designer finds the right angle to procure the panels for efficiency. Calculations of 10 year high low temperature ranges can be applied to optimize the temperature variance of silicon panels for efficiency. Obstruction data from surrounding objects at this current time in the industry is gathered through a parabolic prism system for analog information. This device digitized the process of collecting season locations of shadows but mostly provides a selling point of precision to the client and purchaser of power equipment. Overall unit cost for this device has been currently superseded by the use of digital cameras and lens focal blur capture in cmos driven digital cameras.