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Mobile Solar Tracking System

ID: 2017-087 Ruggedized mobile solar tracker designed to withstand harsh climate conditions.

Principal Investigator: Michael Searcy

While traveling to remote dig sites and other similar locations, having access to electricity can be a challenge to archaeologists. Furthermore, the existing mobile solar tracking systems often don’t have the characteristics needed to endure variable weather conditions and transportation, and need to be repositioned manually throughout the day. The technology developed at BYU addresses these challenges, it is user friendly, requires minimal human interaction and it is designed for optimal energy production. Although it was designed specifically for archaeologists' needs, this technology can benefit many other individuals and organizations (e.g. military, fishers, hunters, travelers, campers, etc.).

The solar tracking system design is a modified azimuth-altitude dual axis tracker that consists of four main subsystems: a load bearing subframe, mechanical positioning system, controller, and power generation array. The load bearing subframe attaches to the trailer and acts as both a support structure and roof mounting system for lights and extra archaeological equipment. The mechanical positioning subsystem has been designed to rotate about two axes to track the sun at any point in the sky. The controller subsystem consists of a central processor that takes readings of the system’s position, computes the desired tracking position, and drives the mechanical system to the desired tracking position. The power generation array is composed of three 90 watt solar panels and the necessary electrical interfacing to charge a series of batteries.

The system autonomously tracks the sun from sunrise to sunset and stows at night with zero human interaction. The array meets or exceeds each of the five main desirability goals as shown in Table 1. When actively tracking, the panels are faced toward the sun within a 7 degree tolerance. No user inputs are required when in auto mode. Further, the system can be deployed in less than five minutes upon arriving at the desired destination. With power generation exceeding 230 watts, the system provides ample electricity. In the event even more power is desired, the subframe has been engineered to accommodate a second turret to double output.

About the Market:
The invention is ideal for any type of vehicle that is used to travel to locations that lack access to electricity (e.g. archaeological site). The solar panels can be mounted on top of a trailer, RV or other type of vehicle, tracking the sun to collect the optimal amount of energy possible, which is stored on a battery array within the vehicle.

For more information, contact 801-422-6266

Links and Resources

  1. One Page Summary PDF
  2. Inventor Webpage