OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

A preview of future nets
User avatar
KF6DCZ
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:23 pm
Call Sign: KF6DCZ
Location: Somewhere out there...

Re: OAUSA Net - January 25, 2018 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#21

Post by KF6DCZ » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:14 pm

Hey Bruce,

This looks like a really cool setup. Can you give us more details as to what all you have going on here?

I think it'd be interesting to hear how you setup the tracking, what type of tripods/mounts, etc. that you've found for this setup.

It looks awesome!

KF6DCZ

NotAMog wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:07 pm

If you happen to have an Alt-Az telescope mount that isn't doing anything durning the day, it can make a great solar tracker for a couple of moderate size solar panels. These 2 30 Watt panels along with 2 6v 45Ah AGM batteries wired in series were more than enough to power a CPAP machine and led tent lights for 5 days off the grid. The telescope mount draws a few 10s of milliamps but keeps the panels optimally oriented from dawn to dusk without any manual intervention.

Telescope Mount Solar Tracker.jpg
"There is no limit to where a man can go, or what a man can do if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."

User avatar
NotAMog
Global Moderator
Posts: 441
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:40 pm
Call Sign: KD6GCO

Re: OAUSA Net - January 25, 2018 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#22

Post by NotAMog » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:55 pm

The telescope mount is an iOptron Mini-Tower. This mount is out of production but may be available on eBay or other used astronomy equipment sources. To be honest, the mount has some design problems that caused me headaches when trying to use if with a telescope for astronomical use. One issue is that azimuth and elevation clutches slip very easily requiring that the telescope be realigned if someone accidentally bumps it. The mount is capable of sidereal (star) tracking, lunar tracking, or solar tracking. On the left of the picture is the same type of mount being used with a Coronado solar telescope tracking the sun during last year's total eclipse. The clutch slippage is not as much of a problem with tracking the solar panels since alignment isn't super critical and you can just adjust the position by hand if necessary.

The mount has a built-in GPS receiver so it knows where it is on the earth, the date, and what time it is. To set up the tracking all you need to do is to put the mount into solar tracking mode, tell it to point at the sun, and then move the panels so they are pointed at the sun by slipping the azimuth and elevation clutches. The mount takes over from there. I don't use any kind of fancy sight to point the panels. I just look at the shadow of the panels to get them close enough.

The tripod is the standard one that comes with the iOptron Mini-Tower mount.

The solar panels are from Goal Zero. I picked them up at the Overland Expo along with a carrying bag at a blow out price since they were being discontinued. They have an aluminum frame to which I attached a standard telescope dovetail mount. This is simple aluminum wedge plate that is compatible with the iOptron mount. The panels are set up so they can be daisy-chained together to feed the charge controller.

I have two charge controllers that I use with this setup depending on what I'm using it for. One is a 12V Genasun GV-10 lead acid charge controller. The other is a Genasun lithium charge controller. The lead acid controller is used for charging lead acid batteries obviously. The lithium controller is used to charge the telescope mount I got to replace the Mini-Tower which is an iOptron AZ Mount Pro that has built-in lithium-ion batteries. I can also put the solar panels on that mount so it essentially charges itself during the day so it will run for about 10 hours at night (not that I'm ever able to stay up observing that long).

I can't say that using a telescope mount for tracking solar panels is cost effective. The Mini-Tower with the tripod was about $800 new. The AZ Mount Pro with tripod is $1300. Both are considered very reasonably priced for astronomical "GoTo" mounts. In this case, I'm dual purposing something I already had so I wasn't too worried about the sunk cost.

As far as using the mounts for their intended purpose, I've found that the AZ Mount Pro addresses the problems I've had with other iOptron mounts in the past and is what they should have been like when they first came out. The Mini-Tower works but can be frustrating because the clutch slipping issue and the fact that it's quite noisy in operation (for a telescope mount).
Last edited by NotAMog on Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bruce Berger
KD6GCO
'72 Pinzgauer 710M 2.6i
'91 Honda ST1100 197,000miles and counting :shock: (I hope to make it to at least half the places this bike has been)
'04 Tacoma / AT FlipPac Camper
'07 Moto Guzzi Norge - Corsa Red - The faster color :mrgreen:

User avatar
KK6DYO
Posts: 182
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:07 pm
Call Sign: KK6DYO

Re: OAUSA Net - January 25, 2018 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#23

Post by KK6DYO » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:38 am

Thanks to Eric KM6MMO for pointing out potential power losses with connecting panels of different voltage or ampere ratings.

Panels of different voltage ratings connected in parallel are limited to the lowest voltage
47630EE3-7EA3-4F64-B44F-AC9BFADD28BF.jpeg
47630EE3-7EA3-4F64-B44F-AC9BFADD28BF.jpeg (134.39 KiB) Viewed 177 times
Panels of different ampere ratings connected in series are limited to the lowest current
1C97B397-1B50-48C5-9B5E-B7E5BEDA5F58.jpeg
1C97B397-1B50-48C5-9B5E-B7E5BEDA5F58.jpeg (162.55 KiB) Viewed 177 times
http://www.alternative-energy-tutorials ... ether.html
Last edited by KK6DYO on Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Voodoo Blue 57
Posts: 173
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:41 pm
Call Sign: W6PET
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#24

Post by Voodoo Blue 57 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:47 pm

Early check in please.
Phil

"Never lost always exploring"

"National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst"
Wallace Stegner

k9atk
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:58 pm
Call Sign: K9ATK
Location: Aurora colorado

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#25

Post by k9atk » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:03 pm

Please check inn
K9ATK BRIAN
K9FOG TRISH
KD0EXI CHEYENNE
KD0GPE AUSTIN
W9RIK RICK
THANKS LOOKING FOWARD TO ANOTHER AWESOME NET

roadmaster66
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:23 am
Call Sign: K6IGH

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#26

Post by roadmaster66 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:25 pm

Please check me in

KM6IGH
Bruce

Wildland909
Posts: 41
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:58 pm
Call Sign: KN6FPT

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#27

Post by Wildland909 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:27 pm

Early check in please KN6FPT

User avatar
kevinhum55
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:23 pm
Call Sign: W6RIP

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#28

Post by kevinhum55 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:56 pm

Early Check in part 2
W6RIP
73
Kevin

User avatar
KK6DYO
Posts: 182
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:07 pm
Call Sign: KK6DYO

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#29

Post by KK6DYO » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:58 pm

Please check me in tonight. Thanks.

HsuuJrt
Posts: 54
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:41 pm
Call Sign: Kg5pmn

Re: OAUSA Net - 1/25/18 & 2/1/18 - Solar Power in the Outdoors

#30

Post by HsuuJrt » Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:05 pm

Please give me an early check-in.
James kg5pmn

Post Reply

Return to “OAUSA AMATEUR RADIO NET PREVIEW”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest