A hybrid loop, dual axis solar tracking system was developed to increase the efficiency of a stationary photovoltaic panel by continuously tracking the highest solar radiation point of the sun throughout the day. The design features two systems that work together to find and track this optimal point. The first is an independent sensing unit which detects the optimal point while using minimal energy. This sensing unit consists of 3D printed ABS plastic parts that were designed to hold photovoltaic cells, ultraviolet sensors, and light dependent resistors. The optimal point is then translated to the second unit for energy collection. The second unit, or main panel system, is made of 3003 Aluminum with 1045 steel shafts that control the panel movement. It collects solar energy using a 50W mono-crystalline panel and stores it in a 12V battery for self-sustaining operation. The motion is achieved using four Pololu gearbox motors for the elevation and azimuth control of both the sensor and main panel units. Worm gears are utilized on all four shafts to achieve a self-locking structure that can sustain winds up to 60 MPH. An Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller implements a PID controller for accurate positional feedback and motion. The proposed system will begin data collection in the spring to determine the energy gain compared to a stationary panel. A 20% increase in energy collection is the expected minimum value that will result from the use of the unique independent sensor.
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