BS in Physics
This senior project aims to determine a) if using a controlled photon-tracking system does produce greater voltage output than a fixed panel and b) by how much, if so. To do this, I built a dual-axis solar tracker using a small solar panel, some stepper motors, and an Arduino Uno. The majority of my time was spent familiarizing myself with the electrical components and fabricating the device. To test the performance of the panel, the leads of the solar panel were attached to the Arduino to record the output voltages. Two experiments were carried out to discover the answers to both of the question posed above. The first was an indoor experiment in which a light source was fixed at an angle θ (only in one-axis) from the normal of the panel. The voltage and angle rotated through were sampled every second. The second experiment involved setting up the device outdoors for one hour and forty minutes to track the sun. As done indoors, the voltage and angles (both N-S and E-W this time) were sampled every second. These voltages were then compared with the angles, North-South axis as well as East-West axis. It was found, in each experiment, that the voltage output was highest when the angle between the light source and the normal of the panel was minimized. In the outdoor experiment the tracking device yielded a voltage 0.3 volts greater than the panel facing away from the sun.