College of Engineering


Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name

BS in Mechanical Engineering




Peter Schuster


This Final Design Review (FDR) document outlines the senior design project started by four mechanical engineering students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo for Dr. Gary Epstein, a retired Cal Poly mathematics professor and avid gardener. This project entails created a solar-powered fountain for his backyard that has two buckets, a top bucket that will pour into a bottom bucket and then finally into a basin. The goal is to create a fountain that includes the tipping motion of the buckets powered fully by photovoltaic panels. In order to tackle the bucket tipping motion, formulas were derived to create a computer simulated model that could aid the team during the prototyping phase. The team agreed that rapid prototyping and testing while tweaking parameters would be the best design process for the project. A pump will be powered by the photovoltaic panels and will produce the desired flow rate without draining too much power. Through the initial research, the team found that there are existing solar-powered fountains, which ensures that the solar panels can generate enough power to activate the water pump. The team has since purchased a solar panel and pump, tested them both, and determined that the solar panel will supply the necessary power. The team first developed a bucket-testing apparatus to determine the effect on the rotation by changing the axis of rotation and adding weight. A second bucket was added to the device to experiment with the spacing of the buckets in the vertical and horizontal directions. A full-scale structural prototype was developed to determine real spacings of the two buckets by allowing the team to adjust the locations of them. The structural prototype was tested with the solar panel and pump, and the buckets filled at a good flow rate. A final fountain design was decided on, along with a manufacturing plan and design verification plan. The fountain was assembled with minor design changes and tested to determine if the confirmation prototype met the specifications. This document outlines the background information, main objectives, concept designs, final design, manufacturing, design verification, project management, results, and recommendations for future work.