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Tracking solar panel

Tracking solar panel

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“I hereby declare that I have read this research report and in my opinion this research report is sufficient in view of scope and quality for the purpose of awarding a Bachelor’s Degree of Electrical Engineering (Electronics)”



_____________________________ EN. ABD RAHIM B. ABD RAHMAN 30 APRIL, 2010

Name of Supervisor : Date :



Submitted to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor in Electrical Engineering (Electronics)

Faculty of Electrical Engineering Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

APRIL 2010



I declare that this thesis entitled “OPTIMAL SOLAR TRACKING SYSTEM” is the result of my own project except as cited in the references. The thesis has not been accepted for any degree and is not concurrently submitted in candidature of any other degree.

Signature Name Date

: : :




To my beloved mother and father



First I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor, En. Abd. Rahim Abd. Rahman. Under his supervision, many aspects regarding this project have been explored and with the knowledge, idea and support received from him, this thesis can be presented in the time given.

My appreciation also goes to my family who has been so tolerant and supports me all these years. Thanks for their encouragement, love and emotional supports that they given to me. Thanks to my senior and all my friends who helped me directly or indirectly in completing this projects. Not forgetting, grateful appreciation is also extended to the lab technician of UTM’s Laboratory who gave me great assistance during the process in accomplishing PSM one and two.



Solar energy is the least polluting and most inexhaustible of all known energy sources. The sun bathers the earth with more energy each minute then the world consumes in one year. In Malaysia, the sun intensity does not vary by season. It is a suitable place to develop the solar cell system. Fossil fuels are a relative short-term energy source and to overcome this problem the uses of alternative sources such as solar energy are becoming more wide spread. To make solar energy more efficient, the solar panel system must be maximized. This project is regarding the development of a sun tracking solar system. This system is a simple tracking solar system using a dc motor and light sensor. The solar tracking system used in this method could increased the power collection efficiency by developing a device that can tracks the sun to keep the panel at a right angle to its rays. As the plane of the solar panel is always maintained normal to the sun's rays, maximum power is generated by the array. A solar tracking system is designed, implemented and experimentally tested. The design details and the experimental results are shown promising result.



Tenaga suria adalah tenaga yang tidak menghasilkan pencemaran dan diketahui tidak akan habis berbanding sumber-sumber tenaga lain. Tenaga matahari yang dipancarkan ke atas bumi pada setiap minit sudah melebihi tenaga yang diperlukan di bumi dalam setahun. Di Malaysia, cahaya matahari tidak dipengaruhi oleh musim. Ini menjadikan, Malaysia sebuah tempat yang sesuai untuk membangunkan system berasaskan tenaga suria. Sumber fosil sebenarnya adalah sumber yang terhad dan untuk mengatasi masalah ini, penggunaan tenaga alternatif seperti tenaga suria telah berkembang. Bagi menghasilkan penggunaan tenaga suria yg lebih berkesan, sistem panel suria bagi memaximumkan keberkesanan perlu dibangunkan. Laporan ini menunjukkan potensi dan kelebihan dengan menggunakan sistem penjejek ringkas yang menggunakan motor arus terus dan pengesan cahaya. Kaedah ini meningkatkan kadar pengumpulan tenaga suria dengan membangunkan peralatan yang boleh menjejak matahari dan memastikan panel suria sentiasa menghadap matahari. Reka bentuk secara mendalam dan keputusan analisis ada ditunjukkan.







ii iii iv v vi vii x xi xiii xiv


INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of Project 1.2 Objective 1.3 Scope of Project 1.4 Outline of Thesis

1 1 2 3 4



LITERATURE RIVIEW 2.1 Fundamental of Photovoltaic System 2.1.1 Photovoltaic 2.1.2 The Photovoltaic Effect 2.2 Efficiency 2.3 Types of System 2.4 Previous Study 2.4.1 Microcontroller Automatic Sun Tracker System Description Control Implementation Test result 2.4.2 Implementation Solar Tracking System System Description

5 5 5 6 8 10 11 11 11 13 14 16 16 Solar Tracker Verification and Testing19 2.5 Control System 2.6 Operation of 555 timers 2.6.1 Pin Configurations of the 555 Timer 2.6.2 Monostable Operation of the 555 Timer 20 21 21 23


METHODOLOGY 3.1 Development Process 3.1.1 Phase 1 3.1.2 Phase 2 3.1.3 Phase 3 3.2 Electronic control system 3.3 Hardware development 3.4 Electronic Design 3.4.1 Sensor Control Tracking System 3.4.2 Photo-Sensor 3.4.3 The 555 Timer 3.4.4 Relays

25 25 26 26 28 29 30 30 31 31 33 34


3.4.5 Relay Operation Relay Energize (ON) De-Energized (OFF) 3.4.6 DC Motor 3.5 Mechanical Design 3.5.1 Frame Work 3.5.2 Mechanical Operation Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3

34 34 34 35 36 37 37 38 38 38


RESULT AND ANALYSIS 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Indoor Analysis 4.2.1 Result at stage 1 4.2.2 Result at Stage 2 4.2.3 Result at Stage 3

39 39 40 40 41 42

4.2.4 Time Line Analysis Base on Indoor Analysis.44 4.3 Outdoor Analysis 46


CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 5.1 Conclusion 5.2 Recommendation

48 48 49




TABLE NO. 3.1 3.2 3.3 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9

TITLE List of component LDR operation The 555 timer operation Result 1 Result 2 Result 3 Result 4 Result 5 Result 6 Result 7 Result 8 Result of outdoor analysis

PAGE 30 32 33 40 40 41 41 41 42 42 42 47



FIGURE NO. 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5

TITLE The emission of electron from metal plate The photovoltaic effect in the dark place The photovoltaic effect in the bright place The photovoltaic effect in the bright place System circuit diagram Block diagram Voltage against position graph Circuit diagram MPP at illumination level A MPP at illumination level B Voltage controlled power conversion Current controlled power conversion Solar tracker control circuit H-bridge motor control Basic software design flowchart

PAGE 6 7 7

12 12 12 13 14 15 15 15 17 18 18

Signal generated when one LDR was under shadow19 Signal generated when both LDR in same illumination level19 Negative feedback control system The comparator in the 555 timer The sample input and output pulse The circuit diagram The block diagram LDR The PVC The SPDT relay circuit diagram 20 23 24 27 29 32 32 35


3.6 3.7 3.8

The SPDT relay The DC motor The cassis of the system

35 36 37



R C Vcc


Resistor Capacitor Voltage supply




TITLE Mechanical Data of 555 Timer LDR Data Sheet NE555 Data Sheet DC Motor Data Sheet Songle Relay

PAGE 53 54 57 64 65




Background of Project

Solar power is an alternative technology that will hopefully lead us away from our petroleum dependent energy sources. The major problem with solar panel technology is that the efficiencies for solar power systems are still poor and the costs per kilo-watt-hour (kwh) are not competitive, in most cases, to compete with petroleum energy sources. . In Malaysia, the sun is always directly overhead and its intensity do not varies by season. This give a lot more advantage for us to use solar power compare with the place that have season. There are two most common type systems that always use for small building generated system:1. The solar thermal system 2. The photovoltaic system The solar thermal system operate by convert the radiant energy of the sun into heat then use that heat to provide useful electric energy. On other hand, the photovoltaic system converts directly the sun radiant into useful electric energy, which can be used as most electrical energy in used today.


Solar power (photovoltaic) systems are a sustainable way to convert the energy of the sun into electricity. The expected lifetime of a system is 25-30 years. This shows how efficient is this system even it is quite expensive to install this system at the beginning. Amount of power produced by a photovoltaic panel depends upon the amount of sunlight it is exposed to. In other word, more light means more power. In order to capture more light produce by sun, the photovoltaic panel must constantly orient itself to the sun location. When the photovoltaic panel does not intercept as much light as it can, it will not produce as much power as it can. Fixed photovoltaic panel do not aim directly to the sun due to the constant motion of earth. As the result, the power produce by the system is less then it capable producing. To overcome this problem, the tracking system can be installed in order that the panel continually adjusts so that the panel is always aim directly at the sun. As the result, Photovoltaic panel are able to collect the maximum amount of sunlight and produce the most power possible.



The objective of this project is to develop tracking mechanism for photovoltaic panel to maximize the generation of electrical energy. The objective of the project is to develop the system that can constantly tracking the sun.



Scope of Project

The system consists of a mechanical design and circuit development. The tracker system will follow sun movement from east to west. The movement controlled by the dc motor that using 12volt supply. Mechanical part: The panel or the place that the solar cell hook up is designed that it can move from right to left or from left to right. The panel movement is controlled by string attached to the dc motor. The panel is designed to operate with single axis only. Two sensors are placed at the east side and west side. Both sides also have reset switch to limit panel movement. Electronic Part: The circuit function is to control the motor movement determined by the location of the sun ray. The 555 timer is used to control the system. Input control is using LDR. The sensitivity of the circuit is control by potentiometer. Dc motor is connecting to the relay and the circuit function is to trigger the relay to made dc motor move.



Outline of Thesis

This thesis consists of five chapters. In the first chapter, it will discuss about the objective and scope of this project along with a summary works. While Chapter 2 will discuss more on literature reviews that have been done.

In Chapter 3, the discussion will be on the methodology, mechanical part and electronic part of this project. The result and discussion will be presented in Chapter 4. Last but not least, Chapter 5 discusses the conclusion of this project and future work that can be done




Fundamental of Photovoltaic System

Photovoltaic panel are made of the natural element which becomes charged electrically when subjected to sunlight. Photovoltaic is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. The panel works on the principle of the photovoltaic (PV) effect. For solar cells, a thin semiconductor wafer is specially treated to form an electric field, positive on one side and negative on the other.



When light energy strikes the PV cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the semiconductor material and start travel from the PV cell, through electronic circuit to the load. Then, they return to the PV cell where the silicon recaptures the electrons and the process is repeated. The photovoltaic itself is a p-n junction, which through the process of electron dropping and this produces a current in proportion to the solar radiation. If electrical conductors are attached to the


positive and negative sides, forming an electrical circuit, the electrons can be captured in the form of an electric current and produce electricity. This electricity can then be used to power a load, such as a light or a tool [1].


Figure 2.1

The emission of electron from metal plate

Figure 2.1 illustrating the emission of electrons from a metal plate, requiring energy gained from absorb sunlight radiation to be more than the work function of the material.


The Photovoltaic Effect

The photovoltaic effect is the basic physical process through which a PV cell converts sunlight into electricity .Sunlight is composed of packets of solar energy. These sunlight radiations contain different amounts of energy that correspond to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a PV cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. The absorbed photons generate electricity. The photovoltaic cells generally consist of two thin regions, one above the other, N-type and P-type. This two region structure, called a p-n junction. The collection of light-generated carriers by the p-n junction causes a


movement of electrons to the n-type side and holes to the p-type side of the junction. When open circuit, carriers are prevented from leaving the solar cell, then the collection of light-generated carriers causes an increase in the number of electrons on the n-type side of the p-n junction and a similar increase in holes in the p-type material. This separation of charge creates an electric field at the junction which is in opposition to that already existing at the junction. Under short circuit conditions, the minority carrier concentration on either side of the junction is increased and the drift current, which depends on the number of minority carriers, is increased. In equilibrium (in the dark) both the diffusion and drift current are small [2].

When in the dark N-type P-type

Figure 2.2

The photovoltaic effect in the dark place

LIGHT Under the sun light

N-type P-type

Figure 2.3

The photovoltaic effect in the bright place



N-type P-type

Figure 2.4

The photovoltaic effect in the bright place



On a bright, sunny day, the sun's rays give off approximately 1,000 watts of energy per square meter of the planet's surface. If we could collect all of that energy, we could easily power our homes and offices for free. However, in practically the maximum allowed by the law of physics is between 30% and 40%. The efficiency of photovoltaic cells can be very tricky to figure out and many of the companies that produce them take different routes when manufacturing their products. Different companies will use different materials and as the technology improves, the efficiency of the solar paneling options will also improve. There are basically 3 different types of solar panels on the market today, each of which has a different efficiency rating. The following are the 3 types and their efficiency ratings [3]:


Monocrystalline Silicon – manufactured using a single crystal of silicon which has been cut into a prescribed shape, this type of solar panel has a 13% conversion rate, meaning that it converts 13% of the captured sunlight into electricity [4]. Polycrystalline Silicon – these are less expensive and have a lower conversion rate because of the multiple crystal manufacturing process. This increases internal resistance between the silicon crystals. The conversion rate of these panels is around 12% to 12½% [5]. Thin Film Amorphous Silicon – probably the cheapest solar panel to produce and the least efficient at a rate of only 6% to 8%. More suited for use in cooler and tropical climates, this type of solar panel is not very efficient in arid, hot climates [6]. Other then the material that use to crate solar cell its self, there are few factor that will affect the energy efficiency. The output will be less at:In cloudy condition The module is in the shade Pointed away from the sun In space, the output is more higher due to the solar radiation is much stronger compare at the earth. Approximately, the power density is around 1365 watt per square meter.



Types of System

Basically, there are three main systems that commonly use in photovoltaic system. It’s come with several configurations for difference use. 1. Directly Connected System a. The system work without battery storage. b. The load connected to the system operates in synchronization with sunlight. c. Usually an over current protection device is added for safety purpose. d. Typical application are:i. Ventilation fan. ii. Water pumping. iii. Calculator. 2. Stand Alone System a. The system may have battery storage or emergency backup supply to provide power when the sun is not available. b. Commonly use in a remote area where there is no power-lines. c. This type of system need to have charge regulator to prevent battery overcharging or over discharging. d. Typical application are:i. Remote home. ii. Outdoor lighting iii. Solar car 3. Utility Interactive System a. This system consist neither battery storage nor an emergency backup system. b. This system connected with the utility grid. c. When the sunlight not available it has battery storage d. When the sunlight and battery storage out, the power will be supply by utility power system.



Previous Study

There are two reviews that use as example before build optimal solar tracking system. Both review using difference method to track the sun position.


Microcontroller Based Automatic Sun Tracker Combine with a New

Solar Energy Conversion Unit by F. Huang, D. Tien and James Or.

In 2004 F. Huang, D. Tien and James Or had complete the paper about microcontroller based automatic sun tracker combined with a new solar energy conversion unit. This sun tracker had developed in order to increase the efficiency of the solar panel. The control system that developed base on automatic sun tracker that used was implemented with a dc motor and a dc motor controller. The energy conversion unit in this tracker system that created had an array of solar panel, a stepup chopper, a single-phase inverter, an ac main power source and a microcontroller based control unit. This tracker was not uses any sensor to detect the location or the angle of the sun. In this tracker, Maximum Power Point (MPP) detector was use. In simple, the array of solar was set up as sensor. It was operated to find the angle that can provide the highest solar energy and assume that was the most direct angle with the sun. The operation was started by search MPP location. The position and value of MPP will set as reference for find new angle. System Description

The system was designed at 500W using 10 solar panel connected in series and in parallel. The output voltage output collected was 40 to 100 volt. The system


was design to disable if the voltage drops below 40 volt. Set-up chopper was used to convert the voltage collected to a higher voltage. Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) was then used as inverter to convert the dc voltage from the chopper main supply.

Figure 2.5

System circuit diagram

The system was designed to active when the panel voltage higher than 40 volt. There also had function to set the time interval for the panel to rotate. The time interval used can be set 5 or 10 minutes. The system was designed to rotate at P position first then move toward P2 position. The system compares the panel voltage that was collected. When voltage panel at P2 was greater than P position, the panel was set to move further until the voltage panel less than previous panel.

Figure 2.6

Block diagram


Figure 2.7

Voltage against position graph

Figure 2.8

Circuit diagram Control Implementation

MPP detection and the control of power conversion unit were controlled by single circuit. The input of the control circuit was the feedback signal from the panel voltage and the output was a current source to drive the power transistor in the chopper circuit.

At the beginning, S1 was kept close and S2 was kept opened. The time constant, T = RC was designed to be 10 milisecond. The two darlington transistor TIP 112 and TIP 117 function as voltage to current source converter. The increases of the voltage at the base of the TIP 112 result in increase of the current at the collector of the TIP 117. After that, the microcontroller start obtained the information of the panel voltage.

Once the detection mode complete, the conversion mode will be initiated. The voltage from detection mode was set as reference in conversion mode. In conversion mode, S1 and S2 kept open. TIP 112 and TIP 117 were now functioning as switching mode. The panel voltage was sample every 5 micro second and this


voltage (actual panel voltage) was compare with the reference voltage that collected from detection mode.

When the actual voltage was higher than the reference, the logic high was produce at the microcontroller. When the actual voltage falls below the reference voltage, the logic low was produce. The logic low then switches off the power transistor. The MPP condition was controlling the on-off duration of the power transistor. Test result.

The subject was test with two solar panels connected in series. In this review, there were 4 test results collected from the project. First and second results were about the waveform of the panel voltage, current and power of illumination level. The other two were about the voltage across the solar panel when the panel was controlled.

Figure 2.9 a) Panel voltage, 2Ov/div (top)

MPP at illumination level A

b) Panel output power, 5OW/div (middle) c) Panel output current, 1Ndiv (bottom)


Figure 2.10 a) Panel voltage, 2Ov/div (top)

MPP at illumination level B

b) Panel output power, 5OW/div (middle) c) Panel output current, 1Ndiv (bottom)

Figure 2.11

Voltage controlled power conversion

Figure 2.12

Current controlled power conversion



Implementation of a Prototype for a Traditional Solar Tracking System

by Nader Barsoum.

In 2009, Nader Barsoum had developed a system to implementation of a prototype for a traditional solar tracking system. This prototype had developed in order to increase the efficiency of the solar panel. The project was constructed using sensor part, microcontroller part, motor part and mechanical part. The solar tracker used photodiode as a sensor, PIC16F84A and dc motor. The PIC was controlled the H-bridge or motor controller which consist of four transistor. The PIC was programmed to receive the input from LDR and send the output to control the motor. System Description.

The H-bridge was constructed using four transistor 2N2222, four diodes 1N4148 and two 10K resistor. There also additional component, variable resistor bank used to reduce motor rotation. The system was designed to obtain its data from LDR. When light falls on its surface, the LDR produce low resistance. The data collected then send to PIC and process. Then, the PIC gives the output to control the motor movement. In simple, when both LDR receive equal illumination, their resistance level will be the same. With an error margin +/- 10 point, the PIC will not generate any output. However, when LDR receive difference illumination level, the PIC will generate output to control the motor [13, 14, and 15].


Figure 2.13

Solar tracker control circuit


Figure 2.14

H-bridge motor control

Figure 2.15

Basic software design flowchart

19 Solar Tracker Verification and Testing

The testing was conducted to verify the functionality of LDR. There were two situations that used in this testing. First situation when one LDR cover by shadow and other when both LDR were under shadow.

Figure 2.16

Signal generated when one LDR was under shadow

Figure 2.17

Signal generated when both LDR in same illumination level



Control System.

This tracking system use feedback control system. There are two main types of feedback control systems: negative feedback and positive feedback. In a positive feedback control system the set point and output values are added. In a negative feedback control the set point and output values are subtracted. As a rule negative feedback systems are more stable than positive feedback systems. Negative feedback also makes systems more immune to random variations in component values and inputs. The control system that use was negative feedback system due to stability and immune to random value.

Figure 2.18

Negative feedback control system

Base from figure 2.18, the position reference actually is sun position. When sensor detect sun location, it will give signal to run the motor (Pin) to move the panel to sun location. Position output is representing the actual position of the photovoltaic panel. If the position output is not directly with position reference, Pin is not equal to zero


and this will give the signal to move until Pin equal to zero or mean position reference equal with position output [10].


Operation of 555 timers.

The 555 Timer IC is an integrated circuit (chip) implementing a variety of timer applications. Depending on the manufacturer, the standard 555 package includes over 20 transistors, 2 diodes and 15 resistors on a silicon chip installed in an 8-pin. Basically the 555 has three operating modes: Monostable mode: in this mode, the 555 functions as a "one-shot". Applications include timers, missing pulse detection, bounce free switches, and touch switches, frequency divider, capacitance measurement, pulse-width modulation (PWM) [6]. Astable - free running mode: the 555 can operate as an oscillator. Uses include LED and lamp flashers, pulse generation, logic clocks, tone generation, security alarms [6]. Bistable mode or Schmitt trigger: the 555 can operate as a flip-flop [6].



Pin Configurations of the 555 Timer

Ground (Pin 1): this pin is connected directly to ground. Trigger (Pin 2): This pin is the input to the lower comparator and is used to set the latch, which in turn causes the output to go high. Output (Pin 3): Output high is about 1.7V less than supply. Output high is capable of Isource up to 200mA while output low is capable of Isink up to 200mA. Reset (Pin 4): This is used to reset the latch and return the output to a low state. The reset is an overriding function. When not used connect to V+. Control (Pin 5): Allows access to the 2/3V+ voltage divider point when the 555 timer is used in voltage control mode. When not used connect to ground through a 0.01 uF capacitor. Threshold (Pin 6): This is an input to the upper comparator. Discharge (Pin 7): This is the open collector to Q14 in figure 4 below. V+ (Pin 8): This connects to Vcc the NE555 version is 3V - 16V DC.



Monostable Operation of the 555 Timer

Figure 2.19

`The comparator in the 555 timer

The circuit is called a bistable because it is stable in two states: output high and output low. It is also known as a 'flip-flop’. Base from figure, the 555 timer is composed of the voltage comparators, the flip-flop and the transistor for the discharge. The monostable mode (one shot) which requires only two external components, Ra and C. Time period is determined by T period = 1.1 (Ra C). Three resistors are connected with the inside in series and the power supply voltage (Vcc) is divided in 3. 1/3 of power supply voltage is applied to the positive input terminal of the comparator (COMP1) and the voltage of 2/3 is applied to the negative terminal of the comparator (COMP2).


When the voltage of the trigger terminal (TRIGGER) is less than 1/3 of the power supply voltage, the output of the flip-flop becomes high level and a flip-flop is set. When the voltage of the threshold terminal (THRESHOLD) is more than 2/3 of the power supply voltage, the R terminal of the FF becomes H level and an FF is reset.

The reset input (555 pin 4) overrides all other inputs and the timing may be cancelled at any time by connecting reset to 0V, this instantly makes the output low and discharges the capacitor. If the reset function is not required the reset pin should be connected to +Vcc [8].

Other than that, the threshold input (555 pin 6) monitors the voltage across C1 and when this reaches 2/3 Vcc the time period is over and the output becomes low. At the same time discharge (555 pin 7) is connected to 0V, discharging the capacitor ready for the next trigger. The time period of the pulse given by, T [9].

= 1.1 (Ra C)

Figure 2.20

The sample input and output pulse




Development Process

The objective of this project is to develop the control system that can manipulate the solar panel to move constantly with sun movement. In order to complete this objective, the method and technical strategies implied is the most important disciplined need to look at. Therefore, this project is divided into phase by phase. The main objective for divided into phase is to detect any problem at early stage. It is much more organized to do the job one by one according to their respective phase. There are two phase of development that use to complete the project:Phase 1- Mechanical Design Process Phase 2- Electronic Control System Phase 3- Combination and Beta Test



Phase 1

Mechanical design is one of the major phases in the development of the solar tracking system. This part contributes to what the solar panel control would look like. The skeleton of the panel is designed and constructed in this phase. Few sketches have developed and one of the best had been chosen. The purpose of the skeleton is to provide a place to mount the electronics component such as:DC motor Sensor (LDR) Push button Potentiometer Solar cell String


Phase 2

Electronic Control development process is the main part of the project. The second phase involves the development of control system. Base from the circuit of Monostable Operation of the 555 timer, the circuit that can control motor movement had been developed. There are few adjustments and some modification, so that the circuit can operate accordingly. After that, numerous tests on the designed circuit are performed on the prototyping board. The circuit is then constructed on PCB board using Portel Software. There are two circuits that have been designed for this control system: Circuit A Circuit B


Circuit A and B are similar but each circuit controls different part in the system. Circuit A control east side and circuit B control west side. Below is the diagram of one part of the circuit.

Figure 3.1

The circuit diagram


These circuits consist of:Sensor (LDR) Push button switch 20k ohm potentiometer C1 (0.01 microfarad) C2 (3.3microfarad) R1 (47k ohm) R2 (1M ohm) Relay 12v core- Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT) IC 555 timer DC motor 12 volt power supply (Lead Acid Rechargeable Battery).


Phase 3

In order to combine the circuit part A and B with mechanical system, the circuit test need to be to make sure it will follow the sun constantly. Few adjustments and modifications need to be done before the system can work smoothly. Every condition and situation needs to be looked carefully.



Electronic control system.

Figure 3.2

The block diagram

The block diagram shows how the electronic control system was developed and how they communicate with each other. There are 10 block of the block diagram and each block represents the component with its function to control the system. There are 2 blocks that represent the sensor that are used to detect the position of the sun. One at the east and the other at the west similar to the sun movements, that move from east to west. That sensor will provide signal to the 555 timer when the sun position is varied. The timer 555 will decide the motor movement base on the input that they received from the sensors. After the DC motor moves the panel, the


sensor will reconfigure the sun position and give new signal to timer 555. The process is repeated until both sensors give the right position of sun.


Hardware development.

The hardware development can be divided into electronic design and mechanical design. Both design related to each other and equally important.


Electronic Design

The tracking of photovoltaic panels is controlled or regulated among other thing by electronic controller circuit.

Table 3.1: List of component Component NE555 timer 20K potentiometer Cadmium Sulfide Photo resistor 1M ohm resistor 47k ohm resistor 0.01 micro farad capacitor 3.3 micro farad capacitor SPDT Relays nominal 12v coil Push button Lead Acid Rechargeable Battery 12 volt DC motor Quantity 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1



Sensor Control Tracking System.

In this project, the system is built using photo-sensor, electronics driven control system(IC 555 timer) and DC motor. The radiation receive from the sun light on the photo-sensor acts as the input to the controlling system and the angular displacement caused by the DC motor is based on the input receive by photo-sensor. The system supplied with 12volt (dc) supply.



A pair of light dependent resistor (LDR) is used as photo-sensor for this tracking system. Both LDRs act as input and sense the sun position. The resistance LDR falls with increasing light intensity. When the LDR receive light the resistance becomes low and this will input low to the 555 timer. However, when LDR in the dark, LDR resistance become high and this will give input high to the 555 timer. The 555 timer trigged only when it receives voltage that below 1/3 of Vcc. In this case the voltage to trig the IC 555 timer must be below 4volt. A polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tube with 6cm length is placed on each photosensor to minimize the effect of sunlight diffusion. The diffuse radiation that is not directly from the sun will be blocked by the tube. This will increase the sensitivity of the photo-sensor. The LDR1 is placed at the east part of the solar panel and the LDR2 is placed at the west part of the solar panel. Both will act as a sun position detector. Then the signal goes to the 555 timer.


Figure 3.3


Sun light

2.5 cm

6cm 90

Figure 3.4


Table 3.2: LDR operation LDR condition LIGHT DARK Resistance LOW HIGH Voltage Input HIGH LOW Voltage Output LOW HIGH



The 555 Timer.

The 555 timer is one of the most important components in this electronic circuit. 555 timer is the heart of the solar tracking system. 555 timer in this design has 8 pins and every pin have their own function. It acts as the central data processing unit, responsible for the fundamental operation of logic. In this design, the 555 timer will pick up the input from LDR and give output to the DC motor. The timer chip are wired for monostable “one shot” operation. It will give output high when receive low voltage from LDR. The timed interval is controlled by a single external resistor and capacitor network.

When the trigger input falls below the trigger level, the flip-flop is set and the output goes high. If the trigger input above the trigger level and the threshold input is above the threshold level, the flip-flop is reset and the output is low. The reset input can override all other input and can be used to initiate a new timing cycle. When reset goes low, the flip-flop is reset and the output goes low.

The output from the 555 timer will go to the relay before to DC motor. In this design, there are two circuit that use to control the motor and each circuit have the 555 timer. Each timer receives input from difference LDR and this two 555 timers connect to relay and both relay connect to the same motor.

Table 3.3: The 555 timer operation RESET TRIGGER VOLTAGE (volt) Low High High High <1/3 Vcc >1/3 Vcc >1/3 Vcc THRESHOLD VOLTAGE (volt) >2/3 Vcc <2/3 Vcc Low High Low As previous OUTPUT




Relays are used as remote control switch. Relays which come in different sizes, rating, and application, are used as remote control switches. Basically, relays are remote control electrical switches that are controlled by another switch, such as power train control module. Relays allow a small current flow circuit to control a higher current circuit. In this circuit, SPDT Relay with 12v coil is use. SPDT stand for single pole double throw. A common terminal connects to either of two others. Including two for the coil, such a relay has five terminals in total. All relays operate using the same basic principle. The control circuit has a small control coil while the load circuit has a switch. The coil controls the operation of the switch.


Relay Operation.

There are two type of operation in relay: Relay energized (ON) Relay de-energized (OFF) Relay Energize (ON).

Current flowing through the control circuit coil creates a small magnetic field which causes the switch to close. The switch, which is part of load circuit, is used to control an electrical circuit that may connect to it. Current now flow through pins to load.

35 Relay De-Energized (OFF).

When current is stops flowing through the control circuit, the relay become de-energized. Without the magnetic field, the switch opens and current is prevented from flowing through pins. The relay now OFF

In this tracking system, both relay set as ground when not function. When sensor detects sun movement, it will give signal to the 555 timer. Then, the 555 timer will trig relay to control the motor.

Figure 3.5

The SPDT relay circuit diagram

Figure 3.6

The SPDT relay



DC Motor.

In this project, DC motor is used to move the solar panel. The DC motor is connecting with string and attach to the panel. When motor rotate, it will move the panel and that movement will relocate the angle of the LDR sensor. The LDR sensor will send back the signal of sun location and the motor stopped when the right angle was founded. It all depends from the input provided by sensor.

DC motor type that use in this project is from SPG30-20k series. This type of series use 12 volt input and available to produce maximum 1.1 watt power as mention in data sheet. A DC motor required at least one electromagnet. This electromagnet switches the current flow as the motor turns, changing its polarity to keep the motor running. The motor rotate from positive terminal to negative terminal.

Figure 3.7

The DC motor



Mechanical Design.

The combination of all components will create the control circuit. Every component has own rule in the system. However, the system needs the chassis to complete the prototype. The chassis developed is used to place the electronic component at the right place and also to make it move freely from east to west and back to east again.


Frame Work.

There is little part that critical that influences the movement of the chassis of the solar panel. There are push buttons that limit the cassis movement. There also a string that connects the motor with panel where the circuits are placed. The panel also places the sensor to detect sun position. The DC motor is placed at the center bottom of the cassis. The panel movement will be control by DC motor via timing belt. The LDR will give information about panel position and the direction the motor should move. The limit switch connects to pin number four and act as a limit for panel movement. S1 connect to circuit 1 at east side and S2 connect to circuit 2 at west side. S1 part represent east part and S2 part represent west.

Figure 3.8

The cassis of the system



Mechanical Operation

The operation of this chassis can be divided into three categories: Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 1

Stage one consist of three situations: When S1 doesn’t detect any light and S2 detect the light. The motor will move to west. When S2 doesn’t detect any light and S1 detect the light. The motor will move to east. Both movement will stop when touch the switch SW1 or SW2. Stage 2

Stage two consists of two situations: Motor will stop when both LDR in dark. Motor will stop when both LDR in sun light. Stage 3

Stage three happen when the panel at the west limit and touch SW2 or at east limit where it touch SW1. At east limit: when S2 detect the light, motor move to west. At west limit: When S1 detect the light, motor move to east.



4.1 Introduction

This chapter discussed on the outcome of the project. The analysis and experiment are being conduct in order to test the functionality and performance of the tracking system. The analysis is Optimal Solar Tracking System is done in two different situations:Indoor analysis Outdoor analysis Both have different objectives. The indoor analysis is just trying to figure out the functionality of the system toward light. In this analysis, the source of light are torch light and the result obtain must agree with the theory. The motor movements are observed so it will show the result as expected before the analysis at actual working field is conducted. The outdoor analysis is done in actual field. The objective is to test the functionality of the system toward sun position. The position in degree is taken and compare between sun position and solar panel position.


4.2 Indoor Analysis

These analyses follow the mechanical operation. It consist three stage same as mechanical operation.

4.2.1 Result at stage 1 Table 4.1: Result 1 VCC PIN 2 PIN 3 12v 12v 1.0v 8.0v 10.0v 0.0v

When S1(1),S2(0) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2

Motor Movement Move to east Move to east

Table 4.2: Result 2 When S1(1),S2(1) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 7.9v 1.6v PIN 3 0.0v 9.0v Motor Movement Move to west Move to west

1 = High light intensity 0 = Low light intensity Base from the table, when light strike at LDR S1, the input in pin two of the 555 timer 1 become low. This produce high output at the 555 timer 1 and move the motor to the east. Same happen when LDR S2 receives the light. The difference between this two are the motor movement. The motor movement control by input from LDR sensor.


Table 4.3: Result 3 When S1(1),S2(1) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 1.03v 8.05v PIN 3 0.0v 0.0v Motor Movement Motor don’t move Motor don’t move

Table 4.4: Result 4 When S1(1),S2(1) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 7.5v 1.9v PIN 3 0.0v 0.0v Motor Movement Motor don’t move Motor don’t move

1 = High light intensity 0 = Low light intensity

These tables are proving of function reset pin in IC 555 timer. When the panel move and touch the push button that place at the limit range of panel, the reset function at pin 4 of 555 timer will trigged. This function is active low, mean when it receives voltage below 0.7 volt, the function trigged.


Result at Stage 2

Table 4.5: Result 5 When S1(1),S2(1) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 0.1v 0.2v PIN 3 0.0v 0.0v Motor Movement Motor don’t move Motor don’t move


Table 4.6: Result 6 When S1(0),S2(0) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 8.1v 8.1v PIN 3 0.0v 0.0v Motor Movement Motor don’t move Motor don’t move

1 = High Light Intensity 0 = Low Light Intensity

In this stage 2 analyses, the LDR sensor both uncover to same light intensity. This analysis objective is to observe whether the system can stop moving when the solar panel perpendicular with sun position. Beside, observe what happen to the system at night.


Result at Stage 3

Table 4.7: Result 7 When S1(1),S2(1) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 8.3v 0.7v PIN 3 0.0v 10.0v Motor Movement To West To West

Table 4.8: Result 8 When S1(1),S2(1) 555 timer 1 555 timer 2 VCC 12v 12v PIN 2 0.1v 8.7v PIN 3 10.0v 0.0v Motor Movement To east To east

1 = High light intensity 0 = Low light intensity


In this stage, the analysis is about the control system that already at the limit switch but the receiver the light form the other side. For example, the panel already moves until west limit and the system stop moving due to reset function. However, went sun rise again from east, the LDR S1 received the light and that will move the motor to the east. The reset function not influences the system because the system that actually reset is the 555 timer 2. The LDR S1 only trigged the 555 timer 1. The same thing happened if the opposite side tested.



Time Line Analysis Base on Indoor Analysis.

Figure 4.1

Time line from no light to both LDR receive light


Figure 4.2

Time line from motor on to motor stop due limit switch to motor on


Figure 4.3

Experimental set up


Outdoor Analysis

Outdoor analysis is to prototype of optimal solar tracking system in actual situation. The angle of sun position is collected from software that simulated the position of sun. However, the simulations use Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as reference place. Assume that sun position at UTM skudai, Malaysia have the same sun position with Kuala Lumpur, the data analysis are collected from 6 a.m to 7 p.m.


Table 4.9: Result of outdoor analysis Time 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 180 135

Sun Position 0 15 30 45 60 75 90 105 120 135 150 165 170 (degree) Angle 45 45 45 45 70 85 90 100 110 135 135 135 135 perpendicular with solar panel (degree)

200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Angle perpendicular with solar panel Sun Position













Figure 4.4 The line chart of outdoor analysis

The line chart shows the different of actual sun position with the position that detect by the system. The limits of the system are limited at 45 degree and 135 degree. Even the sun going more than 135 degree or less than 45 degree, the system cannot follow more than the limit angle. There also other things that influence the panel movement such as shade area produce by cloud, building and other thing.





5.1 Conclusion

The objective of the project has been achieved. The Optimal Solar Tracking System was able to constantly follow the sun movement. To conclude, the system design that use in the project can brings a lot of function and other application. Still using the design, with a little bit modification such as change the sensor to temperature sensor, the system that tracks the heat can develop. Other application such as tracking signal also can use and develop from this sample electronic design. The knowledge and skill from this project will give more experience for student in electronic field.


5.2 Recommendation

There are still a lot of space for improvement and enhancement for this Optimal Solar Tracking System. Optimal Solar Tracking System covers a large field which required creativity, talent and dynamic mentality to fully optimize the technology, knowledge and inspiration of the nature. The prototype of solar panel is a mechanical design while the sensor used was LRD. The mechanical design of thesis of the system can only operate in single axis only. In order to increase the efficiency and responsive of the system, double axis should be used. The DC motor in this project should be charge to move slowly movement because the sun does not move really fast. The angle of movement also should be increased in order to let the time of solar cell orient with sun much longer.




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