Jarrett Lash & Hahnbee Lee

February 8th, 2017

Solar Energy: Out on a Limb

We’ve succeeded in the coding of the Raspberry Pi.

Materials and Methods

Over the past two weeks we have propelled our project to place in which we can be

collecting data within a matter of a few more hours of work. We have our servo system soldered

and coded. We have been successful in having all three servos move at the same time, which

will be crucial to decreasing the amount of time needed to search for the point of most light and

to allow more time for the system to stay still collecting the most energy as possible.

Additionally, we achieved in getting the digital UV light sensor working. Next for coding will

be creating the program that will collect the point of most light to then position the tree system

there, and we know this will be simple now that we have each component working.

As for the structure, we have printed out the first branch of the tree and the other is

currently in queue to print (Figure 1). The flexible filament was having a hard time extruding

through the printer head because the gear system was having issue gripping the softer filament.

Thus, in order to have a branch system to allow us to print as soon as possible we printed the

branches out of regular PLA for starters. We have plans that we will reprint the branches with

flexible filament once we have some data, and the texture of the filament will not change the data

at all, it is simply a feature to act as resistance against weather.

Additionally, we decided to trim down our size for the tree. We will now be constructing

a ten panel tree as opposed to the fifteen panel tree. What this will do is allow for simple pivot

branches to exist and there will be no concern of branches colliding in movement.

As for the specifics of the coding for the servos, the main issue was in the type of servo

we were using. Previously, we were using High Torque servos (Figure 2) but when we switched

them to an ordinary Adafruit micro servo everything worked smoothly (Figure 3). And

furthermore, we were able to create a more constant current by soldering the servo HAT allowing

a more constant flow to access the servos allowing the servos to move more consistently. And

like we’ve previously stated after successfully doing all of this we were able to code the pi so

that multiple servos could run simultaneously. We also repurchased a digital UV light sensor

(Figure 5) instead of the previous analog ones (Figure 4) because we discovered that the

raspberry pi is only compatible with digital sensors.

We will be able to put these two different components together: the servos and the

sensors, for us to

complete the electronic component of our project.

Figure 1 3D printed branch
Figure 2 Previously used High Torque servo

Figure 3 Current micro servo in use.

Figure 4 Previously used Analog GUVA UV Sensor.

Figure 5 New 5-pin VEML UV Sensor that is more compatible for Raspberry Pi.

Data and Results

As stated in our last Lab Notebook, we have not collected any data. We are still in the

process of forming our design so we can construct our PVTree for testing. But the quantitative

data we plan on collecting is the amount of solar energy collected when we change the different

angles at which the panels will be set and program different pattern at which our tree will move

in accordance to sunlight. This past week we actively integrated a LabQuest to collect our data so

we no longer have to create the data collection system ourselves. If we decide later to best

streamline the process, that is always an option, but for now this is what we will be using. Using

the Current Probe we can measure amperage and using the Volt Probe we can measure the

voltage of the system.

Figure 6 The LabQuest, the device we plan on using for the data collection.

Figure 7 The Current and Differential Voltage probes that we will be attaching onto the
LabQuest to successfully collect data.


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