Embedded System Design challenged us to use the popular Arduino microcontroller to build an innovative new product.
The project culminated with a sales pitch presentation at the end of the semester. Many of the teams created intersting prodcuts that pushed the limits of what is possible with just an Arduino. The motivation behind our project was to develop a cheap, peripheral system that can improve the power quality of solar arrays. In particular, one way to improve power quality is to include a magnification lens transposed over the solar panel, the drawback, however, is angle of incidence must be nearly perfect for the power quality to improve.
Our system set to solve this problem using Log-Scale Analog Light Sensors, 180-degree Servo, and 3200-N Linear Actuator in conjunction with our Arduino. Although initially designed as a theoretically addition to a magnified solar array, the system was capable of maintaing a 14V floating charge on a lead-acid powerbank, and led to data that supports a 13% increase in energy collection on traditional solar panels.
I also made contributions to logic chip selection and was the main designer and integrator of the lead acid battery charging logic which used the TI TPS5420 and TI UC3906N. I implemented the resistor feedback network, from the datasheets, needed to accommodate our charge rates.
We suffered many set backs, mostly with the physical aspect of the project. Most notable is that we broke our solar panel mounting base while transporting it to the final showcase. All of us learned valuable lessons in ball bearings, epoxy, part selection, ordering, and of course failure. We did not size the solar panel correctly the first go an ended up with a beast, a 50W polycrystalline 2 foot square panel, which we then had to use and kicked off several redesigns. For someone more adept at the keyboard, I thank my fellow partners for the sleepless nights wondering how we can rotate and push a 4 pound beast with a tiny Arduino.
You can learn more at the UH EE Department
Forked with permission of team member