Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Solar Tracker

Introduction

Photovoltaic cells, or solar cells, change the light energy created by the sun to electrical energy that can be used to power calculators, cars, or even satellites. It is becoming a popular source of alternative energy. A photovoltaic cell works best if it is aimed directly at the sun. The sun’s position varies both with the seasons and time of day as it moves across the sky. A solar tracker is a device for orienting a solar photovoltaic panel directly toward the sun, thus increasing the effectiveness of the panel. In this project, your challenge is to build a robotic device to follow the position of the sun.

Objectives

In this project, you will design and build a rotating solar tracker. You will use a Vernier Differential Voltage Probe and NXT to measure the voltage generated by a pair of solar cells when in the presence of the sun or a strong light source. Your device should be able to rotate 360° in both the clockwise and counterclockwise directions so that the light source is always centered between the pair of solar cells. Both the solar cells and Voltage Probe should be securely supported by your device so that they do not dislodge during rotation. Your device should be able to operate from any starting position relative to the sun.

Sensors and Equipment

This project/activity features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You will also need NXT Sensor Adapter and a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics system.

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for STEM 2 with Vernier and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT »

STEM 2 with Vernier and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Friction
2First-Class Levers
3Audio Assistant
4Buoyancy
5Pulleys
6String Tension Tester
7Gas Pressure
8Yeast in Action
9Grip Strength
10Cartesian Diver
11Batteries
12Lemon Battery
13Battery Tester
14Solar Cells
15Solar Tracker
16Mapping a Magnetic Field
17Electromagnets
18Migrating Robot
19Magnet Finder
20Mine Sweeper

Project/activity 15 from STEM 2 with Vernier and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT Lab Book

<em>STEM 2 with Vernier and LEGO<sup>®</sup> MINDSTORMS<sup>®</sup> NXT</em> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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