Bug in Arduino Sun Harvester Program

Warning! The Arduino Sun Harvester Program is not yet compatible with the latest version of the Arduino IDE.  Keep using version 1.0.6 until I have a chance to fix it.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

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Logan Beck’s A Description of the Sun


In case you missed it, Logan has posted several pictures and videos of the heliostat he built for his art project “A Description of the Sun”.

The mirrors are made from Plexiglass, which is how he was able to cut them into circles. This is a very handy trick for anyone who wants to build a heliostat with mirrors that have more style.

More info can be found on Logan’s blog for the project and this site’s forum.

Note, if you look closely in the picture below, you can see that he is using the Sun Harvester Shield and Sun Harvester Driver Board. It’s always cool seeing people making stuff using stuff that you yourself have made!


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Hobby CNC Machine YouTube Video at over one Million Views!

I was going through my YouTube Videos, and just noticed that the Hobby CNC Machine Video has now surpassed one million views! I’m not sure why it became so popular since it was just a quick video I threw together to show off the machine. I guess it was just in the right place at the right time. Here’s to a million more views!

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3D Printed Enclosure for Sun Harvester Shield V1.0 from Sebastian Gonzalez

Here are a few pics and stl file of a 3D printed enclosure for the Sun Harvester Shield made by Sebastian Gonzalez. This is part of a larger heliostat project he is working on at his university. Hopefully he will have more to send as he gets further along!

Photo 03-12-14 11 03 43

Photo 03-12-14 11 03 48Photo 03-12-14 11 00 26

Here is the STL file…

And here is a forum link where you can comment if you wish.


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Sun Harvester Shield Updated to Version 2.0!

The Sun Harvester Shield has now officially been updated to Version 2.0!

Version 2.0 of the Shield is largely the same as version 1.0. The biggest improvement is the addition of a quick connector in the upper right hand corner which allows you to connect the breakout board or driver board (using an adapter) to the shield without having to do any soldering.

Additionally, the Wind Protection Mode switch Target Changer Potentiometer, and SDA, SCL connections have been changed to screw terminals to further minimize soldering.

I also added an LED which will allow the program to give feedback from the program. For example, I plan to make it flash twice when joystick control mode is activated. More on this later when I finish updating the program.



Additionally, the Sun Harvester Driver Board has been updated to Version 1.1. The only notable difference in this version is a slight change in the hole layout and the removal of copper around these holes to help prevent unintentional shorts through a metal enclosure.


The Breakout Board has also been updated to Version 1.1. This version is basically the same as the last. I just swapped out some parts to make it easier for me to put together.



I have also added a Shield to Driver Board Adapter to make it possible to connect the Driver Board to the Shield without having to do any soldering. This item is optional since you can still just solder your own wires from the shield to the driver, but it does make life easier to use the adapter.



Finally, all of the old versions of these boards are being clearanced out at discounted prices. There is nothing wrong with them, but it is kind of confusing to have to almost identical versions of the same board in the store.

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A Few Pics of My Latest Heliostat Build

Each time I try building one of these things I get a little bit closer to achieving a solid heliostat design. This one still needs some improvements, but it does at least work well enough to try it out in the sun. I will post more on it in the near future, but, for now, here are some pictures to get the ball rolling.

Each of the 6 1ft^2 mirrors is adjustable. This way, the light can be focused on a smaller target. I originally planned on adding 12 mirrors total, but I decided to keep it at 6 for now while I try things out.


For now, I’m only shining the light through a medium sized window.


This picture doesn’t really show it, but the reflected light does a good job of lighting up the room. Standing in front of the light beam feels just like standing in front of the light from the sun.



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Power Supplies added to Store



Power supplies are now available in The Cerebral Meltdown Store!

This 12V, 2.5A power supply is used for powering the Sun Harvester Driver Board. More specifically, it is sized to work with the NEMA 17 Stepper Motors also sold in the store.

Since the majority of this store’s customers are outside the U.S., it makes sense to provide an international power supply. This is why multiple types of plugs are provided with the power supply. Simply choose the one that matches your outlet and you’re good to go.

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NEMA 17 Stepper Motors added to Store!


Stepper Motors are now available in the Cerebral Meltdown Store!

These bipolar stepper motors were chosen because they have good torque, are compact, and work great with the Sun Harvester Driver Board.

They are perfect for a small to medium sized machine provided you use the appropriate gear reduction relative to the machine’s size.

More items will come soon!

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Sun Harvester Driver Boards and Breakout Boards added to Store!

After a LOT scheming, plotting, designing, assembling, testing, and documenting, two new circuit boards have finally been added to the ranks of the Sun Harvesting circuitry and are now available for purchase at the Cerebral Meltdown Store!

First up is the Sun Harvester Driver Board. There are of course many other driver boards to pick from, but this one is designed specifically for use with the Arduino Sun Harvesting System. You now have the option to make all of the connections to the driver board with an Ethernet input and screw terminals. This marks the first step in making the Arduino Sun Harvesting Circuit “soldering iron free”. (This is just for the driver board. For now at least, there is still some soldering required in other parts of the circuit.)


Next we have the Sun Harvester Shield Driver Board Breakout Board (Yes I know, I’m bad at naming things). This breakout board connects to the Sun Harvester Shield and makes it easy to attach multiple Sun Harvester Driver Boards to the circuit.



More information for both of the circuit boards can be found at their respective links. Keep in mind that I still have a bit of documenting left to do along with some proof reading. It will be a few days before I’ll be able to do much work on it again though, so hang tight!

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PC based Arduino Sun Harvester Program Interface / Solar Radiation Data Analysis Program Update


OK guys, clearly I’m bad at naming things, but at least my titles are descriptive. The “PC based Arduino Sun Harvester Program Interface / Solar Radiation Data Analysis Program Update” is exactly what it sounds like, it’s an update to a PC based program that I put together about one year ago that is able to do two things, interface with the Arduino Sun Harvester Program and also help you figure out how much energy you can get from heliostats, stationary collectors, or dual axis sun trackers.

Continue reading

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