David’s Heliostat Project

Here is a heliostat project that was shared with me via email by its creator, David. Some of the code he wrote for this project was made possible by referencing the code in the Arduino Sun Harvester program. Very cool!

This heliostat uses a friction drive for motion and an encoder to keep track of its position in case it accidentally moves due to outside forces. This friction drive doesn’t lock the heliostat into position like a wormgear or linear actuator does, but it is cheaper and somewhat less complicated to build. Clever idea!

More videos of both this heliostat and a solar tracker can be found on his YouTube channel Nova Solar.

Mini Update to the Arduino Sun Harvester Program and Ideas for Future Updates

I just posted an updated version of the Sun Harvester Program on the forums which gets rid of a few bugs. I also posted a long list of ideas for what might be added to the program in the future. If you have any of your own ideas, please feel free to add them!

Arduino Sun Harvester Program: Next Generation Update and Ideas

Note that I haven’t tested these programs much yet, but figured I would go ahead and post them to hurry up and get the ball rolling.

1. The program should now work with the latest version of the Arduino Software.
2. Fixed a bug which would cause the program to sometimes not go into wind protection mode.
3. Added a no potentiometer option which allows you to leave out the potentiometer when using a heliostat.

Cerebral Meltdown Redesigned!

Cerebral Meltdown has undergone a face lift to make it more compatible with mobile devices. I am still working to add links and things to the menu and also going through all of the pages to make sure that everything is working correctly, but things are looking pretty good so far! There is also still some tweaking that I need to do with the design too, so you may see things change a bit over time. Anyway, it’s back off to work for me!

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!


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.

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.



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.