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.

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Quick Update: 3/20/2014



Over the last few months I have been quietly working on several different additions to the Open Sun Harvesting Project. This is just a quick preview as I still have a lot to do, but everything is rapidly coming together at the same time it seems.

The first addition that will be released in the coming weeks is the Sun Harvester Driver Board V1.0. This driver board is based on the Big Easy Driver by Brian Schmalz, but has been modified in several different ways to integrate more easily into the existing “Sun Harvester” circuitry. For example, two stepper motor drivers are assembled on just the one PCB, and an ethernet port has been added to make it more “plug and play”.

A breakout board has also designed to make it easy to add additional driver boards to the circuit. So if you want to add another machine, all you have to do is run another ethernet cable and two wires for power from the breakout board to the driver board.

Finally, if you are wondering what the silver thing with all the gears on it is, it is a nearly finished heliostat that I have been working on. This design has been in the works for nearly a year now. I’ve obviously tried construction other heliostats in the past, but none of them turned out very well. This was due in large part because I didn’t own adequate tools for the job. Over the last six months or so though I have invested in the equipment required to do it right. Of particular use is the CNC controlled plasma cutter that I added to the shop!

I do eventually want to have a full heliostat available for purchase from this website’s store, but that will still probably be quite a long way off. In particular, I still have to test this design, make jigs so that I can assemble it quickly, and also come up with the cash required to buy all of the parts required to make them in bulk.

Anyway, I still have lots to do, so I guess I had better get back to it!


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Heliostat Project from Students at Khalifa University, UAE

The above video shows a group of students from Khalifa University, located in UAE, showcasing their very well thought out project consisting of a heliostat array design, collector, and control system. Even on this small scale, it is reported to be able to generate steam.

It was the video’s narrator, Fatima Adly, that originally contacting me asking for clarification on how different parts of the Arduino Sun Tracking / Heliostat Program worked. The same algorithm that calculates the sun’s position and heliostat angles is in fact incorporated into their program. They also added much more to the program such as wireless control via PC and tablet along with a backup tracking system.

I’m not sure what the breakdown of responsibilities were, but Fatima does seem to have done her fair share of the work. For example, there was more than one instance of her contacting me around 4:00am (her timezone) to try and work out one bug or another. When exactly she slept I do not know, but one thing that is clear is that she is a extremely hard worker!

The pdf and code files below were provided by Fatima.

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