It is oftentimes difficult to predict exactly where the sun will be during each of the four seasons. To help make things easier, here is a simple sun finding tool which will do exactly that, find the sun. This tool can show you where the sun will be in the winter even though it may be summer. The next few pages will show you both how to put the “Sun Finder” together and how to use it.
What is the Sun Finder’s purpose?
Essentially, the sun finder is used for making simple solar assessments. For example, let’s pretend that I want to plant a tomato plant in a particular spot which is shaded at this time of the year. Now, I know that planting a tomato plant in the shade isn’t really optimal, but I’m hoping that the sun will eventually get high enough during the summer months to reach it.
However, I don’t know this for certain. To find out if my chosen location is a good one, I can just use the sun finder.
You can of course use it for other things besides just gardening. For example, you could use it when picking a location for solar panels, greenhouses, swimming pools, and many other things too I’m sure.
What is the Procedure?
So, what is the procedure for using this thing anyway? We’ll go through it once fast using my tomato plant as an example again. More in depth instructions are available further into the tutorial.
First, I need to chose a particular time and date. Let’s go with 10:00AM on May 15. Next, I find out what the sun’s altitude and azimuth will be at that point in time by using a computer program to find out for me.
I then place the sun finder where I want to put the tomato plant and position the “pointer” so that its altitude and azimuth matches that of the sun’s.
For this example, the pointer points at a tree, so I now know that the tomato plant will be shaded at 10:00AM on May 15.
If I fast forward an hour to 11:00AM on May 15 however, the pointer points at open sky. This means that the tomato plant will not be shaded at 11:00AM. I can continue checking the path of the sun by increasing by one hour increments until I’m satisfied that this location is a good place for my tomato plant.
What you will Need
Here’s the parts list for the Sun Finder. Note: You will need to have Adobe reader installed to open the files. (It’s free, do a Google search to find it)
A short piece of wood (Exact dimensions aren’t important)
The printed out PDF files
A push pin
A couple of washers
A small bolt and nut
Glue (for gluing the paper onto the cardboard)
Either hot glue or tape (for putting the Sun Pointer together)
Something for making a few small holes (I used a multitool with a small flat head screwdriver)
Although not absolutely necessary, you might want to get a laser pointer too. The one I am using only cost $2.50 to buy, so it doesn’t need to be anything fancy.
Putting the Sun Finder Together
Once you have everything you need for the Sun Finder, glue the sheets of paper onto the cardboard and cut out the parts. Also, put small 1/8″ holes where the crosshairs are located.
Note: I added a couple of extra “Pointers” to the page 1 PDF file so that you can experiment with different attachments without having to print out a whole other page.
Next, either glue or tape the parts together.
In this picture, you can kind of see where the pieces were glued together with hot glue.
Next, attach the “pointer” part of the Sun Finder using a small bolt, two washers, and a nut. You only need to make it finger tight. It should be snug but not so tight that you can’t move the pointer.
Next, take the short board, make a small hole in the center, and insert a matchstick into it. Cut the matchstick so that it only sticks out about 3/8″.
Now place the parts onto the matchstick by lining them up with the holes you made at the crosshairs.
At this point, the Sun Finder’s construction is finished. The next thing to do is to learn how to orient it with geographic north and south.