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Heliostat Build
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Heliostat Build

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Hi Matt, I've been looking for a consumer Heliostat that directs sunlight to a fixed position in my northeast-facing office, however, they don't really seem to exist. 

I feel like if anyone could DIY this, it would definitely be you. 

This is the closest thing I could find however, he doesn't give any instructions.

If anyone else could also help me with this I would be EXTREMELY grateful. 

Posted : 09/02/2023 11:45 am
DIY Perks
Posts: 138
Estimable Member Admin

That's a really cool idea! I'm guessing that it will be pretty complicated to make a program to make the calculations required to bounce light into a room like that (beyond my skill) but I do wonder whether it would be possibe to make it entirely analogue using four light sensors on the wall that the mirror reflects light on to. When one of the sensors receives light from the sun, it triggers the appropriate motor on the mirror to move it away from itself. That would compensate for the season and be very simple to implament (unless clouds cover the sun for a period of time of course, which would break it and it would need to be manaully moved back into position).

Posted : 10/02/2023 11:57 am
Posts: 277
Reputable Member

Program it yourself! Heaven forfend dear boy!

And light sensors, while a neat idea, are a non-starter due to the non-coherent effects of white light going through an atmosphere.

If you are prepared to consider the physical design Matt, there are several bits of open source software that have elements of what's needed. I'm trying to think of the easiest one 

Volodymyr Agafonkin did a cracker in pure Javascript.  

Don't be put off by the name though he's Ukrainian and on our side in several areas. I'm sure he would be able to give you a library to link to in order to drop it into most languages. I'm a C man myself for Arduino but Javascript can be used across far more devices.

You're going to need some beefy old servo motor there (or some fancy Matt Perks brass gears; I jest... brass is too soft). I guess you COULD make a servo with a big DC motor and some Perk's trickery (you can use an old desktop mouse to get an optical step counter) but I would think it would be cheaper to get one off the peg.

If Arduino is your weapon of choice (I could be more help here personally)

Does all the number crunching mate. This is definitely something within your skills Matt but only you could consider if it's too esoteric for your channel. I tend to think it's a bit far out, but I can imagine a small prototype (proof of concept) would be OK and with the right directions, the OP could source the parts themselves?

Joking aside a SMALL one with, perhaps, a concave mirror could keep a small amount of water pre-heated or a simple mirror could be used to throw extra light on some precious, sun-loving garden plant. 

Take everything I say with a pinch of salt, I might be wrong!

Posted : 14/02/2023 5:17 pm
DIY Perks
Posts: 138
Estimable Member Admin

Esoteric perhaps, but if it were within a wider concept it could work nicely. I'm thinking along the lines of some kind of solar generator (I've got a thing for steam turbines lately)... Thanks for the pointers regarding the libraries - very useful starting points!

Posted : 02/03/2023 2:55 pm
marcdraco reacted