What is the HelioWatcher?
The HelioWatcher is solar power analytics system designed to automatically orient a solar panel for maximum efficiency, record data, and safely charge batteries. Using a GPS module, an accelerometer, and a magnetometer, the HelioWatcher allows the user to place the system anywhere in the world without any calibration. The HelioWatcher uses these sensors paired with a solar tracking algorithm to autonomously calculate the sun’s current location and orient the panel to the appropriate position. It also utilizes a quadrature of light-detecting diodes to correct for short-term light obstruction, such as clouds or shade. Data is logged to a computer to allow the user to visualize the efficiency gains and power consumption in real time or after the data collection has occured.
The HelioWatcher was designed by Jason Wright and I for our ECE4760 (Designing with Microcontrollers) final project at Cornell University. Jason is the same person whom I worked with to develop the Nerf Sentry Gun for our Matlab Robotics class freshman year.
Video & Pictures
Detailed System and Design Information
We put together a whole webpage to describe all the gritty details of how the HelioWatcher works. Visit www.HelioWatcher.com for code documentation, algorithm info, in-depth schematics, info on the desktop software packages, and more!
Supporting Documentation, Schematics, and Code
The HelioWatcher is comprised of entirely open source hardware and software. All materials are distributed under the GNU General Public (Open-Source) License. Please Attribute and Share-Alike. All files are hosted on GitHub, but the 3D printed parts can also be found on Thingiverse.
HelioWatcher in the News
- 05/18/2012 – HelioWatcher featured in Cornell’s 2012 ECE Day Video
- 05/21/2012 – HelioWatcher featured on the Hack-a-Day Blog
- 06/06/2012 – HelioWatcher featured on the TreeHugger Blog
Blog Posts about the HelioWatcher
- 05/18/2012 – Announcing the HelioWatcher