A while back, we were looking for a way of of demonstrating the capabilities of our new line of Synaptron motor controllers, and came up with the idea of building a scaled version of a solar tracker. The two motors controlling azimuth and elevation would be controlled by a pair of Synaptron Micros.
After a bit of research, we decided to use a small slewing drive from Kinematics for rotation and a linear actuator from Firgelli Automation to adjust the tilt of the panels. Slewing drives, and more specifically, slewing bearings are really interesting, as they are able to withstand large loads in both a radial and axial direction. Much larger versions are used on cranes and excavators.
Next, we used Google SketchUp to come up with a basic drawing of the head unit. Here’s a pic of the original design, sans the linear actuator.
The bottom unit is the slewing drive and is able to turn the entire mechanism, as well as stand up to heavy winds and torque loads.
The linear actuator (not shown) will connect at the end of the two arms and be able to adjust the top mounting bracket between 0 and 90 degrees.
Of course then we had to actually build it… More on that later.