Email Address:

Lost your password?

This is the legacy website; please use the new website.

Ask Silicon Chip

Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we'll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to

Solar trackers for panels or reflectors

I think there is a need for a project to help the solar power industry.

Solar panels are expensive and their output varies with the amount of sunlight striking the panel. The intensity could be optimised by additional reflectors that are moved to keep the panels’ output at maximum for as long as possible. The project would monitor the intensity on each panel and bring the reflectors to bear as required, with controlled motors. (G. T., Londonderry, NSW).

  • The adding of adjustable reflectors or making the panels track the sun does increase output. However, the inevitable energy input for the tracking facility often means that any increase in output over a full day is fairly marginal.

    If you have a large solar panel array, its weight or the weight of any reflector panels will be considerable as they need to be engineered to withstand high winds. If you then make the solar array (or the reflector panels) moveable to track the sun, the additional weight will require a considerable amount of power to move it.

    Having said that, we published a design for a solar tracker to suit a single panel in the January 1995 issue of SILICON CHIP. We can supply the back issue for $9.50 including GST and P&P (Australia) or $A13.00 each including airmail (outside Australia).

    Very Low Speed Motor Control

    Please let me commence by saying I am a complete ignoramus in this field but I do like doing things for myself if possible. I have a working electric motor that came from a paper shredder. It is labelled 230V 50Hz 54W.

    One of my hobbies is making fishing rods. Part of the process is applying epoxy to the bindings which can take 24 hours to dry. To ensure a smooth finish, the rod should be rotated at about 10 RPM for that period.

    I need something to allow me to regulate the speed of the motor. Can you suggest a suitable circuit? (B. R., via email).

  • We have published motor speed controllers for 230V mains motors (eg, SILICON CHIP, October 2002) but because you are inexperienced with electrical wiring we cannot recommend you build one. In addition, the motor would not run smoothly at 10 RPM using such a controller.

    Instead, why not use a low-voltage motor and gearbox? Jaycar have the YG-2730 motor and gearbox that can be set to run at 11.27 RPM. It is also safe and runs on 3V using two 1.5V batteries or a DC power supply.

  • Share this Article: 

    Privacy Policy  |  Advertise  |  Contact Us

    Copyright © 1996-2021 Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd All Rights Reserved