Need info on solar activated switch

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Hosmackin, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. Hosmackin

    Thread Starter New Member

    Dec 9, 2010
    Hello all,

    I am a complete rookie when it comes to anything electrical, so I was hoping to find some ideas and information.

    I am building a 3' x 2' box and am wanting to attach a lid with an electric arm that will open and close the lid via a solar activated switch. I will need to set it up so that when put outside the Lid will open at first light and stay open until dark. Visa versa I need it to stay closed until light again the next morning.

    I would also like the whole unit to run off of no more than a car battery or similar

    Any ideas, info, parts, switches, electric arms info, ect.... Is greatly appreciated.

  2. tyblu


    Nov 29, 2010
    You will need to define all of your parts, then the controller. You'll need an actuator for the lid, such as a small motor; a driver circuit for this actuator; a light sensor, maybe a photodiode, photo-resistor, or photo-transistor (try photo-resistor first); a signal conditioner for the sensor, like a preamp; and some logic circuitry. This can all be done with discrete parts, but, if you can't find most of this in a single package, I recommend a microcontroller. The Arduino family of products have been setup for beginners. An Arduino would replace the logic circuitry and maybe the signal conditioner (you'll have to read up on the light detector datasheet).
    Try these selections at :
    Sensors, Transducers > Optical - Photo Detectors - Ambient Light Sensors > choose "Logic" output type
    Sensors, Transducers > Optical - Photo Detectors - Logic Output

    If a part isn't available on DigiKey, search with these: ,

    Sometimes if you look up a part on the manufacturer's website, like Texas Instruments (TI), they will suggest similar or replacement parts.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
  3. Bernard

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 7, 2008
    Proposal: Use a small 12 V gear reduced motor, 1-3 RPM, to rotate a crank which also has a double cam controlling two switches. Lid has arm whos length is twice the crank throw & is tied to crank by a connecting rod. When motor turns 180 deg. lid moves 90 deg. Motor rotation is always one direction. Double cam with switches signal open & closed position. Lid may be counter ballanced to about 75% of its weight, might put mirrors on inside of lid for additional heat. Logic in next chapter if interested. Possible motors G 16034, G17949 with further reduction, from The Electronic Goldmine.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2010