Solar Heating Project with PLC/Stepper Motor/Etc.

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by stupidlogic, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. stupidlogic

    Thread Starter Member

    Aug 10, 2010
    Hey, everyone!

    I am an electrical engineering student starting my second year of school and want to get some experience working on real life projects so my dad has handed me his project to work on. Here's the deal:

    My parent's home is currently heated by a hot water heating system that relies mostly on a wood stove and a gas furnace in case of emergencies. We want to design and build a system where solar heating panels will be mounted on a roof to heat up water to heat the house.

    We want to have the solar panels rotate throughout the day to follow the sun to maximize efficiency. A stepper motor would probably be the most efficient way to do this. For now, I want to just be able to rotate them without worrying about changing the angle, but eventually I want to change the angle and rotation throughout the day. Basically I need to design a sun tracking system.

    Obviously, I'll need some sort of microcontroller to run everything. My dad purchased the following items:

    My dad is an electrical/instrumentation tech., so he has electrical experience as well and said that we can program it in ladder logic. I don't currently have an experience with microcontrollers (my microcontroller class begins in 2 weeks) so would ladder logic be sufficient to run a system like this or would I be better off using BASIC?

    Now that you have a summary of the project, any advice/input on a starting point?

    Where is a good place to look for resources on microcontroller programming, setting up a sun tracking system, stepper motors, etc.?

    Any input or ideas would be appreciated. I plan on keeping everyone updated with how things go, but with school the project might take a slower pace. Thanks.
  2. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008
  3. stupidlogic

    Thread Starter Member

    Aug 10, 2010
    Thank you for the links, the solar tracking one was very helpful in particular. I was able to find a more advanced one that explains a basic setup, but I'd have to design the circuitry on my own. Which I plan to do anyway, so I'm looking for a bunch of tracking systems to get ideas to develop my own.

    Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has any resources for some basic level PLC programming projects so that I can run some practice stuff with my controller before working on this much more complicated project.

    After I learn how to use it better, I'll be collecting all the data/constraints to write the program to control the solar panels, as well as the pump system that moves the water...

    Which reminds me...

    If anyone is interested I attached the PDF of the other tracking system I found.
    • ASTS.pdf
      File size:
      274.7 KB