SimpleCV…too fun

I’m so crazy that I went ahead and bought some op amps (LM741) and other stuff from Jameco before actually planning anything (typical late-night purchase).  Jameco seems to beat Digikey in price for most things I’ve been looking for.  And I usually get everything the next day or in two days at the latest.  Pretty good.  Anyway, I figure I’ll use an op amp to amplify the signal from LED photosensors like Tanya does.

Then I just need a circuit to enable the motors (through my SN754410 h-bridge) to turn over some voltage range, discharging from like 16V to 8V or something.  I don’t know the first thing about how to do that, but hopefully can adjust the voltage regulators I got to use hysteresis or whatever to get that effect.  I’ll try using various motors to operate it at various voltages to check the performance.

I’m thinking I can use a 74HCT245 and some capacitors to make a simple/easy charge pump so the tracker can run intermittently off a tiny, low voltage solar cell.  I figure with a duty cycle of 2.5%, I should be able to run the motors for 12 minutes of an 8-hour sunny day.  If I use my 0.3W solar cell, that comes to over 100 ft-lbs (maybe lift 20 lbs 5 feet, eh?) of energy per day, with power used at 12W when on.  Super-rough numbers, but makes some sense.  It’ll be fun to experiment.

Of course I need to build a thing to mount whatever it is that will be pointed toward the sun (like a tripod/pole, hinges, and some the threaded rod and bolts as a linear actuator).

Here I restate the goal of this endeavor both to motivate myself and prevent this from becoming a mere time and resource-wasting selfish hobby:

I am in the research and development phase of a project to identify products that we can manufacture locally for profit or to offset local cost of living/business.  The goal is economic development in the form of local jobs, influx of money from outside our community,  or reduction in expenses for locals.  The project has the side benefits of being extremely fun and potentially helping out my family in the same way I hope to help out my community.

We’ll see how it goes, eh?