Two-Axis Solar Tracker

Solar panels are an amazing piece of engineering, but without exactly the right conditions they can be pretty fickle. One of the most important conditions is that the panel be pointed at the sun, and precise aiming of the panel can be done with a solar tracker. Solar trackers can improve the energy harvesting ability of a solar panel by a substantial margin, and now [Jay] has a two-axis tracker that is also portable.

The core of the project is a Raspberry Pi, chosen after [Jay] found that an Arduino didn’t have enough memory for all of the functionality that he wanted. The Pi and the motor control electronics were stuffed into a Pelican case for weatherproofing. The actual solar tracking is done entirely in software, only requiring a latitude and longitude in order to know where the sun is. This is much easier (and cheaper) than relying on GPS or an optical system for information about the location of the sun.

Be sure to check out the video below of the solar tracker in action. Even without the panel (or the sun, for that matter) the tracker is able to precisely locate the panel for maximum energy efficiency. And, if you’d like to get even MORE power from your solar panel, you should check out a maximum power point tracking system as well.

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Dell tablets support multitouch

Dell announced today that it will be offering a free multitouch upgrade to their Latitude XT tablets. You may remember Microsoft using an XT when they first demoed the multitouch features in Windows 7. Dell’s new firmware update will allow users to scroll, scale, and assign macros to other gestures. The laptop is using capacitive touch technology, so don’t expect accurate tracking of multiple fingertips. We’re happy to see a manufacturer take time to roll this out even if widespread adoption probably won’t happen. Now to see if some one can get it working with OSx86. As with most technology we encourage you to build it yourself.

[via Gizmodo]