Alexandra Gaskins, Cassidy Hoag, Steven Jenkins, Matthew Maloney, Pedro Marcano, Cameron Nann, Davis Whitfield
Abstract : The overall goal when designing the Solaris Heliostat was to maximize cost efficiency. Lower costs allow for higher manufacturability, which in turn allows for more solar energy to be collected. The actuation subsystem consists of two low-weight PLA planetary gear systems with 5:1 gear ratios that decrease the torque output of two Nema-17 stepper motors (1.8 degrees per step) for enhanced controllability. Low-cost bearings were added to the gear system to reduce their friction while rotating; this reduced the risk of the gear teeth breaking by reducing the torque felt throughout the system. The structure consisted of two PETG elbow pieces based on nozzles bent at 45-degree angles that house the motors and gear systems. Making these parts internal protects the gears, motors, and wiring from weather conditions such as rain and high winds; the elbow pieces were optimized by adding BBs within the structural components to reduce friction between sliding plastic components. The final cost-optimization design added to the heliostat was ease of access to each part with detachable panels. This inclusion was necessary as vibrations caused by movement could twist the wires or allow them to interfere with gear system, so maintenance on the internal components is nonproblematic. In the event that a piece of the heliostat were to break, the ease of access aspect would reduce the time the heliostat was out of commission.