Team Members

Marcus Mlack, Stephen Morton, Matthew Poole, Kristin Santaniello, Jenna Scott, Joshua Watts


Our heliostat design emphasizes modularity while integrating components onto two unified axes of motion. These shared axes necessitate fewer motors, decreasing material costs for each heliostat. Other design choices, such as manufacturing components out of sheet metal, further reduce the overall price, manufacturing time, and assembly time of each unit. Each module maneuvers four heliostats using a long, rectangular rod that acts as a rack in a rack and pinion system. A single DC motor with an attached spur gear catches with the teeth of the rod, moving it along a single axis. Four evenly spaced linkages attach connecting rods to the long rod on one end and are hinged at the leading edges of mirrors. The linkages precisely control mirror pitch by pulling the mirrors in the direction of the rod’s displacement. To allow for rotational tracking of the sun’s position, each heliostat’s module base functions as a motorized Lazy Suzan. A motor-propelled spur gear is mated to the inlaid internal gear of a circular plate. The heliostat base holds all of the heliostats mounts to the circular plate. Moreover, as the circular plate rotates, the entire system of mirrors is rotated about the vertical axis. The module base support structure is comprised of flanged, 16-gauge sheet metal to further reduce cost and weight. Exposed areas of the structure were covered with plastic casing to protect internal components and increase the operational lifetime of each heliostat. The cost of manufacturing and assembly for each heliostat totals $283.

Pitch Video


Final Video