I received the first of the linear actuators that I want to use with my solar panels so that I can adjust them throught the day and the year to get the maximum amount of power from the available sun.
The actuator that I’m trying out first has 12 inches of movement and can push or pull up to 1500N or about 150Kg. Also, one of the reasons that I picked it is that it is – or at least claims to be – IP65 rated. This means that it’s meant to be resistant to dust and water sprayed onto it. It’s not submersible, but since we’re about 750m high, I think that lack of solar panel adjustment will be the least of our problems if we get a flood!
Over the next few days, I’m going to make a simple speed and directional controller. This will allow me to slowly accelarate the actuator and then reduce it’s speed gradually. This might seem to be a bit anal considering that the rate of movement is only about 5mm per second. However, when it’s under load and moving around 200 Kg of panels, I want to reduce any potential whiplash in the reduction gearing which you can hear whining in the video, as this will help to reduce wear and tear and, with a bit of luck and a tail wind, will increase the useful life of the actuator.
Here’s a video of it in action –