PROJECTS: SOLAR TRACKER
4. ADD THE PV CELL AND SHADE
4a. Apply a dab of silicone caulking where the wires exit the photovoltaic cell, for strain relief.
4b. On the boom, install velcro tape from the epoxied nut to
the closest end. Stick a mating piece of velcro to the back of the
PV cell, at the end with the wires.
4c. Solder a 20" length of red wire between the PV cell’s red
lead and the motor’s negative terminal lead. Solder a 20" length
of black wire from the cell’s black lead to the motor’s positive
lead (which is also black). Twist the stripped wire ends together
without soldering them, and wrap the connections with electrical
tape, but don’t consider them final; you may have to swap the
motor connections later.
4d. For the shade, cut a 3¾"× 8¾" rectangle from the aluminum sheet and file the edges smooth.
4e. Cut and drill the shade following the diagram shown below.
(Download the template at
Drill the ¼" hole and cut a saw-blade’s-width notch as shown,
then bend the crosshatched portion back 45° (bend it the opposite direction for Southern Hemisphere use). This notch should
fit over one edge of the boom to help anchor the shade.
4f. Test-assemble the boom, cell, and shade. Velcro the PV cell
to the end of the boom, then fasten the coupling screw and nut
to the boom through the mounting hole in the shade. The shade
should sit tilted over the PV cell, and the cell’s wires should
thread through the slot in the boom.
108 Make: Volume
SOLAR TRACKER SHADE