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Canuckle Solar Tracker Version 1

by Wayne
Below are the plans for the Canuckle Solar Tracker #1 which is a single axis tracker designed for a small solar panel. Canuckles are designed to be cheap, easy to make and completely weather proof.
Building your own Canuckle Solar Tracker requires only a few basic tools and easily obtainable parts. First you need to locate a scrap printer. Inkjets are the most common but a old lazer printer will also have the required parts. The ABS fittings can be purchased at any hardware store. You will also need a small PCB hobby board which can be purchased at any electronics outlet. See the parts and tool list for details.

The first step is to disassemble the printer. You will be using the stepper motor, the stepper motor drive IC and a few capacitors, resistors and connectors, the power supply and the paper feed spur gear. The paper feed spur gear is pressed onto a shaft and can be removed using a socket and hammer. The IC, caps and resistors can be removed by carefully heating the solder side of the circuit board with a propane torch until the solder melts then tap the board on a hard surface and the parts will simply fall off.

Canuckle Bearing

To make a bearing cut a hole out of the top of a 2" deep cap** using a 1.5" hole saw making sure the cut is centered. Then cut the skirt of the cap to the required length as in the drawing.

solar tracker version 1 bearing

File flat the bottom of the square on the drain plug, drill a bolt hole. Place the drain plug into the cap as shown and attach the main gear with a bolt nut and lock washer.

Cut a .250" slice from the end of a 1.5" fitting collar which will be inserted and glued into the cap to hold the bottom drain plug in place and form the main bearing.

The remaining skirt piece of the deep cap is placed on the bottom of the cap top to form a collar around the main gear. The gear should extend about .125" above the edge of the collar. You will also need to cut out a piece of the collar to accomodate the stepper motor gear head and shaft.

Cut off about .5" of the square piece on the second drain plug.

Cut about .5" of the top of a 3" cap and center drill a 2" hole out of the top. This will be used to protect the top side of the main bearing. Glue this to the bottom of the second 1.5" drain plug collar. Then glue this assembly to the top of the main drain plug as shown.

Glue a small piece of ABS to the bottom of the cap and one piece on each side of the collar to form 180 degree rotation stops.

solar tracker capThe T-fitting will thread onto the second drain plug and will be used to extend the arms to hold the PV solar panel. The thread fitting can be secured by a small through hole and wood screw.

Using a 4" cap first drill a small offset hole then a large centered hole. Glue the assembly made above onto the 4" cap as shown being careful to center it as closely as possible to the large hole.

Place the stepper motor in position and drill pilot holes for the stepper motor collar screws. Drill a pilot hole for the tensioner o-ring screw and install the o-ring screw. Place the o-ring around the bottom of the stepper motor and secure the stepper motor screws but only tighten them lightly. Make sure the stepper motor gear meshes with the main gear and stretch the o-ring tensioner over the o-ring screw. Make sure there is no binding by rotating the T-fitting 360 degrees. Once you have tested the rotation make a small cover from ABS for the exposed stepper motor gear head and glue it in place.

Parts/Tools List for Canuckle (not including control circuit or mountings)

ABS 4" cap, 3" cap, 2" cap, 1.5" T-fitting with drain plug, 1.5" drain plug, o-ring from drian plug, 1.5" elbow, 1.5" pipe. ABS cement, .625" 1.5" and 2" hole saws, utility knife, screw driver, drill and drill bits, fine flat file.

Schematic Motor Control

This circuit controls a stepper motor with a L6221A IC. The power supply from a printer can be used to supply the DC voltages. Tie all the ground pins on the Centronics connector. We don not have any software to drive the stepper motor via the parallel port as of yet. There are several programmers working on the project so hopefully we will have some software in the near future.

Return to the Canuckle Solar Trackers
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