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1.1. Background

1.1.1. Energy crisis and role of renewable energy

The energy is required for various purposes such as transportation, lighting and
industries. Presently, non-renewable energy source such as fossil fuel and renewable
energy source like hydropower are used to meet the energy requirement. Higher needs
and excess demand cause the production of mechanical tools, equipments and machines
to increase sophisticatedly causing rapid increase in the industrialization process thus
results in what called energy crisis. The point of concern is that the use of this limited
fossil fuel which is not sufficiently available with the geography, if deteriorated; the
alternative option has to be investigated. Moreover, today's climate of growing energy
needs and increasing environmental concern, alternatives to the use of non-renewable and
polluting fossil fuels have to be investigated.

The alternative sources of energy in use are biomass, nuclear power and solar power. As
biomass cannot supply larger energy demand, nuclear power generates harmful
radioactive rays; solar power is a potential solution and best options for the production of
real, clean and non-hazardous natural energy. Solar energy is naturally distributed
throughout the earth surface. More solar energy hits the earth in one hour than all the
energy the world consumes in a year. So to solve the energy crisis the solar power could
be the best option.

The solar energy is commonly applicable for the purpose of heating and generation of

1.1.2. Earth movement

Earth Rotation and Revolution

Earth rotation refers to the spinning of our planet on its axis. Because of rotation, the
Earth's surface moves at the equator at a speed of about 467 m per second or slightly over
1675 km per hour.

Figure 1.1: The movement of the Earth about its axis

One rotation takes exactly twenty-four hours and is called a mean solar day. The Earth’s
rotation is responsible for the daily cycles of day and night. At any one moment in time,
one half of the Earth is in sunlight, while the other half is in darkness. The edge dividing
the daylight from night is called the circle of illumination. The Earth’s rotation also
creates the apparent movement of the Sun across the horizon.

Figure 1.2: Annual change in the position of the Earth in its revolution.

The movement of the Earth around the Sun is called an Earth revolution. This celestial
motion takes 365.26 days to complete one cycle. Further, the Earth's orbit around the Sun
is not circular, but oval or elliptical (see Figure 1.2). An elliptical orbit causes the Earth's
distance from the Sun to vary over a year. Yet, this phenomenon is not responsible for the
Earth’s seasons. This variation in the distance from the Sun causes the amount of solar
radiation received by the Earth to annually vary by about 6%. Figure 1.2 illustrates the
positions in the Earth’s revolution where it is closest and farthest from the Sun. On
January 3, perihelion, the Earth is closest to the Sun (147.3 million km). The Earth is
farthest from the Sun on July 4, or aphelion (152.1 million km). The average distance of
the Earth from the Sun over a one-year period is about 149.6 million km.

1.2. Presently used solar panel mechanism

Due to the nature of solar energy, two components are required to have a functional solar
energy generator. These two components are a collector and a storage unit. The collector
simply collects the radiation that falls on it and converts a fraction of it to other forms of
energy (either electricity and heat or heat alone). The storage unit is required because of
the non-constant nature of solar energy; at certain times only a very small amount of
radiation will be received. At night or during heavy cloud cover, for example, the amount

of energy produced by the collector will be quite small. The storage unit can hold the
excess energy produced during the periods of maximum productivity, and release it when
the productivity drops. In practice, a backup power supply is usually added, too, for the
situations when the amount of energy required is greater than both what is being
produced and what is stored in the container.

Methods of collecting and storing solar energy vary depending on the uses planned for
the solar generator. In general, there are three types of collectors and many forms of
storage units. The three types of collectors are flat-plate collectors, focusing collectors,
and passive collectors.

Flat-plate collectors are more commonly used type of collector today. They are arrays of
solar panels arranged in a simple plane.

Focusing collectors are essentially flat-plane collectors with optical devices arranged to
maximize the radiation falling on the focus of the collector.

Passive collectors are completely different from the other two types of collectors. The
passive collectors absorb radiation and convert it to heat naturally, without being
designed and built to do so. All objects have this property to some extent, but only some
objects (like walls) will be able to produce enough heat to make it worthwhile.

People use energy for many things, but a few general tasks consume most of the energy.
These tasks include transportation, heating, cooling, and the generation of electricity.
Solar energy can be applied to all four of these tasks with different levels of success.

1.3 Existing system of solar tracker

Global warming has increased the demand and request for green energy produced by
renewable sources like wind power, solar power, hydroelectricity and biomass. Producing
electricity by using solar cells (also called photovoltaic) is a fast growing business. To
keep up with other green energies, the solar cell market has to be as efficient as possible
in order not to lose market shares on the global energy marketplace. There are three main
ways to make the solar cells more efficient, one is to develop the solar cell material and
make the panels even more efficient and another way is to optimize the output by

installing the solar panels on a tracking base that follows the sun and the last one is to use
the concentrator.

The end-user will prefer the tracking solution rather than a fixed ground system to
increase their earnings because:

• The efficiency increases by 30-40%

• The space requirement for a solar park is reduced, and they keep the same output

• The return of the investment timeline is reduced

Tracking the sun from east in the morning to west in the evening will increase the
efficiency of the solar panel by 20-62% depending on position. Near to equator, it will
have the highest benefit of tracking the sun. Increased efficiency will give the owner of
the solar panel (producer of energy) more money as the payment is based on how much
energy the panel can produce.

Actually, a solar tracker is a device for orienting a solar photovoltaic panel or

concentrating solar reflector or lens toward the sun. The sun's position in the sky varies
both with the seasons (elevation) and time of day as the sun moves across the sky. Solar
powered equipment works best when pointed at or near the sun, so a solar tracker can
increase the effectiveness of such equipment over any fixed position, at the cost of
additional system complexity. There are many types of solar trackers, of varying costs,
sophistication, and performance.

The required accuracy of the solar tracker depends on the application. Concentrators,
especially in solar cell applications, require a high degree of accuracy to ensure that the
concentrated sunlight is directed precisely to the powered device, which is at (or near) the
focal point of the reflector or lens.

Non-concentrating applications require less accuracy, and many work without any
tracking at all. However, tracking can substantially improve both the amount of total
power produced by a system and that produced during critical system demand periods.
The use of trackers in non-concentrating applications is usually an engineering decision

based on economics. Compared to photovoltaic, trackers can be inexpensive. This makes

them especially effective for photovoltaic systems using high-efficiency (and thus
expensive) panels.

1.3.1. Tracker mount types

Solar trackers may be single axis or dual axis. Single axis trackers usually use a polar
mount for maximum solar efficiency. Single axis trackers will usually have a manual
elevation (axis tilt) adjustment on a second axis which is adjusted on regular intervals
throughout the year. Compared to a fixed mount, a single axis tracker increases annual
output by approximately 30% and a dual axis tracker an additional 6%.


Polar trackers have one axis aligned to be roughly parallel to the axis of rotation of the
earth around the north and south poles-- hence the name polar. Single axis tracking is
often used when combined with time-of-use metering, since strong afternoon
performance is particularly desirable for grid-tied photovoltaic systems, as production at
this time will match the peak demand time for summer season air-conditioning. A fixed
system oriented to optimize this limited time performance will have a relatively low
annual production. The polar axis should be angled towards due north, and the angle
between this axis and the vertical should be equal to latitude.

Such trackers may also be referred to as a "single-axis tracker", because only one drive
mechanism is needed for daily operation.

Horizontal axle

Single axis horizontal trackers may be oriented by either passive or active mechanisms,
depending upon manufacturer. In these, a long horizontal tube is supported on bearings
mounted upon pylons or frames. The axis of the tube is on a North-South line. Panels are
mounted upon the tube, and the tube will rotate on its axis to track the apparent motion of
the sun through the day. Since these do not tilt toward the equator they are not especially
effective during winter mid day, but add a substantial amount of productivity during the
spring and summer seasons when the solar path is high in the sky.

Vertical axle

A single axis tracker may be constructed that pivots only about a vertical axle, with the
panels either vertical, at a fixed, adjustable, or tracked elevation angle. Such trackers with
fixed or (seasonably) adjustable angles are suitable for high latitudes, where the apparent
solar path is not especially high, but which leads to long days in summer, with the sun
traveling through a long arc.


A type of mounting that supports the weight of the solar tracker and allows it to move in
two directions to locate a specific target. One axis of support is vertical (called the
altitude) and allows the device to move up and down. The other axis is horizontal (called
the azimuth) and allows the device to swing in a circle parallel to the ground. This makes
it easy to position the device: swing it around in a circle and then lift it to the target.
However, tracking an object as the Earth turns is more complicated. The device needs to
be adjusted in both directions while tracking, which requires a computer or
microcontroller to control the device.

Two-axis mount

Restricted to active trackers, this mount is also becoming popular owing to its structural
simplicity and compact dimensions. One axis is a vertical pivot shaft or horizontal ring
mount that allows the device to be swung to a compass point. The second axis is a
horizontal elevation pivot mounted upon the azimuth platform. By using combinations of
the two axes, any location in the upward hemisphere may be pointed. Such systems may
be operated under computer control according to the expected solar orientation, or may
use a tracking sensor to control motor drives that orient the panels toward the sun.

1.3.2. Drive types Electronic Drive Type

Sensor based electronic trackers


Sensor based electronic trackers use motors and gear trains to direct the tracker as
commanded by an electronic controller responding to the solar direction.

Light-sensing trackers typically have photo sensors, such as photodiodes, configured

differentially so that they output a null when receiving the same light flux. Mechanically,
they should be omni-directional and apart.

Since the motors consume energy, one wants to use them only as necessary. So instead of
a continuous motion, it is moved in discrete steps. Also, if the light is below some
threshold there would not be enough power generated to warrant reorientation. This is
also true when there is not enough difference in light level from one direction to another,
such as when clouds are passing overhead. Consideration must be made to keep the
tracker from wasting energy during cloudy periods.

Chronological tracker

A chronological tracker counteracts the Earth's rotation by turning at an equal rate as the
earth, but in the opposite direction. Actually the rates aren't quite equal, because as the
earth goes around the sun, the position of the sun changes with respect to the earth by
360° every year or 365.24 days. A chronological tracker is a very simple yet potentially a
very accurate solar tracker specifically for use with a polar mount. The drive method may
be as simple as a gear motor that rotates at a very slow average rate of one revolution per
day (15 degrees per hour). In theory the tracker may rotate completely, assuming there is
enough clearance for a complete rotation, and assuming that twisting wires are not an
issue, such as with a solar concentrator or the tracker may be reset each day to avoid
these issues. Alternatively, an electronic controller may be used, with a real time clock
that is used to infer the "solar time" (hour angle). Tracking adjustments can be made
incrementally or continuously. Mechanical drive type

Mechanical trackers use a low boiling point compressed gas fluid that is driven to one
side or the other (by solar heat creating gas pressure) to cause the tracker to move in
response to an imbalance. As this is a non-precision orientation it is unsuitable for certain

types of concentrating photovoltaic collectors but works fine for common PV panel
types. Reflectors are used to reflect early morning sunlight to heat the panel and tilt it
toward the sun, which can take nearly an hour.

1.4. Introduction to solar efficiency maximizer with sun path tracking system.

Solar efficiency maximizer with sun path tracking is a special type of system for tracking
the position of the sun as it moves. It uses dual axis tracking system. For sensing the
movement of sun, arrays of photodiodes are used with various positioning. The compared
intensity is fed to microcontroller in digital format which is then decided by the program
on microcontroller to rotate the panel.

1.4.1. Feature of solar efficiency maximize with sun path tracking

• Increase Solar Panel Output

• Maximize Power per unit Area

• Provide Educational Demonstration of Renewable Energy

• Useful for surveying for placement of large solar panels


Our project team members felt the necessity of field visit for the purpose of inspecting
the feasibility of our project. During this process, a supervisor of ours suggested us to
make a study on the related topic and accordingly a visit was made to the Bright Energy
Pvt. Ltd, Mahankal and Himchuli Energy Pvt. Ltd., Balaju.

2.1. Existing system

We focused our study on the equipments and technology used in the company for sale
which was most suitable to our work. We found a PV panel system in application. The
PV panel system used there was a fixed flat panel system i.e. it could not follow the path
of the sun.

The panel worked on the principle of photoelectric effect. When light falls on the solar
cell it converts the light to electricity .The amount of light effect the production of
electricity. The energy produced by the panel was directly proportional to the intensity
and amount of light it receives. The panel presently used could not utilize the solar power
properly and we believed that the efficiency of the panel could be improved. There is a
chance of improving the total output of the system with some modification.

2.2. Analysis and improvement

The PV panel system for the energy generation purpose was less efficient. Due to energy
crisis there is more energy demand so we were compelled to think the way to improve the
efficiency of the system so that more energy could be collected without adding extra PV
panel, since PV panel are expensive. Among various solutions, like using concentrator,
using mechanical tracker and other solutions, we prefer to use dual axis solar tracker
that efficiently increase the output performance.

From the analysis we found that the output of solar panel could be increased 20% to 60%
of the total output compared to fixed panel. The following graph shows the analysis that
we did.

Figure 2.1 Power curve of solar tracker


We also did the cost analysis, which showed that the price of tracking system was
negligible compared to costly solar panel .The panel cost 5 or more times expensive than
the tracking system. So adding a tracking system was beneficial. The imported tracking
system is costly .We designed it using sustainable technology.

2.3. Decision

Visit to the two companies and the study of the system based there was influencing factor
for our project team members to act immediately on the project. The use of powerful
stepper motors with smooth gear system and the light sensors in the solar panel could
make same process and technology efficient and successful.

We concluded that dual axis tracking system with light sensor will be the best solution to
implement for the purpose of tracking sun path.


3.1. General block diagram

The light sensors, comparator and microcontroller are the major components for the
electronic design.

Figure 3.1: General Block Diagram

The figure 3.1 shows the general block diagram of the device. The first component in the
diagram is the transducer. Transducer detects the varying intensity of Sun light. The
outputs of the transducer are fed to comparator which gives certain logic to the
microcontroller. Microcontroller then, processes the logic from the comparator, as per the
programs installed to it. Finally, the processed logic from the microcontroller is used to
rotate the motors which in turn rotate the Solar Panel.

Array of Photo
LM 324
3.2. Detail block diagram


Stepper ULN ller
motor 1 2003
panel Stepper ULN
motor 2 2003

Figure 3.2 Detail Block Diagram

Array of photo diodes: These array acts as transducer which senses the light from the
sun. It is the main module that provides the logic for the microcontroller to decide which
way the motor should be driven. The array was placed with special mechanism which
could limit the exposure to light at certain times .The light from one of the four directions
fall at one sensor at one time except at noon. There are total six photodiode that are
implemented here. Four are placed at the reference ground and two are moving with the

Comparator (LM 324): The comparator was used to analyze the output from the
sensor .The photodiode act as a high resistance which drops when light falls and change
the current flow in resistor which changes the input to comparator. The comparator
compares the two input to it and gives the output with respect to the reference input.

Microcontroller: It is the main deciding unit that directs the output according to input.
The program in it checks the input and provides the logic to rotate or stop the motor .It
can also monitor the movement according to the information from the sensor.

Driver (ULN 2003): The stepper motor cannot be directly driven by microcontroller as
the output current from microcontroller is around 1mA to 2 mA and voltage is 5V.This
current is enough to trigger the Darlington array pairs which can create high voltage and

current from another source. The ULN 2003 is suitable Darlington array pair that drives
the stepper motor.

Stepper Motor: The stepper motor converts the electrical signal from the
microcontroller to mechanical movement which moves the panel. The stepper motor is
the digital version of the motor. It moves in discrete steps which is more accurate than
other motor. The movement of panel needs precise steps and it is provided by the motion
of stepper motor. The movement of panel changes the input to microcontroller and the
motion is adjusted so as to track the sun. Two stepper motor are used one for horizontal
and another vertical movement.


4.1. Electronics component

4.1.1. Power module Regulator

A voltage regulator is a circuit that supplies a constant voltage regardless of the changes
in load current. A voltage can provide positive and negative output voltage. There are
fixed output voltage regulators, adjustable output voltage regulators, switching regulators
and special regulators.

The typical performance for voltage regulators are line regulation, load regulation,
temperature stability, and ripple rejection. Line or input regulation is defined as the
change in the output voltage for a change in input voltage and usually expressed as
percentage of output voltageV0. Temperature stability is the change in output voltage for
a change in temperature and is expressed as part per million (ppm/c). Ripple reflection is
a measure of regulator’s ability to reject ripple voltages. It is usually expressed in decibel.
Smaller the values of line regulation, Load regulation and temperature stability, the better
the regulator. Diode

The first electronic device be introduced is the diode. It is the simplest of semiconductors
but play a very vital role in the electronic systems, with its characteristics that closely
match those of a simple switch. It will appear in a range of applications, extending from
the simple to the very complex. In addition to the details of its constructions and
characteristics, the very important data and graphics to be found on specifications sheets
will also be converted to ensure an understanding of the terminology employed and to
demonstrate the wealth of information typically available from manufactures.

Ideally, a diode will conduct current in the direction define by arrow in the symbol and
act like an open circuit to any attempt to establish current in the opposite direction. The
characteristics of an ideal diode are those of a switch that can conduct current in only one

Semiconductor diode:

The semiconductor diodes are those types of the diodes that is formed by simply bringing
the n-type and p-type materials together. At the instant the two materials are joined the
electrons and holes in the region of the junction will combine resulting in a lack of
carriers in the region near the junction. The region of uncovered positive and negative
ions is called the depletion region due to the depletion of carriers in region. Lead acid battery

Lead acid battery is a widely used chargeable battery where high values of load current
are necessary, the lead-acid cell is the type most commonly used. Lead acid battery is
also found as “Wet Cell” and “Dry Cell” or “Maintenance free Cell”. But both use the
same basic principles and components.

As we know that battery contains of number of cells and each cell consists of:

1. Electrodes

2. Separations and

3. Electrolyte.

4.1.2. System module

17 Microcontroller (AT89C51)

The AT89C51 is a low-power, wide-voltage range, high-performance CMOS 8-bit

microcomputer with 8K bytes of Downloadable Flash programmable and erasable read
only memory.

The device is manufactured using Atmel’s high density nonvolatile memory technology
and is compatible with the industry standard MCS51 instruction set and pin out. The on-
chip Downloadable Flash allows the program memory to be reprogrammed in-system
through an SPI serial interface or by a conventional nonvolatile memory programmer. By
combining a versatile 8-bit CPU with Downloadable Flash on a monolithic chip, the
Atmel AT89C51 is a powerful microcomputer which provides a highly flexible and cost
effective solution to many embedded control applications.

The AT89C51 provides the following standard features: 4Kbytes of Flash, 128 bytes of
RAM, 32 I/O lines, two 16-bit timer/counters, a five vector two-level interrupt

a full duplex serial port, on-chip oscillator and clock circuitry. In addition, the AT89C51
is designed with static logic for operation down to zero frequency and supports two
software selectable power saving modes. The Idle Mode stops the CPU while allowing
the RAM, timer/counters, serial port and interrupt system to continue functioning. The
Power-down Mode saves the RAM contents but freezes the oscillator disabling all other
chip functions until the next

The Downloadable Flash can be changed a single byte at a time and is accessible through
the SPI serial interface. Holding RESET active forces the SPI bus into a serial
programming interface and allows the program memory to be written to or read from
unless Lock Bit 2 has been activated.

Pin Configuration:

Figure 4.3: Pin Configuration of AT89C51

Pin Description:

This is a 40 pin chip. The supply voltage is +5V. This has 32 I/O lines i.e., 4 ports. Port 0
is an 8-bit open-drain bi-directional I/O port. When 1s are written to port 0 pins, the pins
can be used as high-impedance inputs. Port 0 may also be configured to be the
multiplexed low-order address/data bus during accesses to external program and data
memory. Port 1 is an 8-bit bi-directional I/O port with internal pull-ups. When 1s are
written to Port 1 pins they are pulled high by the internal pull-ups and can be used as
inputs. As inputs, Port 1 pins that are externally being pulled low will source current
because of the internal pull-ups. Port 2 is an 8-bit bi-directional I/O port with internal
pull-ups. When 1s are written to Port 2 pins they are pulled high by the internal pull-ups
and can be used as inputs. Port 3 is an 8-bit bi-directional I/O port with internal pull-ups.
When 1s are written to Port 3 pins they are pulled high by the internal pull-ups and can be
used as inputs. Port 3 also serves the functions of various special feature of the AT89C51.

A high on the Reset (RST) input pin for two machine cycles while the oscillator is
running resets the device, i.e., program counter will be loaded with #00h program
execution address. Pin 30 is Address Latch Enable outputs pulses for latching the low
byte of the address during accesses to external memory. In normal operation ALE is
emitted at a constant rate of 1/6 the oscillator frequency, and may be used for external
timing or clocking purposes. Pin 29, Program Store Enable is the read strobe to external

program memory. When the AT89C51 is executing code from external program memory,
PSEN, active low, is activated twice each machine cycle, except that two PSEN
activations are skipped during each access to external data memory. Pin 31 is External
Access Enable. EA must be strapped to GND in order to enable the device to fetch code
from external program memory locations starting at 0000H up to FFFFH. However, if
lock bit 1 is programmed, EA will be internally latched on reset. EA should be strapped
to VCC for internal program executions. This pin also receives the 12-volt programming
enable voltage (V PP) during Flash programming, for parts that require 12-volt VPP.
XTAL1 is the input to the inverting oscillator amplifier and inputs to the internal clock
operating circuit. XTAL2 is the output from the inverting oscillator amplifier. Comparator

In order to control the machines in electronics factory, medical instruments, or

automobiles with microcomputers, we need to determine the values of variables such as
pressure, temperature, and flow. There are usually several steps in getting electrical
signals compared to one another which gives the values of these variables and convert it
into suitable logic as digital signals so that the microcomputer can work with.

The first step involves a sensor, which converts the physical pressure, temperature, or
other variable to a proportional voltage or current. The electrical signals from most
sensors are quite small, so they must next be amplified, filtered or compared. This is
usually done with some type of operational amplifier (op-amp) circuit. LM 324

The LM324 series consists of four independent, high gain; internally frequency
compensated operational amplifiers which are designed specifically to operate from a
single power supply over a wide range of voltages. Operation from split power supplies is
also possible and the low power supply current drain is independent of the magnitude of
the power supply voltage.

Figure 4.4. Connection Diagram of LM324

Application areas include transducer amplifiers, DC gain blocks and all the conventional
op amp circuits which now can be more easily implemented in single power supply
systems. For example, the LM324 series can be directly operated off of the standard +5V
power supply voltage which is used in digital systems and will easily provide the required
interface electronics without requiring the additional ±15V power supplies.

Its feature includes:

• Internally frequency compensated for unity gain

• Large DC voltage gain 100 dB

• Wide bandwidth (unity gain) 1 MHz (temperature compensated)

• Wide power supply range: Single supply 3V to 32V or dual supplies ±1.5V to ±16V

• Very low supply current drain (700 µA)-essentially independent of supply voltage

• Low input biasing current 45 nA (temperature compensated)

• Low input offset voltage 2 mV and offset current: 5 nA

• Input common-mode voltage range includes ground

• Differential input voltage range equal to the power supply voltage

• Large output voltage swing 0V to V+ - 1.5V

21 Photo diode

Photodiodes are semiconductor light sensors that generate a current or voltage when the
P-N junction in the semiconductor is illuminated by light. The term photodiode can be
broadly defined to include even solar batteries, but it usually refers to sensors used to
detect the intensity of light. Photodiodes can be classified by function and construction as

1. Photodiode type

2. PN photodiode

3. PIN photodiode

4. Schottky type photodiode

5. APD

All of these types provide the following features and are widely used for the detection of
the intensity, position, color and presence of light.

Features of photodiode:

• Excellent linearity with respect to incident light

• Low noise

• Wide spectral response

• Mechanically rugged

• Compact and lightweight

• Long life

Principle of operation

Figure 4.5 shows a cross section of a photodiode. The P-layer material at the active
surface and the N material at the substrate form a PN junction which operates as a
photoelectric converter. The usual P-layer for a Si-photodiode is formed by selective
diffusion of boron, to a thickness of approximately 1 µm or less and the neutral region at
the junction between the P- and N-layers is known as the depletion layer. By controlling
the thickness of the outer P-layer, substrate N-layer and bottom N+-layer as well as the
doping concentration, the spectral response and frequency response can be controlled.
When light strikes a photodiode, the electron within the crystal structure becomes
stimulated. If the light energy is greater than the band gap energy E.g., the electrons are
pulled up into the conduction band, leaving holes in their place in the valence band. (See
Figure 4.6) These electron-hole pairs occur throughout the P-layer, depletion layer and N-
layer materials. In the depletion layer the electric field accelerates these electrons toward
the N-layer and the holes toward the P-layer. Of the electron-hole pairs generated in the
N-layer, the electrons, along with electrons that have arrived from the P-layer, are left in
the N-layer conduction band. The holes at this time are being diffused through the N-
layer up to the depletion layer while being accelerated, and collected in the P-layer
valence band. In this manner, electron-hole pairs which are generated in proportion to the
amount of incident light are collected in the N- and P-layers. This results in a positive
charge in the P-layer and a negative charge in the N-layer. If an external circuit is
connected between the P- and N-layers, electrons will flow away from the N-layer, and
holes will flow away from the P-layer toward the opposite respective electrodes. These
electrons and holes generating a current flow in a semiconductor are called the carriers.

Figure 4.5. Photodiode cross section

Figure 4.6. Photodiode P-N junction state

Equivalent circuit

An equivalent circuit of a photodiode is shown in Figure 4.7.

Figure 4.7. Photodiode equivalent circuit

IL: Current generated by the incident light (proportional to the amount of light)

ID: Diode current

Cj: Junction capacitance

Rsh: Shunt resistance

Rs: Series resistance

I’: Shunt resistance current

VD: Voltage across the diode

Io: Output current

Vo: Output voltage Darlington array pair

Darlington transistor (Darlington pair) is a compound structure consisting of two bipolar

transistors (either integrated or separated devices) connected in such a way that the
current amplified by the first transistor is amplified further by the second one. This
configuration gives a much higher current gain than each transistor taken separately and,
in the case of integrated devices, can take less space than two individual transistors
because they can use a shared collector. We had to use eight outputs to drive the stepper
motor from the microcontroller which required eight Darlington pairs. So we preferred to
use ULN2003. ULN 2003


Figure 4.8. A Driver of ULN 2003 Figure 4.9. Pin Configuration

The ULN2003 is a monolithic high voltage and high current Darlington transistor arrays.
It consists of seven NPN Darlington pairs that feature high-voltage outputs with
common-cathode clamp diode for switching inductive loads. The collector-current rating
of a single Darlington pair is 500mA. The Darlington pairs may be paralleled for higher
current capability.

Applications include relay drivers, hammer drivers, lamp drivers, display drivers (LED
gas discharge), line drivers, and logic buffers. The ULN2003 has a 2.7k series base
resistor for each Darlington pair for operation directly with TTL or 5V CMOS devices.


• 500mA rated collector current(Single output)

• High-voltage outputs: 50V

• Inputs compatible with various types of logic.

• Relay or motor driver application

4.2. Mechanical structure


The mechanical components used in design are:

• Solar Panel

• Aluminum and Iron bar

• Stepper Motor

• Nuts and Bolts

• Wheels

Figure.4.10. Mechanical design

We have used two stepper motors for the movement of the solar panel; one for vertical
movement and another for horizontal movement.

The solar Panel is used for making 'stand alone device'. The solar Panel is faced directly
towards the sun and it is attached to the stepper motor to track the vertical motion of the
Sun. We have used the aluminum metal bar to support the Panel because it is being cheap
and light weight. The basic structure of the design is made using aluminum metal as
frame and metal bars with ply-wood as base. The load of the panel is transferred to the
four wheels which play on their axis under the movement of the stepper motor.

4.3. Electromechanical component

4.3.1. Stepper motor

Stepper motors are commonly used for precision positioning control applications. All
stepper motors possess five common characteristics which make them ideal for this
application. Namely, they are brushless, load independent; have open loop positioning
capability, good holding torque, and excellent response characteristics.

There are three types of stepper motors:

1. Permanent magnet,

2. Variable reluctance and

3. Hybrid.

The arrangement of windings on the stator is the main distinguishing factor between the
three types. Permanent magnet motors may be wound either with unipolar or bipolar

The tracker uses a unipolar step motor.

As such, discussion will be limited to this type of stepper motor. Unipolar motors have
two windings with each having a center tap as shown in Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11. Unipolar Stepper Motor Coils

The center taps are connected to a positive voltage while the coil ends are alternately
grounded to cause a reversal of the field direction in that winding. Figure 4.11. shows a
4-phase motor. The number of phases is equal to two times the number of coils. The
motor is rotated by applying power to the windings in a sequence as shown in table 4.1;

Step Winding Winding Winding Winding

1 1 0 0 1
# 1a 2a 1b 2b
2 1 1 0 0
3 0 1 1 0
4 0 0 1 1
Table 4.1. Standard Drive Sequence

The motor may also be half-stepped. Half-stepping is achieved by first energizing one
coil, then two coils, then one coil, etc., in a sequence as shown in Table 4.2.

Step Winding Winding Winding Winding

1 1 0 0 1
# 1a 2a 1b 2b
2 1 0 0 0
3 1 1 0 0
4 0 1 0 0
5 0 1 1 0
6 0 0 1 0
7 0 0 1 1
8 0 0 0 1
Table 4.2. Half-Step Drive Sequence


5.1. Sensor design and placement

The tracking sensor is composed of four similar photodiode sensors, which are located at
the east, west, south, and north to detect the light source intensity in the four orientations.
Two sensors are placed in panels. At the sensor positions, brackets isolate the light from
other orientations to achieve a wide-angle search and quickly determine the sun’s
position .The four sensors are divided into two groups, east/west and north/south. In the
east/west group, the east and west sensors compare the intensity of received light in the
east and west. If the light source intensity received by the sensors is different, the system
obtains signals from the sensor’s output voltage in the two orientations. The system then
determines which sensor received more intensive light based on the sensor output current
and voltage value interpreted by LM324 Op-Amp. The Op-Amp gives signals to
microcontroller. The system drives the step motor towards the orientation of this sensor.
If the output values of the two sensors are equal, the output difference is zero and the
motor’s drive voltage is zero, which means the system has tracked the current position of
the sun. The north/south sensors track the position of the sun similarly. Figure below
shows the sensor stereogram.

Figure 5.1. Sensor placement

5.1.1. Photodiode as a sensor


We used various sensors including LDR, which was not as sensitive as photodiode. The
photodiode conducts the current when light strikes it thus increasing the voltage drop in a
resistor connected in series with it. To utilize the photodiode, it is placed in series with a
resistor. A voltage divider is thus formed and the output at the junction is determined by
the two resistances (resistance for photodiode is very small compared to resistor). Figure
5.2 illustrates the circuit. In this project, it was desired for the output voltage to increase
as the light intensity increases, so the photodiode was placed in the top position.

Figure 5.2. Photodiode as a sensor

5.2. Stepper motor

Two unipolar stepper motor was chosen to position the tracking sensor. A stepper motor
was selected because of the precision it offers in positioning applications such as this.
Additionally, complicated drive circuitry is not required with the unipolar type motor.
The motor specifically used in the project was a 15-24 volt, 7.5 degree-per-step, 4 phase,
unipolar motor. It was decided to full-step the motor in order to provide positioning
accuracy. This results in 7.5 degrees-per-step. The drive sequence used in this design is
shown in table 4.1.

Lastly, a control circuit is needed to drive the stepper motor. The basic control circuit for
a unipolar stepper motor we used is ULN 2003 with inputs from microcontroller.

5.2.1. Vertical movement


The necessary of the panel for the vertical movement is due to the fact that the path of the
sun varies from north to south as per the change of the seasons. We can call it as the
seasonal movement of the Sun. This is because the revolving orbit of the earth towards
the Sun is elliptical. Here, again to increase the efficiency of the Panel. It is necessary to
move the Panel in vertical direction i.e. North-South direction. For it, we used stepper
motor for vertical movement of panels. The rotor moves the panel up to 180 degree

5.2.2. Horizontal movement

Natural rotation of the Sun is from east to west. It means, light intensity is maximum
towards east in the morning and its intensity shifted towards west as time passes. So, for
the greater efficiency, horizontal movement i.e. east-west rotation of the Panel is
necessary. For it, we have used another stepper motor for left-right movement of panel.
The rotor moves the panel up to 360 degree rotation.

5.3. Microcontroller and stepper motor interfacing

The stepper motor driver receives low-level signals from the microcontroller system and
converts them into electrical (step) pulses to run the motor. One step pulse is required for
every step of the motor shaft. In full step mode, with a standard 200 step motor, 200 step
pulses are required to complete one revolution. Speed and torque performance of the step
motor is based on the flow of current from the driver to the motor winding. The factor
that inhibits the flow, or limits the time it takes for the current to energize the winding, is
known as inductance. The lower the inductance, the faster the current gets to the winding
and the better the performance of the motor. To reduce inductance, most types of driver
circuits are designed to supply a greater amount of voltage than the motors rated voltage.

Microcontroller cannot directly drive the stepper motor. So we used Darlington pair for
high current and high voltage supply for stepper motor.


6.1. Language

Software has much application:

• Peripheral interface and drivers

• Operating system

• User interface

• Firmware

• Application Programs

These applications may use a variety of languages, such as assembly language, Basic, C,
C++, and Ada.

Assembly Language is peculiar to the processor architecture and closest to the hardware
in the processor; it can control individual bits and set register directly. At the same time,
it is most tedious to program because it requires careful attention to exacting details.
Assembly language is best suited for small, simple projects that need minimum memory,
highest execution speed, and precise control of peripheral devices.

High language languages such as Basic and C make programming easier than assembly
language and provide some measure of structure and readability. They are better for
large, more complex projects because they relieve the chore of handling low level details
and make programming faster and easier, but they require more memory and execute the
code more slowly.

Whatever language we choose, our main objective is to reduce complexity and improve
understanding of the software.

In this project we have adopt the assembly language as the programming language due to
the nature of the project. The main program that has been written in the assembly
programming has been compiled by the asm51 assembler.

6.2. Tools Used


We used a variety of computer applications to assist us in the design process. For our
high level assembly programming, we used the Keil and asm51 assembler. This software
allowed us to better understand how our code worked. Using a debugging tool known as
Simu51, we traced through every line of code and examined what was being loaded into
the microcontrollers’ registers and what was being stored into the microcontrollers’
memory. The combination of asm51 and Simu51 allowed us to troubleshoot what may
have been functioning unexpectedly in our code.

The HEX code for the microcontroller chip (AT89C51) was downloaded by the Easy
Atmel Programmer (AAP) software which was very easy to use and help a lot in testing
the program. For the designing of the PCB, we used Express PCB software which had
helped in the designing of the PCB board.

In addition, we employed Portel 99 SE and Auto CAD for the schematic drawing of the
circuit components to draw our various circuits such as power supply with backup power,
driving circuits and the main circuit that consists of the microcontroller. The utility of this
software application lies in the large number of components its library contains. We also
employed Microsoft Visio for planning out the basic framework for various aspects of
our design. For example, we mapped out our initial block diagrams for our project using
Visio. We created the flow charts and state diagram for our easy understanding with
Microsoft word, Visio and Flash MX.

Lastly, for the verification of the driving circuits and the other circuits such as regulated
power supply and the backup power, we have simulated the components in the
Electronics Workbench and Circuit Maker Software’s before the practical application in
our project.

6.3. Algorithm and flowchart

6.3.1. Algorithm

STEP 1: Read Input A, B, C, D from port P2;

STEP 2: If B=1 turn the vertical stepper motor to counter clock till B=0.

Hold the motor;

If A=1 turn the vertical stepper motor to counter clockwise till A=0.

Hold the motor;

If C=1 turn the horizontal stepper motor to left till C=0.

Hold the motor;

If D=1 turn the horizontal stepper motor to right till D=0.

Hold the START


STEP 3: Monitor the input again;

D all are same then hold the motor as it is;
else, go to STEP 2;D
A, B, C,





6.3.2. Flowchart ?













7.1. Testing Hardware

7.1.1. Microcontroller test

Much of the testing with this project involved debugging the micro controller code and
interfacing the micro controller with the wired hardware. The debugging entailed

positioning various print statements throughout the code to see exactly which op codes
were executed. Oftentimes, it was difficult to determine if a problem was rooted in the
hardware wiring or in the micro code. We used the computer monitor to explicitly output
the code executed and the oscilloscope to diagnose any potential hardware problems.

The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was making sure that each input was sent to the
right port of the micro controller. This was ensured with numerous compare statements
within the micro code. Therefore, if the micro controller read signals different than those
expected, this could be easily detected when the program was stuck in an endless loop
outputting error statements. Only when the micro controller recognized a valid input did
it jump to the next loop.

Making sure that the micro controller output the correct signals was also important. This
was verified using a number of test LEDs placed in appropriate locations within in our
circuit. If an LED was erroneously triggered, we first traced it back to the micro code to
see if any of the instructions interpreted the inputs incorrectly. Next, we looked at how
the particular component was wired and determined if it was behaving correctly based on
the signal sent to it by the micro controller. Ultimately, this was how many of our
debugging problems were rectified. As a result, interfacing the micro controller with the
rest of our circuit proved to be a long and iterative trial and error process.

7.1.2. Sensor module test

Testing sensor module was a tedious task. The sensor was placed in different places for
checking the proper alignment of the sensor such that microcontroller can detect the
change in intensity of the photodiode.

Photodiode are placed in four directions for the movement of Solar Panel in four
directions. First direction is East-West direction for the vertical rotation. For it, one photo
diode is faced to east and another to the west. The reference is taken from these
Photodiodes with the photodiode present in the moving panel. The test of the module
yielded detection of sun movement. But still it couldn’t detect in cloudy days.

While testing, we checked the voltage and current from photodiodes.


7.1.3. Stepper motor test

The testing of stepper motor was also a difficult task to perform. Stepper motors are
incremental actuators that can run in open-loop mode with sufficient accuracy. While
stepper motors have this advantage, it is necessary to address issues related to motor
instability, loss of synchronism and high vibration levels in the design of stepper motor
systems. Based on the application, a suitable driver chip is selected and an appropriate
stepping mode (full, half or micro step) is decided. A pre-determined sequence of step-
states is then used to energize the motor windings and thus cause successive steps of
motion. This step-state sequence table is stored in the memory of a microprocessor.
Based on step table information, the microprocessor sends digital signals to the driver
chip at appropriate times. Whenever the driver chip receives a trigger signal from the
microprocessor, transistors within the chip switch states such that the next step-state of
the motor gets energized. For peak performance it is necessary to generate an optimized
step sequence table.

7.1.4. Mechanical design test

We tested all the mechanical movements regarding the module. The design worked
perfectly while we test it manually. We placed the panel and vary its load; it worked fine
with the load up to 1kg for the panel. The roller and motor was greased for proper

7.1.5. Power module test

The regulator and Battery was tested using multimeter. The 7805 regulator produced the
required 5v for the microcontroller. But for stepper motor the specification was 24v
500mA but we placed 12v with 1A current so that the total power generated was same.

7.2. Testing software


The software was coded in assembly language. Assembly Language is peculiar to the
processor. Due to this fact we test the assembly code in a simulator for 8051.After the
result was achieved as desired, the code was burned converting into HEX file using
asm51 assembler. The Hex file was loaded into microcontroller AT89C51 and was tested
using led for output.


8.1. Expected result

According to our design principle, we set four sensors (east, west, south, and north) in the
sensor design and fixed the mechanism. If the four sensors are all on, the mechanism
balances. If any of them are off, the microcontroller compares its output with those on the

panel and determines which direction to rotate. It rotates the stepper motor which in turn
rotates the panel in XYZ axis. We kept this three dimension rotation so as to meet the
path of the sun in any season and any parts of the day. It was to moves 180 by 180

8.2. Real performance and analysis

Hardware and software portions of the project were separated into stages while
developing the overall system. The portions consisted of light detection, motor driving,
software tracking, and software enhancements. Building and testing smaller sections of
the system made the project more manageable and increased efficiency by decreasing
debugging time.

The project performs the required functions envisioned at the proposal phase. However,
while satisfied with software operation and simulation, less satisfaction was obtained
from two hardware areas.

First, there is a potential for problems with motor movement due to the motor torque
issues. This creates positioning error. The present workaround for this is to hold the
panel to its extreme in a way as to keep them so that it moves easily. Also the gear and
chain mechanism required for the mechanical purpose of rotating the panel was very
primitive This was the reason we were compelled to use machine fabricated and already
manufactured junk component for that purpose.

The second issue deals with the photodiode and sensor. It was discovered that the
photodiode needs to be shielded such that light can be directed narrowly to its surface.
This was done by placing a black tape tube around the photodiode to create a tunnel and
help shield it from light that is not directly in its direct path. Since we have used six-
array sensors in four in static position and two in panel, the sensitiveness of tracking the
sun’s motion lacks in some critical condition .

The third problem was regarding the use of Darlington pairs IC, which sometimes drew
more current from microcontroller .We wanted to place the opto-isolator array in between
microcontroller and Darlington pairs IC (ULN 2003) but was not available in the market.


Limitations relating to the software as well as hardware are present. Some of the major
limitation may be grouped as follows.

• It can only be used for smaller panels.

• It may fail to track sun in cloudy days

• The movement of panel is not smooth.

• The force due to wind is not considered.

• The concept has not been developed for the purpose of saving power at night.


We have made a simple solar tracker that uses change in intensity of light to track the
path of the sun. This may not be effective all the time .For example, if the weather is
cloudy and there is more mist, it can hardly detect the path of the sun. For this we may
enhance our tracker using following schemes.

• Using Azimuth Angle Calculation using timer in case of failure to track


• Using the stored database in data logger to move the tracker.

We can use all the method of combination in case of failure of one of them. We have
been trying to add a battery charger and an intensity data logger in this project such that it
becomes versatile for home use as well as for research purpose. Though the cost may be a
crucial to apply all these three alternatives, the system will function infallibly in critical
cases such as Satellite, Solar powered robot for probing planet’s surface.

There is also a need to enhance the mechanical aspects. We have used stepper motor with
low torque which is only a prototype for small PV panels. For bigger panels, we have to
use electronic high voltage relays using triac to control the rotation of motor using pulse
counter as in mouse wheel.

Use of better gear mechanism in our project, may lead to use it in industrial purposes. By
the use of better gear mechanism, bigger solar panel could be used for better performance
and excess power consumption by the stepper motor could be reduced to some extent.

Use of stored database of the previous data, movement of the panel can be controlled in
critical circumstances (if any).

In the circuit we may have used opto-isolator for protection of microcontroller.


The overall time duration of the project was about three and half months. Different tasks
had been found out and their operation was carried as shown in the Gantt chart below:

Table 11. Gantt chart

Horizontal bar represents the duration. Where;

Task1 -Preliminary investigation and feasibility study

Task2 –Specification of requirements

Task3 –System design

Task4 –Programming

Task5 –System testing

Task6 –Implementation

Task7 –System review


Components Quantity Price (in Rs)

AT 89C51 1 150

Oscillator 12MHZ 1 40

ULN 2003 2 60

Reset Switch 4 60

Photo diode 6 180

Stepper motor 2 Available

PCB board, small PCB 1+1 300+70

Roller wheel 1 set 225

Dual-Comparator (LM324) 2 60

Mechanical structure - Available

(Aluminum, Iron, wooden

frame etc)


LEDs, resistors, wires, As per requirement 800

transistors, capacitors,
diodes, solder

Total price 1945

Table 12. Table of Expenditure


Use of tracking system with panel arrangement designed for the multi-direction rotation
solely contributed for the maximum absorption and efficient utilization of solar radiation
and fulfills our design criteria and manufacturing ease. Entire system is supposed to be a
“trace-path” factor for the issue concerning the use of solar energy as renewable
resources and help alleviate the energy crisis that the whole world is facing today

This report has presented a means of controlling a sun tracking array with an embedded
microprocessor system. Specifically, it demonstrates a working software solution for
maximizing solar cell output by positioning a solar array at the point of maximum light
intensity. This project presents a method of searching for and tracking the sun and
resetting itself for a new day. While the project has limitations, particularly in hardware

areas discussed above, this provides an opportunity for expansion of the current project in
future years.


Books and Manuals:

Microprocessor Architecture, Programming and Applications (II Ed)

Ramesh S. Gaonkar

New Age International Publishers Limited

Student Reference Manual, For Electronic Instrumentation Laboratories

Stanley Wolf and Richard F. M. Smith

Prentice-Hall Inc.

Microelectronic Circuits (IV Ed)

Sedra and Smith

Oxford House

Microprocessor and Interfacing, Programming and Hardware

Douglas V Hall

Tata McGraw Hill Edition

User manual of Atmel 89C51 microcontroller.

Minebea Motor Manufacturing Corporation, Manual