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16. Applications and Implications


Tasks - Must

  • Propose a final project masterpiece that integrates the range of units covered


As a final project I want to build a heliostat to continuously reflect sun to a predetermined point. In the principles and practices week I described why I choose this project and what a heliostat is.

In a previous week I’ve built a full-sized heliostat prototype which uses a bike frame as main structure. I was considering to use this prototype for my final project but I changed my mind because of the following reasons:

  • Bike frames aren’t square tubing with simple angles - the tubing has different section shapes in different places and it’s full of angles. I designed brackets to attach components to the bike but it takes a lot of time to design brackets that match the shape of the frame

  • The prototype is quite big and is therefore in my garden. That means that it’s exposed to the weather. This is the environment where the final heliostat will be but it takes time to design parts to be waterproof

  • It’s too big to bring to the lab or in my living room

For my final project I decided to make a desktop version which is small enough to carry around. A fully working desktop version will be a great starting point to build a bigger and waterproof version in the future.

Lemur - the desktop heliostat

I’ll call this version of the heliostat lemur as these friendly animals like to sunbath :-)

This week I did figure out how to build the structure of the heliostat, made a design and built a first version. I documented it in the final project development page

Bill of material

I added the bill of material to my final project proposal

Who has done what beforehand?

I added a section to my final project proposal to answer this question

What is left to do?

Week 17

  • Make 3d element in acrylic

  • Write program that controls the heliostat. It will allow the user to set a target to reflect the sun to. Once the target is set it will adjust to the sun’s position to continuously reflect the sunlight to the same location.

  • Make mount for electronics board and tidy up the wiring.

Week 18

  • Create final project video and slide


I had a lot of fun figuring out how to get the heliostat mechanism to work and then designing and producing it. In previous weeks it took quite some time to learn how to use the machines and then do some test pieces to figure out the limits. This week the machines felt like useful tools that I already felt comfortable using. That was a great feeling!

I’m happy with the design I came up with and it was good to see that it was easy to fabricate and assemble. I like the fact that it’s 3 basically identical parts assembled together. Having all 3 parts being the same makes life easier.

I’m looking forward to next week when I will write the control program to see the heliostat finally come fully to life :-)

Last update: June 19, 2022