Need help with a solar-powered boat robot
December 19, 2009
December 19, 2009
Two friends and I are starting to make a solar-powered boat for a competition (here's the link: http://techfest.org/competitions/torque/solarsplash/), and we need a little help. We're beginners with no previous experience.
A few important rules:
- The objective is to construct an autonomous solar boat that completes a water track in the least possible time
- Length of the track is 1400 mm
- Source of light is three halogen bulbs of 500 W
- There's a tunnel on the track, so there will be relatively less light under it
- Size constraint for the robot is 250 mm x 200 mm x 200 mm
- Area constraint for the solar panel is 150 cm^2
- Needs to have a mechanism to discharge any stored energy before the race
Will (4) mean that we'll need to have a battery to store some energy that can be used when under the tunnel? Or can we get around it by placing the solar panels inclined at the ends of the boat?
As for (6), is 150 cm^2 enough to run the motors? We plan on using 2 or 4 pager motors (each operating between 1.5 - 3 v). If yes, what specifications should we be looking for while buying the solar panels? We think that buying 4 small panels instead of 1 large one will be better as it will allow us to place them at appropriate positions and inclinations.
But if 150 cm^2 isn't enough, we'll have to use a solar engine. We tried looking for the 1381 voltage detectors in local shops but to no success. What's a good alternative? If we do decide to order a 1381 online, what rank (i.e the trip voltage) would suit us best? And what will be the specs for the solar panel in this case?
We were thinking of buying 4 of these: http://onlinetps.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=129_154&products_id=634
What do you think?
Coming to the propellers, we are undecided between fan-like propellers (like the ones in SMPS) to be used under the boat, and paddle wheels to be used on the sides of the boat. We could test both out and see which one's better, but it would be helpful to get some advice beforehand. And any advice on how to waterproof the motors/panels if we decide to go for the under water propellers/paddle wheel propellers respectively.
Implementing phototrophism (automatically turning the panels towards maximum light) is an option, but we thought it would complicate the bot. I guess this will introduce the need for a microcontroller? Also a part of the solar energy would go towards turning the panels.
How do we put it together? We were thinking of placing two inclined panels at the back (to get light when under the tunnel), one slightly inclined in the front, and one flat in the centre. Should we go for 2 solar engines (one connected to the panels at the back, and another to the panels at the centre and front), or just go for 1 and supply current to all 4 motors with this one? The former will help in keeping the boat running most of the time as the rate of incoming solar energy will be different for the two?
Sorry for so many questions! And thanks in advance :)