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Anybody know about sun tracking devices?

by junkyardnut
(antioch, CA US)

I never built a solar cooker , but I assume that everyone has to move or adjust the solar cooker manually to align it toward the sun every 15 minutes or so. I have yet to see anybody coming up with an automatic sun tracking device that can do the job for you. Telescopes use tracking devices to keep telescopes trained toward same spot in the sky all night . or you know, we have solar tower with scores of heliostats (mirrors with tracking device behind each) bouncing sunlight toward the top of the solar tower concentrating heat to genereate steam for electricity generation. I guess there is no inexpensive sun tracking devices made available that can guide our solar cookers... They are expensive becaue they are heavier.. Where is the light duty variety, anybody??
If it is crank powered, I will take it.. though.


Great Question,
Where are the lightweight, cost effective solar tracking devices for sale to the public?
We have been searching for a commercially avialable solar tracker as well, but we have not found an inexpensive one yet.
There are some available but they are a bit pricey.

If there is someone who knows of the whereabouts of such a device we would also like to know about it. We could use a little guidance as well.


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Jun 26, 2018
by: Anonymous

Complex for tracking the sun based on the calculation of data received from the GPS receiver. This system consists of a basic module SOLARSAN-GPS, which can work independently, and SOLARSAN-SLAVE only works as an executive device. Using SOLARSAN-GPS, you can configure solar concentrators, collectors or panels at right angles to sunlight. Control is carried out with the help of drives or rotary actuators in two planes and has an accuracy of one degree. The module has an input to connect an "anemometer" to protect against strong wind, the input of the "hail and snow sensor" and the input of the "photo-sensor" for sleep with low solar activity. The WiFi module allows you to configure the tracker through a WEB page or a local network. The built-in MQTT broker allows you to manage and retrieve data via the Internet network around the world. Power supply from 12 to 30 V (and version HV with a power of 12 V to 55 V). Protection by current. Short circuit protection. Built-in radio modem 433.92 (315.00) MHz with a capacity of 100 mW for data transmission in a radius of up to 100 meters for modules SOLARSAN-SLAVE. Works both in one and two axes. The IP66 enclosure allows you to install a solar tracker under the open sky.

Feb 19, 2018
Cheap simple solar tracker NEW
by: Neil Sanders

Every day I use a solar tracker made from two 100mw 6v panels driving a dc motor from an old printer. The panels are positioned below a double cone panel cooker mounted on a rectangular wooden frame such that the cooker is aligned towards the sun when the shadow of the cooker falls across the solar panels. The output from the panels drives the dc motor connected to a small wheel at one corner of the wooden frame via a 1:1600 double worm gearbox from Maplin. Another corner of the rectangular frame is supported by a metal spike around which the whole assembly rotates. A jockey wheel on the opposing side completes the assembly.

Left sitting on flat smooth concrete the cooker asembly automatically adjusts itself when the solar panels are sunlit. It smoothly turns until the shadow of the panel cooker falls on the solar panels. It the creeps around the metal spike moving every 10-15 minutes maintaining the orientation towards the sun.

Jan 16, 2016
solar tracking with GPS
by: Anonymous

The US Gov made some software available to locate the sun. It takes longitude and latitude and the the time of day. Ran it on a small raspberry-pi computer with a $25 usb GPS dongle. You're probably looking at $100.

Dec 13, 2015
by: junkyardnut

There is a concentrated solar thermal company that just completed a huge solar project at Tonopah, NV utilizing scores of automatic tracking mirrors aiming toward the top of a very tall tower (450 foot)where a boilermaker is perched that generate special steam fluid that is channeled down to power electric generators as well as being stored in huge tanks for overnight generation. There must be right people who knows how to track the sun in precisely the same manner that I want. If I can poach several of those experts...

Jun 15, 2015
A device I saw in NM
by: Anonymous

When I lived in NM I saw a homemade device that used partially filled propane tanks positioned on either side of a pv panel. As the sun moved past the optimal position, it would heat one tank, leaving the other in the shade. The propane in the hotter tank would evaporate, travel through some plumbing to the other tank where it would condense. The resulting difference in weight between the two tanks would alter the balance point and reposition the panel. The main disadvantage was that the whole thing had to be able to rock, like a teeter-totter, so it had to be locked down in high winds or it would get thrashed around. I understand that the guy did sell some of these, filled with freon instead of propane.

Jan 26, 2015
inclinometer for solar cooker
by: Anonymous

We have produced wifi and tilt inclinometer for 15 years in Shanghai, China.
They can be used in solar tracking system such as single-axis, dual-axis, 0~360° range, analog output, 0.5-4.5VDC.

The cost and quality are very competitive.
If you are interested, please let me know. Thanks.

Aug 03, 2014
Here's an idea for sun oven trackers
by: James Simmons

I'm not sure if this will work for you or not. I submitted this to their website some time ago, but I know they are very busy trying to upkeep their website. This subject doesn't seem to be of much interest except as a special interest project.

Solar tracking systems for sun ovens have been an interest of mine for many years, but most people simply aren't looking for it to much. I use my tracker every time I cook in the sun oven and it has done wonderful so far.

Here's the link to the document I made. Hope it works for you.

Sun tracker

Aug 14, 2013
Why not earth rotation
by: tinkerguycobalt

What happens when a sun tracker has cloud cover for an hour or so? The one I have built turns at the same speed as the rotation of the earth. Just set it where it points to the sun and turn it on.

Dec 27, 2012
You can make your own.
by: Anonymous

I have made a single axis sun tracker prototype that will run a DC motor, that operates with or without limit of movement switches. With two of these sun trackers you can run a dual axis set up. It uses a sun dial by having sunlight on both sides of the dial and when the sun move to one side or the other the shaded side is recognized and it powers a regular DC motor to move the solar collector accordingly until both sides of the dial are again exposed to direct sunlight. Simple, and no stepping motors required, nor is there any expensive controllers required. To get some one to make one by hand, I’d say, about $200. It can be done.

Apr 21, 2012
Thanks, Al and Shastalore!
by: Anonymous

Gimbal?, hahah! Fascinating! I will check out, Shastalore. Anyway, most importantly of all, I dont understand why everyone is still using firewood right under blaring and shining Sun??? This is 2012 not 1400 AD or other dates like that.. We have aluminium for heaven's sakes.. There is 5 millon tons of unused brand new aluminium lying around in warehhouses .... what is the matter with us? We stay wedded to photovoltaics while ignoring aluminium.. Something is really fishy around here..

Apr 21, 2012
Thanks, Al and Shastalore!
by: Anonymous

Gimbal?, hahah! Fascinating! I will check out, Shastalore. Anyway, most importantly of all, I don't understand why everyone is still using firewood right under blaring and shining Sun??? This is 2012 not 1400 AD or other dates like that.. We have aluminum for heaven's sakes.. There is 5 million tons of unused brand new aluminum lying around in warehouses .... what is the matter with us? We stay wedded to photovoltaic while ignoring aluminum.. Something is really fishy around here..

Apr 19, 2012
Posting your 4-foot parabolic device on the internet
by: shastalore

Have you thought about posting your 4-foot diameter parabolic mirror, with solar tracker, on

That would definitely get the good word out, especially since you would also be able to upload and post photos of the device.

Apr 18, 2012
Self powered solar tracker
by: Al

I have designed a 4 ft parabolic mirror installed on a gimbal which adjusts both az and elevation using fractional powered gear head motors and an electronic tracking circuit designed to automatically lock onto the sun in the morning track it all day and shut down at night, with a tracking error of <0.5 deg. It is self powered with a 10W solar panel that rides along and kept perpendicular to the suns rays.I built it with a knowledge of electronic design, printed circuit design techniques, a hack saw, a voltmeter, a drill press, and a sputter welder, plus a lot of elbow grease trial and error circuitry and time. If I knew how to share this with anyone I would be happy do do so on the internet.

Jul 30, 2011
Similiar to the Solar Tower
by: Anonymous

Actually , i should be more specific about sun tracking devices.. There are different types... I am talking about the similar concept used at the solar tower with heliostats all around the tower. You know, the heliostats must guide the sunlight toward the top of the tower where the steam generator is mounted. This is the one I need for heating my home .. No, I am not going to mount dozens of mirrors as they will surely burn down my house.. I have about six mirrors or more but each not toward the same target indoors unless I also construct a solar heating box with a glass lining to soak in the concentrated sunlight up to 10X safely which in is circulated through the external wall with both inflow and outflow by a solar powered fan. I would say that it is equivalent to a wall heater using natural gas at around 25K BTU which is converted to about 3K watts or more. This is much cheaper than photovoltaics to heat the home.

Jul 29, 2011
Solar Powered Pan & Tilt Solar Tracker for the HotPot
by: shastalore

While not an engineer, I am unemployed, with a B.S. Degree in Industrial Arts -close enough?

And, oddly, my most productive and meaningful times in my life have always been between jobs. In fact, working on a job, 40 hours a week, simply gives me time to think about my weekend projects.

Here's the link to just one of my projects, a do-it-yourself solar tracker for the HotPot, as one is generally required for the temperate zones:

Also included is a transparent cover design to enhance the performance of the HotPot even more.

I hope this helps.

Jun 05, 2011
Engineers can design one???
by: Junkyardnut

Well, actually none exists, so therefore we have to search for the right unemployed engineer willing to design one.. there is plenty of them around...

Jun 03, 2011
Tracking Device
by: Jim at All Season Solar Cooker

If you are handy, download the schematic and directions for my Sunchaser at
I have been using this for a few years now with good results.
Regarding refocusing - most box and panel type cookers can be set up ahead of the sun by up to 90 minutes. Then, as the earth turns, the sun comes into increasingly perfect focus, then starts to lose focus again. But you still get 2 to 3 hours of very good cooking before you need to move the cooker.
Parabolics, however, require frequent refocusing.

Jun 03, 2011
Tracking the Sun
by: Brad

I personally just turn my Hot Pot Cooker every hour, and my Global Sun Oven every parabolic dish is constantly attended for fear that I will cook my neighbor's dog (by mistake, I swear). If you really want to track the sun, this link should line you up.

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