Project Director

Margraves, Charles

Department Examiner

McDonald, Gary; Elliott, Trevor; Ledoan, Andrew


Dept. of Mechanical Engineering


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The scope for the project was to design and construct a system that could be used to both manually and automatically track the sun using solar panels to demonstrate engineering principles for classroom and laboratory experiments at both the primary and secondary education levels. For ease of demonstration, a manual and automatic tracker was designed for the experiment. Using a standard camera tripod, the solar panels were attached to fabricated mounts to allow for omnidirectional movement. For the automated, or active tracker, an Ardunio Uno microcontroller was used in conjunction with two 180˚ servos to adjust the active tracker solar panel into position. To do this, four light dependent resistors were used as sensors in the microcontroller code. The code consisted of four inequalities to determine whether the top or bottom and left or right are experiencing more light, send a signal to the servo and move the panel to the optimum setting. The tests conducted for this project consisted of finding the optimal setting for the manual tracker and then comparing that over the course of the day with the active tracker. The tests successfully showed how there is an optimum range for the manual tracker and furthermore how the active is an average of 20% better than the manual over the course of the day. The final project deliverables are the apparatuses, the Arduino code, and excel workbook. The project has a number of areas to improve and has a number of experiments to study energy conversion and renewable energy. Dr. Margraves plans to use this system for future student engineering laboratory experiments, as well as demonstrations for STEM youth programs.


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Solar energy; Solar collectors


Alternative Energy; STEM program; Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type



66 leaves




Under copyright.