It has been almost a month since the last formal update on construction progress, and although our team has been busy with midterm exams and assignments, a lot has happened since then. Our efforts have been focused on specific components of the hull, as well as some of the mechanisms that run the ship. Over the next couple of days, we will share blog posts taking a deeper look at these specific features.
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A key feature of the overall system is the ability to tilt the solar panel to increase the efficiency of our solar harvesting. Over the last couple of weeks we have designed, prototyped and built this tilting mechanism, which is now close to finishing. Depicted above is one of the two main supports for the solar panel array. The array is assembled on a 4 meter by 1.5 meter carbon honeycomb panel, and the two supports are mounted on the quarter-points of this panel.
Each of the supports stands on an aluminum arm that rotates about a removable pin. Above is a picture of the slot where this arm rotates, and the tube that the pin is inserted into. A nipple is screwed on the threads shown, preventing the pin from falling out. To lift the solar array off the boat, the pins are easily removed from the fore and aft support holes.
To drive the actual tilting of the panels, we will use a sophisticated pulley system with ropes attached to either side of the panel supports, as shown above. Protected by PVC pipes, the ropes run to the stern of the boat, where they enter the aft bulkhead. Here, they are guided with fair-leads to a linear actuator, which pulls and pushes the ropes to facilitate the tilting. Below is a photo of the fair-leads and the guide for the actuator, with the actuator mount in the background.
The solar array tilting is only one of several features we have been working on lately. Stay tuned over the next couple of days for similar updates about the other parts.