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Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

I am trying to build this Planter and place it on a rotating device which is programmed to rotate at a speed which gives each side the same amount of sunlight for each side. Of coarse if I can program it to a T and make it adjust every day to account for the added or lose sunlight throughout the summer that would be great but the ability to simply program it for a single day, that would work. Also the system would be solar powered and self sustaining so nothing connecting to the house, except perhaps a remote way to control the system. Does anyone know of a supplier who may have the rotating element which can be programmed and any other components which may be required to make this operational? any advice or suggestions are welcome. The idea is creating a self sustaining planter which could maximize an amount of space which it is in and give each side an equal amount of sunlight for the length of a year without any human interference. An added bonus would be connecting the system to the houses water supply and programming it to water each day. Anything that doesn't create long vines would flourish.

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

How many do you need, and how much are you willing to pay for each?

Obviously, you need a motorized turntable, capable of supporting a couple hundred pounds of dirt, plants, and planter, and also large enough to deal with the overturning moment from unbalanced loading and the occasional windstorm.

Perhaps less obviously, if you really want it solar powered, you have to make it run on just a few watts of power, which in turn requires that it have bearings much better than are commonly supplied in cheap turntables.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Rotating that assembly will give you at best 30% more sun in an average day than a fixed planter. Is that really worth the complexity? A couple of walls painted white nearby would be as effective.

However, yes it would be feasible, a one off is dead easy, if not cost effective, and for large numbers, perhaps you might consider the advantage of floating the planter in a tub of water rather than indulging in low friction bearings. The control side of things is banal, two intensity meters and you are done.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

If solar powered, I would recommend adding two small solar panel slightly angled at both sides that control the solar-powered drive motor. The electronics are available on line at solar tracking web sites, and I don't know them well to do anything but summarize the output anyway: "If right panel gets more than 110% volts than the left panel, drive motor to left until left and right panels get the same voltage. Then keep driving until you stop the drive motor when the left panel is getting 10% more volts than the right panel. This "stutters" the platform around, but doesn't keep turning the drive motor on and off with every cloud passing over.

The platform MUST be evenly balanced on smooth weatehrproof rollers near the circumference but sheltered from dirt, snow, rain, critters, and debris in the tracks. A centerpole only suspension probably won't work well because the required torque and bearings will be too big, too expensive.

What latitude are you? The further north (or south) the more the energy available when you swing the platform. Between 40 north and 40 south I doubt you'd get much advantage.

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Thank you all for the pointers.

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Maybe this is ridiculous, maybe not. I notice large sunflowers track the sun. Has anyone ever measured how much torque they can develop to track the sun? You see where I'm going with this. Remember, the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle rotates using only 1/4 horsepower motors (one revolution per hour - spend more than 3 minutes in the stationary restroom and you will never find your table again). Maybe a couple of sunflower plants in the top of the planter with some kind of torque restraint so they could rotate the planter. I don't know what happens at night. What do flowers do at night?
If noting else, you could set up your tracking system to follow the sunflowers. Sunflowers don't flinch when clouds pass over.

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Yes, I knew it. I'm off to the laboratory. "Igor, assist me!"

Orientation of cortical microtubules (cMTs) is suggested to be affected by mechanical stress existing in cell walls. However, in mutants exhibiting helical (chiral) growth, there is a correlation between orientation of cMTs in outer tissues and helical growth direction. The aim of this research was to examine the effect of a chiral mechanical stimulation on cMTs. For this purpose, the orientation of cMTs was investigated in hypocotyls subjected to either a right- or a left-handed twist, resulting from a steady torque. cMTs were visualised in fixed material using the immunofluorescence method. The cMTs in untouched control hypocotyls were mostly transverse with respect to the cell long axis. In immobilised, but not twisted control hypocotyls, the transverse orientation was also most frequent, while applied twisting resulted in a change in cMT orientation from transverse to oblique. The data provide additional evidence that changes in tissue stress can be reorganized by cortical microtubules.

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Incidentally although the idea of using the pV panels as the sensors is good from a part count and reliability aspect, it is going to be more expensive than using an array of 3 light intensity cells, and one larger solar panel, for a given performance. Or at least, with light sensors at $1.57 each I think you'll find that hard to beat.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

mirrors ?

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

One of the simplest photo trackers is an open tube with 4 photo cells at the bottom up ,down, left, right, connected to servo motors. when the tube is correctly tracking the sun all 4 cells are illuminated equally. When one cell is shaded, and its voltage is diminished, the motors turn the array until all 4 cells are in the sun again. the unit has to have a zero position when the sun goes down to pick up the sun again at sunrise.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

My vote is a low RPM DC rotisserie motor. Something spinning 2-5 RPM should have decent power and low wattage requirement and could be hooked up directly to a solar module. There would be no need to program it, and no need to create a solar tracker, as it would rotate as long as the sun is shining albeit faster at midday and slower in the morning and evening.

Video of a turntable made of wood powered by a rotisserie motor:

RE: Solar Powered Rotating Pyramid Planter

Dumb question but, you only have plans on 2 sides of the pyramid right?

I ask because it's not entirely clear from teh picture. If you have plants on all sides then why bother with sun tracking control, just spin the whole thing at a moderate speed and things will even out over time.

(BTW Greg, love your floating idea, like those big marble balls you see some places.)

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

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