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Fighting Feeds

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snailer:
Hi Martin, great job! You have such a talent for explaining things! I have done a cool (hot) project, a tracking parabolic solar concentrator that heats water. I have it working pretty well, but I have a problem you can probably explain for me. I am using a separate relay board, not a shield, to power the linear actuator and water pump. I have a (solar-charged) battery bank which I can get 12-14v DC power to the Arduino and relay board, but when I hook them both to the battery, nothing works right (When I connect the battery to the motors, and power the Arduino with a separate 9v power brick it works fine.) Is there any way to 'isolate' the battery into 2 feeds so they don't interact badly? I want to power everything with the battery. You can see the project on YouTube:   http://youtu.be/HuLZrXgegbk  Thanks!

Mr Eastwood:
hehe great project and video!

I'm a bit of electronics beginner myself but maybe the motor is messing too much with the supply to the Arduino board; could you add some extra smoothing caps?  also you probably know this but with inductive loads it's always good to add quenching diodes.

MJLorton:
What a brilliant project and setup...I love seeing ingenuity like this.

Ok, I would suggest trying to use a small DC to DC converter to power the Arduino board to provide isolation...that should work.

I think your sensor to track the sun is brilliant...I have seen another approach...perhaps not as technically challenging...that uses a program to predict the position of the sun for the time of day / year for the location...thus no sensors and intelligence required.

Your video production beats the pants off anything I have done...keep up the great work.

Cheers,
Martin.

snailer:
Hi Martin,
Thanks for the answer! I'll try to find one of those DC to DC converters. btw: the thing about the parabolic reflectors, you MUST have them EXACTLY pointed at the sun; it's a lot like being pregnant, you either ARE or you're definitely NOT! It's like a 10 to 1 heat gain comparing in-focus vs. being even a small amount off. So trying to estimate the sun's position doesn't work. I thought when I hooked up the solar garden light PV that it had a snowball's chance in hell of working, but it worked perfectly with no resistors or anything. It must be that the little cell (plus about 5 feet of wire acting as a resistor) puts out just enough current to be read perfectly by the A/D converter on the analog pin. It locks on the sun and the pipes stay bathed in a blazing hot band of concentrated sunlight all day long, no problem.

MJLorton:
Thanks for the explanation...your setup certainly makes sense then.

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