SunAir Solar Power Controller for Raspberry Pi and Arduino
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Ever wanted to build your own Solar Powered Raspberry Pi or Arduino system? SunAir and SunAirPlus are 3rd Generation Solar Charging and Sun Tracking Boards designed by Dr. John C. Shovic at SwitchDoc Labs.
You can use this board to power your projects and add a servo or stepper motor to allow it to track the sun using photoresistors to generate even more power! It incorporates a number of outstanding features in a very compact, inexpensive single fully assembled and tested PC Board.
Note that the battery and solar panel plugs on SunAir are of type JST-PH 2 pin.
What are the LEDs next to the Battery Plug?
Charging State LEDs
|CH pin level(Red LED state)||OK pin level(Green LED state)||Statements|
|low level(on)||high level(off)||Charging|
|high level(off)||low level(last on)||Complete|
|pulse signal(flash)||pulse signal(on)||The battery doesn’t exist or has been deeply discharged|
|high level(off)||high level(off)||No charging is taking place as the solar cell input voltage is too low|
SunAir Product Specification
The major features of the SunAir board are:
- Uses 6V Solar Cells
- Use 3.7V LiPo Cells for batteries
- Has LiPo to 5V voltage boost built in
- Directly powers Raspberry Pi / Arduino
- Works Raspberry Pi (3.3V) GPIO and Arduino (5.0V) GPIO
- Built-in Interface for Solar Tracking Photoresistor devices
- Built-in Interface for Servo motor or Stepper motor
- Built-in Interface for Limit Switches
- Charges iPhones and other phones or devices
- Approximates an MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charging system
- Comes with a iPhone / iPad based Control Panel App ($2 on App Store – SunAirPiConnect / SunAirArduinoConnect)
- 3D SunAir Tracker OpenSCAD files available and STL files
RasPiConnect / ArduinoConnect Control Panel
The RasPiConnect/ArduinoConnect control panel for SunAir is shown below. SwitchDoc Labs has completed a licensing agreement with MiloCreek to put a version of RasPiConnect and ArduinoConnect up on the Appstore for SunAir customers for $2.00.
SunAir is customizable with your software and hardware.
3D Printing Files for SunTracker
- Put it with your favorite project and make it solar powered!
- Make a Solar Powered Robot
- Install a servo motor or stepper motor and track the sun
- Add a SwitchDoc Dual WatchDog Timer to recover from failures, bad code or brownouts!
- 3D Print your own SunAir solar tracker
Raspberry Pi and Arduino
Use Cases: Build your project!
- Solar Power System for your Arduino / Raspberry Pi
- Solar Power Charger for your Phone or Battery Pack
- Track the Sun and Turn the Panels for 25%-30% More Power
- Study, measure and improve the performance of your system
- Build a solar powered robot
- Build a remote data monitoring system
As many of our projects have, this project started in a bar called the Fedora in 2013. We
thought it would be cool to put a Solar Powered remotely controlled box down in the Caribbean on the island nation of Curacao, and Project Curacao was born. SunAir generation 1 is shown to the left.
The next step was to put this fully debugged system in a weather proof box and write the 8000 lines of code that would control it. We ended up putting two complete SunAir 2nd generation solar systems in the box for redundancy and system isolation. One for the Raspberry Pi and one for the Battery WatchDog Arduino which monitored and controlled the power for the Raspberry Pi.
You can see the SunAirPlus prototype board in the lower part of the picture to the right of the Pi Camera.
After 6 months in the Sun, with the box running most of the time, we went down and added more solar panels and a SwitchDoc WatchDog Timer to cover the possibility of a code hang and also recovery from loss of power (brownouts tend to make computers not reboot on a reliable basis – recovery from brownouts is a necessary function on solar powered system. Clouds happen).
Finally, we had enough information and use cases to design and build the 3rd generation of SunAir and the heavily instrumented version, SunAirPlus. This is the Ultimate Solar Panel controller for Raspberry Pi and Arduino projects.
These boards are designed with a lot of flexibility for you to innovate your design.