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Embedded System Design for Sun-tracking Solar Panels: A Class Project Template

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Factors Affecting Student Performance

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.515.1 - 25.515.7



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Paper Authors


Jai P. Agrawal Purdue University, Calumet

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Jai P. Agrawal is a professor in electrical and computer engineering technology at Purdue University, Calumet. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from University of Illinois, Chicago, in 1991, dissertation in power electronics. He also received his M.S. and B.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Indian Institute
of Technology Kanpur, India, in 1970 and 1968, respectively. His expertise includes analog and digital electronics design, power electronics, nanophotonics, and optical/wireless networking systems. He has designed several models of high frequency oscilloscopes and other electronic test and measuring instruments as an entrepreneur. He has delivered invited short courses in Penang, Malaysia and Singapore. He is also the author of a textbook in power electronics, published by Prentice-Hall, Inc. His professional career is equally divided in academia and industry. He has authored several research papers in IEEE journals and conferences. His current research is focused on renewable energy technology and smart energy grid.

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Omer Farook Purdue University, Calumet

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Omer Farook is a member of the faculty of electrical and computer engineering technology at Purdue University, Calumet. Farook received the diploma of licentiate in mechanical engineering and B.S.M.E. in 1970 and 1972, respectively. He further received B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. in 1978 and 1983, respectively, from Illinois Institute of Technology. Farook’s current interests are in the areas of embedded system design, hardware-software interfacing, digital communication, networking, image processing, and biometrics, C++, PHP and Java languages. He has a keen interest in pedagogy and instruction delivery methods related to distance learning.

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Abdulhaleem Abdullah Alowaisheer Fluor Daniel Technologies, Inc.

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EMBEDDED SYSTEM DESIGN FOR SUN-TRACKING SOLAR PANEL – A CLASS PROJECT TEMPLATE AbstractThis paper presents a class project template in which students design the embedded system softwarefor the controlling a sun-tracking solar panel system using microcontroller PIC-16F887. This is aclass project in the “Introduction to Microcontrollers” course in the undergraduate program of stud-ies in Engineering Technology. The students are given a previously designed solar panel with built-in true sun-alignment mechanism and are required to write program to control it. The control systemis required to align the solar panel to a plane normal to the Sun rays by detecting the actual positionof the Sun in the sky over a span of 180 and 90 degrees in the azimuth and incidence planes. Theprogram should detect the sky condition (clear, dark or cloudy), and override the alignment mecha-nism to send the panel to a home position. The alignment mechanism should have a programmabledelayed response to any misalignment incident. The system design employs C programming for themicrocontroller PIC 16F887 from the Microchip Inc. using either CCS-C or Hi-Tech Compilers.Students work in teams of twos, design their own software and test it on the system. Students areencouraged to add special features of their choice. All teams compete and demonstrate their pro-grams in the final lab class. The paper discusses the pedagogical benefits along with the feedbackfrom students. C-Code to be written by student Horizontal Horizontal alignment axis motor H-Motor indicator drive signal Micro Solar Panel controller Assembly PIC 16F887 Vertical axis alignment Vertical axis V-Motor indicator motor drive signal Figure: System block diagram

Agrawal, J. P., & Farook, O., & Alowaisheer, A. A. (2012, June), Embedded System Design for Sun-tracking Solar Panels: A Class Project Template Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21273

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