Solar Tracking Biomimetic Smart Surface

Task 2 asks you to design a solar tracking system as a means of expanding your knowledge and skills of biomimicry and Arduinos. Since not all design can be understood through a prototype or through visualization alone, each team is asked to develop a project that exploits the best of both activities. Working with your team, you are to develop a speculative design in Digital Project and a prototype array built with your Arduino materials.

Obviously the digital representation can include a larger field of components and demonstrate the global relationships while the Arduino mock-up will demonstrate the operation of a few cells.


Throughout the process you should be documenting your work on your blog, and keep a diligent record to be used in subsequent presentations and reports.

For presentation on Thursday, October 7th:

PowerPoint animation using screen shots from Digital Project.

Operational prototype of working 2-axis solar tracking surface.

Documented biomimetic strategies as potential solutions to this challenge.

For presentation on Thursday, October 14th:

Functioning 2-axis, solar-tracking, biomimetic, smart surface


Your team's task is to design, build, program, and test a surface that tracks a light source. For the purposes of the class this light source will be defined as a handheld flashlight. For this assignment the level of difficulty is increased in that your design will need to sense, react, respond, and signal once it achieves it goal. For this project you will use your Arduino kits, new electronics available in class, and acrylic and chipboard.

This system should operate on dual axes and be active. Ideally it should be capable of:

· Tracking the light horizontally

· Tracking the light vertically

· Indicating when it is in alignment with the light


Use the Biomimicry Taxonomy

NOTE: The key to using the taxonomy (and design in general) is forming the right question.

Find the action verb or define the performance. Move away from any predetermined ideas of what you want to design, and think more about what you want your design to do. Try to pull out single functional words in the form of verbs. The questions you might pose through the Search or Browse options might be:

How would Nature… Capture sunlight? Store energy?

When in doubt, try a different angle or flip it over. Some organisms live in areas that don't experience direct sunlight, yet they still get all of the light they need. So other questions to pose might be:

How would Nature… Capture reflections? Absorb energy? Manage shade? Move?

Turn the question around again. Instead of asking how Nature stores energy, you might think about how Nature protects against sunburn:

How would Nature… Remove sunlight? Stay dark?

Judging Criteria

· Tracking accuracy - # of axes

· Reliability

· Simplicity and ease of implementation

· Fully commented code

· Use vs. storage of energy

· Personality

Bethany Glesner, MATSCIE
Jason Prasad, MATSCIE
Alex Carmichael, ARCH
Joyce Tseng, ARCH
Jim Christian, A&D
Chris Parker, A&D

Diana Goulding, MATSCIE
Christopher Sketch, MATSCIE
Patrick Ethen, ARCH
Simon Rolka, ARCH
Betsy Cordes, A&D
Daniel Connors, A&D

Melany Mioduszewski, MATSCIE
Josiah Cornett, MATSCIE
Mo Harmon, ARCH
Keegan Schreider, MATSCIE
Carlo Lorenzetti, A&D
Ekta Shah, A&D

Steven Madsen, MATSCIE
Kevin Yien, MATSCIE
Chris Niswander, ARCH
Jordan Stoewsand-Kryscio, ARCH
Mallory Baran, A&D
Michael Theodore, A&D