Little Finicky Solar Trackers (Neural Window Reef Redux) by Jason Prasad.

The project shown here began life as the ‘Neural Window Reef’ from Fall 2010.

Dr. David C. Michener discusses biomimicry at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Sunflowers tracking the sun inspired this project. The original project was by: Bethany Glesner, Jason Prasad, Alex Carmichael, Joyce Tseng, Jim Christian and Chris Parker.

Jim Christian sketches an LFST (Little Finicky Solar Tracker).

The original LFST prototype.

The project began as a task to design, build, program, and test a surface that would track a light source (a handheld flashlight). The team was allowed to use their Arduino kits, Acrylic and chipboard. The system was to operate on dual axes and be active. Ideally it was to be capable of: tracking the light horizontally; tracking the light vertically; and indicating when it was in alignment with the light.

Video of the original LFST prototype (and the other team's projects).

The LFST had everything that was required of it and could track in three axes. Unfortunately, the team continued to pile more and more 'functionality' into the project until it no longer functioned.

The non-functioning LFSTs at the SmartSurfaces final review.

Jason Prasad debugged and rebuilt the project in order to get it working. This took some 200+ hours. In the process of doing this he completed the requirements for a Multidisciplinary Design Minor through the College of Engineering at University of Michigan.

The tracking modules sense light, motion and proximity and can wirelessly communicate with neighboring clusters to tell them about real-time environmental conditions.

Jason has now enrolled in the Taubman College Master of Science in Digital Technologies.