Solar Engines


The Miller Solarengine stores up power until there is enough to make a pulse to the output. Plug a solarpanel into the input and a motor on the output. If you hold your hand over part of the solar panel, you'll see the motor start pulsing - faster when there is more sun, slower when there is less because it takes longer to store enough energy for a pulse. Revision 3 starts its pulse when its capacitor reaches 3.3 Volts, and stops (to start storing energy for the next pulse) when it reaches 3.0 Volts.

The Miller Solarengine was presumably invented by someone called "Miller," a BEAM robotics enthusiast. We learned about it from the great people at Solarbotics.

There's no assembly. This one just needs to get fabricated by someone / some company capable of making and populating circuit boards.

Desired Improvements

  • It should be clearly distinguishable from the Powerpack, but unless you know what to look for, they look more or less the same.
  • Mark made one that had a tunable potentiometer on it that would vary the sensitivity / threshold. Super cool, but it's not yet clear how to explain what's going on to the user.
  • Should these be integrated with the solar panels? That'd make a more versatile solar panel, and simplify things for the user. But maybe it's simplifying things too much?

Past Revisions

  • The first revision we used was the Solderless SolarEngine made by Solarbotics. We found that the 2.7 Volt trigger voltage was better for the blue motors we work with, as anything less makes for a rather weak pulse that can't turn a very large wheel.