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Electrical design, implementation and commissioning of a LabVIEW based control system for a dual axis solar tracker

Wilson, Matthew (2015) Electrical design, implementation and commissioning of a LabVIEW based control system for a dual axis solar tracker. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis outlines the implementation and commissioning of a LabVIEW based, dual axis solar tracking system located within Murdoch University’s Renewable Energy Outdoor Test Area.

An electrical system that is capable of supplying power to the solar tracking hardware and protecting it from the effects of overcurrent has been designed, installed and tested according to several Australian Standards including the AS3000 Wiring Rules. The testing of the electrical system proved that the installation was both safe and reliable and as such it was connected to the existing Murdoch University electricity grid.

The commissioning of the solar tracking hardware proved to be problematic with various issues delaying the progression of the project including damage to one of the main servomotors resulting in the need for a replacement motor, corruption of VSD parameter files and the transposition of phases during the connection of one of the motors.

A plan for testing the accuracy of the solar tracking LabVIEW program was developed using a pyrheliometer. Extensive testing was carried out on the tracker which ultimately confirmed the accuracy of the solar positioning algorithm. However, it was discovered that further angle conversions will need to take place in order to make the software useable on a fixed east-west primary axis solar array.

Overall the project has been taken from a bench tested prototype to being implemented in a real world environment. A major step forward in the progression of this project has occurred during this thesis and it is for this reason that the project has been considered successful by both the current project holder and the project supervisor.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Cole, Graeme
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