What is SunAir and SunAirPlus?
Ever wanted to build your own Solar Powered Raspberry Pi or Arduino system? That is what this Kickstarter is all about!! SunAir and SunAirPlus are 3rd Generation Solar Charging and Sun Tracking Boards designed by Dr. John C. Shovic at SwitchDoc Labs.
Use Cases: Build your project!
- Solar Power System for your Arduino / Raspberry Pi
- Solar Power Charger for your Phone or Battery Pack
- Track the Sun and Turn the Panels for 25%-30% More Power
- Study, measure and improve the performance of your system
- Build a solar powered robot
- Build a remote data monitoring system
You can use this board to power your projects and add a servo or stepper motor to allow it to track the sun using photoresistors to generate even more power! It incorporates a number of outstanding features in a very compact, inexpensive single fully assembled and tested PC Board.
SunAir and SunAirPlus are customizable with your software and hardware. We are raising money to bring the final version of the 3rd Generation SunAir board to the market. The other major goal is to bring the more complex SunAirPlus board to the market in early 2015.
SunAir Revision A has been delivered and is in final debug. SunAirPlus has been designed, the board laid out and will be shipped to the manufacturer as soon as the SunAir board is completed.
SwitchDoc Labs and Dr. Shovic have been building small solar powered systems for years and this product is the sum total of all that knowledge and experience.
The major features of the SunAir board are:
- Uses 6V Solar Cells
- Use 3.7V LiPo Cells for batteries
- Has LiPo to 5V voltage boost built in
- Directly powers Raspberry Pi / Arduino
- Works Raspberry Pi (3.3V) GPIO and Arduino (5.0V) GPIO
- Built-in Interface for Solar Tracking Photoresistor devices
- Built-in Interface for Servo motor or Stepper motor
- Built-in Interface for Limit Switches
- Charges iPhones and other phones or devices
- Approximates an MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charging system
- Comes with a iPhone / iPad based Control Panel App ($2 on App Store - SunAirPiConnect / SunAirArduinoConnect)
- 3D SunAir Tracker OpenSCAD files available and STL files
The control panel for SunAir is shown below. SwitchDoc Labs has completed a licensing agreement with MiloCreek to put a version of RasPiConnect and ArduinoConnect up on the Appstore for SunAir customers.
- Put it with your favorite project and make it solar powered!
- Make a Solar Powered Robot
- Install a servo motor or stepper motor and track the sun
- Add a SwitchDoc Dual WatchDog Timer to recover from failures, bad code or brownouts!
- 3D Print your own SunAir solar tracker
After SunAir, the next SwitchDoc Labs product is SunAirPlus, an advanced version of the SunAir product with sensors to watch what is going on in the system. Same charging system and power booster but with a number of improved features for measuring and displaying what your Solar Power System is doing.
The prototype above has the additional current and ADC sensors shown on the block diagram. The variable power supply is simulating the Solar Panels (supplying about 250ma in this picture) and the voltmeter is connected to the power output of SunAir and is showing the required output of 5V.
More Data! More Data! Less Cowbell!
That's what engineers want to monitor the performance or your system and tweak the design. To build this board yourself would cost over $60. We are selling this for $40 ($30 for our Kickstarter early adopters). We know what we are looking for in a Solar Power System. Project Curacao has two Solar Power Systems all monitored by SunAirPlus Generation 2 systems.
SunAirPlus has all the Features of the SunAir Board with the addition of:
3 Channel Power, Voltage and Current I2C Measurement for:
- Solar Cells
- LiPo Batteries
- Load (meaning your Raspberry Pi / Arduino or iPhone)
- Specs: 12 bit internal ADC. Resolution of 0.8mA.
4 Channel I2C High Resolution ADC Measurement:
- 12 bit @ 3300 Samples Per Second
- 2 Channels for Sun Tracker Photoresistors
- 2 Open ADC Channels for your use
Also comes with a iPhone / iPad based Control Panel App ($2 on App Store - SunAirPlusPiConnect / SunAirPlusArduinoConnect). The SunAirPlusPiConnect has all the data assembled in a MySQL database on the Raspberry Pi with graphs, charts and analysis. Engineering Eye Candy for sure!
And all the Goodness of Open Source Software for the I2C drivers and software and 3D print files for the SunAir Solar Tracking System.
You Modify it! You Change it! You Innovate!
SunAir and SunAirPlus will have Specifications, Application Notes and Articles published on SwitchDoc.com and also as a featured article in Raspberry Pi Geek Magazine. If you want to see an example of the quality of our documentation, go to: http://www.switchdoc.com/dual-watchdog-timer/. We quickly answer all questions posted to our website.
As many of our projects have, this project started in a bar called the Fedora in 2013. We thought it would be cool to put a Solar Powered remotely controlled box down in the Caribbean on the island nation of Curacao, and Project Curacao was born. SunAir generation 1 is shown below.
The next step was to put this fully debugged system in a weather proof box and write the 8000 lines of code that would control it. We ended up putting two complete SunAir 2nd generation solar systems in the box for redundancy and system isolation. One for the Raspberry Pi and one for the Battery WatchDog Arduino which monitored and controlled the power for the Raspberry Pi.
You can see the SunAirPlus prototype board in the lower part of the picture to the right of the Pi Camera.
After 6 months in the Sun, with the box running most of the time, we went down and added more solar panels and a SwitchDoc WatchDog Timer to cover the possibility of a code hang and also recovery from loss of power (brownouts tend to make computers not reboot on a reliable basis - recovery from brownouts is a necessary function on solar powered system. Clouds happen).
Finally, we had enough information and use cases to design and build the 3rd generation of SunAir and the heavily instrumented version, SunAirPlus. This is the Ultimate Solar Panel controller for Raspberry Pi and Arduino projects.
These boards are designed with a lot of flexibility for you to innovate your design.
Risks and challenges
We started this kickstarter project in order to reduce overall cost of manufacturing the boards. A larger initial order to our manufacturer reduces the cost. We currently design & manufacture boards, but this board combines analog and digital circuitry for a more complex design.
The software is in progress but will go through several more phases and updates.
The SunAir board is in final debug as of November 16, 2014 and we should be able to release to manufacturing in early December as planned.
If we fail the Kickstarter, we will still go through with ordering the boards and producing / selling them but at a higher price due to a lower initial order and you will still be able to order our boards from our site.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)