College of Engineering Unit:
The Oregon State University Sustainability Office requested a Capstone team to help them complete a project for their mobile solar power trailer. The purpose of this trailer is not only to produce electrical power, but also to provide education to the community about the benefits and efficacy of solar power.
From the beginning, the solar trailer has been a collaboration between the Sustainability Office and the Capstone program at Oregon State University. Capstone teams have brought the trailer through three iterations to what it is today. The installation works with the help of 150 square feet of solar array that is raised up by a telescoping mast, and then allowed to automatically track the sun. This mast is currently raised using a system of hydraulic pistons and cables. However, the hydraulics shouldn’t be relied on to hold a load of the solar array for any extended period of time. With this in mind, a prop arm, made of a six-inch piece of C-channel, was installed to hold the weight of the array when raised into its operating position.
Under previous conditions, an individual needed to climb into the trailer to position this prop arm by hand, which not only created a potential safety concern, but was also an annoyance to the operator of the trailer.
The project aimed to eliminate this by installing a mechanism which engaged and disengaged the prop arm from outside of the trailer. This mechanism was achieved using a system of a spring and a cable attached to a handle which was installed inside the door frame. By pulling on the handle, the prop arm is pulled away from the mast allowing the solar array to raise or lower. With the addition of the spring, the prop arm will return to the mast when not under added tension.
Following final installation and testing, the mechanism works as designed, giving the operator the ability to deploy the solar array without ever needing to climb into the trailer, exactly as requested by the Sustainability Office.
Project Communication Piece(s):