Solar Panel System for Remote Data Collection

Solar Panel System for Remote Data Collection

This project was performed by Connor Rutten from Maria Carrillo High School, Santa Rosa, CA, under the supervision of Dr. Ali Kujoory, Engineering Science Department, School of Science and Technology (SST), SSU in summer of 2011. The project was part of the SST High School Internship Program (SHIP).

The purpose of this project was to develop a power source for a data acquisition system that collects data in a remote area where there is no access to the public electricity. In this case, the system collects the water quality parameters such as water temperature, PH, and water level of the Copeland Creek on the outskirts of the SSU campus for the environmental researchers at the university labs. Without any public or grid electricity, some type of renewable energy source was needed to power the electronic system that collects the data and transfers the data over a wireless communication link to the lab on campus for further data analysis.

The solar panels are bolted on a frame that is installed on a post close to the creek bed where the sensors are installed. The solar panels can be adjusted to face the sun to receive the optimum amount of light year round. The electrical components of the system are housed in a watertight electrical component box that contains a 12V battery to store the electrical power, a voltage regulator to limit the voltage coming from the panels to the battery, and a voltage converter that changes the 12V coming from the battery to 5V for the electronics. The 5V supply also feeds the water parameter sensors and the wireless circuit to transmit the collected data to the lab.