Swiveling and rotating solar panel mount - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 12-19-2014, 07:05 PM   #1
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Swiveling and rotating solar panel mount

OK, before anyone's tempted to get into a big debate about the usefulness of being able to rotate and tilt the panel let me say; I'm doing this because I enjoy tweaking the last milli volt out of the panel, not because it's something I think you have to do.

I've done this for years on boats and it's just second nature for me to twist and tilt without even having to think about it. I don't consider it a big effort to tweak it during the day. If I'm away it'll just get left in the default South facing tilt.

The plan is to mount this one on a collapseable pole on the front side of my tongue box. In the fully raised position it will clear the roof so no matter where the sun is I'll be able to get the optimum exposure. In a totally shaded situation I can still put a short tube on the mount and use it as a portable unit.

The 2" tube may look like overkill but in the flat "down" position it'll no doubt get a fair amount of buffeting and the 2" tube has a much higher torsion constant than 1 1/2".

It's an experiment, maybe it'll work or maybe it'll end up just mounted on the roof. Time will tell.

Ron
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:10 PM   #2
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I like it - looks simple and efficient.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:11 PM   #3
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Very cool.
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:23 PM   #4
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I'll be the first to say wow, that is some kind of beautiful mount!
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:28 PM   #5
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Nice Job Ron! What is the size of the panel?
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Old 12-19-2014, 07:28 PM   #6
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Thanks, it's turning out OK and I'm happy with it. Just don't look at my disaster area cluttered work bench

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Old 12-19-2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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Great job on that, Ron. That is not clutter, that is where things happen.
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Thanks, it's turning out OK and I'm happy with it. Just don't look at my disaster area cluttered work bench

Ron
Great job on that, Ron.
Could we have a materials list and a few basic dimensions. I've got a bare spot on My workbench that needs some residual clutter from a project like that. Thanks.
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Old 12-19-2014, 08:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
OK, before anyone's tempted to get into a big debate about the usefulness of being able to rotate and tilt the panel let me say; I'm doing this because I enjoy tweaking the last milli volt out of the panel, not because it's something I think you have to do.

Excellent reason!
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:47 PM   #10
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So is the plan to just lower the panel and have it live just above the front storage box area? Or have it removable for towing ?
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
I'll be the first to say wow, that is some kind of beautiful mount!
Well said, Longmire.


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Originally Posted by dfandrews View Post
Great job on that, Ron.
Could we have a materials list and a few basic dimensions. I've got a bare spot on My workbench that needs some residual clutter from a project like that. Thanks.
I'm sure a few of us would appreciate some more info in the build and the panel.
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Old 12-19-2014, 10:58 PM   #12
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And the weight.
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Old 12-19-2014, 11:28 PM   #13
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So is the plan to just lower the panel and have it live just above the front storage box area? Or have it removable for towing ?
I'm wondering about the same thing. Down that low and horizontal wouldn't the corners hit the tug in sharp turns? Detailed dimension checks could be critical.

An alternative would be to stow the panel vertically in transit, with the panel facing rearward and sitting just above the front of the storage box.
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Old 12-20-2014, 01:26 AM   #14
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Yes, I'm hoping the travel position will be lowered, flat and just high enough that I can open the tongue box lid. It would then still be operable while underway. I've checked clearances etc. and that aspect should be OK. The only unknown is the effect of buffeting so I'll be pretty conservative until I see if there are any negative effects.

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Old 12-20-2014, 01:40 AM   #15
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Ron,
The pieces with the curved slots: did you fabricate those, or find them ready-made. The rest is light gauge steel or aluminum, so they're easy.
But that one.....
I've got a drill press and an X-Y table, but don't see an easy way to fab. it.
It would be like drawing a circle on an etch-a-sketch.
Thanks for any info you can pass along.
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Old 12-20-2014, 11:36 AM   #16
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Your adjustable panel mount looks great.
Possibly I can make something similar, for the bumper of my 5TA. Detachable and collapsible.
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Old 12-20-2014, 01:09 PM   #17
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Ron,
The pieces with the curved slots: did you fabricate those, or find them ready-made. The rest is light gauge steel or aluminum, so they're easy.
But that one.....
I've got a drill press and an X-Y table, but don't see an easy way to fab. it.
It would be like drawing a circle on an etch-a-sketch.
Thanks for any info you can pass along.
I usually take photos of everything in progress but I didn't this time

Briefly, I have a friend with a machine shop who could have whipped these out for me or I could have borrowed a rotary table from him and used it on my milling machine. But I wanted to see if I could figure out a way to do it myself.

I mounted the aluminum plate on a piece of plywood the same width and about 3' long. A bolt went through the pivot hole in the plate, through the plywood (which I used as a lever arm for control) and into a block of wood clamped in the milling vice. Oh, what the heck, I'll go take some mocked up photos that'll make it clearer

The thing that allows for this crude use is the milling cutter is called a hogging mill and it works very well in aluminum. I wouldn't try this crude process with steel. If you want to use your drill press and the X-Y table using a hogging mill would probably give better results.

The quadrant isn't really necessary unless you want to do it as an exercise A bar with holes every 1" would do the same. The quadrant just gives a bit more adjustability.

Ron
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Old 12-20-2014, 02:27 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
I mounted the aluminum plate on a piece of plywood the same width and about 3' long. A bolt went through the pivot hole in the plate, through the plywood (which I used as a lever arm for control) and into a block of wood clamped in the milling vice. (*)

Ron
Ron,
Right (*) is where I said, "Duh!" I shouldda thought of that.
Perfect. Thanks for the description. And the long lever arm for control is the safe path.

I think the slotted adjustment is the much preferred way, rather that a series of holes.
It's quicker to adjust where you want, and there's no chance of bolts/nuts lost in the dirt.

Thanks again.
Don
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Old 12-20-2014, 03:58 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfandrews View Post
The pieces with the curved slots: did you fabricate those, or find them ready-made. The rest is light gauge steel or aluminum, so they're easy.
But that one.....
I've got a drill press and an X-Y table, but don't see an easy way to fab. it.
It would be like drawing a circle on an etch-a-sketch.
  1. Draw pattern on sheet
  2. Cut with jigsaw
  3. Sand rough edges
Not as slick as a CNC machine, but it would work.
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Old 12-20-2014, 04:02 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
I mounted the aluminum plate on a piece of plywood the same width and about 3' long. A bolt went through the pivot hole in the plate, through the plywood (which I used as a lever arm for control) and into a block of wood clamped in the milling vice.
Good thinking, and great description.
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