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Patent: To Follow The Sun
Patent: To Follow The Sun | wac_txbz,Patrick Richard Sivert, Jewett, patent, 8151787, solar device, control apparatus, device interchangeability, Leon County,

Patrick Richard Sivert of Jewett, Texas recently received U.S. Patent 8,151,787 for “Solar Device Control Apparatus With Device Interchangeability.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day:  You want to use solar energy, but that sun rolls across the sky.  What do you do? Invent a device that keeps your energy conversion panels pointed at Sol.

That’s what a Leon County man has done. Patrick Richard Sivert of Jewett, Texas recently received U.S. Patent 8,151,787 for “Solar Device Control Apparatus With Device  Interchangeability.”

Sivert applied for the patent more than three years ago on March 30, 2009.

His invention relates generally to solar powered devices such as ovens, parabolic cookers, water distillers, and food dehydrators, as well as small arrays of photovoltaic panels, and in particular to the control of such solar devices by means of supporting and aiming them while having the option of exchanging the controlled device when desired, according to the patent document.

In order to minimize the time required to complete any task using manually-aimed solar devices, quickness and accuracy in aiming the device to track the sun both vertically and horizontally should be maximized.

Although many solar devices have no tilt adjustment, some do have adjustable reflectors or are propped up by using various materials. Solar devices such as the more expensive solar ovens and parabolic cookers generally have built-in gimbal systems for the cooking vessel to swivel on, so that the device can be vertically adjusted during the session by tilting it toward the sun. 

Parabolic cookers require the most accurate and frequent aiming, typically every 15 to 30 minutes, and are powerful enough to fry foods. Solar ovens can be very powerful and on a bright sunny day in the summer they are capable of reaching 400+ degrees Fahrenheit and may reach 300+ degrees F. on a cool sunny winter day.

For maximum output, solar ovens require aiming at least every 30 to 60 minutes. The aiming interval should be shortened (more frequent aiming) if the present weather conditions are hazy, partly cloudy, windy, or the power from the sun is diminishing as the day winds down. 

While most solar ovens and parabolic cookers require tilt capability, solar food dehydrators and solar water distillers generally have built-in angled glazing for stationary operation (at least vertically) and usually do not require any type of prop or other fixture with tilt adjustment. One of the most popular solar ovens comes equipped with its own adjustable tilt mechanism that the operator readjusts as needed during the session. 

While utilizing the primary embodiment of the control apparatus along with a utility cart and the solar oven, the aiming process takes just seconds as both the horizontal and tilt angles are simultaneously, precisely, and effortlessly adjusted. This saves time and takes the guesswork and effort out of the process of aiming the solar device. This in turn, can lead to minimized operating time because the aiming process is so quick, with the device most likely being better and/or more frequently aimed as a result.

Because the control apparatus elevates the solar device well above ground level, it is much easier to access the target product(s). And when the utility cart is being used, there are flat surfaces available to set the target product down on while loading or unloading the solar device. The control apparatus supports and locks the device in so that the device is safely secured aid will not tip over as a result of either wind gusts or aiming mishaps. Also, no direct sighting of the sun or reflected light is required during the aiming process. The maximum tilt can exceed 90 degrees, depending on ground clearance, allowing the solar device to gather more energy (a net energy gain) than normal, either very early or very late in the day. 

Additional advantages of using the control apparatus along with any solar device that requires tilt includes using the novel aim-ahead feature for more energy gain throughout the period that the solar device is in use. Aim-ahead leads to higher peak temperatures, higher ending temperatures, and therefore faster operating times than would otherwise be the case. Another advantage is that the utility cart allows for quick and easy shade avoidance as the shade canopy of any given area changes throughout the day, as well as seasonal changes. Another advantage is if the operator is finished using a particular solar device but has other solar tasks to be performed and other solar devices to perform them with, the solar device being used can be exchanged for another device. This is possible due to the use of a standardized mounting system for various solar devices and converting them to be interchangeable. The more total exposure of one or more solar devices, the greater the total energy gain. And, of course, since the cost of solar energy equals $0.00, the greater the total fossil fuel savings possible. In addition, further increases in the level of sustainability for any given household is achieved. Lastly, the primary embodiment can be quickly and easily disassembled into lightweight and easy to store subassemblies with no tools required. 

An alternative embodiment has the advantages of being very simple and relatively less expensive. It is best used with the interchangeable and heavier type of solar devices that don't require tilt. Using solar devices such as distillers and dehydrators with this embodiment, allows the primary embodiment to remain free to be used with solar devices that do require tilt. If used with the optional caster cart, this embodiment is mobile, can be spun on its axis for horizontal adjustment, and can easily be rolled away from any encroaching shade. 
In accordance with one embodiment, the apparatus is comprised of a turntable with a fixed lower section and a rotatable upper section known as the rotor channel that interlocks with the base channel of the main body. Attached at the bottom of the base channel are two uprights rising on opposite sides. Near the top of each upright is a tilt pivot with each pivot having a threaded shaft passing through an upright and into the cradle assembly. The tilt pivots allow the apparatus to swivel in the vertical direction. Each pivot has an easy to set adjustable tensioner so that the cradle assembly, holding the controlled solar device, will maintain its adjusted position once set. At the back of the cradle assembly is a swinging lock-arm with an extended bolt that locks into either a direct-fit solar device or an adaptor box. The adaptor box allows other solar devices to be utilized. Also located at the back of the cradle assembly is the biaxial control arm that, when moved, adjusts the apparatus and cradle contents thereof, in both the vertical and horizontal directions simultaneously.