I realized today that an operating ‘stat like v2.3 is a proof of concept for a design that would be built differently. If mass manufactured, it would probably be a plastic frame, motors and hardware rather than the current angle iron-based system.
The design questions that the proof of concept needs to address include:
1) Is the system mechanically practical?
Does the center point bearing mirror weight and allowing full X/Y motion work? Can the mirror be positioned as needed by the other two points? Can the other points provide the positional stability needed for a large mirror in wind? Are the current motors (small gear motors, not steppers or servos) usable? Does the system provide adequate accuracy? What mirrors would ultimately be practical for heliostats (lifecycle cost analysis)? Etc.
2) Is the system electronically practical?
Can an open source microcontroller & motor controller group handle a residential size array (2-20) of heliostats cheaply and reliably? Can a power distribution system work cheaply and reliably? Can additional sensors adding capabilities be added easily? (Example 1: heat detection placed at PV cells that cuts out stats above a certain temperature. Example 2: additional positioning sensors at the stats). Can the whole system be matured enough to make installation relatively simple? Etc.
3) Is the overall system viable?
What is the true final cost per square meter after mechanical and electronic corrections are incorporated? What types of installations are possible or attractive? What is the ROI in actual installations? Can installations be made simple enough so almost anyone could do it? Are there economic niches where the system could flourish? Are there installations where it could compete economically with conventional power generation? Etc.
The system is essentially a base and frame that holds the components in fixed relationships to one another paired with some microcontroller logic and directions on how to assemble and run the thing. It would be cheaper and more consistent to do this in a piece of blow molded plastic that fixes all the special relationships, provides mounts and protection for motors, wires and rods, can be filled with concrete or sand for weight, all while simplifying installation and improving reliability. Less modular, yes, but more practical.
The exercise of building it out of off-the-shelf parts is valuable. But if the exercise proves a success, the end product (what you could buy in a hardware store, or manufacturer yourself) will look different.