Can the CMU cam track the sun

I am doing a project with a solar cells and i want to make a stand that uses the CMU cam or something else to know where the sun is and point the solar cell so no matter what position it is in, it always gets the most sun.
Any one know what i could do?

Don’t bother with the CMUCam!

Here is a simple way to do it with two photocells, some cardboard or thin wood, and an op-amp:

Place the two photocells on a rigid platform attached to the solar cells’ mounting platform in the same plane. Stand the cardboard up beween them so that one photocell is partially shaded if the sun is at an angle relative to the solar cells. Now, if you drive the inputs of an op-amp difference amplifier with the photocell outputs, and drive the platform motor with the output of the op-amp (after a suitable power amplifier!) the solar cells should always track the sun.

If you want it to also track in the azimuth, then duplicate it, just orient the photocells and cardboard 90° to the original set.

DO NOT EVER point the CMUCam directly at the sun! It will burn a hole in the vision sensor after a few seconds! Even sunglasses may not help much here; you would have to make sure they block out infrared as well as visible light.

NEVER point ANY digital camera at the sun!!! You will ruin it!

If you use a welding helmet/glasses* with a shade protection of at least 13 (14 or higher recommended), you can observe the sun [during an eclipse] with your own eyes. If you use this same level of shade protection on a camera, this should protect the camera’s CCD/CMOS sensor from the infrared, visible, UV, and cosmic radiation for somewhat extended periods of time.

Also, when trying to photograph the sun, never use telephoto lens (or anything larger than 200mm zoom), as this will begin to expose enough of the sensor to the sun to start doing permanent damage very quickly.

Otherwise, with most point-and-shoot digital cameras, you can take occasional pictures with the sun partially or fully (such as with sunsets/sunrises) in the frame without any problems. On my older digital camera (which was about 23,000 pictures old before I retired it), I estimate that I took several hundred photos with the sun in the picture without any problems.

  • Don’t use oxyacetylene glasses, as they typically offer only a shade protection of 6, which is no where near enough protection.