Branches and Solar Panels by Peter Coyle
I've recently been looking at branches and solar panels for the power tree! Branches – After a little experimenting, I found I could make tubes for the branches by thermoforming sheet plastic. Thermoforming, is where you heat plastic to make it bendy and hold it in a new shape. When it cools it stays in the new shape! To make branches, I needed to find just the right thickness of material – thick enough that it will be strong, but thin enough that I can roll it into tubes. I found rolling the tubes like they roll paper straws made them very strong. Next, I have to decide how to best join the branches! Solar Panels – I want the power tree to generate a useful amount of energy – so I've found small solar panels I can use for the leaves. To help me choose the right solar panels, I worked out how much power each one would give, and how many solar panels I thought the tree should have. I bought some panels to test and found that the amount of power the supply varies a lot depending on the time of the day, and how bright it is. I, therefore, decided I need what is called a “buck/boost convertor”. This takes a varying power source, and creates a constant voltage – this can then be used to power things. Next I will have to decide what to connect to our power tree! I could possibly add a battery, so we can store the power when it is sunny, and use it across the whole day.