Sunlight and solar cells: teaching digital design and communication through the development of a simple monitoring station

Downs, Nathan and Parisi, Alfio (2010) Sunlight and solar cells: teaching digital design and communication through the development of a simple monitoring station. Teaching Science: The Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 56 (4). pp. 52-58. ISSN 1449-6313

PDF (Published Version)

Download (715Kb)


A method is described for building a cost effective digital circuit capable of monitoring the solar radiation incident upon a remote solar cell. The circuit is built in two sections, the first, digitises the analogue voltage produced by the solar cell at a remote location and transmits the received signal to the second receiver circuit which relays the information to a computer for storage. The activity introduces students to simple programming techniques required to communicate with a computer serial interface, and to analyse binary signals for accurate interpretation of the induced solar cell voltage resulting from exposure to sunlight. The activity can be extended by investigating the influence of solar cell tilt angle with respect to solar position, studying the effect of seasonal solar altitude differences and noting the effect of cloud on the radiation received. The completed project provides schools with their own solar radiation monitoring station which can be used for future studies of weather and climate.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 9210
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Deposited with blanket permission of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2011 10:33
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013 00:08
Uncontrolled Keywords: solar; UV; skin cancer; climate
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
09 Engineering > 0906 Electrical and Electronic Engineering > 090601 Circuits and Systems
04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040103 Atmospheric Radiation
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only