How to Mount a Solar Tracker to a Time-Lapse Camera Setup

What You'll Need
Solar tracker
Camera with adjustable frame rate and shutter timing
Locking tripod
Fasteners, such as rope, zip ties, bungee cords
Fasteners, such as nuts and carriage bolts
Drill with metal-working bit

A solar tracker utilizes semiconductor photoresistors and a motorized controller to turn a rotor in tandem with the progress of the sun across the sky throughout the day. Time lapse photography is a method of rapidly illustrating a long, slow change. Pictures are taken across a period of hours, days, or weeks. The pictures are then spliced together into a filmstrip. This creates remarkable movies of blossoming flowers, building construction, and rotting fruit, among other subjects.

Mounting a time lapse camera to solar tracker seems like an ingenius way to guarantee adequate lighting. However, pointing the lens directly at the sun is not a good way to trace the sun's movement across the sky. This could overexpose the film or even damage the camera. Placing a dark filter across the lens might help solve this problem. If you already have a solar collector array equipped with a tracking device, you can mount the camera flush to the surface of the motor. Seating the camera in the locking tripod increases the total length, which expands your options for fastening the camera. You can tie it in place with a rope or bungee cord, or you could bolt into the modular rails on the back of the mounting brackets. If you have a spare or empty tracking rotor, you can similarly fasten the camera or tripod directly to it.

Step 1 - Set up Shot

The first step is to lay out your intended photograph. Set your camera timing and determine the orientation of the camera relative to the incident angle of sunlight. Plan out which combination of tracking device and fastener will be most convenient to fasten securely without damaging the panels.

Step 2 - Shut off Power

Lock out the solar collectors from the main circuit and shade them while you are working near the array.

Step 3 - Insert Camera in Tripod

Placing the camera in a lockable tripod will make it easier to mount on the tracker axis. Take care that the camera does not swivel freely in its mounting or the shot may not turn out as you planned.

Step 4 - Fasten Camera to Tracker

First try strapping the camera to the surface or side of the collector with rope or bungee cord. The challenge is fastening the camera securely enough to prevent it from wobbling without bending, scratching, or cracking the collector array. If absolutely necessary, you can drill through the legs of the tripod and drive a bolt into the mounting bracket. Avoiding shading and retaining the look of your original shot are further difficulties. Removing the collector panel from the tracker axis is one way of expanding your options.