If you need to squeeze every available wattage out of a solar panel, you may want to look into a solar tracking system. Unfortunately, they are usually quite large, heavy, and expensive. As an alternative, [JP Gleyzes] have collected A DIY solar tracking system that aims to solve this problem.
Starting with a 100 W flexible solar panel purchased during the Black Friday sale, [JP] first time making a simple frame using 20 mm PVC pipe and some 3D printed brackets. It is mounted on a wooden base with a molded worm gear rotation mechanism, powered by a stepper motor. The slope is handled by lead screws made of threaded rods, connected between the wooden base and the top of the solar panel, and is also driven by a stepper motor.
For more efficiency, [JP] also created MPPT charge controller with companion app uses ESP32, modified 20 A buck converter, and current sensor module. The ESP32 also controls the stepper motor. Optimal angle for solar panels determined using the system’s GPS date, time and position. [JP] have also created a simple Android app to calibrate the start position of the panel.
This project is finalist in Planet-Friendly Power the 2022 Hackaday Prize challenge, and all the details for building your own are available on your project page. Given the size of the system, we suspect future iterations could be even smaller.