The new solar tilting trike is ready!

It has been a busy period and things have progressed but more slowly than expected. This was also due to some components that arrived late or/and with partial shipments….

In essence I have been working on these 3 sub-projects:

1) – design and build all the ‘rotating’ components to allow the solar panels to tilt around the main axle

2) – add 3 support structures on the bike frame for the solar panels: one in the front, one in the center and one in the back. 

3) – build the frame to keep both solar panels (150W each, size 1070x800mm) together  

Here is the rotating element that is going to enable the rotation of the solar panels around the center axle.

Once again it was my friend Pierre who did help to obtain the cylindrical part using teflon as the basis: it is very strong and more important it can rotate with minimal friction.

  • The plastic support and the teflon cylindrical piece obtained with the lathe
  • Here the cylindrical part is positioned inside the lower support
  • Here it is shown as it’s going to be positioned on the supports on the frame
  • Since the central axle has a square shape, the teflon rotating part will need to be machined to obtain a square shape as well.
  • Example of the square shape to be obtained
  • the rotating part on the milling machine to obtain the inner square shape

I started to work on the central support on the bike frame.

The main challenges were:

  • to try to position it as forward as possible
  • with a ’round’ shape to allow the rotation of the solar panels
  • to avoid interference with the cyclists’s helmet
  • Here I am testing the distance between the support and my helmet
  • here the process to bend the aluminium support progressively….
  • …until it gets the rounded shape!
  • This is the final result: it is funny because it looks like a HEART!
  • seen from the front side
  • The final shape is tested for interference with my helmet…

Once positioned the central support it was easier to start to build the rear support and finally the front one. This is because the height of the central support was already determined and the others should have been positioned with same height from the ground: 117cm.

  • Here with the central axle to determine the exact position of the other 2 supports
  • The bike with the added rear support: note also all the structure which is necessary to raise the rear support
  • here it is the view from the back
  • ….and here from the front right
  • Finally also the front support is positioned: here I am testing that the central axle is perfectly horizontal
  • This is a detail of the front support


Concerning solar panels there are 2 main changes:

  • after all the experiences in the last couple of years and having seen all other SunTrip solar bikes I decided to use in 2019 more powerful solar panels for a total of 300W. 
  • After several experiments I have also decided to start using a “tilting approach” also for the solar panels: in fact in my previous tests (check this video on the right) I could prove that with this solution in certain conditions the marginal gain could be of 70% and more!

For those reasons I have used a new supplier (“Link Solar”) who was able to develop 2 solar panels with exactly the dimensions I needed: 6×8 cells, 150W and a size of 1070x800mm

Here below some of the main details concerning the solar panels solution
  • Here are the new solar panels just delivered, with a perfect packaging
  • Here are the technical characteristics
  • The weight of each panel is 2,3kg
  • Very good manufacturing quality: there is also a serial number!
  • First tests gave a total of 64,8 Volts (unloaded). Not bad for a winter day!
  • Here it is the test on the Current: 4,33 Amps (unloaded).
  • Here as a visual reference from the right: 140W in 2017, then 200W in 2018 and 300W for 2019!
  • Here we can see the different parts: 2 thin film solar panels, 2 aluminium sheets (0,8mm thickness) and a large foam sheet for vibration dampening. Total weight including aluminium frame = 9.5kg

This is the final result: the new Solar Tilting Trike with…Tilting panels!

Better pictures to come in my next post…hopefully with some sunshine!

  • This is the NEW STT with Tilting panels from the front
  • from the front right side
  • from the right side

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jean-Gilles PONSIN

    blog très intéressant, je débute.

    1. daniele g

      Merci! Et surtout il ne faut pas hésiter à poser des questions!

  2. Dinesh

    I think you have to make velomobile with tilting rear wheel and solar cell ,reduce hight will help you to stabilising balance

    1. daniele g

      Hi, I definitely agree with your comment! This is exactly what I am planning for the next steps of my project. But before starting I need to consolidate the development and testing of the 2019 trike: ideally I would like to start to design the “velomobile” version by the end of this year.

  3. Dinesh

    Really great design ,but how u tilt when head or tail direction ?

    1. daniele g

      Hi Dinesh, thanks for your question. the solar panels can tilt on the RIGHT and on the LEFT, there is no possibility to lean FORWARD or BACKWARD.
      This is not an issue for me even considering that from an aerodynamic point of view it wouldn’t work.
      I will add more picture in my next post with details on how the solar panels can tilt.

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