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Raspberry Pi Pico Keeps Track of the Sun

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Dr2mod)

The Raspberry Pi has plenty of use cases that work great on planet Earth and a few that cater to the demands of outer space—thanks to projects like AstroPi. There are some projects, however, that seem to meet in the middle like maker Dr2mod’s Raspberry Pi Pico-powered sun tracking project. This project makes it possible to keep an eye on the giant mass of nuclear fusion in our solar system while staying indoors. It lays out a clean display of data, going as far as providing an estimation for what time sunrise and sunset will occur.

Keeping track of solar bodies is nothing new for Dr2mod. We previously covered his Pico-powered solar system tracker which uses a Pimoroni Display Pack to illustrate a graphic representation of each planet’s current location in our solar system. Dr2mod’s work is also known to stretch beyond the stars, reaching into other areas like AI with this automated flappy bird project.

Dr2mod’s Raspberry Pi Pico sun tracker uses a Li-Po battery and is completely portable. This battery poweres both the Pico and the e-paper display. Because the project relies on an e-paper display, power consumption is low as the screen refreshes periodically rather than constantly. According to Dr2mod, the sun’s location is calculated using the user’s longitude and latitude data. This project could be a good candidate for Pimoroni's Badger 2040, a wearable e-paper display also powered by the RP2040 SoC. 

The hardware is housed inside of a custom, 3D-printed shell and also includes a DS3231 Precision RTX module, Waveshare e-Paper 3.7, Li-Po 2000mAh 103450 battery, and a Pimoroni LiPo SHIM. It’s possible to recreate this project by swapping a few components for similar parts.

Dr2mod has shared the code in its current state to GitHub for anyone interested in how the software side comes together. This project is a work in progress, updates are planned for the future. At the moment, the tracker displays the suns location in a chart along with its relativity to the moon and Earth. When everything is ready, Dr2mod plans to release the 3D-printable case files on his official Thingiverse page.

To get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project, visit the original thread shared to Reddit by Dr2mod. He provides an up close look at the build so far as well as additional details throughout the comments. Again, this project is a work in progress—be sure to follow Dr2mod for future updates. 

Ash Hill
Ash Hill

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.