Building a Rugged Computing Platform for a Reliable Solar Tracking System

Project Introduction

Photovoltaic power generation is a hot topic today, and the government even subsidizes the photovoltaic industry to accelerate its development. However, the main reason why photovoltaic power generation has not been favored is due to inefficiency. The intensity of solar energy is closely related to the angle of sunlight exposure. So, to capture the strongest and most sunlight possible, solar tracking systems provide a solution. The solar tracking system determines the direction of the strongest sunlight and adjusts the angle of the solar panels to the direction of the strongest sunlight. The solar tracking system needs a powerful embedded industrial computer to do complex data analysis and calculation, so as to accurately control the system, and at the same time apply a redundant architecture to ensure the stable operation of the system.

system requirement

APV system integrators are actively involved in the photovoltaic industry and design their own solar tracking systems. The solar tracking system includes a large number of measuring instruments, light sensors, network switches, PLCs and other equipment. Due to the precision requirements, the system requires a powerful automated industrial computer that can not only process a large amount of weather information and sunlight density, but also fully control a complex system consisting of a variety of devices. At the same time, industrial computers must be small and well-dissipated so that engineers can develop more efficient and low-cost solar tracking systems. Customers often choose northwest China, which is cold in winter and dry in summer, as an experimental base, which requires that the related equipment in the system must be able to operate normally in a harsh natural environment.

System specification

Advantech provides UNO-2178A, a high-performance controller with onboard Intel® Atom™ D510 processor with multiple network interfaces, which is the core part of the solar tracking system solution. The project uses 4 UNO-2178A embedded fanless industrial computers, each UNO-2178A is connected to 18 PLCs through light switches for PLC control and management. When UNO-2178A receives the information, it sends out instructions to adjust the solar panels to keep them facing the direction of the strongest sunlight. If the direction of the strongest solar energy sensed by the two sensors is inconsistent, UNO-2178A will find the actual direction of the strongest sunlight through calculation, and adjust the solar panel to the direction of the strongest sunlight. Another UNO-2178A is used to collect signals and data from measurement equipment and light sensors. When the network connection fails, this UNO-2178A can also be used as a redundant machine. UNO-2178A can operate stably in a wide temperature environment of -10°C ~ 70°C, ensuring that this solution can adapt to various harsh environments, and provides an embedded instant application platform to shorten user development time.In addition, UNO-2178A fanless, low power consumption, compact design can meet more customer requirements

Project implementation




Intel® Atom™ D510 Fanless Embedded PC, 6 x USB, 8 x COM, 2 x Mini PCIe

System Architecture Diagram

Advantech Solar Tracking System Solutions

in conclusion

Advantech participated in the development stage of the solar energy and project, and after a year of rigorous testing, the high stability and reliability of the equipment left a deep impression on the households. The outstanding performance of UNO-2178A has greatly enhanced the stability of the customer’s system and won the long-term trust of customers. UNO-2178A has been extended to photovoltaic power generation projects in Xiamen, Qinghai and Hainan. Advantech products help PV system integrators gain more business opportunities with their outstanding performance in the rapidly expanding environment of Chinese PV manufacturers.

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About AdvantechFounded in 1983, Advantech is the world’s leading and trusted provider of innovative embedded and automated product solutions, including complete system integration, hardware, software, customer-centric design services, and global logistics support. Advantech is also a Premier Member of the Intel Embedded & Communications Alliance, providing complete solutions for various industrial applications through close cooperation with solution partners. Advantech has more than 5,400 full-time employees and has formed an extensive technical support and marketing network between 21 countries and 71 major cities, so it can provide fast time-to-market services for customers around the world. For more information, please visit

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