Solar Array Testing
Thirty-two 5" by 5" high efficiency monolithic silicon solar cells are mounted and wired into the solar plane's ten-foot wing. The cells in each half of the wing are wired in series. Each half of the wing produces about 8 volts at 4.8 Amps when loaded to produce the maximum output power. The outputs from the two wing-halves are paralleled, producing a total output of about 8V at 9.5A in bright, normal sunshine under the cooling conditions of normal flight. This gives the plane about 76 Watts (max) of solar-generated electrical power to run the plane's motor, radio control receiver, servos, and the onboard instrumentation, data logger and telemetry transmitter.
The solar cells were purchased from overseas sellers through an online auction. They are exceedingly fragile. Mounting and wiring them into the wing was a significant effort. Because of this I serialized and electrically tested all of the cells used in the plane before installing them. This ensured that all cells used in the plane would perform as expected.
Following installation into each half of the wing, each 16-cell array was tested prior to covering the wing with clear shrink film. Final electrical and thermal tests were performed on the finished, covered wing. These photos depict some of the testing.
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