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Heliostat / Solar Tracker


Developed here is a novel low-cost, small scale heliostat that needs no lubrication, made of inexpensive sheet materials and easily assembled. Based on the modern mechanical element of the cross strip rolling pivot, flat sheets are attached via alternating bands then curved around a form creating the rolling surface. This heliostat uses pneumatic bladders or alternatively hydraulic bladders to roll the heliostat structure. The use of pressurized air or water actuation allows for centralized pressure generation. A single compressor can supply pressure to many heliostats. Rather than using expensive electric motors and gear reductions, simple pneumatic valves regulate the pressure in the bladders to roll the structure to the desired orientation.



  • Sheet goods manufacturing processes
  • Distributed loads enable a wide variety of material choices
  • Low manufacturing tolerances


  • Low cost flat pack shipping
  • Heliostat structural components can be used as protective packing material for mirrored surface


  • Interlocking structure
  • Very few fasteners
  • No field welding
  • Quick setup (<5 min/heliostat)


  • No lubrication needed
  • Components are easily replaced

Other Benefits

  • No expensive electric actuators
  • Inexpensive bladder actuator
  • Lightweight structure
  • Interlocking baseplate for distributed ballast
  • No ground penetration
  • Centralized pressure generation
  • Small structure easily maneuvered by hand (no heavy machinery)
  • Scalable to size of mirror
  • Applicable to PV panel sun tracking
  • Patent pending


Actuation for this heliostat/solar tracker is acheived without expensive electric motors, gearboxes or pneumatic cylinders. Inflatable pneumatic bladders are used to roll the tracker to the desired orientation. Inflate the blue bladder and the panel rolls toward the green side and alternativly the opposite will occur when the green bladder is inflated. The stiffeness can be increased by increasing the pressure in both pneumatic bladders.

Actuation Diagram


The array implementation this is simple surface mount that doesn't require expensive concrete footings. Interlocking baseplates provide a simple distributed ballasted mounting system.

Actuation Diagram

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