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Can you model the sun on a reflector with software?

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Posted by brian white on January 30, 2009, 5:35 am
I am into low tech solar cooker design. I try to design reflective
dishes that are easy and cheap to build ( make the dish out of mud with
kitchen foil stuck to it if necessary!) and that will focus the suns
heat on a cooking pot for several hours.
My ideal stationary reflector would do this for 3 or 4 hours per day,
every day, winter and summer. BUT it is really hard to test your dish
curves to see if they actually do it well. So since September I have
been asking in software forums if modeling and animation software can do
it. But it has to be easy to use because I am an amateur. Finally, I
think I have found a suitable one.
Its a free one too.
It is called art of illusion and I have started a thread in their forum
about solar cooking.
https://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?thread_id )15545&forum_idG782
They have been really helpful, and I think their software and attitude
will be very useful in the long run. Right now in Chad, people are no
longer allowed to collect firewood for cooking. (Trees are nearly all
gone!). Solar cooking built into mud walls can greatly help them. I
believe that with the software, we can design the right curves even on a
hit and miss basis or a" tweak to make better" basis. I think people
will easily be able  to trial a design with the software.  All you have
to do is make the reflector, mirrored surface is available, make the
cooking pot (I make it red)  and bring the camera high over it (the
camera takes the place of the sun. How good is the reflector? If you see
a lot of red reflected when you render a pic, it is good. Not so much
red it is bad. You just move the camera to see how long it will remain
productive.(I5 degrees of movement is 1 hour of sun movement.  You can
try cusps, compound parabolic reflectors, parabolic dishes and you could
try compound parabolic dishes and cusp reflectors spun into a dish too.
You could easily check how well different size and shape cooking pots
will catch the sun too before you make your design physically.
I will show what I mean when I get better with the software.

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