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In this tutorial we will discuss steps to be taken in order to create single-axis tracker layout.

Before generating tables, Layout, Frame & Park settings must be set.

Layout generation settings

Layout parameters

  • Select restriction zone layer (boundaries on this layer will be avoided by frames)
  • Select units (milimeters/meters or inches/feet)
  • Topographic layout option allows to generate on terrain survey or on flat surface (satellite data)
  • Optimized frames option hides unnecessary objects to increase performance of AutoCAD.
  • Maximum inclination frames option allows to place and color code frames that are exceeding the inclination limit.
  • Hill and Ditch tolerance frames option allows to place and color code frames that are exceeding the terrain tolerance limit. (Defined in frame & park settings)

Tree shading parameters

  • Shading angle parameters allow the user to define how much shading area should be created when generating tree shading. You can change this in North - South or E/W direction from the tree. 
  • Also, you can specify a fixed offset around the tree so tables don't get placed too close to it.

Frame and park settings

There is a total of 3 tabs inside the Frame & Park settings window.
Go through each of these tabs to setup your framing type and layout distances.

Frame creation

Frame presets - create, save or delete your presets (presets applies for current DWG only)
Module parameters - define your main module parameters
Frame parameters - define your main frame parameters
Custom piling - define your piling setup and distances in the frame (note: distance references does not consider frame overhangs, therefore minimal differences can be present)

Placement setup

Framing type - select fixed-tilt or singe-axis tracker system.
Generation type - 3 different generation types are currently available:

  • Full frames - PVcase will generate only one type of frame in the area (note: may leave unfilled spots, but simplifies installation process).
  • Multiple presets - PVcase will optimize the layout by placing several different frame presets from the selected preset library. (note: placement order can be changed by toggling different options for the order - currently 1 option available.)

Park settings

Park parameters - define your frame placement parameters:

  • Distance parameters - Input pitch distance or inner spacing of the system.
  • Row spacing - minimum distance between frames in N-S.

Corridor settings - enables usage of custom spacing between any amount of rows and columns in tracker system, therefore making trackers separated into "blocks". Corridors are typically used for access road or maintenance purposes. 

Differences between corridor setting being enabled and disabled:

Draw corridor lines can also be enabled to have a simple polyline in a middle of corridors. These lines can be used in several ways:

  • Drawing road - usage of draw road function will prompt to select polyline which represents road. Selecting corridor line will make it a new road.
  • Electrical device alignment line - electrical device placement requires a selection of device alignment line, therefore same corridor line can be used as well.
  • Cabling - same way, cabling path can be indicated by selecting already existing corridor line.

Frame height settings (advanced) - advanced user input to define frame placement on terrain. If you wish to learn more about this concept - click below:

Defining boundaries and exclusion zones

Defining generation boundaries (PV areas)

Generation boundaries or PV areas are defined as a region drawn with a closed polyline. In order to create such a boundary - you can use AutoCAD's polyline function or any other drawing tool that will give you a closed boundary (i.e. rectangle)

Usually, this region or boundary is different from the actual site boundary has an offset from it.

Be sure to always close the polyline by using the close command (enter C into the command line while still drawing the line) or attaching the polyline end vertex to the start point with the green object snap.

Boundary troubleshooting

This error message appears when there are problems with the PV area region. Try checking the vertices to see whether you might have any polyline crossing over each other that create  smaller areas or perhaps vertices on top of each other.

Defining exclusion zones (offset areas)

Exclusion zones - by default, the PVcase offset layer is regarded as the exclusion zone layer. You can change which layer should be regarded as the exclusion zone in Layout generation settings. This means, that any closed areas on this layer will force the software to avoid placing frames in that area - you can draw it using the same approach as you would for a PV area. (Closed polyline)

Exclusion zones are also created using the Generate tree shading tool. It will create a cone or circle shaped offset around the tree in the selected restriction zone layer. (PVcase offsets by default)

To learn more about Generate tree shading and other action tools, click below:

Generation

Once the parameters are all set, the generation can be done by selecting generate single area. Then, user is prompted to select alignment type. Note: If you would like to generate in more than one areas, you can use mass selection with several areas.

Alignment types

Two-way alignment - this alignment type separates into 4 different sections, meaning there is now 4 different ways to generate trackers.

Clicking on any part of these corners will generate trackers accordingly. For example: Clicking on top left corner will start generating trackers from left side and align them towards top part of PV area. These 4 ways can be seen below.

Line alignment - aligns tracker system and its motors to the drawn line. This is our mainly used alignment type as it gives flexibility to the user and allows to create even tracker blocks.

Tips and Things to consider

1. Generating tracker system with optimized frames will increase AutoCAD performance, especially in high capacity systems. 

Enabling optimization in Layout generation settings will hide 3D objects and will only indicate outlines of tables. This can be turned off at any stage of the project to visualize 3D objects.

2. Adapting layout based on situation - on terrain, where tracker is exceeding maximum slope (N-S), yellow indicated frame will be placed which is considered Shadow frame. If ground grading of this area is not foreseen, smaller trackers can be placed instead.

3. Knowing when to use different alignment types - it is important to understand the differences between alignment types and what changes in layout they can introduce. 

For example, using line alignment might create a layout that has to be adjusted to fill more capacity (see picture below). Therefore, regenerating same layout with two-way alignment can solve the issue in some cases.

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