The Sun Emulator heliodon is an intuitive and conceptually clear heliodon. It is completely manufactured in a factory and only needs to be plugged in when it is unpacked. Its footprint is about 6 x 6 ft (2 x 2 m), and it can be rolled around on its own casters. It was designed to fit through a standard doorframe. The seven rings that represent the sunpaths for the 21st day of each of the months can be rotated to simulate the time of day. The cradle that supports the rings can be rotated 90 degrees to simulate all latitudes from the equator to the poles. The time of year is selected by a rotary switch with 12 positions for the 12 months.
The three main advantages of the Sun Emulator are: shipped completely assembled, can simulate all latitudes, and is small enough to fit through a standard door. It is conceptually clear because the rings simulate our everyday experience of the sun moving across the sky. Its use is so intuitive that instructions are not necessary. When folded up, the heliodon requires little storage space—about 3 x 6 ft (1 x 2 m). It is an excellent teaching and design tool for architects, planners, and developers. When exhibited in a science museum, it is also an excellent tool to teach the general public solar responsive design principles.
The main disadvantage of the Sun Emulator is its small size because that limits its accuracy. The closer the lights are to the model the less parallel the light striking the model. However, good accuracy can be achieved by using small models and by moving larger models around on the table so that the area of interest is at the center of the table where the accuracy is very high. When small models are used the Sun Emulator correctly demonstrates all solar responsive design principles and strategies.
1. From High Precision Devices, Inc.
2. RADIAN Corp