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Gizzie(Sun Tracker)
This project appeared in our June 27th, 2003 Newsletter.

Gizzie (Sun Tracker
This weeks project has had my interest for some time now. It's sort of a scientific instrument that's more fun than science. I first saw this device when my brother Ron got it for a birthday present. A friend of his made it from plans he found in a German book on things that measure our environment. I've since lost the title of the book but will try to find it for you. It's all in German and since I don't read German it was a little difficult to figure out. The book called it a Heliograph Mit Laborkolben but I call it a Gizzie.
Basically it's a device to record the suns path by burning a track onto a piece of paper. It works really good. This is a great device to just have sitting around the house for a conversation piece.

Click on the picture for a bigger view

Here's what you'll need:

  • 4" X 24" X 1/2" Oak (true size)
  • 2" X 1/4" - 20 hex head bolt
  • 1/4" - 20 wing nut
  • (2) large 1/4" flat washers
  • (2) 9/16" #6 flat head screws
  • 1/16" to 1/8" diameter wire 6" long
  • 3 1/2" X 7" Galvanized sheet metal like you would use for furnace ducting.
  • 250 ml round bottom glass boiling flask. Good luck finding the flask. We don't have a single store in the Seattle area that carries this. We ordered ours from Indigo Instruments at and it arrived in only a few days, $16.40 including shipping. Good people to deal with.
Cut two 1 1/2" strips from your piece of Oak.
Cut all the pieces as follows:
  • (2) Legs, 7 1/4" long.
  • (2) Arms, 5 1/4" long.
  • (1) Upright, 9" long.
  • (4) Blocks, 1 1/2" long.
  • (1) Spreader, 1" long.
  • (1) Hanger, 3" long.
Cut a radius on the top end of each leg.
Stack the two arms and upright with double backed tape. Mark a full radius on one end and cut.

While they are stacked drill a 1/4" hole in the center of the arc.
Cut a taper on the hanger starting 1" down, going to 3/4" wide.
Cut a fine slot 3/4" long into the 3/4" end of the hanger for the sheet metal.
Glue and clamp the legs, blocks and upright as shown above.
Put the bolt through the holes of the arms so you have them aligned. Glue and clamp the spreader 1/4" back from the end of the arms.
Drill two holes the size of your wire approximately 3/8" back from the end of the arms centered on each one.
Bend a radius in the wire to go around the flask.
Bend the ends 90 degrees to fit into the two holes. This should be fairly tight but not overly tight or your flask will not hang straight down.
Sand, stain and finish all the pieces.
Mount the arm to the upright using a 2" X 1/4"-20 screw with a flat washer on each side and a wing nut.
Cut a piece of galvanized sheet metal 3 1/2" X 7" to 8 1/2" long.
Bend it into a radius that is evenly spaced about 1" to 1 1/2" away from the flask.
Drill and countersink a hole for a #6 screw in one arm centered on the side half way between the back of the spacer and the upright. This is to hold the hanger.
Put the screw in half way for now.
Drill and countersink a hole in the hanger about 1/4" up from the 3/4" wide end to clamp the sheet metal.
Insert the sheet metal into the slot in the hanger and tighten the screw.
Put the wire around the flask and insert the ends into the two holes on the arms.
Slide the hanger into the arm and adjust it so that the sheet metal is about 1" to 1 1/2" away from the flask.

That's it, now you are ready to make some final adjustments and burn a sun track.
Fill the flask with water.
Using a couple of paper clips attach a piece of brown grocery bag paper onto the sheet metal.
Put the Gizzie in the sun and focus the sun onto the paper. You'll have to rotate the arms to adjust for the angle of the sun.
It will immediately burn a hole through the paper but it should not start a fire, at least ours hasn't. You might have some water ready just in case.
It will probably take you a few times to get is set so that you get a long track on the paper. Leave it in place from day to day and see how much the sun moves.
This is fun and educational in showing how the sun travels. Have a great time making this Gizzie and then playing with it.

We hope you've enjoyed this project and have good success with it. Remember, if you ever have any problems with our projects just drop us a line and we'll try to help. Since we build every one of these projects we have a pretty good idea of how to get through them. We also make lots of mistakes so we can help avoid them.

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