WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

October 2010

"Way Down In Athens County"

Have you heard that song, "Way Down In Athens County"? It continues, "That's where I am. Athens County. Marie and me, we're doin' fine...." Fall colors blazed, the sun shone, and right now our annual Halloween bash is in full swing.
I worked at the Dems headquarters today and got off the Niaspan -- at least for this week. I can't tolerate the side effects of Niaspan this week, so I went to the healthfood store to get a temporary replacement. I found No-Flush Niacin that contains Inositol which -- I later see from web surfing -- also treats depression. Whee!
On the windtapping front, lately I have dabbled in imagining patterns I could cut out of flexible sheets of PVC for making a roughly conical shape to protect my proposed stators from long-term sun and water damage. I have seen patterns for conical shapes. The Grainger catalog shows 1/16th inch thick sheets of PVC, so theoretically I could bend the pattern around the stators. How to secure the cones to the ground is another matter I am pondering.
I work at the Dems headquarters the next three days, so this project remains temporarily only in my does the paint scraping on our house....
I should post a picture of our gloriously blazing Bartlet Pear and Mulberry trees, lol...The picture on top is on a rainy day. Next, we have sun!

Odds and Ends

Just a few notes:
Circuit Theory Fundamentals and Applications by Aram Budak arrived a few days ago. At 804 pages, from Prentice-Hall, (2nd Edition), I don't imagine I'll be making my way through it anytime soon. It is, after all, mostly a review for me, although some circuit theory appears here that are in other books I've received and that were not part of my original electronics education. Perhaps this would be a good book for me to practice speed-reading on, when it comes to the review material.
I oiled the SAMPO swivels last evening for the first time. I noticed during the quiet of the evening that the swivels were making low-pitched, barely audible "thuds" -- more felt, actually, than heard -- as they rotated. Now the thuds cannot be heard. Again, I'll have to look up when I installed them initially to get an idea of their potentially recommendable maintenance scheduling.
Also, a Grainger Catalog appeared today. Somehow I ran into the offer of a free catalog online and it arrived very fast. I have been pouring through its pages today. Under "Insulating Varnish" is a rubber-based application -- among other items -- in which I am greatly interested for insulating individual turns of the coils I have been winding of 17 gauge aluminum wire....
Tomorrow I start a four-day stint of working at Dems headquarters for the "Get Out the Vote" drive, so I don't imagine I'll be posting much in the near future. The weather is too cold for lying on the ground to scrape the lowest paint, but when it gets a bit warmer I'll be back on that job, too....

Strength of Materials

Three reasons for hanging whirligigs around our house: 1. Demonstrate that wind can turn them. 2. Compare designs' abilities to turn, and locations for wind. 3. Find out how long the materials will last under real world conditions.
Early this morning, one fishing leader was found broken with the whirligig on the ground. I wondered whether Trick or Treaters tricked me, or perhaps a racoon tried to climb on the gig to get to the birdseed, or maybe a crow snipped it in the middle. Several strands were bundled together and they all broke at the same length.
Later in the day a second gig lay on the ground. It was windy today, but not storming. The second leader broke exactly the same way. I guess they were "of a piece," having been made from the exact same piece of wire.
I estimate I hung them up 6 months ago, but I'll have to check my records to get an accurate accounting of their life span. I should search for something stronger to hang the gigs by, but even with the Sampo swivels, I saw that torque exists in this apparatus once I hung one of the gigs under one of the birdfeeders. The birdfeeder swung back and forth whenever the wind turned the gig.
I suppose I should come up with some sort of scheduled oiling of the swivels, too.

On Second Thought

After much pondering on how to securely mount a 2-3 lb. stator some inches down from our highest-off-the-ground eave -- that we just had repaired -- it suddenly dawns on me that things will be easier if I were to simply hang a 10-foot pole and put the stators on the bottom. I had resisted that because ants love to get into dark places near the ground and they have nasty pincers with which to damage everything but metal. Perhaps, however, I could design weather protection for the stators from clear plastics in order to discourage the ants. Although, some people actually have ant farms that have light to see them by....
Anyway, I could put the quarter bottles all the rest of the way up the pole, so I should be able to get away with two or more stators....perhaps more....
I should probably delete my first idea from this website that was drawn as a quick sketch. I'll have to find it first. I staggared the multiple stators. That actually wouldn't work unless the whole column was securely stationary. You see, when you have electrcity traveling over a wire, you need the wire to be secure -- especially when it is aluminum wire. Elsewise, the stresses will break the wire after a bit of time.


Sorry I haven't posted entries more often. For now I will list a few highlights of recent meanderings:
1. has some wonderful information available such as testing specs for various standards, and even process document abstracts and links. For example, "Standard Practices for Prep of Aluminum and Aluminum Alloy Surfaces for Painting" at
2.  I was searching for electrical insulation epoxies and found several at Dymax. Let me see if I can find a link for you, if you are interested:
The Dymax link, I think, was only the 3rd link down in a list of over 400 links I was promised at the site that they call "Industry Web." Not sure how I got there....
3.  I've been reading the Wiley book, Electric Power Principles. I'm up to page 85 now. I hope to go back and record exactly the main principles that I found useful in each chapter given that I don't have the math to work the problems, exactly. I'll be using estimation and trial and error to get my prototypes started. One good thing is that the author provides, often, one concrete value example, giving the impression that I could "ballpark" it myself from that data, at least for initial testing. For example, the value of the capacitor that cushions the shock of turning power on and off, or rather, the little shocks of flipping from negative to positive and back again in AC power input to a DC rectifier component. The value of the capacitor is quite small, even for large voltage....
4. In the back of my mind I am always trying to figure out how to get more space around here for this new manufacturing endeavor. This requires getting rid of stuff or else building. Since I am re-tooling for a new career, probably I'll be giving away a lot of books, although, a local bookstore said they'd trade. I have probably more than 400 books on Shakespeare and his environment/culture to get rid of.  But with shipping costs being so high, I think trading them one-by-one to a used bookstore is the only way I'll get any value from them....
Oh gosh! I also have a complete set (37?) of Shakespeare plays, including Pericles, on DVD from Time-Life/BBC. The set cost me $1,000. Any bids? $250?
5.  I am NOT getting rid of my art supplies. Portrait painting is another way I could make money if I could find customers....
6. I ordered some books on electronics to aid my absorption of the Wiley book. One just arrived and it is a FULL sized textbook: Linear Circuit Analysis (2nd Ed.): Time Domain, Phasor, and Laplace Transform Approaches by DeCarlo/Lin. Wish me luck on this one, folks!

Painting Aluminum Wire

I wrote earlier about advice I got from a paint department fellow at Lowe's, but one little fact has been nagging at me in the background of my psyche, that I did not report yet. I think he might have said that acrylic-based enamel won't stick to the aluminum wire windings, that I would have to use oil-based enamel.
You see, I want to use aluminum because it is less likely to be stolen by thieves, plus it is less expensive and therefore I can use a heavier gauge to produce more amps, but I have to find a way to insulate each winding from its neighbors in order to get electricity when I have magnets travel over the wire. I am investigating how to paint the windings, therefore, to provide insulation.
First I must clean the aluminum, and probably wear plastic gloves when I handle it (wind it) to reduce the amount of oil that I must clean off it before painting. I'm thinking of using Dawn dishwashing soap in our dishwasher....
Anyway, the guy also said that oil-based enamel can't be sold in Ohio and that I'd have to go to West Virginia to get it. West Virginia is only 28 miles from here....

Strengthening Our Eave Corner

A few pix today, from yesterday's 2-hour session with Wayne Bayha and his assistant, fixing and strengthening the north corner of our eaves:
The light blue ring is a stator base, here for size comparison since I wish to hang my wind generator from the eave corners of our house. Two pieces on the right I cut to replace the original and somewhat rotted pieces off the corner. In the middle are boards the carpenter's assistant  later cut to the specs of Wayne Bayha.
The eave corner, yet again.
Click once on each picture that you wish to enlarge.
This pic still shows the backside of the corner, before it was removed to be replaced.
I gotta get me one of Wayne's ladders, lol.... Actually the aluminum ladder is ours already.... The orange one is the ladder I am lusting after, lol.
I have many more pics. I will try to produce a documentary pdf that shows the steps in more detail. Here the fellows spent lots of time holding pieces together while figuring out exactly where to cut the next pieces and to join them.
This pic shows the back of the eave corner has been replaced....
I had asked several times about tying into the roof beams and Wayne seemed to approve of that idea, although he placed this tie -- that he is measuring for in the pic -- very close to the sill tie-in.
I had insisted on his putting a centered board for me to hang my wind generators from. This is actually two weather-treated two-by-four pieces stacked and bound together with the uppermost piece longer so it could be attached, again, to the cross beam while the lower piece is flush with the plane to which the finish plywood will be attached.
Bayha offered to caulk the seams so I ran around the house trying to figure out where the heck I put the caulk and the caulking gun. Thankfully, I remembered in time where I put them....
So now the corner is all ready for painting and for hanging wind electric generators!
Wayne Bayha has 18 years of carpentry experience, mostly building houses. They also do tile and hardwood floors. He said, "Pass the word on," since he doesn't advertise.
Reasonable rates, and reliable, competent carpentry tell me that you should call Mr. Bayha[y] if you need a carpenter or tiler and live in southeast Ohio: 740-698-6503 (evenings at home. They get lots of calls to their cell phone while they are on their ladders and have their hands too full to safely answer.)

Circuitous Book Investigations

Our university does not encourage older people to study Electrical Engineering -- at least that has been my experience over the decades. "No Super Seniors" was the prohibition on the course that began the series of courses in this field. As a super senior for several decades, I have been prohibited from taking courses. So, "catch as catch can" seems to be my modus operandi which may cause my lack of systematic, front-to-back- reading of this book.
Having purchased a couple Radio Shack multi-phase rectifiers to convert what must be alternating current from our future generators into power that can be stored in automotive batteries, I started the Wiley book, Electric Power Principles: Sources, Conversion, Distribution and Useby James L. Kirtley, with Chapter 12: "Power Electronics and Converters in Power Systems" on page 239.
Almost immediately I had to start looking up acronyms and words for which there were -- thankfully -- index entries pointing to explanations at the beginning of the book: "reactance" (denoted as X in equations), RMS (root mean square, p. 21). Btw I now ran into the graph I'd been looking for in an earlier post on "Startup transient of a boost converter" (p. 252, Figure 12.28).
This book has one slight inconvenience in that nearly always, the figures appear on pages following their explanations. That is, one cannot actually see the figures as one is reading about them, but most often has to turn the page. I found a typo, too, on page 3: "As it our predecessors crafted it..." should be "As our predecessors crafted it...."
Hopefully, I can now turn to "Electrical Matters" proper, and away from "Serendipitous Art Reviews."

Virtual Prisoner, & Etc.

A carpenter is scheduled to fix our northernmost eave corner today, and because I gave him our "land line" number, I must wait near the phone for him to call before he comes over here. I have another phone that I can carry 60 feet or yards from the house, but I forgot to insist on his using that "line." Hence, I find things to do inside the house this morning, such as blogging.
This morning I started investigating the Wiley book, Electric Power Principles: Sources, Conversion, Distribution and Useby James L. Kirtley and will post a separate entry for that record of my meanderings within that book. I completed a two year course in Electronics Servicing from a local Adult Education school (vocational high school education), and our teacher encouraged the idea that we could be assistants to electrical engineers. We'll see how this goes since I am trying to design viable electricity generators, lol.
Last evening my husband and I went to see Social Network. I had seen it previously and felt it to portray a plausible story. I enjoyed it the second time, too.
During this last week I had two sessions of reading Operating Manuals so that I could begin to safely utilize new equipment. A DeWalt jigsaw was first, and I successfully cut two pieces of plywood to fit our North eave corner. The second was a new lawnmower since the old lawnmower now needs welding. The Briggs and Stratton engine still works, but I don't know what to do about that. A wheel is falling off the mower.... The new mower has a Briggs and Stratton that is twice as powerful as the old one.... I learned from reading the manual that one should NOT use premium gasoline in mowers. Live and learn. I'll have to drain the gas from our riding mower now, but that is a small price to pay for properly operating our mowers. My van can use the gas.
Now, on to Electricity Matters....

I Should'a Known Better

The new book by James L. Kirtley from Wiley, Electric Power Principles: Sources, Conversion, Distribution and Use requires much math in order to understand it. I should have known better than to think Wiley would put out a general audience book that would explain wind, solar, and other green energy sources.
Still, it has stray information about which I have always wondered, such as the graph of the power surge that occurs when power is first switched on to a circuit. (I can't find the page again in order to cite it because the index nets nothing of this sort.)
On page 268 we have an interesting set of graphs showing the relationship between voltage and current in a "Three Phase Rectifier into Capacitive Load". Two peaks of current occur, one on each side of the peaks of the voltages -- both positive and negative peaks all 'round. Interesting.
I will see how much I can glean from this book, even though I don't have the math to understand it. Another instance is the kickback of power at line terminations (and sources), besides graphs of voltage spikes due to lightening strikes on lines....
My latest worry is how to limit an automotive Battery's current delivery to LED lights. I have a long way to go, folks. What I am hoping is that my experiments, prototypes, and eventual products or plans and/or kits for sale will be tested over years of weather types in order for me to have experienced whatever pitfalls are inherent in the designs before offering them for sale.

Painting Aluminum

I visited Lowe's today and a man who used to work in a factory where they painted aluminum was working in the paint department, so he gave me a head's up about "Alumiprep". I have no idea whether that is a brand name or generic for the cleaner he said that has to "take the grease off the aluminum" before paint will adhere over the long term.
He said that the automotive supply stores have it. A fellow he knew painted aluminum patches he had placed on his car that he had rebuilt, and he wondered why the paint started flaking off. I wonder if that alumiprep is bright red, as in Hungary?
The Lowe's employee said that even annealed aluminum will oxidize -- among several other things he said.... He also pointed me in the right direction -- over to the Welding, on the far left of the front wall of the Tools department -- to get the butane refiller I can use in my 2000 degree soldering gun that I got at Radio Shack a little while ago.
BTW, he thought the fluorescent spray paint would stick to the aluminum wire, lol.
You see, I am trying to figure out how to insulate the aluminum wire windings that I plan to use in at least the prototype wind electricity generators I am building.
Also btw, the DeWalt jig saw works like a dream. I cut pieces for the carpentry we will be having done soon on our eave corner....

Cornice Snafu

Studying our cornice overhang corner so that I might strengthen it while replacing some rotted wood, I took pictures:
Here is a closeup of the offending corner. I hope to add structure inside this corner so that I won't have to worry about stresses when I hang a wind-powered electricity generator there to take advantage of this location's exposure to winds.
Here, you can only see where the pieces are missing, in the upper right of this picture.
I am beginning to think I should hire a carpenter who also owns scaffolding because I can't see how to get at the existing board structure to add pieces without scaffolding.

Serendipitous Art Reviews

For several years off and on I had a blog at Blogit that I entitled "Serendipitous Art Reviews" and I even had an independent website by that name, briefly, this year. I found that having a single site with that title was oppressive because I felt beholden to attend movies and read materials in which I was not particularly interested or that did not excite my interest.
However, I keep reading and attending movies, so I will add this category to my current website, particularly because I have on order a new wind power book from Wiley. But, "Serendipity" will still reign supreme.
As I was waiting to get into the Dems' Headquarters, I decided to go across the street to a used bookstore and picked up three books. The first I read is Pascal's Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God, by James A Connor, Harper Collins, 1978(?).
About halfway through I looked at the author blurb on the back dust jacket to find that the author was formerly a Jesuit priest, which explains to me why he succeeds where others have failed miserably to convince me that God exists....
This book provides wonderful contexts both for Einstein's statement that "God does not play with dice", as well as the French side of the Reformation with its political intrigues, including Cardinal Richelieu's machinations. The dust jacket has a wonderful piece of art on it for which there is no attribution, but, for intellectuals who wonder why anyone would believe in God, I recommend this book.

Glitch Presents Opportunity

While scraping paint on the creek end of our house I found some rotted wood at the corner of our cornice.  The roof overhangs the walls of our house and at the corners we have a sizable place where I could install wind electric generators.
This bit of real estate that already needs remodeling can now be engineered to handle extra stresses. I estimate that a single wind electric generator will come in under 10 lbs -- perhaps under 5 lbs, but that with winds of 65 miles per hour in the worst of our storms, I should at least plan for an estimated 35 lbs of stress.
I am only guessing here and will probably over-engineer the corner to withstand 50 lbs or more hanging from it and pulling in all directions, but perhaps not the up direction so much....
It could take me some time to formalize and actually measure maximum stress exerted on the infrastructure during the worst storms, especially since I don't yet know exactly how much the generators will weigh, once I decide to undertake such a project. I guess a torque wrench would be required, lol....
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