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WindTapper's Blog

June 2011

Extra Blades

I moved my whirligig back less than 6 inches from the best location, thus cutting off about half of its exposure to the West wind. So, for the last couple months that whirligig has not spun very much. Then I got a commercially produced DC generator, which has more resistance to turning than my fishing swivels have, and have been trying to figure out how to get more power from the same amount of wind.

Finally the little light goes on in my head yesterday. So, why not double up the number of blades in my whirligig? Instead of using only "halves" of eight gallon jugs, why not use both "halves?" (They are not exactly halves because I cut the bottoms off plus an inch or so up the sides, to free rainwater to flow off them.)

So, instead of continuing to put up with relatively non-productive whirligigs when they are put in lower-wind situations (or higher resistance situations as aforementioned), I now have a spinning gig because each half-blade accompanies its other half, giving 16 instead of 8 blades per gig:

The West wind in this picture has to come from the direction of the trees in the photo. You might notice that I have a new pipe on the front (North) corner of our porch. It is a temporary means of directing water to "re-plump" the clay under our house. You can see I moved the whirligig back about 6 inches to avoid hitting the pipe. Now half of the gig doesn't get the West wind because it hangs on the same plane as the garage door which is down to the right of the lowest part of the pipe in this picture.

The opposite eave corner -- just beyond the garage door, also in the lower right of the pic -- is where I hope to mount the commercial DC generator and hang my newest whirligig design to spin it. And since the DC generator is not waterproofed, I will probably set it up inside the eave, using the bottom of the eave as a weather protector for the generator.

This and That

Trying to imagine how to use the form of a Black Walnut leaf usefully as a model for wind turbine blades has turned out to be more difficult than I had originally thought. And it occurred to me that a rapidly spinning leaf is not necessarily the best example for a useful wind blade. The wind is actually not doing any work to speak of when it spins a leaf that is suspended by a cobweb line. The wind is not actually turning a shaft that has much weight. Putting actual force tangent to an outlying circle (or as I call it "torque") causes push-back on the blade that does not resemble a single leaf rotating on an imaginary axis, held by its stem at the top of the rotation.

The leaf also had some properties of an airplane wing at times (see Archive 0 -- after the deer), which might give it a bit of lift as well as torque. I have been trying to take advantage of the airplane wing aerodynamics in my imagined designs, too, and that coincides with parts of the leaf as it actually had dried out and then spun back in 2009.

I left Category 7, Pts. 1 and 2on all day on the Syfy Channel, then watched a relatively better movie, Core, which shows that the Syfy movie makers can learn and improve over time.... The Category # movies are interminable while Core had more diverse and interesting characters, scientific landscapes, physical and social settings, situations, relationships, and action scenes.

Tracing Black Walnut Leaves

In preparation for building turbines based on the shapes of Black Walnut tree leaves, I gathered some more leaves today from our yard. These are relatively flat, moist leaves that the tree sprinkled over our yard in order to poison competition -- possibly during yesterday's little wind and rainstorm.
These are the ones that I made tracings off of. You can see they are not very large when you notice that the orange squares behind them are 1 inch squares.

Same leaves but trying to show and detect early deformations. One of the neatly aerodynamic properties of these leaves is how malleable they are in the wind, but also their deformation patterns seem crucial to their success at spinning as quickly as I observed them to spin.

At the top, in the dark, are barely seen the leaves that I traced. Then the tracing pad, then the leaves that I did not trace.

I probably should go back and get tracings from the bottom leaves, just to be fair, lol. That one on the very bottom looks very interesting for its length versus breadth contrast with the first group.

When I grab a pattern from some article of clothing that I wish to copy, I must flatten it out in order to detect the flattened fabric shape to cut out. That is what I am attempting to do today, even though, as you can see when you look at Archive 0 -- past the deer, the ultimate shape will be quite different -- folded and billowed.

Art and Reading

Imagining ways of constructing a wind turbine that will spin quickest, using a Black Walnut tree leaf as a model, brings my psyche back to the days when I took 3 Dimensional Design at OU -- way back when -- say, in 1969 or 70. Maybe it was 71. "Those were the days, my friend." (I have told the story of that class elsewhere. One addition to the story, though: I have new respect for my own art project as of today, and "could if I would" write a much improved advertisement for it, lol.)

Also, I've been reading Year's Best SF 16 which has been quite a gas. Pleasantly short stories from this book -- I'm on page 235 of 500 now -- have piqued my interest on several levels. For instance, each story is preceded by a list of the author's works. Then several authors are involved with Sci Fi magazines which I will probably search out now -- especially since all the mags probably have websites, tee hee.

My switching from English studies back to technology has left me rather lonesome, and snuggling up to a sci fi book such as this one, on a long summer night, has brought back parts of my brain that I hadn't even realized I was missing....

New/"Old" Design Possibility

Because I now own a 150 watt DC generator which requires much higher RPM's than I had previously been designing my turbines to deliver, I am now toying with ideas for creating blades that resemble the Black Walnut tree leaves.

Long-time readers of my blogs might recall when I was astonished by the speed with which such a leaf had spun in the wind while hanging from a spider's spindle.

I have pictures of the leaves somewhere on this blogsite. Let me go find them. OK. The pix are on Archive 0(2009), down past the deer pix.

I recently got some heavy-duty steel wire that I might use as framing stuck into perhaps a thin-walled PVC pipe, with cloth draped over it, but billowy, not taut.... I don't think it would work, exactly, with only the steel wire. But then again, how could I make it as asymetrical as the leaf while using a centerpost?

Afternoon Delights

Hot and humid were the conditions outside on this first day of summer -- too hot to do yardwork, imho. (This was a couple hours ago. The wind has since kicked up.) So anyway, I fell asleep on the couch watching a comedy flick with Adam Sandler followed at the end by Jon Stewart. I woke up and had the following delightful ideas:

1.  Passive windpower. No. Not what immediately comes to mind, lighting methane etc.... No. It was the idea to put an air turbine hooked up to a generator into the pipe that vents hot air from our "attic" under-the-roof area.

2.  Passive hydroelectric power. In the state of Washington they get lots of rain. Put small water turbines into the downspouts of the buildings, hooked up to electric generators. This could possibly make up for all the sun they don't get when it rains.

Resources and Parts

A lady at Windstream Power gave me some nice information which I would like to share with you all. Two websites she said to check out: and

She also told me I need a deep cycle battery, rather than a car battery. I found a good site for information on deep cycle batteries: They also sell batteries, and once I had learned a little from their site I could tell which were the top-of-the-line deep cycle batteries. Unfortunately, one 12 volt top-of-the-line deep cycle battery (Surrette Premium) costs a bit over $1000. So I cancelled a scheduled estimate from a tree trimmer due to lack of funds. Then, when I told my husband about all that, he showed me a Cabella's catalog where a deep cycle battery costs more like $250 or so. He uses a deep cycle battery in his boat. He said I could get one at WalMart.

Going back to the windsun site I see that the Sun Xtender deep cycle battery is much less expensive. Whew! What sticker shock I had from the Surrette! That reminds me of Michelin tires....

The Flex Charge voltage regulator shunts amps over 200 to a device, rather than to a heat sink, while the Windstream voltage regulator shunts excess amps to a heat sink. So I purchased the Flex Charge from the Windstream sales lady instead of the Windstream model, even though it was $10 more.

Shopping Spree

I bought 78 feet of black plastic pipe today for making sky hooks for our back porch. Sky hooks are imaginary ways to hook into the sky when you don't have roof beams to connect with, lol. We'll see -- eventually -- how it goes. I really want to be able to hang wind powered electric generator prototypes on our back porch so I can work on them before testing them on our house corners. That is, for building prototypes.

Then I found some 24 inch interior diameter black "corrugated" "poly drain" "heavy duty" drain pipe that might work dandy to house my generators on the ground. It comes in 20 foot lengths. With a $50 delivery charge, plus tax, the cost is well over $300. However, a fella at Carter Lumber told me a place that might sell me a shorter length. Keep your fingers crossed for me on that score. That place is not open on the weekends, though.

I also ordered a small DC generator, diode, 12 V voltage regulator and extra connection cable from Windstream Power; plus two magnetic compasses from Edmund Scientific for making basic fact-finding experiments on the strength of my magnets and directions they put out magnetic flux lines when placed in various environments -- such as differences between magnetic environments. I figure I should reach out to people who know more about wind powered electricity generation than I do, even if I don't ultimately rely on their parts for my own designs. I still have a lot to learn, in other words, I need all the help that I can get.

I still figure I can make more electricity than the standard configuration generator, with my own custom design(s). I can make more voltage with many more parallel sub-part generators, and more amperes with higher gauge wire, plus more magnetic direction changes with the greater circumference, not to mention more space for windings to make up for the less space due to higher gauge wire.

Low RPM Electricity Generators

I finally found a way to locate a U.S. manufacturer of electricity generators I could use for experiments. The least expensive one (smallest) from Windstream Power, LLC is $149. I found them, finally, by typing "low rpm generator" into Google. Geez Oh Weez. You can't find them using just "generators" using Google -- at least not on the first few pages of search results.

Windstream has a Vermont address for correspondence but I still can't be sure that is where the factory resides. It'll take some research to figure that out. Shipping costs can be a killer.

On the engineering side of things, I am now grappling with how to couple the generator to my blades. My husband thinks I'll have to set up a gear system to help get rpm's higher, but I balk at that. A gear and pulley add too much friction plus waste power. I realize that I can't get the rpm's without a gear. That is why I am mounting so many magnets on the outer perimeter of my devices' hoops.

A low revolutions per minute number is made up for by switching magnetic fields faster over many more windings, in my idea of a generator. Perhaps when my husband retires finally, he can tinker with his ideas for generators, while I plod along at MY own pace and direction.

Potential WindPower Supplier

An interesting set of options seems to be available at although, I had to contact the company in order to get prices, and they do not seem amenable to my purchasing a generator from them without purchasing several other items.

The 300 W vertical generator weighs 49 kg. I will have to work out the conversion to lbs before I can figure out whether this could be hung under an eave.

Still, I would like to purchase one so that I could figure out ways to use it, since it could be mounted closer to the ground, too, with the blades being vertical above it, I think.

Other people may have places they could use the generator sets, though, so I give the link here to help them. There are many sizes available, and several different models.

Later Note: 49 kg X 2.2046226 = 108.02+ lbs. This is an impractical weight for hanging under eaves. However, my own tentative designs start with putting the actual generator on the ground and only hanging the blades and magnets from the eaves. Whenever I try to hang the generator (designs) from the eaves I end up worrying about wind resistance of the generator, as well as keeping squirrels out, and how to attach it without creating magnetic interference among hanging brackets and interior magnets.

I still don't really know how much of the weight of the stated generator from the above company is actually the generator only and not casing, etc. Neither do I know what are the actual weights of my own tentative generator designs. So, back to the drawing board.

I asked about a smaller version than 300W, but I will have to check to see if there IS a smaller version for the model in which I am interested. So also, back to the website.

Later Still: OK. The website has changed. There was a 150W turbine there yesterday, but not today. Perhaps it was one of the small horizontal axis systems, but the lowest now is 200W for the combined wind and solar system.

Gee, I wonder if I could make wind turbine blades from solar cells? You see, I am also toying with the idea of a horizontally mounted set of blades, which would require a horizontally mounted generator, too. However, I have decided to go ahead with the vertical set-up for my own first blade design, rather than to get distracted by the fanciful horizontal....

My next question is whether or not the 200W horizontal generator from the company could be converted to work with my own vertical blades. Obviously I would not want the tail section, but the propeller shaft would correctly connect to the generator for my purposes.

Yet Later (6/17/11): the above site finally says it will sell me three generators only, that is, if I buy the generator only, the minimum is three. This is the smallest one they have, at 20-some kg. each.

Getting Going

Research today netted only generators that are either way too expensive, or incomplete pieces of antiques. I don't have 35 years to get these electric generators going. I only have four years before I MUST start making money. But making money is something I would like to do much sooner than four years from now, so I am going to have to get going on all of this.

Because electricity generators are so expensive, I have plenty of space in my niche for producing low-cost, wind-powered, electricity generators. I saw one today that can run on as little as 1/2 mile per hour of wind, but it costs $6300 and does not produce enough electricity to justify that cost.

So, after I spend the early morning clearing away some more junk for the garbage collectors out of our basement, I MUST get cracking on making electricity generators for my wind turbines. Today I spent some other time searching for manufacturers for round, plastic containers I might use. I couldn't find any. I hope I don't have to buy large sheets of PVC in order to fabricate something, or large plastic pipe to cut into pieces. A 20-inch pipe would be hard to carry when they come in 10-foot lengths, but maybe -- just maybe -- I could do it.

U.S. Plastics is in Lima, Ohio and they make lots of PVC stuff I could use. I would have to drive there, though, to get it, and it's a "fur piece" from here....

Reaching Out

My husband tells me I should check out already manufactured generators, while I keep answering that my turbines require new technology. However, since I started looking into ball bearings yesterday, I started thinking about how I might try his suggestion.

I investigated this morning, and ordered some plastic spools for ribbon yesterday from -- for winding experimental windings. Anyway, I am shopping for the lowest cost (used or rebuilt) electric generators made for small windmills. I don't know if my turbines can handle ball bearing bushings, but it is worth a try -- especially since my husband is my main source of funding.

If already designed generators will work, I could list the manufacturer in my parts list part of my future PDF file that is what I hope to be selling. However, I still must demonstrate and test my turbines with the generator(s), then design parts of plus a whole system for households.

American Electric Power and Meade Paper

American Electric Power (AEP) is telling the media they will have to close plants if the EPA enforces its air quality standards, and raise rates on electricity. In fact, they are talking about closing a plant near us -- at Racine Locks and Dams. Poston?

What AEP should do, besides looking at cleaning up their act air-wise, is propose to Mead Paper Company of Vinton County, a company that has much land with trees on it. AEP could offer a deal to Mead where Mead would clear trees off certain locations -- to be determined by a joint AEP-Mead task force -- and make, by the way, roads to get to those locations. They are called logging roads. At those locations then AEP could put up windmills. Jobs, anyone?

As for the pristine wildlife, the trees have been cut previously, and neither the deer, pheasant, raccoon, nor the hunters would give a hoot about windmills or power lines towering over themselves. Certainly there aren't enough full time human residents on Mead land to object to their environment being taken over by non-polluting, noise-making, giant eyesores such as huge windmills can be. Long gone are the quaint-looking Dutch windmills, btw.

Experiments in Winding and Painting

Today we had a storm that knocked out our electricity and I figured one thing I could do without lights during the day was to cut the stator base I had pictured some time ago into quarters and cut the chord -- so to speak -- to the 1/4 mile of 17-gauge aluminum wire I had begun winding around curlers. I experimented with getting the windings onto the wide base that is one Wacky Noodle in circumference around the 18 inch hoop.

I had primed the Noodle and I found out that the layer of primer comes off -- especially where I cut the Noodle -- with wear. I don't suppose the primer would hold up in the dishwasher, lol.

Exactly when to clean the aluminum prior to painting it is one of the things I am trying to figure out. How to clean the aluminum is another. I found a Standard giving four basic ways to clean the aluminum, but I imagine the need for cleaning depends on the kinds of contaminants, handling, and then on the wear of the object in service. So, I will experiment with minimum amounts of time- and money-consuming processes before upping the ante -- so to speak.

I made the mistake of changing my mind about how wide each direction of windings should be, and attempted to reverse 1/2 of one 3-inch set of 30 winds of the 17 gauge aluminum. That half reversal was a dismal failure so now I have some kinked-up winds to deal with in the middle of one of the two winding sets. I'll just increase the distance between magnets during my testing of this set of two windings.

I'm beginning to think that I can pre-form the windings, then dip them in cleaner, let them dry, then dip them in aluminum primer, dry, then dip them in paint, dry, then put them on the base Noodle that is mounted on a 1/4 plastic hoop. I should then put the steel wire inside the 1/4 hoop, and put the four quarters together so I'll have at least two windings to test for electricity produced. These are the large, 3-inch windings. I am going to test all the various sizes individually and then stacked on top of each other to compare the phases and electricity produced among all the possibilities for efficiencies.

Finally I'm getting my hands dirty with experimentation!

Iris and Wind Farming, Demonstration, and Marketing

As I tried to deal with a sprained thumb, I found myself gardening. When we moved into our home there were several flowers habituated to various locations, but these needed to be moved while I was changing the contour of the landscape. Bearded Iris are particularly beautiful and fragrant -- at least in the lavender variety.

I moved a bunch of those iris to a location that turned out to be less than optimal. Now I have built a bed just for them, but they have propagated enough so that I am considering selling them someday. This could be my way into selling at the Farmers' Market, where I could also demonstrate how people can become wind farmers.

A few years back I took a bunch of photos of Iris at our local State Park. One of these photos, when projected -- it was a slide -- made me want to be a bee. I know. It sounds weird, but in our dark basement, the projected Iris was huge and alluring, to say the least.

So, I am going to try to find that slide and produce large sized prints of it -- perhaps to sell -- but at least as an advertisement for people to buy my Bearded Iris. Another advertising ploy is having whirligigs spinning -- perhaps hanging off the back of my van. I wonder where I can get pallets? I will need a movable platform for setting up the coils within which my high-powered magnets will spin, you see.... We used to have a local pallet factory not far away from here....
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