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WindTapper's Blog

July 2011


After a 7 mph WSW National Weather Service (NWS) reading this morning with a 5 rpm reading on Gig 6, with no gusts, 1 p.m. wind readings increased.

1 p.m. NWS reported 12 mph WSW wind, no gusts, and my Gig 6 had 11 rpm. However, gusts were almost immediately updated to 12-15 mph, then later to 19 mph. Since there are inevitable delays in NWS reporting on windspeed, I must get out my wind velocity meter....

Exp 6 and Wind

This morning I moved Exp. 6 by drilling a new hole and installing a new screw-in eye, approximately 7 inches further NW from our porch eave because the 5-piece Oriental Trading hoops have larger diameters than the previous, 4-segment hoops. The new hoops can hold 10 X 2 half bottles, rather than 8 X 2, and the amount of area needed for clear sailing is larger. The larger hoops measure 50 cm diameter. With the 20 blades added, and with a projected extension of hoop numbers hanging down from it, my experiment would be stopped by our porch railing had I not moved this gig's center.

The National Weather Service reports for our Athens area (31849 Weather ID) a wind of 7 mph WSW. The gig is hanging NW of our ranch style house, some 26 feet in from the West corner of our house. Our house corners each point at one of the compass directions, btw. Our ranch reaches 73 feet length, 26 feet width on the creek end, and maybe 35 feet on the garage end which is also the SW end of the house. The South corner is nearly at the base of a tree and road-covered relatively short hill -- short if you are used to mountains. (I'll have to look up its highest elevation, but the South wind is relatively occluded, except for cold air flow downhill in Winter.) The name of the road is Pine Crest, reflecting all the tall pine trees behind our house and on both sides of the road.

I took a Revolutions Per Minute (rpm) reading on the gig. Very little wind is what that location is getting this morning since the house mostly occludes today's prevailing wind, but there's enough wind to move cigarette smoke off the porch and give 5 rpm. Soon I hope to drag out the windspeed monitor and figure out how to take readings so I can start making actual data to compare with the Weather Service reports plus rpm for each location and wind direction that has a gig spinning freely.

Today our morning light is hazy, so the pix don't look so great for detail. I post pix from last evening that have a bit more clarity of detail as the sun moved toward the West at approximately 3 p.m. The bird feeder is at least 8 feet away from the gig, btw, hanging from its own rope.
Click once on any photo you wish to have enlarged.

Oh yes. I added two chains to the hanger so that all 5 hoop joints would be supported and then support subsequent hoops hung down from this one.

The last picture comes from this morning, a slightly different angle, but plagued by hazy sky, the gig spinning at an average speed of 5 rpm.

What my generators lack in rpm I will attempt to make up for by increased numbers of magnets, wire windings, gauges, parallel voltage connections, and -- oh yes -- wind turbines.

Whirligig 6

Today I hung up Whirligig 6 for continuing observations and more or less final tweaking of blade shapes. The shape of the lower tier blades differs from all previous whirligig blades. Therefore, there must be some difference in the handle half (upper) tier blades.

This gig has more blades than any previous gig, also, with 20. That is, 10 sets of 2 "halves" of gallon plastic jugs. The bottom is removed so they are not technically halves.

The bottom tier of blades hangs freely while the top tier has pipe insulation inside the handles to keep them mostly rigidly at an angle that allows any rainwater to escape the inside the handles.

A second hoop is to be added, and a third, etc., because these hoops use actual "closed S hooks" that stabilize all five of the hoop horizontal joint connections with hanging wires or chains.

(Click once on photos to enlarge them.)

Nearby our daylillies seem to be winding down their blooming for this year. The following picture is of one of the lighter hybrid varieties, either Quality of Mercy or Blessed Art Thou. I think that Tundra is slightly whiter.

Bisecting Pentangles

The problem with the five-sided polygraph -- which is what each hoop level of my multi-layered wind turbine design is -- is bisecting the pentagrams so that I can use cross-bracing to hold and drive a center-post that supports hoops with magnets rotating over wire winding stators. I wanted multi-layers of magnets and windings, which requires the connector to be centrally rather than radially located. The central location makes it possible to rotate multiple hoops next to multi stator windings instead of having only one layer of magnet hoops/rotators at the bottom of the stack.

How to convert the stacked and bladed hoops from being hung at five locations around the circumference, to a central shaft with cross-beams at the bottom of the stack -- this presents challenges. However, I am slowly getting ideas.... Perhaps hanging the centerpost from the central swivel, with guy wires to keep the post centrally vertical, keeping in mind that any and all hardware has a weight, making connecting everything to a DC generator taking a chance that everything will slip off the generator's central shaft....

Perhaps what I haven't stated is that I envision having a store-bought generator at the top of the stack from which the whole whirligig is hung, with further, home-made stators and rotaters at the bottom of the stack to produce more electricity. The magnitude of the voltage, when hooked up in parallel between the top and the bottom generators, will be additive. 18 volts is required in order to charge a 12-volt battery....

Tales From the Darkside 2

Black foam pipe insulation does gather some water that adheres to its surface in a rainstorm, causing it to become heavier, although I have not compared the amount of water that adhered to it to the amount of water that would adhere to plastic. Hoop surface area is not increased substantially through the application of, say, two four inch sections of the foam per hoop segment. In fact, the blades add a tremendous amount of surface area that can also attract surface water (wintertime ice), but you don't see me complaining about that surface, too much.

Anyway, I decided to skip the comparison mentioned in my last entry. Surface area is the name of the game when designing blades. I decided to subtract foam insulation wherever the plastic water bottle necks need to hang from the hoop so the bottle sides can collect lots of wind instead of being tucked up at the wrong angle, or worse yet, sacrificed.

So, foam sections approximately four inches long, plus two neck halves and two handle halves -- all go onto each of the five sections of hoops. I must also put the "S" hooks onto each joint before I install the next section's insulation....

An idea about "S" hook usefulness for converting over to center post configurations near the bottom of my stack of blade hoops comes to mind. I wonder if I could turn the top of the "S" sideways for its center hole to face the center of the hoop as the hoop lies on its horizontal plane? Of course the top of the "S" would become deformed, but could it hold a crossbeam from which I could hang a center pole for the magnet hoops?

Two New Elements

Our local hardware store had some perfectly sized "closed S hooks" -- 2 1/8" -- plus their smallest water pipe insulation also fits snugly onto the Oriental Trader hoops. The S hooks I'll use to hang each hoop to the one above it, and perhaps I can use them to hang the overall gig, although that remains to be seen.

The insulation stops the colors and plastic of the hoops from being degraded by long term exposure to UV rays, and creates a pliable layer of a width that stabilizes the handle halves' position(s) on the hoops. However, the insulation is too thick for unmodified necks.

I sawed off the first few millimeters of the necks that I tried to mount on the 1/5th hoop section I experimented with last evening. This is sufficient for getting the necks over the insulation, but the angle is not so advantageous for collecting wind. On the other hand, the angle forces me to cut the length on the neck halves, which has two advantages. The part of the gig that most often carries dirt -- and now moss in these very hot and humid days -- is gone; room for more blades now exists plus there is plenty of room for the five connections between gig hoop layers.

The drawback to this use of insulation is that total blade area per pair of blades is reduced. So, I should make alternative configurations -- one with a solid insulator, one with intermittent insulator -- and devise a test to see which turns faster in the same amount of wind.

Another consideration is weight. The insulator total weight with breaks at the hoop joints will come in under one ounce per hoop. However, I have yet to determine whether the foam will suck up rainwater or ice or snow runoff, which could become vastly detrimental in inclement weather.

More experiments will be necessary. The foam insulation may also change its properties over time and exposure to the sun. Since the foam insulation is black, I can say that you should stay tuned for more "Tales from the Darkside" regarding experiment results.

More Turbine Experiments

In preparation for stacking hooped blades I ordered 40 more hoops from and saw that their hoops are now 5-piece hoops. Soon I'll be measuring the assembled circumference of the hoops.

I have been perusing the current experiment's elements. I plan to lengthen the top -- handle half -- blades, while shortening the bottom -- neck half -- blades. Here is another picture of the current experiment: (Click Once On Picture to Enlarge it)
I am considering stacking several of these gigs, or rather, hanging several below the first, top hoop with blades. If I hang the lower hoops from the hoop above, connecting to the same structure that hangs the whole device, the lower blades of each hoop will get in the way of the hangers. Plus I am seriously considering added more blades to each hoop -- beyond the 8 X 2 that this gig already has.

The new hoops from Oriental Trading have five sections, rather than only four. This will make each hoop stronger. I should be able to connect hangers right at the junction where each section overlaps the next, but this means adding two hangers per hoop to keep things balanced. To aid counting, I also prefer to use 10 sets of two blades per hoop, so that two sets of two blades would reside between each two hangers.

The extra length on the top -- handle half -- blades could compensate for the subtraction of surface area on the bottom blades, plus possibly add weight where it could counterbalance the handle's weight, so that water wouldn't naturally pond inside the handles.

I am also toying with the idea of retaining the center pole, at least for the first few hoops on the top of the stack so that the topmost hoops won't get too deformed by the weight of the lower hoops....

Helix Wind Turbine Blades

I have been trying to imagine how to build wind turbine blades that resemble Black Walnut tree leaves because I caught one of those leaves spinning like a top one day, suspended from some spider silk. A few days ago I found a way to search Google that netted pictures resembling those leaves, using search string: "wind power" in the Images section of Google.

A more precise search string: "wind power helix" nets the pix I am telling you about:

So, I've decided to concentrate instead on mounting/hanging a DC generator from one of our eaves, then connecting and extending my newest turbine configuration onto the generator.

This windpower project, however, takes a back seat to my current household projects which include rebuilding one of our commodes, sealing some shower tile, and shampooing rugs. The commode project is extended now to repairing the floor under a leaky can. Lord only knows how long it was leaking, and I fear it could take a week or more to dry out, before I can glue new linoleum to the area, before reseating the commode. On the other hand, perhaps I could use some of the time I am waiting for the floor to dry to sneak a peak at the eave. I must draw up a plan for how to mount/hang the generator....

I did make progress constructing a temporary structure for hanging the turbine(s) onto the generator shaft so that I can test the ability of the turbine(s) to turn the shaft.

More Meanderings in Sci Fi

Lester Del Rey -- I think that is his name -- traveled through time in his works, more often than not, into the past, so that Del Rey's was historical sci fi -- not yet steam or punk especially.... [After some web surfing, I begin to wonder if my memory has not substituted Delrey's name for L. Sprague de Camp?]

By the way, I just started the first volume of the two Steampunk sci fi anthologies.

A few thoughts on my own preferences: after studying nineteenth century English literature during two courses at college, I can say that I don't think it is necessary for social commentary to be explicitly negative in order for the "punk" to apply. I thought that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was aptly if subtly aimed at society and parents' responsibility to educate their offspring, for example; so I don't see why Frankenstein can't be called steampunk-like. I know, steampunk is a 20-21st century term, but what about actual 19th century sci fi?

Oh. Why should I care to sort it all out? I've given up English as a career....

SteamPunk II/Mid-Summer Daydreams Intro

Attempting to integrate Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded -- a recent anthology of a particular sub-genre of Sci Fi/Horror/Fantasy/Revisionist History -- in my chocolate-induced dreamy daze I am reminded first of my inquiries into Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee, but then I expand (or digress) into remembrances of Golding's Lord of the Flies before marveling at our actual/imaginary/potential strides toward social integration during our Post-Apocalyptic Age (after 9/11 and Financial Meltdown) -- "with a little help from our friends," as the Beatles song goes.

Actually, I think the above abstract says enough to my literate friends, and my techy friends possibly could care less about sitting through the argument spelled out, so I will leave the details to your imagination except to offer any correspondent who would like clarification the opportunity to send me an email requesting further expansion on the above topic(s).

Send inquiries to, please. The email address is NOT a link, btw. I simply have other duties to attend to, such as rebuilding the 2nd of our three commodes, &  etc..... Actually, I imagine I'll have more to blog on the above topics during the day, as I will be spacing out on some nasty, very long-term cleaning tasks that I see in my near future....

Later Note: Actually, I am feeling a bit like a "ghost in the machine" because the above reminds me I am caught among worlds of literature, science, technology, psychology, sociology, finance, artistic endeavors, and communications. As a "ghost" I begin to discern one possible attraction of zomby/vampire/ghost characters that I hadn't previously understood. I suppose that adolescents might also feel caught among worlds as they had not yet doffed some narrowly definable identity -- as in Super 8, for example, Ghost Whisperer, and Dead Like Me. Once again I am reminded of Shakespeare's Cleopatra who says, "I'll be constant when I am dead."
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