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WindTapper's Blog

August 2011

Dear Diary

Google Directory called today to find out if I would like to be added to their local directory. I declined since 1) my business type is not classified as selling merchandise at my location -- only delivery items are available, such as information on this website and Amazon used books when my van is running again; and 2) I don't expect to have a physical product for sale for a few years -- whether PDF files delivered via the Internet, or wind electric generator kits -- both would be delivered by mail, UPS, or drop shipped by me.

On the whirligig design front I finally decided to stay with the whirligig of Experiment 7. It spins fine, even in NNE wind of 2 mph. You can't get any better than that, I strongly suspect.

I will just have to go out in the wintertime when it snows or sleets to knock the ice and snow off the too-large diameter hoops. I have an irregularly shaped experiment that most closely resembles a Black Walnut tree leaf with blunted points, made from Oriental Trader 1/5th pieces of hoops, but figuring out how to attach it and get predictable spin from it will have to wait until after I do some major hands-on experiments creating the stators for the generator. Also, the power-take-off is really next on my agenda.

I found some reasonably priced magnet wire, so I might start with that for initial experiments, rather than relying solely on self-insulated aluminum wire. A lot of experiments would be required for the last option, but I am nearly ready to start preliminary experiments on that, too.

Alternative Generator Engines

The term "blades" -- the milk and water gallon jugs that I cut into halves, then quarters -- is no longer sufficient to describe the part of my future wind electricity generators that provides the spin for the rotors to move over the stators. I will start calling the whirligigs I am trying to design "engines." Generac and other companies sell electricity generator engines that run on LP (propane) and natural gas, but my engines are powered by the wind.

The Oriental Trader company, 50 cm plastic hoops are easily deformable into spirals, which allows their diameters to shrink as I need them to in order to fit under our eaves; however, the proper placement of blades onto spirals is problematic. Spiral engines (whirligigs) are not as regularly predictable as the hoops, and I am not sure how to fasten them at each end.

Spirals do, however, present the option of designing whirligigs that collapse under the weight of a raccoon or opossum that tries to climb up them. The hoop pieces will decouple given enough pull.

I am regretting still being distracted by whirligig alternative designs -- so much so that I think I will definitely design a modular system. A narrow centerpole inside a wider and lower centerpole will let me use the wider pole to support the rotor, anyway, while the narrower pole reduces weight. This way I can work on a separate section of magnetized rotor to spin among coils of wire that will actually produce the electricity.

Now I see that there are three main parts to the generator: 1 engine, 2 rotor, and 3 stator, with subparts to each main part. Each main part has its own structural and environmental concerns with the stator having the main electrical subparts and output.

Ohio Skies During Irene

I was hoping to get a test of Experiment 7 during Hurricane Irene, but Tropical Storm Irene is now on our latitude and the picture here is too calm for such a wind test:

So, all my anchoring efforts netted only experience in anchoring plus preparation for the next storm.

I used one of those metal screws that anchor chained-up puppies in some yards, with mostly chain from the same type of set-up for dogs.

We got no rain from Irene, unlike Ivan which dumped two, closely spaced episodes of 3 inches of rain each.

By the way, after I edited a prior entry Vistaprint relabeled it with today's date and repositioned it, too, based on its now new date and time.

Speaking of Commercials

Thinking of using staves from which to hang chains -- those green plastic-covered metal tomato stakes that Lowe's sells -- brings to mind another danger in the real world: I should not provide a stout enough platform from which a racoon could mount an attack on any of our eaves. I forget which insurance company broadcasts that commercial, but it seems to me the idea for that one grew out of a series of You-Tube videos showing a racoon that was taken in to be nursed, coming back to break into an eave of the same house where it was nursed.

I wish I had had a video camera when one of our squirrels climbed up onto a whirligig that hung exactly where Experiment 7 hangs now. Squirrels act like little clowns sometimes. At that time I had a bird feeder that was hanging lower than the one that hangs now, so the squirrel was looking to jump from the whirligig onto the feeder, you see. The whirligig was robust enough to survive the antics of the squirrel, and that made me happy. But stoutness is not always a good thing -- particularly when rodents or racoons are being given ready-made launch pads for destruction....

Perhaps "Dempsey wire" would make a less reliably stout stave where racoons are concerned. I don't expect racoons to try to get into our eaves because we are not introducing these critters into our house, as that YouTube video-maker did, but given time, you never know what nocturnal high-jinx might ensue, lol. Shakespeare's A Mid-Sommer Night's Dreame comes to mind, as well as memories of a smelly, nocturnal, and marsupial opossum who lives in our neighborhood. They climb slowly, but very well.

Working on New Designs

Regardless of how well Experiment 7 spins it is still too broad for the available spaces under our eaves. If I had some grand gazebo or even a spare carport I would certainly hang it there, but those structures cost $ that I do not have for experimentation. I also do not wish to design something that could cost the average customer so much dough to implement.

Therefore, I have started working on slimmer designs. I will be choosing from among these new designs next, after I figure out how to set up our new drill in either our workshop or in a place I call "The Rec Room" which I hope to be the site of my future factory.

Since the Oriental Trader hoops have grown in diameter and I haven't figured out how to contact the manufacturer to see if the smaller hoops could be available somehow, I am working without plastic hoops in newer designs. These would be based upon the centerpole with crosswise staves from which hang the chains, horizontally sliced by "Dempsey wire" hoops from which would hang the bottle quarters.

The Dempsey wire threads nicely into standard dog chain, but it is too thin to support the handle half of bottles in an upward-leaning position, so each level would be half as high as in Experiment 7, thus there would be more levels per vertical foot in this newer design.

I had hoped to be done with this first round of whirligig design so that I could start working on the rotor and stator level of the generator, but I experience too much nagging doubt about the viability of Experiment 7's design during snow and ice storms. I very much enjoyed observations from the first year of testing that showed me how resilient and tough the first designs were -- even in snow, rain, and hail storms. (I felt like "this little piggy [that] went wee wee wee all the way home" in the Geiko commercial, as well as feeling like "Mrs. A" when I watched my whirligigs happily spinning in storms.) I don't want to give up that feeling of confidence in my idea, just to push ahead to beginning to build my first full stators now.

Besides, this delay also gives my psyche more time to work on designing the winding insulation (or not) process(es) before opening up the cans of smelly goop. Oh but I could use a roof on our back porch!  ( : - )


Close-ups of Experiment 7 as it evolves do not convey the potential beauty of my future devices in situ, so here I try to give a longer view of our yard and surrounding trees.

Here we see the potential expansion of the lines of the house created by shadows made by the sun on the siding, echoed by the whirligig. However, this picture was taken before I shortened the chains on Experiment 7, so the picture may actually be misleading. Sorry about that.

Here are what is left of our front yard Black Walnut trees along the creek.

Sun finally arrived yesterday on Experiment 7, peaking around 4 p.m.

A bit of light around 10 a.m. today, with shortened chains.

Main Hangers 1 and 2

Close-ups of Experiment 7 whirligig do not display the potential beauty of wind-powered electricity generators such as mine will become, so here I show some pix in situ.

Oh shucks. I have to go back to Picassa3 to rotate the photos, so I will have to make a new entry.

This is Experiment 7 as of yesterday. Since then I have shortened all the chains by three links each. It becomes less aesthetically pleasing close up, but I still need to know if I can improve its spin by closing up the spaces....

OK. I think I have some main hanger photos that don't need to be rotated.

Here is the first hanger, modified after I made the second hanger, sitting on top of my unopened box containing a drill press from Skil that I purchased from Lowe's a few months back.

A few more pix will help you to understand what is metal and what is picture here....

Hanger 2 I made yesterday, and it is now hanging within Experiment 7 whirligig. It is much larger than Hanger One.

By the way, I just like the black background, is why the drill box is pictured here...

A Storm Is Coming

Here's the latest best picture of Experiment 7.
This is Experiment 6 Expanded with two more hoops, but I plan more levels -- especially with Hurricane Irene coming. I should not let this opportunity pass, to have the high winds test whatever parts of Whirligig 7 I can get constructed before the storm hits.

I must anchor the whole deal in order to get a proper test. Earlier whirligigs were tested by winds 30-35 mph. Those were anchored.

Right now I have a disadvantage because my vehicle is in the repair shop. Downtown is approximately 4.5 miles from here....but the hardware store is a few miles closer, so maybe I have a chance....

This gig looks pretty complicated and rather horrid up close, but longer views of it against our house are much more benign than what you see here. It helps that it is white while our house is also white....

Experiment 6 Expanded = Experiment 7

Finally, I got some house and yardwork out of the way so that I could add two more hoops to Experiment 6 today! Learning all along the way, I am adding some wire bending skills and experience to my arsenal. Some of the connecting chains have handmade links in them, for example....

In an hour or so the sun will be shining on Experiment 7 so I will share a differently lit photo than the one that follows immediately. Click once on any photo you wish to enlarge.

The wind is blowing nicely today for this location, being out of the SSW at 13 mph.

I forgot I took more pix of my chains. One follows.

The silver-colored links are handmade from steel wire.

My central hook got deformed as I tried to make its two tails more perpendicular to each other and as I tried to bend the lowest tail up. I am glad you can't see it in the photos because it is not at all how I think it should be, anyway.

The sun is coming 'round, and I am going to try to post a photo before I publish this so that you will have the ability to enlarge it. I put photos into an already published entry and the photos cannot be enlarged by clicking on them....

Experiment 7 is becoming backlit.

Mozilla Firefox crashed when I tried to process this new photo using Picassa3 and then come back to Vistaprint to add it to this entry. I may try again to add another picture before actually hitting "Publish" in Vistaprint, to see if I can still add and have the "Click Once to Enlarge" work correctly within one entry....

By the way, I plan to anchor my multi-tiered whirligigs, but this one is not yet anchored to prevent sideways sway.

Oh I give up. I'll post new photos in the next entry.

Library Research Yesterday

Trying to read the Wiley Encyclopedia of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (TK 9.E53 1999, vols. 10, 18, 21) yesterday I was reminded of a tenet offered by a speed reading class I took during the late 1960's: keep on moving your eyes over the text at the faster rate and eventually comprehension will follow. I suppose this could be true of any foreign language learning, if you keep it up long enough. However, I had to stop and wonder whether or not every sentence was actually grammatical. I am afraid there were some seeming sentences that I simply could not parse.

I was trying to find out anything I could discern concerning voltage regulators. You see, I wish to figure out how to regulate output voltages in my wind electricity generators. The optimal voltage is 18 for charging 12 volt batteries. I already own a voltage regulator that will shunt volts in excess of 12 to some other device such as a light bulb, or whatever you hook into the shunt part of the circuit. But in the case of the wind not blowing hard enough to produce 18 volts, I thought I might simply apply piezoelectric generators to make up the difference. Some piezoelectric devices that I have on order have milliamps with 10 volts, by the way.

It turns out that electrical engineering literature has its own definition of "voltage regulation" that is tied to power generation, or rather, power transmission from the electrical utilities to which we may or may not be connected. Theirs run into three-phase (using theta phase angle notation), high voltage power production.

Now I am interested in variable phase and phase coordination problems because I will have multiple AC phases, and hopefully, multiple voltage sources, but I am not so sure -- since I will be converting AC to DC in order to charge batteries, using bridge rectifiers -- that I will be needing to actually regulate theta. I do own an oscilloscope and know how to use one, so I hope to double-check phase angles none-the-less, to be certain that my voltage is not out of phase with my amperes.

At any rate, somewhere within my reading I ran across "static var controllers" having to do with "control of voltage flicker" and so, I will continue to read in hope that someday I will run across what I am looking for in the standard electrical engineering literature -- or at least what labels pertain to my goals. Another subject that seems to pertain is "voltage sensors" -- I shouldn't forget that term either....

Piezoelectric Voltage

Edmund Scientific has some piezoelectric devices it says produce 10 volts at some milliamp ratio for cheap. My mind has been toying with the idea of incorporating two such discs into the design of my wind-powered electricity generators.

Charging 12 volt batteries requires 18 volts. I should have beaucoup des amps but I believed I was short on volts. Two piezoelectricity discs might just overcome this dirth, but I have yet to learn what amount of time -- proportionately -- the discs would actually produce said voltage(s).

Does the voltage production depend upon new force being applied to the discs, or can the weight of something produce volts continuously? How do the discs work? Aha! A perfect time for Wikipedia! Please see also energy scavenging at Wikipedia.

Chains, Cryptonomicon, Hook

Chains are good because they are flexible, strong, and you can count links to control their lengths. Disadvantages are weight and cost except there are some finer chains of lower cost than other chains.

I am experimenting now with making the end, connecting links to hook onto the S hooks. In the next couple days I hope to build more layers for Experiment 6, perhaps adding a center pole, too. Below is a picture of my temporary table with tools, then a closeup on the gold-colored chains plus the hook. The hook will be called my "3-D lc'g' Hook" because it resembles a three-dimensional, lower-case "g". Perhaps I will give better pix of it -- once it is proven in action. Its main features: made from "Dempsey wire" (9 gauge); the bottoms of its two loops are perpendicular to each other in the vertical direction, with a gap between them for threading the center pole onto the bottom loop.

BTW I finished Cryptonomicon a few days ago. I recommend it even though I couldn't warm up to the preview of Stepenson's next book after Cryptonomicon, Quicksilver. At 1130 pages for the paperback version, Cryptonomicon presented AMPLE entertainment, including one glitch -- an Adam's Apple on a girl!

I felt that Cryptonomicon provided an answer to William Gibson's charges of narcicism and conceit against hackers, cryptanalysts, and computer wizzes. 

The "Click Once to Enlarge" for photos does not seem to work when adding pix to an edited entry. Perhaps this will change later today. I don't know why it won't work, but perhaps this glitch serendipitously protects my hook's rights, lol.

Wire Versus Chain

As I was making wire connectors -- a loop on each end of one foot pieces of wire -- I was imagining them functioning in situ, and realizing that they probably won't work because they are not flexible enough. If they were strong enough not to break eventually, they'd be too heavy and possibly present too much wind resistance. Also, they might come unhooked as the wind blew the hoops around in rather unpredictable ways. My first whirligigs were strung by fishing line which eventually broke. Most metals will break after bending repeatedly, and so does fishing line.

However, now that I have nearly enough wires to hang a hoop of blades, I might as well go ahead and hang one, just to watch it spin, lol.

BTW, I got the commode done a few days ago. Experience really pays off. This is my second commode rebuilding in this house and this one didn't leak -- the first time!

Website Statistics & Etc.

Astonishingly I found that the statistics reported for this website hit an all-time high late last month of over 40 pages read and 40 visitors on a single day. Even better, however, are more recent stats from the website Vistaprint host showing the average length of stay as three minutes with two pages viewed. Formerly, I had only a 1.5 page average of viewed pages per visitor. Overall stats since inception in May of 2010 are 7766 page views with 5523 visitors.

For the first time since inception, also, the largest category of places from which my website is viewed was my hometown of Athens, Ohio. Perhaps handing out business cards is starting to show some results. Previously, Hollywood California was number one as viewer site, and I suspect this might be due to an overzealous seller of pills leaving tons of spam on my site. Spam is filtered, by the way, from my comments. Gee I wish somebody seriously interested in something that I have to show, say, or do would comment here or send me an email.

Keep in mind that I don't expect to actually sell anything until I have actually developed and tested a product. When I have an actual product for sale I will be posting videos and getting around to some more serious advertising. By then I will have plenty of raw materials with which to spruce up this site into a more professional-looking place to visit, although I'll be hitting the Yahoo Groups at first, lol, with notices of this site's existence.

For now, activities are centered on the home and yard. The trees got trimmed yesterday, and today I nearly have one of our commodes rebuilt and reseated. Whirligig 6 with its new skyline follow. Click once on any photo to enlarge it.

I would love to get some of the Black Walnut logs to a wood sculptor, so if you know a wood sculptor in our neck of the woods, let me know if he or she would be interested in receiving same.

Most of the dark parts of the logs are narrow. Some are a perfect size for making chess pieces.

The following pix are from a pile representing approximately 1/4 of our total wood supply. Several pieces are larger than what are pictured here.

Wire Hanger

The question suddenly arises: "Should I describe and post pictures of devices that I invent before seeing whether or not I could patent same?" Not to mention that I might invent something -- from my perspective -- that already has a patent on it.

I was composing an entry concerning the wire hanger that I constructed a couple days ago. It seems like a pretty little thing. I even had a special photographic set-up in mind, to show off its geometry, but now I am not so sure I should be doing that. Not to mention the fact that I haven't yet tested its in situ viability.

Probably, more likely than being a potentially patentable device, it has already been invented and I simply don't remember actually seeing such a thing previously. Patents do, however, run out -- at least in the pre-Bush world of sensible patenting practices.

Anyway, I will probably photograph it and test it, and if it works as I hope it will, then I should at least try to find a similar device within Patent abstracts, before just blindly handing it to whomever stumbles onto my website.

I do not yet have this website set up to do gung-ho advertising. I am waiting until I have a physical product for sale, other than educational and hobby types of information, that is.
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