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WindTapper's Blog

December 2011

Slight Glitch Or Happy Accident

Threading two lengths of Dempsey wire through the hoop sections this morning as I was trying to assemble the coil, I found the final segment -- the yellow quarter hoop -- was stuffed with magnets. I could not budge the magnets so I had to wind another quarter hoop -- this time a light green one.

To get the magnets out of the segment I will have to unwind the coil and then split the section lengthwise. Before I do that, I should examine this quarter hoop coil for its magnetic properties. I noticed that the magnetic fields of the interior magnets seem muted from the outside of the coil. I had not considered the shielding that the metal of the coil provides the interior of the hoop from magnetic flux entering from outside the coil.

I should put iron filings onto plexiglass as it sits on the hoop section and photograph the demonstrated power of the magnets to affect the filings through the coil. Then take the coil off and repeat the procedure to see if there are in fact differences in the strength of the magnetic fields with and without the coil as shield.

I also just took some photos of the hoop I will alter today to make it mono-polar for my generator. This is the hoop that showed me the neodymium magnets are at least 10 times stronger than the Alcino magnets.
The whole hoop with iron filings on plexiglass over the hoop is pictured here, followed by a close-up of one pile of filings over one magnet.

And finally, the last photo shows the whirligig set-up I am starting with today.
The anchor, platform to hold the coil, and fine tuning on balance, plus the magnet rotor all need to be added today if I am going to meet my self-imposed deadline for creating my first, test electric generator powered by the wind.

I have room to add another bladed hoop, but I do not have time for that today, I don't think....

Dear Diary

The stars were so bright tonight! I can't remember when was the last time they were so bright! I think if we had had a telescope we could have seen a whole lot more stars tonight than ever before. Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in by about 1 a.m. here.

I did not make the effort to find icicles for our Christmas tree this year. This pic does not look as our tree normally looks because we do not stand around all day illuminating the tree with a camera flash.
Many more colors show up with darker lighting because of the colored lights that you can't see here.

I finished wrapping the fourth segment of the hoop for my coil. The first segment has regular carpet tape -- yellow tape. The other three have outdoor carpet tape -- white. Tomorrow I will  make little holes in the one end of each segment to thread two lengths of Dempsey wire through the center of the hoop as I assemble the hoop. These steel wires should grab the magnetic flux so that the flux does not shoot out the backside of the coil and cancel out the electric current generated by the flux shooting through the topside as the magnetized hoop rotates over it.

I miscalculated the length of the wire required to cover the segments, or rather, miscounted the inches on which I based my calculations. I had 13 feet left from the 100 feet after covering three segments of the four-segment hoop, when I had expected to have much more wire left over after covering all four segments.

I wish I could afford to provide you with the program that will enlarge these photos, but I am really too poor right now. So sorry.

Hopefully I will figure out a nice, neat way to connect the wires so that the connections will be designed to be "modular". Then it is on to assembling the generator! Good anchoring is required, too, to provide stability for the rotation-to-coil relationship.

Oh yes. I made sure that I wound the wire in the same direction every time for this mono-polar generator. There are approximately 500 turns on the four segments, btw.

I was going to make a second layer, but I think I will just go with the one layer for my first generator so I can get it done quicker, but also so that I can compare output to a later version with a second layer, to see how the second layer will interfere with the first through induction.

Progress Report -- As It Were

Three of the four segments of the first generator coil are now loaded with wire. Unfortunately, I miscalculated somehow about how much wire it would take. I am almost out of the 100 feet of wire in the first of two sets of 100 feet of wire while I was expecting to have some 37 feet left over from winding the complete first layer of the coil.

I am loath to add yet another junction, in addition to the four created by winding the four segments separately, so I might start the second roll. I am hoping to make easily connectable and disconnectable junction so I can take readings and experiment on a basic electricity level.

I considered making the first segment into the 24-gauge wire winding, but without knowing exactly how much current I will draw using the 15-gang, insulated wire, I think it is safer to not mix gauges. I do not want to overload anything for fear of creating a fire hazard.

Oh yes. Today I had to get more carpet tape and in the process of procuring it I found that they make "outside" carpet tape. This is much stickier stuff it is claimed will resist weather. I should have been using that all along. The first coil does not have exterior tape on it.

I was planning on making two layers of the insulated wire, but will have to go buy more tomorrow if I am to do that.....

Coil Winding Begins

I decided to wind the 15 strand, insulated gang of copper wire around the four segments of the smaller of the two segmented Chinese hoops that I bought. I already had magnetized a hoop of the same size, which is why I chose this hoop to use for my first toroidal coil.

I wasn't sure how long the wire was, so I measured it just now. I have two 100 foot lengths of the wire. It is pretty thick with its insulation. I got only 8 or 9 turns of wire per one inch of hoop. I am putting carpet tape on the hoop before winding the wire so that it will stick in place. It looks like I will have to put several layers onto each segment of the hoop in order to use up 100 feet. I do not know yet how many layers I will allow for, since the distance to the central core will become too great with too many layers. Once I get to 40 inches of wire used, I will have a better idea how to divide the length of wire among the four segments.

I'm on my way to my first, test generator! It looks like an all-nighter or two are ahead of me if I really want to meet my self-imposed Jan. 1st deadline.

Later notes: approximately 26 winds for 40 inches of insulated, 15-strand wire gives 3 inches of circumference covered. One quarter hoop segment is 14 inches of the circumference of the entire hoop. 56 inch circumference to be covered in total. Approximately 19 of 30 40 inch lengths of wire will fill the first layer of windings. Let's see. 19 X 40 = 760 inches. Divide by 12 and I get 63.33 feet of wire. 56 inches X 9 turns per inch gives approximately 500 turns for the first level. If 6800 turns gives 18 volts, then 500 turns gives 1.3 volts. I wonder how many amps? Perhaps I will just measure the amps.

12/30/11 8 a.m. More Notes: Finished winding the first quarter hoop, first layer. Calculations said that I should have 7.6 ounces of wire on 1/4 hoop. Measurements give it 7.5 oz. It is probably a little bit less than that because I couldn't measure the weight of the carpet tape and rubber bands I used to keep the wire in place on the beginning end. The 1/4 hoop itself weighs approximately 1/2 oz, so the Layer One and 1/4 hoop weighs approx. 8 oz.

(The whole 100 feet of the first roll of wire weighed 3 lbs, more or less. Multiplying 100 X the projected 63.3 feet that it will take to fill Layer One gives a 0.633 factor to multiply times 48 oz (that is, 16 oz X 3 lbs = 48 oz). 0.6333 X 48 = 7.6 oz of this insulated wire per 1/4 hoop, first layer of wire.)

The beginning of the winding moved itself, too, to make it so that there is now a gap at the head of the winding. I will be more careful next time, but I do not know if I can stop this from happening. I should have left more extra wire at the beginning than I did the first time. I left hardly any extra wire at all the first time I started a winding.

Down to the Wire

I had hoped to make my first generator by Jan. 1st. Only two full days left, now. I find deadlines helpful to get me moving, to create focus. Even if I miss the deadline, I will still want to accomplish my task ASAP afterward.

The topic of toroidal coils arises as this is the model on which I plan to build my first generator. Homo/mono-polar is another term used to describe it. After a nap I wondered if I could write a science fiction story about how several of these 15 or so inch diameter inductors attracts beings from another dimension to bask in their hallucinatory properties as they stand in the middle of rotating coils of this size, tee hee. Too many movies, I guess....or rather, too many short stories of the sci fi gender in my past. Oh I know. Eureka! the TV show. I will miss that one as it is ending soon.

At the Red Cross Blood Bank today I was reading from Practical Design of Power Supplies from IEEE Press of McGraw-Hill, 1998. In places this book reads a bit like the more organized entries of this blog, which isn't saying much, but I enjoyed what I read. I started around pages 115-7 with "Tips for Designing Manufacturable Magnetics"; "Tape versus Wire Insulation"; "Wire Gauge Ratio" and "Number of Windings." I enjoyed the jokes Ron Lenk makes about making toroidal coils.

Fortunately, I have segmented hoops I have decided to wind in separate segments, threading an "iron core" and re-connecting the wire segments at the end of the process, when I combine the segments into the final hoop. This way I can make the manufacturing process more nearly repeatable among the segments....

Volts Per Turn?

Do not ask me where I get these figures. I forget. Also, the figures seem highly suspect to me, plus, my memory is not good, either. So take the following with a grain of salt. I am trying to estimate how many volts I might get if I have 3000 turns. Obviously, the answer depends on the amount of magnetic flux that cuts the turns of wire, and perhaps the gauge of the wire also should figure into the calculations, plus revolutions per minute on average. I know these figures are all wrong. However, I am going ahead with pie-in-the-sky blatherings for now.

If 6800 turns equals 18 volts (unknown gauge of wire, unknown flux densities, unknown number of magnets), then I might get one volt per 377 turns on a toroidal coil. So, 3000 turns divided by 377 equals approximately 8 volts. 790 feet, by the way, equals one pound of 24 gauge magnet wire from

Again. Do not take these figures seriously. It might have been 14 volts instead of 18 that I calculated. I do not remember and I do not understand where the figures came from.

Thinking on this a bit more I see that I should make two separate coils from the two types of wire because I do not know yet for sure whether the gang of 15 will act like one wire that is 15 times more broad, or whether the separate wires will generate more voltage because they have more surface area than a single, 15 times as broad wire. That question remains.

After I find out the answer to that question, then I could experiment with series and parallel connections to see what happens. I suppose I would only end up with a maximum of 1/2 amp, regardless of how thick the wire is that I add to the end of the coil, rather than increasing amperage. Volts should increase, however.

Testing is in the offing, therefore.

First Generator Designs and Conjectures

My goal was to produce at least my first test generator by Jan. 1, 2012. I have decided to build the simplest, least expensive one, requiring the least materials, finesse, measuring, and elbow grease that I can imagine and still have some usable voltage and amperage. The toroidal form fits all these negative requirements and fits my budget given the materials that I have on hand.

The website tells me I can safely run 0.577 amps in a 24 gauge wire that has a jacket on it. I assume I must count the varnish on magnet wire as a jacket. I have 790 feet of this, giving approximately 20 ohms of resistance. I can get approximately 3000 turns onto a 1 inch thickness of a hoop, regardless of its overall diameter. I wish I could remember how many volts that should give me.

Additionally, I have approximately 100 or 200 feet of insulated wire that has approximately 15 24 gauge wires ganged inside the insulation. If I multiply 15 X 0.577 I get 8.6 amps, but considerably less voltage. I wonder what would happen if I were to wrap both in the coil and connect them in series? Could I combine the volts and the amps that way?

The single strand 24 gauge wire would go on first, then the gang of 15 would be wrapped on the outside of the first.... I know you can add amps with a parallel connection, but volts must be in series. I cannot imagine how increased amps on the second portion of a wire could affect the amperage produced by the first part of a wire, but if I take a reading of volts and amps before I add the second wire, perhaps I will learn something. I imagine the first amps will be subsumed by the second. I hope the voltage will not decrease just because the diameter of the wire increases, but I fear that may be so.

Let's see. the website says I = V/R. Increased diameter lowers the resistance. I x R = V. Lower the Resistance and you get lower Voltage. But I (Current/Amperage) also increases with higher diameter wire in a generator, so I guess I will just have to take readings to find out what happens to voltage in this situation. I do not believe that the Resistance lowers by a factor of 15, while the current might rise by a factor of 15. We shall see.


Books I wish I had read:
QC 518 M96 (Theoretical Electromagnetism);
QC 518 K87 (Electricity and Magnetism);
TK 7825.C63 1989 (Analog Electronics Handbook);
T 19.A3 (Great Inventions: Smithsonian Scientific Series 12);
QC 518 N56 (Electricity and Magnetism).

I dipped rather heavily into the last three books but I hope to revisit them all. It takes time to find books that are pertinent to one's topic, so I record these call numbers to save time on my next search.

Christmas Traffic and Toroids

This website had 435 hits Christmas day, and only 4 the day after Christmas. Hmmm. What does that mean?

Meanwhile, I have been working on designs for my generator. The last two days I have gone over and over possible scenarios for how I would actually wind a variety of coil designs, coming up with unsatisfactory half-solutions. Finally, I have decided on a simple toroid that produces DC current. Let the converter/inverter make AC after the electricity has been stored in a battery.

I find myself enjoying the idea of a steady stream of DC much more than the constantly changing AC because it seems gentler on the wires to me. Also, there is no need for precise measurements for the length of coils and how they would lay, etc. All DC needs is just a single, continuous coil wound all the way around a single hoop.

I am going back to look for the sites that give the amount of amps carrying capacity for each gauge of wire now, and I will have to look into the possibility of overheating the hoop. I wouldn't want to overheat plastic, for goodness sake. That would be a fire hazard, knock wood. Perhaps tin foil wrapped around the hoop, wrapped up in electrical tape could lessen the fire hazard?

Another beauty of the toroidal design is that it is too old to worry about violating anybody's patent rights.


A lot of sun on my whirligig reflects in all directions, including upward so that I can share the basic structure of the roof for my make-shift "car port". I hope to protect this over-wide whirligig from snowfall this winter, although it won't be perfect protection.

I had some extra aluminum chains left over from my first gerry-rigged design (see previous entries). I used two of them to help restrain the boards from flying off in high winds. High winds are rare around here, but after watching a lot of Weather Channel videos, I try to prepare for the worst. I still have two chains that are doing nothing presently, so they sort of mess up the picture. Lots of mini bungee-type chords hold the ends of the boards and the two layers of tarp onto the framework, too.

I noticed this morning that when our furnace is venting its fumes, that flow of gases turns the whirligig, albeit slowly.

This is not one of the best locations for producing torque because it is, again as before, on a long side of our house. However, it is at least outside and in a place where we can observe it without going outside.

This location also is lit with a street lamp all night, so I won't have to guess what is happening to my gig in the dark.

In case you have not been reading here, the framework was purchased for some $230 at Lowe's. It is a 6 by 8 foot greenhouse frame. The kit comes with a lovely covering that I am not using because I want to expose my whirligigs to whatever wind happens by.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

One of the old books on generating electricity that I have been reading said that the current goes from an area of low voltage to an area of high voltage -- referring to Faraday's disc. As I was looking for a reason why I screwed up my latest design, I wondered if perhaps this way of looking at current direction did not mix me up as I was trying to navigate current flow using the Right-Hand Rule.

When tapping into electrical current from Faraday's Disc, experimenters take an electrical lead from the center of the disk and connect it to an electrical lead from the outer edge of the disk, assuming that electricity flows from the center to the outer edge because electricity is being generated at a small area nearer to the outer edge via spinning the disk edge between the poles of a horseshoe magnet.

When I do the math -- in this case the geometry -- where I have a coil on its side instead of a disk laid flat, subjected to the flux of a horseshoe magnet in relatively the same positions, the electricity will flow either to the edge closest to the magnet (when the magnets move in one direction) or away from the edge closest to the magnet (when the magnets move in the opposite direction). This has two of four sides of the coil with current going towards each other at the point closest the magnet, or away from each other at the point closest the magnet -- depending on the relative movement between magnet and coil.

So, the current either goes toward or away from the highest voltage, not always toward the highest voltage, although, technically, either way, the current does not actually flow because the two sides always cancel each other out in this scenario.

Anyway. Enough of that. On to better things....

Back Porch Whirligig

Finally, sun and camera conspired to net the following pic. I moved the whirligig from the front to the back porch. Here is also the new configuration of the greenhouse framework with tarp and boards for hanging gigs.

After double and triple and quadruple checking on my generator design yesterday, I have decided to go back to a design that I know would work. And so, I will be sewing coils onto a sheet of vinyl very soon, to use with a hoop and neodymium magnets that I constructed way last year.

Wish me luck!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Oh, by the way. This photo has a mysterious apparition at its very top. I have no idea what that horizontal crossbar at the very top is. It is not there in reality. It resembles a sort of reflection from the workbench on the deck below it.

I will have to get you another photo, but not right now. Sorry, dudettes and dudes.

Christmas Rum Ball Recalculations

So, a cousin sent some very delicious Rum Balls from Austin by plane yesterday, and I sampled one from each flavor this morning. This afternoon when I got to looking for new designs for my magnet rotor-to-coil configuration, I discovered that I had miscalculated the current flow directions for my first design. I had current flowing in opposite directions, in my formerly calculated design.

It boggles my mind that I made such a simple and fatal mistake while now, in my slightly inebriated state, I can see my error. Go figger.

The Rum Balls are based on chocolate, much to my pleasant surprise. I guess Christmas goodies can be productive, therefore. Until now I had written Christmas goodies off as worse than useless for their cholesterol!

Thanks, cousin, if you are reading here, for straightening me out.

Alnico Magnets Vs Neodymium

I finally got my iron filings contraption from Edmund Scientific together with my magnet rotor tonight. The Alnico magnets are so lame compared to the rare earth magnets that I wonder if I should even bother going ahead with this design. I have much thinner rare earth magnets that can lift 10 times more iron filings than the horseshoe magnets, and I can not see any reaction of the filings more than about 1 inch away from the Alcino magnets.

I wonder that I am being so careful to structure my coil with the Alnico magnets. I think there would be hardly any "blowback" from the opposite side of the coil, even if it were improperly shaped.

I am seriously considering just super-gluing the little rare earth, disk-like magnets to a plastic ring of some sort and beginning again with new magnetic field mapping before actually bothering to wind a coil. I found some plastic baskets at a local store that sell for $1. I could just cut my basket down to several hoops and use those instead of the elaborate set-up I have now with the horseshoe magnets.

I knew Alnico were not as strong, but I had no idea how much weaker they are than neodymium. So. Back to the drawing board. I guess the reason I didn't notice their lack of strength is that the new magnetic field detector that I got from Edmund Scientific is so sensitive. It registers the direction of the field way beyond where an iron filing would stand up or move....

Slight Hiccup

Trying to finish making the base for my coil, it finally dawned on me that I could just put a slot so I can wind wire without having to thread the whole spool through the center each time, instead of cutting the whole thing in half for access. However, it also occurred to me that I should drill the 2 inch center hole before finishing cutting the disk off the two by four foot piece of PVC sheet. Now I am looking for the connector apparatus for putting the two inch drill bit onto my Black and Decker drill.

This necessitates cleaning up a big area of stuff, which, by the way, is the same area that I must clean up for putting up the Christmas tree. As company is coming tomorrow night, I had best get to it, then.

Another hiccup occurred today. My van got stuck in the back yard and it took me some time to figure out how and to accomplish the unsticking of my van. We have yellow clay all over our yard, btw. Then it took time to get the mud and gravel unstuck from the tires. So, I have my work still cut out for me, regarding any other projects.

It has been raining and gloomy here for days, so the ground is quite soggy. Except, this afternoon it was nearly 70 degrees and sunny. I finally decided to tap into a recent acquisition of peat moss to soak up the water from the clay under my tires.

Counting my blessings as I was kneeling on the soggy ground, I was thankful that my labors occurred during such a pleasant day. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain hard and be mostly in the 40's all day. We are supposed to get perhaps an inch of rain, it looks like by early evening. Fine weather for ducks, I say.

The 10 to 20 mph winds, on the other hand, make my whirligig spin quite fast, and this makes me happy as a clam.... And so, On To Christmas!
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