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WindTapper's Blog

January 2012

Getting Serious

I am doing some serious shopping for magnet wire. Costs for magnet wire are too great in this country, so far as I can see, so I am searching in China. Shipping costs will also be great, so we might have a trade-off between actual prices and shipping costs.

I am now trying to figure out how much wire I would need to produce electricity for our household. If the costs come in under $350 - $400 for wire plus magnets per generator, then perhaps this whole project could be feasible, given a projected need for, say 6 to 9 generators at least. I daresay that would still be competitive with solar start-up costs....

Progress, Of Sorts

I loaded 25 magnets onto the coffee can rotor. Only 50 more to go, each one placed 3.5 cm center-to-center, in both the vertical and horizontal directions.

I used packaging/shipping tape (which is wide and strong) to cover each column of 5 disc magnets, and now I am starting to get a better feel for the physical attributes of what I am trying to build since I can now feel the weight of it as it is 1/3 loaded with its magnets. Also, the thought creeps in -- after doing the math on voltage potential production using a couple types of wire coils -- that if I were to double the size of the discs I might start running into a structural limit to the coffee can's ability to resist collapse due to the pull of the magnets towards each other.

Additionally, the math on voltage production potential for each type of wire that I have, given the magnets that I have, works out to 1.6 volts per 500 foot roll of heavily insulated 14 gauge wire at $75; and 2.2 volts per 790 foot roll of magnet 24 gauge wire at $35; plus the magnet wire is far smaller, thus I could pack far more of it into the same amount of space. On the other hand, 24 gauge wire won't carry nearly the amount of amps that could be produced, so I will have to run the cost estimates again for higher amp potentials, using heavier gauge magnet wire.

Thirdly, the idea occurs to me that perhaps I should set up some sort of voltage divider on the output to deal with three different ranges of rotation speeds, hooked up to three different size batteries. Three batteries per whirligig would be far too cumbersome, however, but at least I am starting to think about voltage regulation, lol....

Dear Diary

After some unfortunate experience with the stock market, I have decided to go back to creating apparatus to generate electricity powered by the wind. I am working to build the base to hold some rather large coils. These are rather large because I have opted for insulated, multiply stranded wire. The insulation occupies more space than the thinner varnish used in magnet wire. I daresay the wire I purchased is also heavier than magnet wire. I will have to check on the price, too.

Anyway, I hope to get the bottom portion of a wishing well, made with aluminum and zinc nails. Now that I have actually wound my first coil and find it to be heavier than I expected, I am designing a form to cast a cement base for the interior of the wishing well. It needs a hole in the center for the whirligig's anchor, which also anchors the coffee can magnet rotor which is at the bottom of the whirligig rigging.

I am looking forward to casting cement since it is so inexpensive. I will be going shopping for a large round, waterproof container for setting the form into since I will be working indoors on our basement floor which I wish to protect, also. I worked in clay as a kid and had fun with that. Cement does not require firing, though, and it seems much more durable than clay pottery, so I have some high hopes for fruitful experimentation in cement.

Ice Storm and Sun

Our ice storm lasted two or three days. Unfortunately the batteries on our camera were low and I did not realize I was not getting several photos. This one is all I have, showing icicles.

This snowy pic is from before the ice storm, I believe.

I'm thinking that once I get my wind-powered generators up and running all around our house it could be fun to set up a live webcam to broadcast 24 hours a day on one of these puppies. Actually, I would need two cams. One to show a permanently connected set of volt and amp meter readouts. Wouldn't that be cool? Ah, if wishes were horses....

[Expletives deleted] .... Oh well. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."

OK. Here's the sun I promised you.

Itching to Get Going

I cut the last of the bottom off one of my $1 plastic baskets yesterday. It has an upper rim that fits nicely onto the upper edge of the two plastic planter pots I purchased along with the wishing well. The $1 basket narrows slightly at its bottom, you see, so I got rid of the bottom because it is practically a perfect size for hanging windings around the coffee can magnetic rotor.

Due to the slight tapering of the $1 basket -- each of the two planters cost $1.39, btw -- I have room to layer its outside with plastic deer fencing. I hope to be able to attach stabilizers, therefore, onto the windings at any place I need them because the fencing will provide a grid to tie to.

The two planters come with a center hole, so I could be able to attach my anchor through those, then set the $1 basket on top with its windings hung on it. It is either that or I will cut out a sturdy round of 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch plywood that I could set onto any base, be it wood, plastic, or cement.

I must decide whether I want to create a test armature that could be used in later models. I also considered making wishing well bases to sell, btw, for people like me who want to create their own generators. However, I get hung up with trying to figure out if one could be built from plastic wood and plastic screws. I honestly cannot say if aluminum nails exist anywhere. The nails in our wishing wells will interfere with the rotation of the magnetic rotor, you see.

Dear Diary

As I was trying to work out how to mount my first armature windings for my first test of a generator, two ideas popped up. 1. The Dynamo needs to be reprinted. Its pages are too brittle for normal use. Its date listed in on our online catalog is 1909, yet several people have checked this book out of the library in recent years. I requested that it be repaired, but now I can not see it because it is probably at the repair shop. Woe is me. I wish I had scanned all its pages so I could look at it now. Perhaps an online version would be possible? Maybe the Gutenberg Project would do it?

2. I guess I should set up my test in our basement because it is so cold outside right now. Since the place I have is near to a furnace register, and I was wondering if it could be powered by that blowing air, I also wondered if it would be feasible to set up a regular kind of recycling of energy that way. You know what I mean. Every register blows warm air whenever the furnace kicks on -- also in summer, when the air conditioner kicks on. Could I charge batteries inside the house, maybe for running one of those oil based heaters in winter, and a fan in summer?

Of course the space requirement makes this undesirable, but without kids or pets running around the house, perhaps some economy might be achieved.

Magnet Rotor Cans & Financing

Paint cans -- one gallon -- are the same size as the Sara Lee Master Chef coffee can, so I should have no problem finding more of them. Painting our house is one of my several summertime activities. I fear somebody might consider me a hoarder, though, but one gallon distilled water jugs and now paint cans are my only vices, lol. Keeping the books safe that I bought over the years has been a godsend lately as Amazon re-sales are good in January. That is how I financed the purchase of our new wishing well, btw. But novels do not sell well on Amazon. My college career had plenty of textbooks, which is what sell best on Amazon, especially at this time of year.

Back to cans now. I found it easy enough to drill holes in our coffee can. First I punched dents with a scratch awl, in a roughly circular pattern. Then I drilled holes using our largest of the set drill bit. No problem. Paint cans actually have sturdier lips on them, so I might prefer them eventually.

The Gorilla tape extensions are flexible. I will test this set-up, but I think now that drilling holes near the top and bottom of the sides will give the sturdiest platforms for chain links to the anchor and bladed hoop above the can on the gig. This could provide the stability I have been desiring for the magnet rotor.

Also, I should set up the first armature, probably, before I cast the casing in cement. Why set it in stone before finding out if it works?

Wishing Well

Looking all around for round things of approximately the right sizes for casting a cement armature casing, my mind finally realized I had been looking at one for years now: a yard nick-nack. When we first moved into our house 10 years ago I rebuilt the cover assembly for our cistern. The hand pump no longer worked and the original electric pump was actually sitting in the garage when we got here. Plenty of photos of the "wishing well" nick-nack that I purchased so long ago are laced all through the pix on this website.

Anyway, I took the old one down, cleaning under it, and purchased a new one so the spot would not be so empty. I think now this purchase was not necessary, as the spot does not look so bad without one. But now we have two. The old one will be partially dismantled -- taking off its roof and sawing off the tops of the two side supports for its roof.

I hope to line it with the 1/16 inch thick PVC sheet that will act as the outside of the cement mold, lined with plastic sheeting to keep the cement off the PVC, and hold the cement from seeping out the cracks at the bottom.

I found two plastic pots I might use as a form to bend another sheet of the thin PVC around for the inner wall of the form. I am not sure how to secure these flimsy pots (one inside the other) so they will not move when the cement is added to the form. Oh yes. I plan to cast two halves so that I will have easy access to the inside surface for attaching the wire windings.

So anyway, now we have two wishing wells, we have plenty of opportunity to make wishes and cast armature casings for our wind powered electricity generators that we wish will some day make electricity for our readers.

Print Lives and More Cement Dreams

The New Yorker for Jan 16, 2012 gives wonderful background on the creation of YouTube which I have not yet finished reading. Perhaps it could be another movie such as was made for Facebook?

National Geographic adds to our knowledge of how the King James Bible was made, and hopefully will inspire more people to read God's Secretaries: The Making of The King James Bible. I have yet, also, to read the Geographic version, lol., which is another activity I anticipate with glee.

My dreams have returned to casting infrastructure to hold up my 7-9 inch diameter armature in QuickCrete, lined with plastic deer fencing. (I am borrowing some of my phraseology from Isaac Assimov's Robot Dreams, by the way.) Nighty Night, y'all.

Center Post Again and Armature Infra-Structure

As I think on the rotation of my whirligig during normal conditions and remember the lateral force of the wind swaying the bladed hoops side-to-side, I am inspired again to think on putting a center post into my contraption. Also, since I have softened the edges so to speak of the coffee can by adding Gorilla tape to both top and bottom, a number of options come to my mind. 1. Make the armature windings sit so that the upper portion is a wider diameter to allow for some of the sway on the upper end of the can -- using the center pole firmly anchored at the bottom. The bladed hoops would push most on the upper end of the center post, then. 2. Mount the coffee can onto the center post and anchor both top and bottom of the post so that neither has any lateral movement. 3. Separate the center post, largely, from the sway of the bladed hoops at the top anchor, or anchor the hoops to the center post so they can not sway laterally. I am sure there are more options.

Similarly we have plenty of options with the infra-structure supporting the armature. I wish to design it so that it can handle more than one layer of wire windings, for one thing. I want to test how far out I can go to pick up significant electricity-producing electromagnetism, as well as multiple phases, by adding layers after the initial one. How far away from the magnetized rotor I must minimally stay away is another factor, and it depends on how much play is produced by the infrastructure during windy situations....

I have a plastic basket that cost $1 at a local store which is approximately the correct diameter, except it is a little wider at its top than its bottom. But that could be an advantage. I consider, again, using plastic deer fencing to line the basket with a grid to which I can attach the windings right where I want them. Now, a wooden rim supported by wooden staves would be more solid, but the netting would still be useful so that I don't have to use nails to secure the windings in their precisely best locations.

Coffee Can Extensions and Magnets

I put Gorilla tape extensions on the top and bottom of my Sara Lee Master Chef coffee can. These are 3 and sometimes 4 layers thick. I might double them over before installing grommets. The bottom extension is 2 cm, the top 2.5 cm. Again, these will be reversed in situ because with the bottom left on the can I must drill holes in the bottom and put it on top so that I don't accumulate too much weight when it rains.

I made some calculations, also. I have 72 1/2 inch disc magnets so I can put 6 per column with 12 columns on the outside of the can, approximately 4 cm center-to-center on the circumference, 2 cm center-to-center within each column. So, the closeness of like poles will push the flux further away from the can, I think. We shall see once I map the field.  Each magnet is supposed to have 2952 surface Gauss flux. That is, 2952 lines of flux per square centimeter. A centimeter looks to be approximately 3/16 less than the length of a half inch.

The discs are round, though. Oh. Is this where algebra can save my life? Let's see now. 2.5454 divided by 4 (1/2 inch diameter made into a radius, and converted to cm) = 0.63 cm radius. Radius squared = 0.3969. Pi X R squared = 1.2469 square centimeters on the top and on the bottom of each disc. So, technically there would be 1.2469 X 2952 lines of flux per magnet face, or 3680 flux lines on the top and the same on the bottom.

I prefer to take the 2952 flat because some will be lost laterally, depending on how far away the magnet is flying by the wires. 72 X 2952 would be the optimal flux cutting the wire, but there will be gaps among the magnets and among the coils, on purpose. Speed of rotation is another factor, and that one is exceedingly variable. They say 100,000,000 lines of flux per second produces one volt. So I need at least nearly 500 lengths of wire to be cut nearly simultaneously, I think. I have 500 feet of wire, though.... Let's see. 500/12 = 41.6666....

On the other hand, 14 coils with 14 columns of magnets works out a bit differently, plus I would then use only 5 magnets per column in order to shorten the height and length of each coil.  I don't feel like running those numbers right now. I did them earlier today, but it is beddy-bye time right now. Good night.

Our Sunlit Grotto and Coffee Can Rotor?

As I imagined constructing the coffee can magnet rotor, I worried about its strength. Trying to punch holes in its top and bottom in order to make connections between it, the lowest hoop above it, and the anchor below might deform the can -- especially if I reinforce it with Gorilla tape first. Perhaps I should look on my woodpile for a log of the same diameter to at least use as a backing inside the can for when I start drilling holes into it.

The stresses on the can from its top and bottom as it spins should not be terribly great, but over time the metal could tear, plus the magnetic pulling of the coils due to induction blow-back could introduce deformations of the can, or at least metal fatigue over time.

I am considering cutting a top and bottom reinforcement out of a sheet of 1/4 to 1/2 inch PVC for the rotor's spinning life, after the initial drilling for connections is done.... No wait, the drilling for connections could be done into the sheets of PVC. Except the uppermost lip of the can would prevent getting a precisely correctly sized piece of wood  or sheet of PVC into the can....Conundrum after conundrum.... pun intended.

So, if I could find a perfectly round log -- ha! Then I could bend a piece of flexible sheet metal around it.... Some day I am just going to have to start this process in reality. I think, though, that thinking things through first should help avoid SOME waste of materials, if not time....

Later Note: I have a Sara Lee Master Chef coffee can that is quite stout and rather large diameter. I put Gorilla tape around the bottom edge to stand up, then reinforced the extension. Now I realize that I do not want to have the can right side up as a rotor because it would fill up with water. Even putting the bottom up, I should still drill some holes to drain water, now that I have extended the side at the bottom of the can.

Its upper rim is quite sturdy enough to latch onto somehow without tape, but I may tape it anyway. I have yet to see how Gorilla tape stands up to freezing temps and water. I suspect that it will fade if pushed, don't cha know? Let us test it and see what happens.

Movies These Days

Let me see if I can remember all of them. Please forgive me if I leave something out.

Joyful Noise! is light-hearted fun with good music. Contraband started out as a very dark movie, contains plenty of darkness, but also some surprises. I already reviewed We Bought a Zoo, Mission Impossible, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, and Sherlock Holmes. All these movies, I felt, were all worthy of patronage. I am not so interested in kids' flicks these days, however. Sorry.

Unfortunately, The Descendants has not yet arrived here, and I am not in the mood for a story of a war horse, no matter how angelic its trailer's music tries to inspire me to come see it.

Coffee Can Rotor

I am looking for empty coffee cans right now. Unfortunately, I threw our latest one that was emptied away. I figure that once I attach the bottom level of blades on a hoop to the top of the can beneath it, then attach the bottom of the can to the swivel that is nearest the anchor, the magnet array should turn true provided the anchor is properly centered and fixed stably.

A coffee can rotor is a good place to start my measurements for the generator windings since I am favoring the narrowest whirligigs with hoops that I have ever made. The diameter needs to be small. I found that when I have a narrow whirligig, it revolves quicker than the broader ones. Also, adding a broader magnetized hoop slows down the rotation. So, it is best to keep the rotor and blade levels nearly the same diameter or smaller on the rotor level.

Wait! I have a coffee can squirreled away in the basement! I was thinking of using it to back up a magnetic rotor for a Howard Johnson experiment! Yippee! I would have had to cut it, but I did not do that.

I am thinking of applying 6 little disc neodymium magnets to each column, btw. Once I figure out the most stable way of attaching the can to the gig and anchor swivel, then figure out spacing for the magnets and attach them, then I can map the total set of fields before designing the structure of the windings and planning their manufacture and attachment procedures.

Snow Globe

Very dry snow blows every which way this morning, creating a snow globe effect. The unexpected plumes and sprays of flakes all over front and back porches demonstrates the -- oh now I forget what they called it!. Oh yes. Turbulence. The turbulence experienced near houses is what supposedly is stopping wind power developers from working to create viable home electricity generators powered by the wind.

I can see that if I extend the roof of my little back deck, I will be cutting down on the wind that supplies power and is coming down onto the roof of our house sometimes. The snow globe effect is often generated by these winds bringing snow off the roof and then releasing the flakes in an upward direction on the porches as a sort of confetti party effect.

I also see from this that I will have to enclose the inner circumference of my armature windings since they surround the magnet rotor in my design now. Note the snow practically everywhere on the porch, even though I have a six by eight foot covering on a 10 by 12 foot deck. Rain is no better than snow for spreading under the canopy, due to wind turbulence. Oh yes. Here's the pic for today:

I enlarged it for you. I am starting to figure out how to do this. And I am seriously considering expanding the roof by 3 feet on each side, with a new 12 X 8 foot tarp laid over top of the two 6 X 8 foot tarps that are already attached. With five 2X4, 12-foot crossbeams to anchor the tarp to, I can then set the long cross-beams lengthwise and two inches higher. I am also going back to the idea of raising the base up with another four crossbeams under the large, lengthwise ones that sit on the floor now. Then I could catch a little more wind off the roof as well as from above the railing.

Please be advised that this porch set-up is merely a sort of incubator for developing and testing  my generators rather gently. The real goal is to hang these contraptions on the corners of our house, and in another very windy spot where I have set up a swing set to hang gigs from.

I am seriously considering taking this gig down to use in my "lab" for electrical testing purposes where it is quite a bit warmer, lol... Also, after all these structural changes, I could start concentrating on, testing and producing the narrower gigs.... Maybe I should just forget this large circumference gig and use it for spare parts. It is too large to actually use anywhere without its crowding out the idea of having another gig hanging next to it, or being able to let it work without supervision during the icy months. I should probably just build my first generator to the size I have decided on for my gigs. Why do all the work for a larger one if I am not planning on using it?
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