WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

Delivered by FeedBurner

Recent Posts

"Manhattan" the TV Series on WGN
"Will" on TNT is "Spot On"
Trump - Jackson Debate
Piliated Pear Tree


Algae CO2 Reduction
Art and Advertising
CO2 Reduction (see also Algae)
Dear Diary
Designing Prototypes
Electrical Matters
Howard Johnson's Magnetism
Investment in Windpower Devices/Parts
Library Research
Manufacturing Protocols
Serendipitous Art Reviews
Static Electrcity
Strength of Materials
Triboelectric generation
Website Design


August 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010

WindTapper's Blog

February 2012

Design Progress

After what seems like weeks of pondering on various methods for constructing the least expensive but durable and doable armature for a do-it-yourselfer, I finally figured something out. At least 1 inch thick cement as a collar, lined with steel flashing, with the main body being 4 inches high. Embedded around the top and bottom circumferences will be 42 spikes to guide the tops and bottoms of 42 coils in the horizontal direction, and for keeping the sides of the coils exactly the correct distance apart. (Some "squaring of the circle" was attempted on my part, but fudge factor works fine, thank you very much. My math pretty much sucks anyway, so reality is my fallback position for Calculations without Calculus, Geometry, or Trig, even.)

The upright parts of the coils will be at least 4 inches in height. If I were to build the coils -- more or less -- with 14 strands of 14 gauge wire, the upright bundled portions being roughly spherical as wires generally are, the tops and bottoms of the coils would transition at the spikes between the spherical and the flattened profiles so those horizontal segments would not stick so far above and below the collar as 18 mm for this 3-phase generator, but rather, less.

I successfully drew the configuration but I can not figure a way to scan the drawing to share it with you. Then I tried to trace it, but as I was drawing it on the window pane I was using as a light table, I got the hiccups. This destroyed any semblance of order in the picture. Perhaps I will take a photo with our camera....

Anyway, in addition to the 42 spikes embedded in the cement on both top and bottom of the collar, I plan to embed angle iron feet that will have holes for attaching the feet to something, or at least setting the collar up on a table so that I can wind the coils onto it.

I surely hope that one inch of cement has some stability because the crock I just purchased has precisely -- and luckily -- the correct inside diameter to make a collar with outside diameter of 9 and 1/4 inches. So, the circular plane against which the 4 inch upright part of the coils will "stand" will be 8 and 1/4 inch in diameter.

The coil thickness is approximately 1/4 inch or 6 mm, and I have left a 1/2 inch gap between the magnets and the coils. Call the half inch the "prerequisite fudge factor," giving the spin some tolerances that other turbines generally do not have. Mine will also have less electricity due to the distance, but I am worried about producing too much electricity in high winds. I will probably buy at least one battery that charges at lower voltages than 14, therefore. In series, voltages add up, however....

Miscellaneous Diary Entries

1.  High winds caused me to finally anchor our whirligig better lately. I also added two cement blocks on top of the aluminum workbench. I guess the gusts were in the range of 30-40 mph at the time. It reminds me of the song, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down." The new anchoring will stress the swivels in a new way, but this adds value to the testing of materials.

2.  I am still trying to imagine how to brace the form on some type of jig while I load the armature windings. Perhaps I will be able to find an 8 inch inner diameter iron pipe somewhere that I can cut into 4 inch lengths? But before I do any cutting I still need to test the absolute pull on the magnets from various distances. I do not want to add much negative force, impeding the rotation of the rotor. The steel or iron layer will be on the outside of the armature windings, away from the magnets. I will be searching the web for a source of 8 inch iron pipe, btw.

3.  After making some drawings of the WindStuffNow Mini-Generator poles and magnets -- trying to enlarge the image/design to figure out how large the magnets would need to be if I enlarged on the whole set-up -- I am still unsure how it works. Although, creeping into my psyche are guesses on how the magnetic flux perpendicularly cuts the mini-coil, and I seem to have derived new hope for the coil that I already built, but haven't finished the connections on. I have renewed impetus, therefore, to actually try out the unipolar coil.

4.  Tax season approaches. Tax preparation will demand some of my time in the near future as we should have already received the necessary documents. Other time guzzlers include having to move some stuff among garages as well as gardening preparations and yard work. Lettuce gets planted in early Spring, and some fruit tree pruning will need to be done. Which all add up to my not being able to accomplish our generator projects as soon as I would have liked. Although these projects are officially now on the back burner, they are still cooking in my thoughts.

Procurements Today

Shopping at Lowes I finally acquired a roll of steel flashing for approximately $20 with tax. I plan to cut it into nearly 4 inch strips to fit inside the crock that I purchased at a local garden supply/tourist attraction place called White's Mill.

I had already purchased several round plastic planter pots from the mill, hoping to use them as molds for casting cement outer rings to protect my windpower armatures. However, after trying to pad one of those plastic pots so that it would have a slightly lesser diameter, and finding that it is impossible to properly line a slanted cylinder neatly, I finally realized that the crocks at White's Mill had straight sides, which would remove that problem. Even though none of their crocks are exactly the right size, at least I now have a straight-sided base from which to build.

Lowes also had some nifty sturdy plastic forms for casting a sort of cobblestone walkway, section by section. At least now I know that sturdy plastic can definitely be used as a cement casting mold.

I am still working on designing the configuration for placing 42 coils onto a sort of 8 inch diameter steel flashing round frame, including padding the edges of the flashing so it will not cut into the magnet wire's insulation.... How to hold the framework up so that I can fold the ends of the coils behind the top and bottom of the flashing is another design problem I am pondering.

More Calculations

As I aspire and conspire to build my first generator, I must calculate how many turns per coil I need. I came up with 42 coils (3-phase system) with 14 windings per coil if all I want to produce is 7 volts because I found a voltage doubler at and 14 volts will charge a 12 volt battery, or so they say. The voltage doubler looks quite interesting and the PDF file at the site shows a wonderful way to build a circuit.

This is all made possible because of magnets I found that will produce a total (for 14 magnets) of 599760 Gauss. Please see the link to the source for my magnets in the previous entry.

Next I must figure out how to mount the coils around the inside diameter of a 10 inch circle, standing up. I am hoping that between the two kits I ordered from Wind Stuff Now I will find some idea for guiding all those coils into place, lol.

If my math is correct, I figure that the thickness of each leg of each coil should be approximately 6.1 mm. I am going to have to figure out how many millimeters I have to put 84 coil legs into..... I do not really want the diameter to be 10 inches -- more like 8.5 to 9.5 inches. Let's say 9 inches.

I am really looking forward to getting some electricity running through some LED's ASAP!

But I still think that AC to DC conversion gives half the voltage, so I still don't know if all this is going to work with 14 turns per coil and 42 coils (3 X 14).

Magnet Source

So far, the best prices on magnets for the amount of flux that I have found in several years is K & J Magnetics at  and I have posted some materials from them, "Magnetism Geometries" listed on the left side of this page. However, those do not appear to be linked to the categories of this blog which appear at the bottom of the left column on this page. So, I have provided the link again, above. If you use this link to buy magnets I get a discount on my magnet purchases, so you will be contributing to the development of wind power, at least at our house, if you use the above link to purchase magnets..

Calculator Results So Far

Finally I have a cost comparison between two proto-set-ups of wire coils and magnets.

The 70 disc magnets against 14 coils made from hardware store wire (theoretically) gives ~ $38 per volt. The 14 4" bar magnets against the Otherpower wire 14 coils comes to ~$39 per volt. These figures only count the wire and the magnets. The second set-up gives three times more volts, however, so cost per volt is not the MOST useful statistic. Total cost, of course, would be better, but the cost of the whirligigs themselves is not very great.

I also fudged on length of wire for the first set-up. The amount of wire that I have would give fewer turns, in fact, than how I calculated it, so the first set-up may actually be more expensive than the second.

Welcome to Fudge Land!

OK. The 4 inch size of the second, bar magnet configuration, allows me to use 1 foot of wire per turn of coil. 56 turns times 14 coils, times three for three-phase ostensibly (theoretically) gives 28 volts. Since that is AC and with rectification I would get only half the voltage, the 14 volt minimum to charge a 12 volt battery looks as though it could cost roughly $500 to build the generator part of the gizmo. That does not include the battery, external wiring, wind turbine, infrastructure, security, and hookups to load(s), but at least we are getting somewhere on rough cost estimates.

Keep in mind that I envision having four, eight, nine, or twelve of these generators around our house in order to produce significant amounts of electricity over time. That is a lot of batteries, plus cost of hooking up to the power grid for selling electricity to the electric company, plus shut off and a shunt for power outages from the electric company.

Gauss and Magnets

I misunderstood what Gauss means. I must recalculate the power of my magnets and the power of magnets that I might purchase in future. Gauss is number of flux lines per square centimeter. I was figuring the lines of flux per magnet according to the Gauss reported by K&J Magnetics without considering the surface area.

Back to the old calculator I go because I was trying to predict the amount of electricity that I could generate using faulty logic. Oh well. Live and learn.

Still Thinking

Before breaking open my new roll of wire to make coils for generating electricity, I needed to make a diagram so I could find out how wide to make the coils. With a six inch diameter can loaded with 70 neodymium magnets -- 14 columns of five discs -- the further away from the magnets that the coils will sit, the wider the coils could be. So, at one inch distance, the 3.5 cm center-to-center magnetic columns will cut the sides of the coils from 4.7 to 5 cm apart.

At 2 inches distance from the magnetic columns I measured 5.8 to 6.4 cm. Of course, there is not so much magnetic flux making it all the way out to 2 inches, but I thought I would test it anyway since I have a 10 inch diameter angel food cake pan and 500 feet of too thick 14 gauge wire sitting around waiting for something to do....

It turns out that the green 14 gauge wire that I got so cheap at the hardware store -- 15 cents per foot -- is simply too thick to make reasonable coils. The new wire that I just received through Otherpower dot com is approximately 1/4th the area of the hardware store wire . It was 17 cents per foot, and now I have the address of a supplier at 10 cents per foot.

The perspective of the photo is misleading. The two spools of wire are the same size. The green coil with black Gorilla Tape on it, however, has only 50 or 60 windings and is one inch thick at 4 cm wide. The green spool has 500 feet while the copper spool has 790 feet at 10 lbs.

Since  is so forthcoming with such valuable information as it displays on its website, I refuse to cut them out of this information stream....

Oh yes. After I added the Gorilla Tape extensions to the can (in black) I decided I would in future simply drill holes in the top, bottom and sides of the can to connect this magnet rotor to the wind turbine above and anchor below. The coils will stand around the outside circumference of the rotor, possibly enclosed by metal themselves.

And another thing. After studying the K & J Magnetics magnet strength cases and probably something else, I found out that I should have removed the thin plastic label on the coffee can to strengthen the pull of the magnets at least slightly. Next time I will know better. It did take me some time to realize that the label was not printed on the can, too.


The folks at otherpower dot com have a wonderful site for people like me who desire to build their own wind power devices! I learned a lot today from them that saves me time and money. For example, somebody over there explained that the soft iron with laminate and filler provides direction for the magnetic flux of the magnet rotor and this is equivalent to putting another layer of magnets on the other side of the coils. Magnets are very expensive, you see, so they just saved me a ton of cash.

The site also has magnet wire for sale at a more reasonable price than, which was the least expensive site I had found so far that did not involve buying a ton from China and having to rent a one ton truck and drive to Cleveland to get it. That China deal would have cost me three or four thousand dollars. At the designing prototypes phase, buying one ton of wire is not feasible.

Otherpower also explained simply why 3-phase generation of electricity is better than one-phase generation. They also have some nifty small kits that do some powerfully educational work, for under $40. I hope to get one or two of these out of next month's budget. One kit works several LED lights at a time at 12 volts, plus it comes with a voltage doubler. It only produces 120 milliamps, but getting experience with the wiring (aka circuit diagrams) for rectifying and then actually using the electricity produced for LED's is almost priceless.

So, all in all, I learned a lot today. I still work to make a different final set-up for my generator because I want to avoid the drag of big bearings, but Otherpower gave me some more ideas and information about the Delta vs Star pattern hook-ups for three phases. I have much to absorb, in other words, and I thank Otherpower for all of that, not to mention the wire sourcing they are providing. K & J Magnetics still beats everybody for magnet pricing, however.

Never Flitting, Still Spinning

Just outside my chamber door. I memorized The Raven for high school English class, if you didn't get the allusion....

This puppy is still cockeyed. I am taking my time getting it straightened out, partly because this model is really too large, but I still wanted a gig there to see how much wind I might expect at this location.

It is neither leveled nor properly anchored, but it still gives me pleasure to see it spin around in the wind.

Some ideas about making electricity popped into my wee little head today that also make me happy.

More on that later....

By the way, Safe House was smokin'!

Drawing Board Tales

My drawing board most often is in my mind, lately. The last several days I have been working on designing the armature section of the alternator for my wind powered whirligigs. Many factors complicate coming up with a final version -- too many considerations to list here, now. Please accept my apologies on why I am not posting many entries right now, even though I make small bits of progress every now and then with some aspect of this endeavor.

You have much to read if you start at the beginning with my Archive pages, by the way.... Links to my Archives are listed on the left. As you follow the links on the left down you will also find subcategories for this blog.

As I work on designs I often find house and yard work compatible activities. I find myself starting Spring Cleaning early this year. This also helps organize the work spaces so I will have room to build things, and reduced worries about the environment in future so I can concentrate better then.

Think of this as my sabbatical. I don't expect to be back for a while, in other words. Perhaps I should take this blog off the first page for a while. What do you think? Email me: .

Calculations Project

I started to construct an Excel calculator entitled "Cost Per Volt Calculator" today. The tradeoff between cost of magnets and cost of wire is interesting. Magnets do not exactly follow a smooth curve for their costs per flux produced, either. Neither does the wire follow a smooth curve of cost vs wire gauge and feet per spool, I don't believe.

Neodymium magnets also present weight advantages compared to the olden days, so that I would rather spin the magnets than the armatures on my alternators. Oh yes. I think that car alternators are precisely like that. Perhaps I should go to a junk yard to see what they charge for old alternators, except I hate to deprive some starving mechanic of the exact match for his and/or her ailing car by buying up the old alternators. However, it would be nice to know when the cost of a used alternator competes favorably with buying the materials to build a new one. I don't even know how much power a car alternator produces, though.

Anyway, I am starting with a spool of 24 gauge wire, a spool of 14 gauge wire, and a magnet rotor of 70 magnets with ~2800 Gauss each. Those magnets -- I believe -- were approximately $1.60 each from K & J Magnetics. 5700 Gauss each magnets cost ~ $4.25 each. I want to see which is more cost effective -- increasing Gauss or increasing feet of wire. So far I have $75 + $35 in wire, with at least $112 in magnets for this go-round. I would be lucky to get 1 to 3 volts using all this wire and magnets, I think.

OMG "Vultures' Picnic"

Greg Palast tells about his book on C-Span today. I caught a small part of the program. C-Span provides online access to its programming, btw. I recommend that you go look at this if you are a "tree-hugger" or "occupationist" as in "Occupy Wall Street," for example.

Palast tells of his many investigations into greed and corruption that causes disasters around the world. The builders of the nuclear power plant that melted down in the last earthquake in Japan is one set of culprits Palast tells about. These culprits are still out there, getting billions of dollars to build more of these plants, with the authority and money of the U.S. Congress.

Palast comes off as a caricature of the old style (1940's and 50's) investigative reporter/detective with his hat and body language. When you see his presentation you will wonder as I do, whatever will happen to what we once thought of as civilization if the governments of the world keep letting corporations and all other rackets get away with murder as Palast shows.

Square One to Square Two

Even though I have developed a whirligig that I believe could power a small alternator, I have yet to design and build the alternator. The alternator design has certain constraints, based on the physical attributes of the whirligig, and on the physics of electromagnetism plus circuit theory.

As I have only a 2-year Certificate for Electronics Servicing (1992) and it has been a long time since I graduated, I must go back to square one regarding electronic circuits, in some aspects of electronics. My question arises today from an idea of using piezoelectric discs that supposedly generate 10 volts and .001 amps.

You might, therefore, understand why I would be interested in the idea of having several sources of volts wired in parallel. Generating amps is expensive because so many turns of wire cut by a total of 100,000,000 flux lines generates only 1 volt.

Anyway, searching Google I found the All About Circuits forum and am preparing to ask my question of them. There must be a lot of resistance in the piezoelectric disc to get only one one thousandth of an amp from 10 volts. Let's see now. I = V/R so R = V/I. 10/.001 = 10,000 ohms per disc. This makes me wonder what use is 10 volts if it has so many ohms attached to it. Perhaps as a signal, say, using the piezoelectric disc as a "fingertip" on a robot" for example.

The AllAboutCircuits Forum helped me to understand the limitations of piezoelectric discs. I was separating the volts from the amps. One senior member explained that I cannot push more electrons with the 10 volts than the .001 amps suggests, and that the piezoelectric devices get .002 amps max.

So, back to the drawing board. Since magnet wire is so expensive per pound, except by the ton, lol, I will search for feasible increases in magnetic power.


100,000,000 flux lines are required to make 1 volt, except if you use piezoelectric devices, so, my idea for today is to combine piezoelectric discs with the standard magnetic wire structure to produce electricity. This will require some experimentation on my part, to say the least, because I do not yet know how many pounds pressure I need to apply to the piezoelectric discs to get 10 volts.

If I put magnetically attractive metal on the outside circumference, then the piezo electric device, then a rotating set of magnets, I should get some volts. To get amps I will also need the standard coils. Finding the most cost effective mixture of these two sources of electricity is my next challenge. The piezoelectric discs that Edmund Scientifics sold me only produce 0.001 amp for 10 volts, btw, and they are "out of stock" on their website today by the way.
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint