WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

July 2012

Small World: Greasepaint

As I have gotten back (temporarily) to looking for info on the web about resin casting methods, this morning I ran into a site telling about Cab-O-Sil which apparently can be or is used in theatrical greasepaint.

I first heard about Cab-O-Sil regarding a less expensive filler mixed with mold filling resins. Perhaps that info came from a site such as sculpture dot net. Talc is another word bandied about in these regards.

Not knowing anything about this stuff, I decided I had better get more info. Today I found several sites including Cab-O-Sil which might get me started. I gather that Cab-O-Sil "fills" or thickens resins to make them more substantial and flow less easily. That is perhaps not applicable for my purposes since I wish my resin to fill spaces among wires, but I assume there is other helpful info in the PDF file that you can download from the above link.

I will go read it now....

A time out occurred when I discovered a 1961 version of Mysterious Island on TCM. One of the gadgets on the Nautilus gave me an idea for a vertically linked generator. However, reading the PDF, I have just now started page 6 of 16 again, after the movie.

Thixology and rheology are two jargon terms that are not in my dictionary. Rheology has to do with flow attributes, while thixology is still a mystery to me. Perhaps this blog so far is a bit like Mysterious Island and The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner (1719) by Daniel Defoe, considering how slowly I am learning about the technology to create electric generators while using non-professional, available resources.

This quest of mine is becoming rather a bit more like Mysterious Island than Robinson Crusoe because, although time seemed relatively infinite at the beginning of this quest, time will run out and I will have to actually build working models to test sometime soon. As though the volcano will erupt soon, I should really move faster than I have been because resources need replenishment.

3 P.M. Notes: As I do with my Serendipitous Art Reviews I will be brief in my comments about this PDF, paraphrasing a bit as best I can on the fly. So far it seems that one can stir the silicon into the resin too fast, too long, and/or too forcefully, thereby interfering with desired viscosity of the final composite matrix. This reminds me of recipes for corn bread warning not to mix the newly wetted dry ingredients any longer than absolutely necessary to prevent diminution of quality in the final, baked product.

A page or two later the PDF text intimates that greater mixing time might result in greater stability of the final composite matrix. This seems to be a contradiction.

Since the price per gallon of the silicon is far less than the resin, I continue to read the PDF, however, it now seems that it is far more important to live with the low viscosity of the resin while seeking to better control the resin's potential leakage from the mold.

Also, I have a couple gas masks if I get downwind of the setting resin. Steering clear of the fumes of fiberglass also would seem to be vastly more important than skimping on it with silicon filler.

Finally, after finishing the PDF, my impression is that the whole document contains more warnings and disclaimers about product performance than I initially expected to find --  like this website, lol. I have been duly warned about how varieties of resins will give differing results based on their chemical differences in addition to differences due to differences in mixing methods, if mixed with fumed silica granules.

A Funny Idea for a Generator Design

Speaker magnets are round, thick disks with the flat surfaces being the poles. If I were to drill a hole at their center(s) I could have these magnets rotate with the turbine blades.

Now my blades can be mounted to spin in either of two directions. What if I were to attach one magnet to each direction, spinning oppositely, one over the other, with the coil(s) in between the two magnets?

That would be a mesmerizing sight to behold.

Even funnier is that I was hoping to have two whirligigs hanging from the same swing set frame, side-by-side. Each of the two layers of two gigs would have to spin towards each other, but each layer would spin oppositely.

I told you it was a funny idea.

And I have not yet set down to work out whether or not this is possible to accomplish, but I thought I would give you something to imagine.

Later Note: As sexy as this graphic motion design seems, I later realized that it is impossible to capture proper energy using coils near these two oppositely spinning magnets. I am going for a coupling of the two speaker magnets with a substantial metal piece between them to use for connecting them to spin vertically with the coils setting up vertically near and around them.

I will start with the sub-woofer magnets and finer magnet wire to make a first experiment. Now that I have studied mold making from Kent Kidwell of Hawaii (see previous entry for the link), I feel more confident about casting the resin around the coils. However, I can do electrical measurement experiments before actually casting the resin to make sure I have the best design goal in mind.

Web Surfing for Inexpensive Resin

The Web is a wonderful thing. I started running into chat groups of sculpture artists and have remained glued to one in particular. It has taken over an hour to read through the first page of 10 pages, and I am not giving this one up. The fellow (I suppose he is a fellow) is making a sci fi creature and giving lots of wonderful advice about making the original for casting. I love his asides, too. I might be plagiarizing him, too, if I don't watch out. He tells why he posts so much information about his process.

The reason I am looking into casting resins and info on how to cast is because I need to encase the armature coils so they will be stationary, protected, weather and waterproof. I found that prices on the resins can be quite high, so I started looking for inexpensive sources. I also found that learning how to cast by learning from experienced sculpture artists will be cost effective in the long and in the short run since they tell of their mistakes, too.

Two mistakes are heating and cooling the item too fast after casting which causes splits and cracks. I only learned yesterday that there is a kind of resin that requires 2 or 3 hours of heating in an oven, but it then can withstand heat, which is good if I am going to make much electricity.

Preventing air bubbles is another task I hope I can remember how to accomplish, or where to find the directions for so doing....

The first intro to inexpensive resin came from where people give differing opinions, which is another benefit to the web -- comparisons.

Busy Days

In among all my chores such as housecleaning, cooking, yard and garden tending, submitting Sales Tax forms for the Amazon books I sell used, & Etc. I also try to design kick-ass coil windings for my windpower alternator project.

Right now I am concentrating my imagination on the idea that one might be able to garner electricity using speaker magnets. It is a real trip trying to imagine the most productive shapes of coils. I even bought some pipe cleaners from Dollar General for cheap in hopes that I might be able to make models of magnetic flux for this activity.

Wish me luck, y'all!

Bug Control Experiment(s) w/Additional Info

A few weeks ago I tried out two experiments with bug control, starting with spider mites using Neem oil sprays. I went all around our house, outside and in our basement, applying a Neem oil concoction (made as per instructions on the bottles) everywhere spider webs usually reside before I clear them away, plus I poured dregs of the Neem oil along the cracks at the bases of basement walls.

We have a very nice looking basement, mind you. All the concrete blocks and floors are white. The house was built during the 1960's and the basement appears very dry and clean.

I also decided to put salt along our foundation, outside. I figured this would accomplish two tasks: 1. Confuse any ants or termites that might have trails along the foundation for foraging within our house while residing outside (because ants and termites -- I suppose termites are related to ants -- use chemical signals to find where one of their sister ants had found food), and 2. Draw moisture into the clay subsoil to keep it "plump" and solidly against the foundation. You see, since it has been very dry, the yellow clay subsoil pulls away from the foundation, leaving a space for bugs to crawl around.

This week I spent beaucoup time vacuuming up maybe 500 carcasses that look like they might be either starved or dehydrated centipedes. They were all curled up and dead.

The pattern of dead bugs was yer basic Random Walk. I guess that the salt made them confused. Perhaps the Neem oil then killed them, or they walked randomly until they died of dehydration or starvation. I can only guess.

If anyone else has had this experience, please comment here.

Magic Power of Words

TCM last evening aired several movies and discussed -- with the aid of Academy Award winners for Special Effects and Sound -- those aspects of the movies fruitfully -- especially the sound effects of gunshots; however, after I watched the movie Gunga Din with Cary Grant and Sam Jaffe et al, I was deeply reminded of how the ancient Celtic belief in the magic of words is sometimes manifested in English culture.

This 1939 movie showed genius in its casting of Cary Grant as an Englishman, for the movie undoubtedly rallied some Americans to help defend Britain from Hitler's war machine. The Rudyard Kipling poem rendition at the end of the movie reminded me also of a scene from classic literature when the spirits of dead heroes are invoked to inspire future acts of bravery, as well as reminding me of allusions to Saint George in Shakespeare before battles.

I also was willing to swear I had previously seen the actor who played the role of Gunga Din in the 1939 movie so I looked him up at The International Movie Database: Sam Jaffe played Dr. David Zorba in "Ben Casey" during the 1960's; also playing roles in Ben Hur, and The Asphalt Jungle.

Additionally, I am tracking down the cultural influence of a certain phrase from the movie clip from I'll Cry Tomorrow with Susan Hayward that TCM (Turner Classic Movies Channel) aired. And since that movie was made in 1955 from an autobiography of Lillian Roth of 1954 I continued on my quest to find out how my husband's father could have crossed paths with Lillian Roth, for the father used that phrase to pin a nickname on his son that later stuck permanently..

Which reminds me of a fascinating quest on this week's "The History Detectives." Frank Zappa -- we discover during the program -- was earlier a graphic artist and drum player....

Recent Acquisitions

Two two-piece angel food cake pans from Webstaurant dot com were $14+ plus over $11 shipping came to around $25. They are made from aluminum and so will not suffice as rotor platforms for the magnets because the magnets will not stick to them naturally.

However, they will make dandy forms for casting the resin around the coils. Except that the outer piece of the Teflon coated angel food cake pan that I purchased earlier is now looking attractive as a rotor platform, even though the coils would be cast with a wider circumference.

Someday soon I will have to locate the graphic that tells how to wire a 9 coil flat armature with 12 magnets in 3 phases. And besides committing its design to memory I will have to find the original source to prove that it is beyond copyright and patent protection due to its age. Probably I will consult Dynamos first. I made a digital copy of most of its pages, btw.

At Dollar General -- in the center aisle toward the back where garden nick-nacks sit --  I also acquired some round plastic picnic snack trays for $1.50 that sit inside each other at 10, 8, and 6 inch diameters. These could easily hold resin as it sets, but again, these will be too small to make the resin covering over coils of an 11 or 12 inch diameter.

I am realizing, also, that a frame my husband was going to pitch will work well for making a platform under the swing set because I can cut two legs shorter, since the swing set is on a steep hill....

Just A Note About Today's Storms

Storms again today. I counted 10 close encounters with lightening before I gave up counting. Two trees, at least, were hit by lightening near our house. One very large box elder was split in half while a branch was pruned off a tree closer to our house. That one is just across the creek, relatively near to our power transformer.

The power transformer is what I had thought was hit because the "POP" and light hit so close together from the transformer's direction. One of the 10 close encounters -- perhaps around number three -- is what took our lights out again today.

Thank goodness the electric company got our lights back on some eight hours later and didn't make us wait longer. I was not looking forward to having to pitch another refrigerator full of food.

I worked a bit today on generator designs, btw.


It finally dawned on me today that a major reason why it is taking me so long to design a generator is the number of constraints -- specifically, that I am trying to use available technology as elements of my system(s). Available technology means that whenever I recognize a potential element of my system I must consider how to build the rest of the generator around that element which makes me have to consider how to configure coils that can be encased in relatively waterproof resin and then mounted stably millimeters away from the rotating magnets.

Of course, the rest of the manufacturing process must also be considered for each potential design. Since I do not have enough money to just start winding coils regardless of their eventual potential use, I have to consider SO many constraints that time continues to leak away.

Once I run into a snag somewhere in the manufacturing process that I have imagined for each design, and after looking for alternative solutions without success, I will take a break, study more, and probably then check out some other route. These steps are virtually a set of infinite loops. However, I learn a little more each time and so, I do not give up.

Lately I have been trying to imagine the coil possibilities using the center of an angel food cake tin mounted on a PVC pipe suspended by two fishing swivels. Two of these centers could rotate above and below a resin-impregnated disk of coils, for example. Imagining, then, how such a PVC centerpole could be assembled to accurately control the two rotors, is another activity involved in this process of design.

So, I don't feel so badly about taking so long, in other words.

I have another project as well, which amounts to trying to imagine a sideways rotor strung across two useless vents on our roof. That is another whole ball of wax, but intriguing, nonetheless.

High School Design Projects

In keeping with my belief that there is far more engineering potential in this country than we are utilizing, I have started to surf for high school projects and competitions in alternative energy engineering. Specifically, what caught my eye last evening was a PBS program advertisement concerning a high school team that designed a race car this year. I can not remember the name of their school or town, so I am "on the waves", searching....

For now, this entry will continue to receive links to interesting sites that tell about high schoolers who band together to engineer something. This is an activity I believe we MUST encourage!

4. Google "race car design high school teams" Images and you might get the following page:
Google Images for Race Care Design High school teams (Long Beach Solar Grand Prix 2012 was one interesting picture)

Book Idea

As I continue to dream up various designs for electricity generators powered by the wind that can be built in your own backyard, I am thinking that I should go ahead and actually build the best ideas, test them out in my own backyard, then include the best ideas in my book. That is, multiple designs instead of only the very "best" because people have different talents, different inabilities for fabrication, plus people have differing environments for placing their home built, wind-powered generators.

The comparisons among designs will give comparisons among costs of materials versus the actual amount (voltage and amp-hours) of electricity measured by wind speed comparisons. It is actually too bad that I haven't gotten this far yet, before the 75 mile per hour winds struck us, in terms of testing for sturdiness, but first things first....

That's all this time, folks. I am still cleaning up after the last storm and after the last bit of rubble left by AEP, the Township, and the storm by the sides of our roads and in our woods, but I continue to map geometric fields versus coils, during the cool down (heat stroke prevention measures) phase of these operations, lol...

[Later Note (7/11/12 9:30 a.m.): Wonder of Wonders! The Township showed up this morning in our neighborhood! What a blessing!]

Hot Summer Days

Motivation to go out in the hot sun is lacking here. I went to a movie today after reading some more from Gothic High-Tech by Bruce Sterling. I was further along in that book than I reported earlier today. I am 3/4 of the way, approximately. It was supposed to be 100 degrees today and hotter tomorrow. I don't know if I will do any yard work tomorrow either.

I have been toying with (trying to imagine) a coil-to-spinning-magnet configuration where powerful cylindrical magnets with holes in their centers have north and south poles along the longest, vertical sides, away from the vertical shaft in the holes driving the magnets to spin. I came up with two coils, one on each side of each magnet, so far, to use to imagine the best positioning of the coils.Cutting wires with magnetic flux having the proper geometry is absolutely necessary to produce electricity, y'all, and that is why I devote so much time to getting it right.

It turns out that I also have a motor out of our dish washer that was replaced and this is exactly how its coils are arranged. Its coils are made from finer guage wire, though, than what I am planning on using, and I hope to have many more than two coils in my alternator. . However, at least I am starting back in earnest on my generators without being distracted by Howard Johnson play time.

Tomorrow I start in earnest, also, to clean our house from stem to stern, including all the fridges and freezers. Rather mindless housework is an OK platform for my continuing to imagine designs for generators, especially if I am indoors in the air conditioning, lol....

Reading Bruce Sterling & Etc.

from Gothic High-Tech has finally gotten my attention with "White Fungus" (pp 63-74), even though the previous story "The Hypersurface of This Decade" also contained notable literary devices, such as, for example, the "unreliable narrator" as we learned that Edgar Allen Poe also used this device, masterfully.

"White Fungus" brings to mind anthropologically inclined sci fi authors such as Ursula Le Guin and Doris Lessing -- so much so that I can now put Bruce Sterling into that category. But the story also recalls for me my 1970's after majoring in philosophy for a while, reading phenomenological treatises, plus Buckminster Fuller, Alfred Whitehead, Godel, and Bertrand Russel. This story brings up a name I am not familiar with in philosophy: Charles Sanders Peirce. I'll have to google that one....

[Later Note: Not all of Sterling's stories are "warm and fuzzy, New Age," anthropological/political treatises.  Sterling -- according to the review from Publishers Weekly on the back of the dust jacket is heavily into caffeine. Paranoia and disjointed thought patterns come with that territory. Sterling's author guru modelling does jump around a bit, changing with each story. Sterling is a bit of a chameleon and his work is -- at times -- a bit over the top, imho. I am now half-way through the book, btw (7/6/12).]

[Later Still (7/7/12): Holiday over, I planned to be working by now (8 a.m.) but I still had a dream hangover from yesterday's combined (in dreamland) experiences of Savages and "Black Swan" so that this morning I Googled "Sarkosy." I must go back to Candide and just tend my/our garden now....]

On our home front I cleaned, peeled and cut up the rest of that 27+ lbs of carrots that I still had left from yesterday, in preparation for making juice from them. However, a storm intervened again and I am now waiting for it to pass before going back to kitchen work because one of my grandmothers always insisted we stay away from the kitchen faucet when lightening was nearby. On the plus side I have gotten more efficient with the processing of large carrots while lamenting the lack of "people skills" that many chefs seem to be allowed to get away with.

At least, I have seen chefs portrayed as having little patience with helpers who are not quick to be able to cut up vegetables. They should have a heart.

Dear Diary

Not much to report here. Picking up after the storm of last Friday continues some hours each day until the temp reaches over 90 degrees because the humidity has returned. I suppose that could have something to do with all the laundry loads that got backed up during the outage.

We were lucky because we are on a circuit with a day care center along US 50 where a phone pole was blown over and got relatively quick attention. I swear we had at least a brief, mini tornado here in this valley.

I still haven't picked up all the sticks in the back yard, and that will require I get out the chain saw, too. Some trees were rotten, apparently, to the core, as they say. Two are down with another sort of still partly hanging over the yard. Not exactly the sword of Damacles since there are so many branches instead of a point headed downwards.

I have so many chores due to the storm that I won't bore you with all of them. Sometimes, though, as I am working I also try to brainstorm a geometry for coating aluminum wire for making homemade alternator windings for wind powered turbines that I have designed. However, I still have a ton of cleanup to attend to from the storm, so it is all just pipe dreams that I amuse myself with in the spare corners of my busy life nowadays.

Hopefully I will get caught up someday and by then will have a good idea for actually building my first generator. I hate to simply copy what others have already done, you see, so it takes me longer....

Power Outage Ends

No power for three days got my tail in a knot. I don't even want to describe all the problems it caused and all the work I have been doing because of it. I wished I had even just one little generator up and running so that I could at LEAST charge my electric cigarettes.

But, on the bright side, the power came on just in time for Sci Fi Monday! So, dudettes and dudes, I will be busy with that this evening, rather than boring your with my summertime diary tonight. Later, mes amies.
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