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WindTapper's Blog

June 2014

Whirligig Comparisons

Since our electric company and I trimmed our Norwegian Pine, I discovered this morning that we now have many more places from which to hang whirligigs for testing whirligigs.  Namely, several branches of the pine tree look to be sturdy enough to hang gigs onto.
Hanging other gigs from the tree is possible currently, but unadvisable for making electricity when the tree grows back at its top, toward the power lines that are the reason the top was lopped off by the electric company.

A yellow, fiberglass pole now hangs approximately five feet from the trunk of the tree. The pole is a very fine, vertical line in the following picture. I originally took the pole out to use with the larger or smaller whirligig, but it was too long. The pole comes as a broken off piece of a ten-foot extendable handle for painting the house. I broke it accidentally, not knowing how fragile it could become. The broken end is a shambles but the hanger end has a nice device glued on it that strengthens and provides great support for attaching the pole to a hanger. I am sure, btw, that I bought it at Lowes, and I have been using it to prop up our tent roof in various places on our back deck, with a scrub brush screwed in where the paint roller normally is placed on the device.

Also, and what took me out to the site, I decided that in order to compare configurations of whirligigs for wind speed efficacies, I needed to hang the different versions at least near to each other.

The smaller gig now hangs where the larger one hung, and I moved the larger gig to the right. I have not done the exact arithmetic yet, but estimate that the smaller gig is one quarter the size of the larger gig, AND that the larger gig more than coincidentally spins approximately four times faster than the smaller gig in approximately the same wind.

At a 15 mph reported gusting, the smaller gig goes slightly faster than the larger one. (I estimated around 8 mph winds, though, because tall tree limbs were not swaying much.) 

These gigs have no loads hanging from them. In fact, I had removed some 5 chains and two connectors from the larger gig when I moved it because it had no longer been anchored for some unknown length of time, without my knowing it was untethered at its bottom.

I guess I should get out my wind gage one of these days....

Forecasts for 75 miles from here are for 15 mph winds, gusting to 21 today, btw. I will have to check the other weather station for a more local report.

Salvage and Levy-Building

A ceramic tile has been making its way down one of the two creeks that meet at our property. After a month of watching this sort of debris languish, moving when each thunderstorm sends water to push it further downstream, I feel that it is technically salvage and free to the first taker. So, I took it to use as a case for my wind powered generator-to-be. I estimate it would have cost $50 to buy it, but I have no firm knowledge about that price.

It is not attached to anything yet -- just sitting there. I found the anchor for the whirligig's blades is no longer attached, either. I took note of that weak link for future reference, too.

Another project is building a higher levy around our septic system. I took delivery of 18 tons of fill dirt which I am moving, bit-by-bit, into places around the existing levy.

I had to move the sod that I had just planted around the levy. The sod is sitting on top of sod, inside the stone perimeter until I get the levy built up enough around its outside to cover the dirt again with sod.

I stored the deer fencing on top of the septic system to keep it from killing lawn until I can figure out what to do with it, so you cannot see the septic system in this picture. Three sets of watermelon plants are growing along the upside of the levy. This has proven to be a good place to grow watermelon, btw.

Everybody asks when I am getting a bulldozer to come in to move the dirt, but I could lose some 50 pounds, besides not wanting to hire a bulldozer until I can find out exactly how much dirt can be delivered this year. Also, I chose the choisest blocks of clay to pack against the stone barrier's joints. This is something that has to be done by hand.

Waiting For The Rain

A couple days ago I assembled 48 1 X 2 cm cylindrical neodymium magnets onto two angel food cake pan innards. Now I am dabbling with various round forms to use to cast a plastic casing that will accommodate the magnets, stacked 2X2 around the outer perimeter, 12 stacks to each level for the rotor.

Lately the sun has been shining well, so I am now waiting for the rain in order to go back to generator construction. Our yard has incrementally shrunk a little bit each year, pushed back by tree limbs and blackberry bushes. I am fighting back this year, a fight which occupies fortuitously graced weather situations.

Also I am fighting rust on my van, which is another fair weather activity. In July a third project again will hopefully occupy some time -- getting, placing, and forming some loads of fill dirt to protect our septic system from a creek that occasionally floods. I was thinking this morning, after watching Halt and Catch Fire last evening, "If you want to know how to square the circle, talked to a sculpture fashioning round objects with straight-edged tools, or to a railroad engineer, who can drive his train in a circle when the track is laid that way."

That AMC series is seriously wonderful regarding creativity in engineering....

Dear Diary

1. Battling poison ivy these days: spraying poison onto it and expanding our lawn into neighbor's woods and onto township property in order to root out ivy vine roots next to our yard. Last week I was treating poison ivy on my arms and ankles. This week I am quicker about getting into the shower after exposure in our yard.

Cutting brush, trimming trees, and fighting blackberries in addition to poison ivy has given me a new appreciation of just how much work the pioneers had to do to clear land. A bow saw is an unexpected friend as a weed whacker along edges of woods.

2. After doing yard work and cleaning up from the exposure to poison ivy, I spent the last couple afternoons exploring ideas for making electricity generators that are attached to our whirligigs. I'll spare you the details --at least for now...

3. Sorry, but I'm tuckered out, so "'Bye For Now, Y'All!"

Second Thoughts, Again, And Again

1.  I know I recently posted the message that I would/should build the simplest wire cages to generate electricity, to at least get a sort of baseline figure for the simplest method, but after looking at the graphic of the curved cages versus two like poles facing each other, I see that the curved portion of the cages will capture the most power.

Currently I am pondering the best way to mount the screen onto a surface so that I can pull strands from its edges without disturbing the opposite weave. Making a large pin cushion is one possibility. Taping screen to a wooden table is another. A third is winding the screen onto a spindle, attached in either of those two ways.

The problem with the third is that each layer of the screen cages needs to be longer and wider than the previous. I suppose there would be some mathematical way to calculate the exact dimensions, but I will settle for measurements and estimates to predict approximate dimensions, then measure the results and compare with optimal dimensions....

2.  The large whirligig spins happily over at its station, however, grass, weeds, and poison ivy are growing under the contraptions I placed under and around it. So, those contraptions such as the wooden step and two plastic sawhorses with their tethers will all have to go.

Also, I am seriously considering moving the large gig over to its right, then attaching two smaller gigs as I had originally planned. Some days of rain are predicted in the near future, so perhaps I will then construct the rest of the two smaller gigs....

Our mowers all need maintenance too, which is another set of projects needing to be done in the near future. Currently I am ministering to two patches of poison ivy on my arms, after attacking all the poison ivy on our place with organic ivy killer -- twice. The first time didn't work very well. The instructions for the organic poison ivy killer did not include shaking the bottle. The second time I shook it after adding some vinegar. That worked much better, thank you very much. However, I unexpectedly ran into some poison ivy while weeding the day lilies....

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