WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

July 2014

Farm Show Magazine Reports

Farm Show Magazine; 30-Year Anniversary Edition cost me $15 at Tractor Supply and has two wind power designs on page 109.

"Wedge-Shaped Windmill Requires Much Less Wind" is why I bought it. Fred Brammeier is shown next to his patented design. Its use of hydraulics seems to solve the variable wind speed problems, but he plans to make his design much bigger. As it is, I do not think that would be wise. The design presents too high of a profile to attach it to a building because it would rip off the roof in a wind storm. However, I think the turbines could be attached to the corners of buildings rather easily.

"Build You Own Windmill" is wonderfully the type of design that can be built from "scrap or off the shelf parts," says Peter Williams. It pumps water rather directly. No intermediate step of making electricity here. It is so simple and so workable! Sulman and Williams are Australian, and "Sulman has posted a wealth of information on the windmill at his website, including plans and photos." His contact is listed as "," so I will go check out southcom.

Carbon Sequestration Experiment

Last Fall I placed several pounds of pure white lime powder into PVC pipes that carry our house furnace's exhaust away from the back of our house, along the ground. The newer furnaces do not use the upright chimney, but rather, push exhaust through the back wall of the house. This happens to be at our kitchen window and our back deck, polluting our air rather directly, all during the heating season.

I have succeeded in moving the exhaust egress away from living areas, plus, I seem to have succeeded in sequestering at least some small bit of carbon. I opened up the system today, which I had not added lime to since last Fall. I photographed the chunks of lime that had not been dissolved and had not flowed yet from the end of the pipes. The lime dissolves in the condensation which results from our exhaust meeting cooler surfaces. A constant flow of water results, thus moving the lime that I had placed at the beginning of the first large pipe.

All that initial load of lime was gone, replaced by water and a bit of dark brown debris.

Directly above is the end of the second large pipe, showing discoloration of chunks of lime.

Many more pictures of lime discoloration were collected for this documentation procedure. Immediately above is a photo that faintly indicates the condensation droplets still clinging to the inside of the middle large pipe after heating last evening ended.

Finally, I should give an overall picture of the whole system before I broke it apart this morning, but I did not make one today. It is time to add more lime and/or some additional material for the next heating season because yesterday had record low temps in Indiana and Kentucky for yesterday's date.

Later Note: I got some drain cleaner that comes in crystals and was listed on the Tractor Supply store's website when I searched on "caustic lye." I tested mixing it with pure white powdered lime and I could see no reaction. Then I added water. Again I saw no reaction, although, the bottom of the plastic bowl was warmed. That heat might have come from hot water of a sun-warmed hose. Anyway, the heat was not so great as to be dangerous, so I put 4 scoops of the lime (2 in two pipes) and then added some of the crystals to each pipe before putting the pipes back into place. I still need to retape a couple of joints, but all that took only a few minutes and we're good to go again for Winter.

Design Dreams

1.a. Make a circular platform to hold the coils, possibly from plywood since I don't have a piece of aluminum that large or the ability to cut one that would need to be thick enough to hold up a bunch of weight.

1.b. Cut a cover for the coils from aluminum sheeting. It has to be stout enough to stand up to the weight and claws of a cat that would probably jump up onto it, or that would grab its inside edge to haul itself up onto the coils. We do not want cat claws to cut into the insulation on the coils' wiring.

1.c. Enough aluminum might help to tamp down RF interference that might be generated by the generator.

2. The aluminum would attract electrons, so connect it to Ground at the center of the generator. Ground is where I would hope to get electrons. An outside layer of aluminum would be similarly grounded and be used to both damp down RF emissions, and possibly be used as a static charger/capacitor.

3. Experiment with an array of capacitors to store charges until sufficient potential is built up to charge a 12-volt battery. The array could be attached to aluminum screen sections around the outside of the magnetic rotor(s), designed to pick up charges peripherally, possibly both using magnetism and static.

4.a. Experiment with and try to predict interactions between dual magnetic rotors. The inside rotor has 6 relatively massive magnets (centered inside the ceramic pipe) while the outside one has 16 stacks of three lesser cylinders (rotating outside the ceramic pipe). Try to figure out the interplay among the two sets of magnetic fields to try to figure out how best to place coils and/or aluminum screening to generate electricity magnetically.

4.b. The attraction between the two could provide force for rubbing electrostatic materials between the two rotors, generating spikes of high voltage would could be bled off in several ways, most notably, to Ground. It might be that the larger magnets are too powerful for this arrangement, that there would not be enough distance to mostly decouple the two rotors. Might try different levels of the rotors in order to enlarge the distance between the rotors.

4.c. A six to sixteen ratio would present an interesting challenge for analysis of magnetic fields.

Wind Speed Today

So far I have counted 2 RPM's twice, and only once has my whirligig spun at a 10 RPM rate. The wind is so slow as to be negligible. I think maybe that is because the air is so thick with moisture, lol. I say laugh out loud because the air is so thick with moisture because there is no wind and it rained yesterday evening.

I have done some preliminary toying with the idea of using a relay, potentiometer switch to somehow deal with the 1 to 60 RPM range of generator rotation. Do I have to start with a 2 volt battery?

I saw a picture of many batteries linked up in series, starting with the 2 volt battery. There were so many batteries that I wonder if the battery of batteries might not have gotten up to 220 volts at its output end?

So far, the books I have on batteries are not very informative. They treat the reader as a complete novice, and I daresay, as a dunce. But you gotta start somewhere.

The Day After Tomorrow is playing again tonight on AMC TV, and I plan on going to see another sci fi flick that supposedly deals with a failed anti-global warming scenario: Snowpiercer. We all need to at least start thinking about alternative energy sources -- sooner rather than later, I believe.

Later Notes (7/28/14): Snowpiercer was great, btw. Lots of social value there, even though it was very heavy handed.

The wind speed kicked up several notches just after I posted the above readings. Today is actually more variable. Within a very few minutes the RPM's went from 2 to 12 to 7.5, then repeated those variables several times during the next few minutes and even for an hour or so.
We had a tornado watch last evening by the way but it was a very brief scare. Nothing materialized. 40% chance of showers today....

This morning I made an Excel spreadsheet so I can look up RPM's based on how many seconds a revolution takes. I am also starting to expand the spreadsheet for the number of magnets in the rotor times the number of turns of coil wire for each space corresponding to a magnet times the number of lines of flux per magnet that would actually cut the wires. Those calculations will give a voltage estimate for each RPM  reading, although, I suspect the actual voltage would be 2/3 or less the projected voltage due to the 3-D geometry of magnetism compared to guestimations based cross-sectional schematics.

Kudos to Google Translate

Not that I am qualified to analyze a translator, I can't help but try to thank Google Translate for helping me out with a German comment on this site.

Google Translate lets you copy a whole passage, perhaps even a whole document, into its translator and gives an instant translation. Not only that, but phrases are highlighted between the two as you move your cursor so you can see which words refer to which phrases between the original and translated passages.

Gee. I wonder if it would work for Chinese? Oh yes. China has banned Google for its tracking. Too bad. Communication is good, in my humble opinion. Exactly what is being communicated may be the problem that China has with Google.

Potash - Potassium - Lye

Regarding my carbon sequestration attempts, today I decided to try to google "potash potassium lye."  The idea is to see if one can safely combine potassium fertilizer with pure white lime powder, having that stuff flow along horizontally placed house furnace exhaust pipes.

So far, I finally found documentation for the "potash" and "potassium" connection in the Wikipedia entry for Potash. Those terms were too similar to be a coincidence, and potassium is found in "pot ash" -- a term I became familiar with after living with wood and coal burning stoves for two years during the early 1970's. I emptied the ash from our little antique potbelly stove onto a small bed where our Blackseeded Simpson lettuce thrived in the shade of our woods. Of course it helped that the soil was downhill from where a barn used to stand....

Anyway, it is that time of year when the nights are getting cooler again, and time to start thinking about what needs to be done before cold weather hits. Documenting and cleaning the lime from the horizontally placed house furnace exhaust pipes -- i.e. how much browness clings to the lime? -- which could be carbon....

Combining lye with lime is what is recommended for industrial sites that wish to sequester their carbon pollution, but caustic potash is dangerous, so I was looking for some chemistry background using Google's search engine.

Perhaps, after I note how much browness exists at various joints in my horizontal exhaust system, perhaps I could merely add potassium fertilizer to lime that has been stirred, inside the pipes, to present whiter surface to the exhaust?

Max and Min RPM's

What might be called "a slight squall" came across our state today, but when it got to our location, it seemingly vanished. The rain vanished, but the winds kicked up a few notches.

The winds were "variable" to a great degree. "Turbulent" seems a bit more apt. In this environment the two whirligigs did not spin out of control. In fact, the more turbulence, the less raw spinning occurs. The larger of the two gigs reached a maximum of 60 RPM, only briefly. And while the smaller can spin faster, the variable speed of the wind caused the max RPM for only a few seconds at a time.

The average RPM is closer to 30 RPM, and so, I will calculate the number of turns of wire that will be needed in the stationary coil section of my generators, based much more closely on 30 rather than 60 revolutions per minute (RPM).

One of my next few tasks includes mapping the magnetic field of the hollow, hefty magnets. I suspect that these will exhibit more of a Howard Johnson type of bifurcation of poles than the smaller, cylindrical magnets. I suspect also, that the Howard Johnson type of bifurcation of poles may have been unintentionally derived from too many cross-sectional views, lol....

Later Note (7-24-14 noon): My earlier estimates of average RPM's of my whirligigs were clearly wrong. Average RPM is closer to 10 for the larger gig, perhaps even lower if you take the whole 24 hours of every day into the average. I have been taking counts lately because it has been windy. Now, September is supposedly the least windy month of the year for Ohio, but the greatest number of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Hurricanes is in September. This does not quite make sense to me, though, since hurricanes generally spill over onto land, at least making rain and wind speeds greater here eventually.

Later Still (7-24-14 5 p.m.): I caught the larger gig spinning at 60 RPM, tops, briefly. Earlier I also caught it at around 7 RPM. Calculations for how many turns for each coil will involve figuring out what percentage of each magnet's flux will cut the turns of wire; how many magnets are turning; how many coils will be living on the stator; how closely the coils will be packed; the minimum voltage required to produce a charge for a 12-volt battery, and how the stator will be wired to produce efficiency, stability, and safety at high and low wind speeds.

30 RPM's seems like a healthy clip, with 16 magnets, but I wish I already had the rotor mounted. The rotor will necessarily slow the spin down.

I am looking for a way to weigh all the rotor's parts since I have misplaced our ounce scale. A lot of housecleaning is in order, just to get all our tools organized! We have too many long term projects going on around here! Don't get me started enumerating THAT list, lol....

Climate Musings

So, now that The Dog Days of Summer are a wash -- please pardon the pun -- I wonder which way our year will go. Will the Dog Days merely be postponed, or does this portend a continuation of last Winter's harshness for the coming Winter?

Looking at the Weather Channel website, I see that last year's predictions for last year's Winter season did not come until October and November. But somebody must be working on this. Do I have to look at the Farmer's Almanac in order to get a clue? You'd think that somebody could make some sort of scientific prediction based on the current Jet Stream pattern.

I was hoping there was an easy way to send this question via the website to the Weather Channel folks, but so far I have not come across a question link. Perhaps I need to get hooked into their cell or Smart phone links?

Anyway, when I planted grass a few days ago, I knew that this was not the usual time to do such a thing. The Dog Days are typically very dry and very hot. However, we had about 24 hours of sprinkling and misting rain that -- by the way -- never showed up on the satellite pictures of radar on the radar channel.... Perfect for grass! Our little seeds are swelling up nicely!

Later Note (7-24-14): After I found our overnight temps are in the mid-50 degree range this morning, and the coming week is predicted to be relatively cold, I have decided that these events portend a cold, perhaps longer winter season. I sort of recall now that last July had some cool nights, more on the order of August, and that last winter was cold and long.

Also, we have not had much of a storm season in the Atlantic this summer so far. The Pacific is getting whacked big-time, though. Perhaps our heat has transferred itself to the Pacific? You know, the coal fired plants in China could be sending black smoke shading over to us in the U.S., thus cooling us.... But the normal 20-24 year cycle of warming and cooling of winters is, of course, also on track this year to deliver cold to us.

Magnet Rotor Interim Steps

I decided to try to waterproof the tops of the magnet-strings-tape sets, using a black goop. (I did not know it was black until I opened the can of Plasti-Dip.) Consequently, I needed someplace to stand each set of three columnar magnets so its goop top could dry in peace. The logical place was to stick each column to the angelfood cake pan innards. What resulted is what I can call "A Bad Hair Day."

So what we have pictured above are the magnets from Option 1 Magnet Rotor, stuck to the base of Option 2 Magnet Rotor, drying in the wind so to speak, lol.

I spent some time last night while Jurassic Park played on, trying out a variety of knots in preparation for tying the strings on each end of the magnet columns to two yellow plastic hoops.

I measured the yellow plastic hoop multiple times, approximating lengths for segments successively, until I came up with the following set of linear measurements applied to a round base:

Diameter of hoop, center-to-center of its flat sides: 37.5 cm. Radius = 18.75 cm. The square sides = 26.3 cm. Halving the square sides = 14.3 cm. Halving the halves gives 7.25 cm for each of the 16 sides that result from placing 16 columnar magnets spaced evenly around the middles of the perimeters of the hoops. I suppose the difficulty was translating straight sides from radians, but I finally managed to make physical fits for 4, 8, then 16 sides.

I have yet to measure the 1 to 1.1 cm gaps between the strings, on the hoops, so I know where exactly to make the holes in the hoops. I am going to start with an awl punch or auger to begin the holes....

Oh yes. I almost forgot. I made a decision about Option 2. I am going to go with 6 hefty magnets instead of trying to fit 8 of them onto the base. This may also make some sense regarding the seemingly standard 12 magnets to 9 coil ratio, although, since 6 is half of 12, 4.5 coils is not an immediately apparent possibility, lol. However, the normal geometric arrangement is for the poles to face the coils. In this case we have the poles sideways, giving twice as many poles to play with....

Magnet Rotor Options

I assembled 16 magnet-tape-chord columns of three magnets for tying between two flatish plastic hoops.

I like to paint the ends of the magnets to which the North Pole of my compass points. Each set of three cylinder magnets has two chords around which are wound several layers of packaging tape.

The above photos belong to Option 1 of my Magnetic Rotor experiment plans.

Option 2 was to have been several heftier magnets mounted onto the innards of an angel food cake pan, but a few obstacles have presented themselves so far....

1. These heftier magnets are magnetized in the opposite direction, on their cylindrical sides.
2. I used some of these for earlier Howard Johnson experiments, cutting at least one of them in half. This now set of two half magnets makes -- when recombined -- a quadra-pole instead of a di-pole magnet.
3. These heftier magnets present a challenge to separating them from the pack, but their central hole provides a place to hook onto....

Now quadra-pole, two halves of a cylindrical magnet manufactured originally with a hole in its center.

A clump of five hefty di-pole magnets is in upper left corner of the photo. Two of this type of magnet are placed onto an angel food cake pan innards that has gotten besmirched with some nail polish I used to mark the north poles onto the magnets.

So far I feel that the axis of the magnets' poles should at least somewhat parallel the circumference of the outside of the pan's innards. This orientation seems "lateral" to me, as opposed to facing opposite poles across the center of the cake pan. Perhaps I will be able to find an eighth, dipole magnet stuck to something around our house, lol.

Magnet Rotor Construction, Part 2

Previous entry is Part 1.

A wind chime hanging on my garden's fence recently fell down. Upon examination I found its main structure was held together by fine nylon chord. "Fine" in this case refers to its very narrow width. Now I was proposing to use nylon chord to tie together my magnets to the plastic hoops. True, it is 4 or five times the width of that used in the wind chime, but I still must consider wear at the magnet rotor's joints.

Several possible fixes:

  1. Adding Loc-Tite to the plastic holes where the nylon chords meet them to join magnets to hoops.
  2. Adding grommets to the holes in the plastic hoops.
  3. Filing the holes so they are rounded rather than having sharp edges to cut the nylon chords.
  4. Some combination of 1-3.
  5.  Alternate material to use for stringers, although, aluminum wire might actually be less secure, while steel wire might bleed off some of the magnetic flux.
  6. A ferrous band around the middle of the hoop to keep the magnets from moving quite as much as they will without such metallic portion to the hoops.
  7. Wrap the magnets in packaging tape and include the nylon chords, wrapping them through the holes in the hoops so they would not be chafed during operation.
  8. Continue developing the angel food cake pan innards as a platform for magnets. (I could use some very heavy duty magnets instead of the stack of three more frail magnets. The heavy duty magnets would require no special packaging. In fact, I think I will do both sets of rotor designs.)

Generator Magnetic Rotor

Using the solid flat plastic hoops, I measure 38.8 cm diameter to the center of the width of the hoop. I have decided to string 16 stacks of three neodymium cylinder magnets within 16 lengths of plastic pipe between two of the hoops.

Center-to-center of the magnetic stacks around the hoops is 7.6184 cm. The magnets are .9 or approximately 1 cm diameter, so, 6.6184 is the distance among stacks. I Should try to figure out what the difference is between the circular length and a straight measurement among the stacks.

The choice of 16, however, is fortuitous, because I can divide the hoop into quarters and start from one point, measuring the hypotenuse of the right triangle made by two 19.4 cm sides. The hypotenuse works out to 27.43574 cm or a tad under 27.5 cm, or 27.46 cm. I just have to mark a point, then measure 27.46 cm over to the next corner of the square that I made by quartering the circle.  Then over to the next corner, then finally back to the first point.

I would then see if the last length meets precisely. If it does not, all I need to do is divide the difference by four and adjust the sequence accordingly. Hmmm. Am I "squaring the circle"?

However, my first measurement was 37 cm diameter, which was wrong. I had .7 cm left over at the end, so I measured the diameter of the hoop again, flipped it over, and will start marking the four corners again. Then I must divide the four corners by half, then the halves into halves. Then I will have the marks for drilling holes. 16 holes. Then I must do the same for the second hoop, then cut 16 lengths of plastic pipe. I daresay I will need to buy more pipe.

I plan on threading nylon twine to attach the hoops with the magnets and pipe. Three times 16 is 48 magnets, with 48 coils below. Hopefully I will figure out how to make 3 phases of electricity from 16 times 3 coils....

4 cm distances among 12 magnets in a circle worked with the metallic disc, but without the metal to hold the magnets in place, I think that securing columns of magnets 6.6 cm apart would be better. The nylon had better be strong because the magnets are very strong. Please keep in mind that I have no idea yet if this will work or how the magnetic fields will exactly look because I cannot put these magnet columns this close together without them slamming together.

I had been continuing to try to make the angel food cake pan centers work, but gave up on that idea one more time....

Taking It Easy

After moving some 6 or so tons of dirt, I need a break from strenuous physical labor. These old joints take a bit longer to heal now that I am over 60 years of age. So, I am concentrating on activities which require more thought than action for a few days, at least.

Yesterday I finally threaded a connector through the swivel of my whirligig and the top of a center post for hanging a magnetic rotor. The connector is faintly discernable below:

The connector is a shower curtain hanger resting on the top snap or clasp which is black. The shower curtain hanger is silver or chrome and wider than the clump of chains hanging from the black center snap. The form of the shower curtain hanger is rounded at top and bottom, and slipped inside the hole the manufacturer made for the black end of the handle of the painter's extension rod (yellow at the bottom) that I have co-opted as a center post for my generator.

Please keep in mind that I abused Mr. Long-Arm in multiple ways, not realizing the yellow part was made of fiberglass. The other 5-foot span is made of aluminum. I could use the aluminum span with its handle as a sort of ready-made center post, although I would have to drill two holes to make the top connection. The handle would readily support the magnetic rotor, though.

This rig is hanging freely, with no anchor, above the grass. The yellow center pole does not swing as widely as the turbine blades in high wind speeds. I cut the yellow pole in half, using a fine-toothed hack saw.

Now I must figure out how to secure the magnetic rotor to the post, at a non-inclined angle, both firmly, yet in such a way that stress is not concentrated along a thin line during normal operations.

Once I have the rotor mounted and a coil layer constructed, I should hang the larger gig over this ceramic pipe so that the whole generator will be protected inside the pipe.

Another thought is that I could hang a solid hoop down from the turbine levels which could stop the gig from swaying too far in 60 mph winds, possibly slowing down the spinning in such winds, too. Calculating how much wind would be required to knock over this pipe is another interesting problem....

Same O', Same O'

Nothing new to report here. Still toying with generator construction ideas. Pointing magnetic fields downward means I do not have to worry about lateral wobble of the whirligig in the variety of winds, but leaves the opposite ends of the magnets unused. This creates the ever-present desire to put another layer of coils, above the magnets instead of only below, which recreates getting the problem of getting the exact altitude to place the upper coil level.

Setting stacks of magnets on the base of the center of an angel food cake pan creates the problem of how to "house" the magnets so that they don't move toward each other during wind turbulence. Toying with Styrofoam padding construction has occupied some of my minutes in these regards.

So anyway, here's another picture of the two gigs today. Brown grass below them was created by repeated spraying against poison ivy lately. At around 8 mph wind speed they turn at nearly the same speed, except that my estimation of wind speed is based on movement of tree branches. We have tall trees, and the winds aloft are not necessarily the same as ground wind speeds, as the upper speeds increased while both gigs stopped turning for a while, lol.

Going Backwards

Today I find myself revisiting some old ideas and some original equipment experiments. Remember those hoops made from four or five pieces of plastic, ordered from some online Chinese vendor -- those multi-colored hoops? It turns out that the larger whirligigs were made using those. Those hoops are easier to use to make the whirligigs since I can assemble them using discrete pieces instead of having to carefully thread everything in exact order before joining a single hoop that cannot be easily unjoined for making corrections.

Then there were one-piece flatish plastic hoops. I could use two of those joined by plastic tubing that is filled with stacked magnets around their circumferences. I would probably drill holes all around them in order to join them with the tubes and magnets at fixed points. Then the magnets would rotate and hang above the stationary coils.

I just wish I could come up with the best design soon so that I might then figure out how to order the aluminum magnet wire and have it delivered to someplace I could get the wire from....

A simple configuration for a generator would have a control set-up that makes 12 volts, hooked up to a line of 12-volt LED lights, with a photovoltaic on-off so that it would only make and use electricity at night.... No battery needed. It would only work if there were some wind at night, but no battery control needed to prevent over-charging, or safety gear to prevent other hazards of having batteries around the place....

I'm just sayin'

Oh yes. On an episode of Bones yesterday a member of the "Jeffersonian" team of forensic scientists who was buried alive inside an automobile by "The Gravedigger" perp made a carbon dioxide cleaner from ash (from an ashtray), lithium (from a battery), and soda (I guess from bottled soda water). It seems strange to me to use carbonated soda, since carbonation is carbon dioxide. So, I don't know if it would actually work, but it could be worth a try.... By the way, I have probably watched all the episodes of both Bones and Castle by now. I like Bones more, probably because many of the characters are geeks and nerds, lol.

On the TV front, I also enjoy Continuum, Defiance, and Suits, in addition to Halt and Catch Fire....
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