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WindTapper's Blog

September 2014

Commencing to Begin Again

My projects often progress at a snail's pace because I spend so much time trying to figure out how to do them, or finding the money, or finding the least expensive ways to do them. Since I decided to go back to building a static electricity generator, I took a baby step today.

I have been trying to figure out how to have sand at the base that can drain any rain or snow that falls on it without losing all the sand. Tricky, that. Additionally, even putting cheesecloth under the sand would hold water and invite ants to take up residence there, which is another undesirable outcome.

Anyway, I started to assess ways to level the container, install a ground rod, and, as I said, hold sand for generating free-floating electrons from sand dust made by dragging something across the sand, using a wind powered whirligig. Here's today's progress. Ostensibly, I cleared some debris and tipped over the ceramic pipe. Also, I did my best to find the center on the ground in relation to how the whirligig will hang down from its hook above, given the hillside underlying the whole future contraption.

Btw, I put up a new roof on our deck shack today, this time with three extra layers under the tarp to keep the cats from tearing the tarp and protect better against precipitation penetrating through the roof of our tent.

Whirligig Blade Storage

We have a lot of whirligig blade blanks around here, starting with large black plastic bags with 1 gallon distilled water jugs. I am trying to consolidate all of those by cutting up the jugs. That is something I can do while I am babysitting the cats at night, or watching some stupid movie that I have seen before on TV....

The following picture shows 26 bottles after they have been cut up. I am still trying to find the perfect arrangement for the handle halves of the bottles.


Fall is not quite in the air, as it is nice and warm these days. Also not very many trees have turned colors. Mid October is the peak here in Southeastern Ohio. In the meantime a few things have fallen around here unexpectedly, namely one whirligig, and one tent roof.

Already reported in a previous entry, the smaller gig broke in the middle of its non Sampo swivel. I have no idea what brand of swivel it was -- just NOT Sampo.

My deck shack tent roof tore unmercifully after one of our cats repeatedly walked on it, so I tore it off today in preparation for some other idea popping into my wittle pea "frond" (see Stargate for that reference to "frond"). I took a picture to show where the trouble all started and to indicate to myself where I might place extra padding on the wood beam to help the next idea last a little bit longer, at least.

So, this roof fell off after I unfastened and pushed it off the framework. The material was simply not designed for this task. I read that on its label after I bought it, but it was such a perfect size and I had nothing else of a perfect size and with grommets all around to attach it, so I put the tarp up anyway. It was waterproof, mostly. The tarp came with a hole in it and that is where the first tear started, before the tear expanded all the way across due to cats walking on it.

Static Idea #2

As a framework I have a ceramic tile that is at least 3 feet tall when set onto its widest end. Think of this as the housing for a very large capacitor. Into the center I pour play sand -- which is very fine sand as sand goes.

The whirligig circles above and a pole hangs down from the whirligig's center. The bottom end of the pole has either a weight with a point on it that turns within the sand to create silica dust, and/or a screen rotates on the sand for the same effect.

Inside the ceramic tile surface I place a layer of aluminum to attract the electrons that are being freed from the sand by this wind powered pestle. Then a layer of insulating material, outside the aluminum but still inside the tile. Finally, a layer of steel to connect to the outside devices which will attract "holes" or positive ions from the air.

I have not yet fixed my ideas about the outside attractants for positive ions. Some of my ideas on this include having rotating lint catchers such as one may purchase. They are rollers, each with a single handle. Each lint roller of several could hang down from the bottom layer of wind turbine blades,  rolling as they circle against some suitable material plus the wire pick-ups attached to the steel layer of the giant capacitor.

The collector wires bleed off the static electricity in order that too high voltages would not threaten innocent bystanders....

So far I have described two groups of design step ideas, rather than describing something that has been built. This is a thought experiment that is only getting started now. That is what I do. I do thought experiments and only build once I have thought things through to what seems to be a viable, affordable, efficacious, and relatively disaster-resistant design.

Static Capacitance?

I realize the potential benefits for viable static electricity generators driven by wind power, but often go back to the conventional magnet-coil framework to house my pondering at the drawing board. I am back to static again. I keep running into the cost equation for coil-magnet generators, which keeps bringing me back to static.

Seemingly endless device lists spring to mind as I start to remind myself how static works with capacitance. You need a charge in order to gather the opposite charge from either the wind -- air is positive -- or from the ground --which is most often depicted as being more negative than the air. Relative to the wind (air), ground is negative.

Steel is more negative than aluminum and copper, while copper is closest to neutral, except when you have your steel at ground level.

I have tons of possible designs in mind, so let me think on this a while...

Later Note:

Idea #1: I have an electrostatic air cleaner which will aid me -- I hope -- to create a low-cost source of actual electrons so that I do not have to rely on the actual ground to provide an unlimited supply of electrons. Silica sand is cheap enough to supply electrons if I can create the silica dust that costs beaucoup bucks to buy from a chemical supplier. Why not simply grind or pound PlaySand next to the electrostatic air cleaner and see if powder collects onto the negative element?

I used to be able to buy such things as liquid silicon in glass bottles from the pharmacy, but I doubt that drug stores sell such chemicals anymore. I suppose I could search for and purchase such a bottle of liquid silicon, then evaporate the liquid off....

The goal is to set up a negative source of electrons that perhaps could simply be replenished on a regular basis. Perhaps setting up a reservoir in the ground. Could I label that as ground and work from that? Then connecting the outside of the reservoir, insulated as a grand capacitor, to the source of positive ions from the air? The two sides of this reservoir capacitor could be hooked up to a battery and when the voltage reaches to over 12 volts, then the battery would charge, no?

Dear Diary

1.  Scraping paint off our house has been my chore for several days lately. This includes some of the preparations for making a cat door, now that we have three cats.  I am having to remove the putty from around one of our smallest windows which I had painted shut last year in order to lessen the winter winds flowing through our house.

I will actually be filling in the window with a stout piece of plywood locked in place, except for the cat door that will be installed into the plywood. I plan to cover the window with vinyl so that the vinyl hangs down to make a vestibule that will also cut down on air leakage.

Our windows are not normal, btw. They pivot to swing outward, rather than sliding up and down assisted by pullies in tracks.

2.  The smaller of the two whirligigs fell apart, right at the swivel. This was NOT a SAMPO swivel, btw, but a lesser one. I have no idea if perhaps a cat tried to climb onto the whirligig, but the swivel actually fell apart, so I am inclined to believe the swivel just wore out. I had never seen the cats interested in climbing on the gigs.

3.  I am still trying to figure out the best design for an electricity generator based on my low velocity wind turbines, but this time of year has me definitely distracted and otherwise engaged because cooler weather is fast approaching. You can't paint below a certain temperature, so I must pay attention to the painting jobs around here. Also, some outdoor projects will be less pleasant if I neglect them too long....

4. On the other hand, a major project of ripping out all the poison ivy vines that I can find, waits for the cooler weather so that I can dress well enough to avoid getting poisoned.

Wattage Controls

I had a few minutes today among my many projects around the house to think on engineering and actually manufacturing the coils for one design of a wind powered electricity generator. This design uses a stack of high powered, cylindrical magnets that have a hole at their core with poles on their sides. They would be inside a narrow plastic pipe that would protect them from friction. The pipe would be hung from the center of a set of horizontally rotating turbine blades made from halves of one gallon water jugs.

The coils could be constructed to hang on an aluminum screen that encircles the central magnet-filled, and rotating pole. Not to give too many details, the point of this entry is the idea that as the wind increases, the magnet pole would not only rotate faster, but also be pulled upwards among the coils so that at its peak velocity the wind would raise the magnets up and off the optimal geometric points. This would reduce the production of electricity when the wind is potentially producing too much force for safe operation.

If this would work, it could negate the need for expensive voltage controllers and allow simple fuses to protect against a catastrophic meltdown of wire insulation.

Of course I will keep working on this idea. The top and bottom of the connections to the blade drive and potential anchor are perhaps the weak points of this design and I have a few ideas to mitigate weaknesses at those points, but perhaps not enough ideas yet. I think I should actually try and build this one.

The magnets would have spacers between them, btw. Styrofoam. And the pipe could have another pipe around it with dryer sheets inside to prevent static build-up, perhaps.
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