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WindTapper's Blog

Designing Prototypes

It Keeps On Spinning

I was remembering how clunky my first whirligigs used to be, and decided to take a picture of my current experimental creation for you all. It spins silently and much more stably than my older creations did. Probably it is blurry due to its motion, plus this pic was cropped from a larger pic.

This is a long term test -- mostly of the swivel -- as the swivel has been used now for more than one year. You might remember the snowfall that destroyed the sun-weakened older blades by spring of 2016. That was the same swivel plus some grease -- mostly coconut oil.

Besides fewer blades cutting down on the sideways motions of the gig, the clunky older versions sometimes had a center pole plus additional layers of blades. When I add magnets into the mix, the sideways wind resistance will increase again, but hopefully not too much.

I am also considering how to curve the coils so they might still be cut by the magnetic flux lines when the gig goes off center due to sideways motions. But I'm also still toying with the center pole configuration, to have centered magnets rotating . . . .

Gallon Jugs for Whirligig Blades

Two brands of the clear plastic jugs: Clover Valley Distilled Water (from Dollar General) compared with the Ice Mountain Drinking Water (from WallMart) have different aerodynamics. The Clover Valley gallon jugs compare quite favorably because the side of the blade that would resist turning in the direction that is being pushed or cupped from the prevailing wind side -- that resistance side is quite "slippery" to wind. In other words, the resistance side allows air to slip past it with what seems to be the least resistance.

On the other hand, even though I was quite excited that the Ice Mountain jugs might have two blades per bottle instead of the normal one blade, it turns out that the resistance side is either flat or concave, producing too much resistance to the prevailing winds, ultimately. I have not yet put this to a physical test, though. It is just by looking at the first two blades that I cut off an Ice Mountain bottle that gives me this impression. I do not even feel it worthwhile to prove my assertion with a physical experiment.

Perhaps I'll post pix after the sun comes up, lol....

New Gig

Not much but rain happening here, and the new whirligig that I just made. It seems to fly more stably, so far, anyway. I feel it is easier to look at, as well as being silent.

Oh yeah. Just so you don't forget who I used to be, y'all.

Now back to your regularly (lol) scheduled programming:

New Blade Experiment

Our whirligigs have been made out of plastic hoops that have half plastic gallon water jugs as blades for these wind turbines. Of course, the hoops are strung up and stacked so their central pivots have been fishing lure swivels from SAMPO of New Jersey. The plastic of these jugs deteriorates rather completely after approximately a year in full sun, longer in shady spots, but still, deterioration is rather complete.

Clover Valley Distilled Water one gallon jugs that I purchased at Dollar General recently are made of clear plastic that is tough. I had to use a hack saw to thin a place where I could finally get the tip of our scissors inside to make a cut all around the shoulders of the bottles.

Btw, Dollar General only sold one batch of these bottles at $1.00 each filled with distilled water, and then went back to selling the normal, cloudy white gallon jugs that we had been using up until this point.

I have since started collecting (saving) clear plastic bottles from various juice products and am currently plotting alternative patterns to cut up these bottles for whirligig blades. Also, I hope to figure out a Black Walnut leaf design for smaller magnet rotating rigs, but for now, I have eight bottle "necks" with which to build a one-layered gig.

I wish to record here the manufacturer in case it becomes of interest at some future date: "Clover Valley Distilled Water, Source Town of Mooresville, NC, Purified by Distillation, Distributed by Dolgencorp, LLC, 100 Mission Ridge, Goodlettsville, TN 37072. Bottled by Niagara Bottling, LLC, 178 Mooresville Blvd. Mooresville, NC 28115, (877)ITS-PURE...For a report on water quality & information, contact us at : (877)ITS-PURE or" I realize that the manufacturer of the actual bottle is not listed in all this information, but I do not believe the bottle is all that special except that it is clear rather than cloudy plastic. That is, the clear is tougher than the cloudy.

I intend to demonstrate this fact by putting the clear out onto whirligigs. Since I have no more than eight of this company's bottles, I could basically only do one design of cutting them up.

After watching the diminished old blades continue to rotate even after most of their materials have been lost, I decided to use only the top portion of the new bottles. Most of the bottles is going to recycling as I am only using 1/3 of the height of these bottles, that is, the top 4 out of 12 inches..

If Wishes Were Horses

If I were an Industrialist I would figure out how to import aluminum magnet wire from China -- given that I had first tested the idea of using same in home-built, wind-powered, electric generators. I have demonstrated that low wind situations generate sufficient torque for generators, given the New Jersey based swivels and other low-cost materials I've been using; however, a ton of magnet wire does not get from China to here by accident.

Another hurdle is the storage of electricity in batteries or capacitors. Both present dangers to lives and limbs, as well as pocket books for their safe housing.

In my dreamland of science fiction somebody can develop a means for storing energy that does not present such dangers as massive shock potential, environmental damages, and costs for transmission beyond a beggar's salary.

Last night I tried to dream up solutions to energy storage. I came up with only a few stormy seas:

A. Somehow harnessing temperature differences to run generators of electricity [Good luck with that one!] Storage would depend largely on thermal insulation. A switch mechanism could bleed off excess hot or cold to warm or cool buildings seasonally. This brings to mind the solar heating of air that rises along an insulated column that could lie at a 43 degree, South facing hillside, or on the outsides of buildings that face South.... The wind generator could lie anywhere within the columns of air that are being heated by the sun. Of course, in the summertime, air cold be drawn in the front of the house to travel along the basement floor before being heated by the sun and vented out the top of the dwelling and/or glassed-in trench up a hillside. Water pipes could take heat to the water system. This does not store energy, however, for generating electricity when the sun does not shine. Also, I need to design a low velocity turbine for vertical rather than horizontal spinning. Our heat pump in the summer blows upwards, for example, as would the columns of heated air mentioned earlier.

B. Somehow directing light -- perhaps through fiber optics -- to drive electricity generation. Generating the light is another problem. Perhaps geothermal, as in the light from magma? I wonder how far down I would have to dig to find magma? Oh yes. That depends on where you live.  [ Which reminds me. These snake oil salesmen who tout Icelandic diets don't mention that perhaps Icelanders eat extra amounts of citrus in order to avoid scurvy, rather than their miraculous attributes being solely due to volcanic soils.] Anyway, B is the barest of starting brainstorms. It involves sunlight, too, but that is a far less constant storage system than a battery or large capacitor can be.... at least for now..... I bet the International Space Station has some interesting ideas on this topic.

Dear Diary

Lately I have spent time working in my mind on possibilities for building electric generators powered by the wind. My whirligig is on its last legs, but it is still spinning. This shows that I don't need nearly as many blades as I have been building.

Also, I am toying with ideas for covering or coating the plastic blades, to make them sturdier. Pieces of blades have blown all over our yard. We had wind gusts up to 50 mph yesterday, btw. Other possible uses for coatings could be to attract positive ions for eventual deposition via precipitation, or else via brushes to create voltages, or rather potential differences between the positive ions and negatively charged silicon dust generated inside the ceramic column by friction with sand.

My main project of brainstorming is still the "action at a distance" using magnetic fields that are turning over a sealed container which contains the coils, perhaps other magnets, and perhaps sand for pulverizing, plus aluminum to collect the negatively charged silicon dust.

I also went to see the Jesse Owens movie for inspiration to keep myself motivated to exercise. J.C. Owens was from Cleveland and went to Ohio State University, from where he went to the Olympics, winning 4 gold medals in 1936. I really enjoyed the movie and was disappointed that the audience was so sparse. Living in Ohio as I do, I am amazed that more people were not there. I am also from Cleveland, but swimming, basketball, and softball were my sports. I was also a referee and umpire in school.

At any rate, I recently joined a gym in order to get some of my muscles back again. I can't recall what my problem had been, but my exercising suffered terribly. Hopefully that is all in the past. (Later Note: A leftover wisdom tooth gave MULTIPLE problems -- now on its way to being mended.)

BTW, I highly recommend the Stock Gumshoe site for people tired of constant teasing from "The next big moneymaker stock" at

Just A Note

I am currently working on finding wind-powered tribo-electric ideas to test. Tribo-electric refers to friction. But the  related area is to passively collect oppositely charged ions, then brush them over to collectors that can channel the charges into charging circuitry. The greatest difficulties being how to harness electricity zaps from static discharges, and how to build up to 14.4 volts if steadier, less high-voltage sources are used.

Capacitors as Batteries

I am investigating supercapacitors now, and will place links here as I work to understand their potentials.

To Tether or Not to Tether

A tethered, spinning set of wind-powered blades -- that is, tethered at top and bottom on swivels, with the blades rotating horizontally - is the best way to control side-to side motions. This is best with limited horizontal spaces.

When the wind turbine has room to sway horizontally, then the advantage of the whirligig untethered at its bottom is that when the winds blow very hard, the magnets will be blown off the fixed coils (at the bottom) and will therefore avoid overproduction of electricity. This allows for almost-maximum numbers of turns in the coils, so that low wind average speed winds can be tapped for maximum electricity output.

The tethered rigs need to have fewer blades because the adverse tensions of higher winds will break their lines, as well as overproducing electricity overall -- thus causing fuse blowing or necessitating costly measures to provide safety against heat damage or to store excess electricity.

And so, I propose two separate designs, depending on how much horizontal space you can provide to the whirligigs.

And so, I will be building both types of whirligigs in order to 1)  test various ideas for how to create better, more durable tethers for the more narrow gigs; while also 2) testing the idea that higher winds must necessarily push the untethered gigs off their main configuration for maximum output at low wind speeds.

Later Note (midnight plus 30 mins. 1/31/16): Additional benefits to the untethered design: 1) greater stabilization and support for the coils; 2) much better ability to protect the coils from precipitation; 3) greater stability also provides for longer-lasting, more durable electrical connections to batteries and ground and other circuit controls.

So, perhaps I will use the interior of the swing set for tribo-electric experiments, rather than for the narrower but tethered gig experiments. Thus, the two outside ends of the swingset can be used for the untethered generators.

Thought Experiments

Real experiments are costly, so I spend a lot of time imagining experiments -- particularly, how I would build them. This gives me the opportunity to try out ideas regarding their feasibilities -- can they be built?

Currently I am working on the idea of homemade solar cells using the spent activated charcoal from water filtering plus clear packing tape and fine wires. I need to be careful in the summertime, when I actually build such cells, not to put these up against a wooden house for the first experiment because the sun gets very hot on our back walls.

I have some extra cement board to use as the positive layer, and for protection from potential heat build-up in the cells....

No, I haven't forgotten our wind experiments. Also working on alternative framing ideas to give stand-alone places to hang gigs. Also, possible ways of firming up the blades so they would last longer....

Sorry, but our housework takes precedence this time of year due to Christmas preparations, so I have not been posting as much lately.

Just so you know, I'm still here, and still thinking....

Product Idea -- For "The Cloud" Crowd

Energy Conservation demands that we find a way to humidify our houses passively in the Winter, during the heating season. For the last 20 or so years we have employed humidifiers that run electric fans -- at least -- and possibly water heaters as well.

With central heating you already have a major fan blowing the hot air into our rooms. We need a passive humidifier which is actually pretty simple, to place next to the heating vents. We already use distilled water because all our local water comes from limestone lined aquifers that leave far too much calcium inside our pipes and within evaporation containers, btw.

A simple, small drying rack whose feet stand inside a plastic tub. That's all I'm asking for.

Surely some factory could make such items rather cheaply and ship them to the U.S.?

They should be called Passive Humidifiers or Energy Efficient Humidifiers. The consumer merely pours distilled water over a towel that hangs on the rack, with excess water descending in the tub. The tub can also be filled so that water is drawn up through the ends of the towel that is lying across the rack, to create a source of water when the warm air flows across the towel.

Details: The rack plus tub should be compatible with both the wall and the floor heating ducts, which are both aligned and adjacent to the bottom of outside walls.

Come on, somebody! This is a free product idea! Have at it!

Later Notes (11-21-15 5 a.m.): [Prices quoted here are OLD, out-of date!] Upon searching through Google Images under "Mini drying rack", the best - for the price and sizes -- that I found are one urbanclotheslines dot com, for $24.71.

BTW, makes you give them your email in order to shop there. I already get too much email, thank you very much. KTMart is in Korean, which I cannot understand. Bearstitches dot com wants you to download plans to make your own dryers, and I don't like to download stuff. Camping World has a sale, at $40.22. All of the above except for downloading a DIY project probably charge beaucoup bucks for shipping. Perhaps the kohls rack was too large.

Also, btw, some lovely drying racks for produce and herbs reminded me that this is the season for drying fruits, etc., if you are ever tempted to buy that papaya. Although, I froze the last one, cut up into little pieces and put into little bags inside a larger bag. The little pieces stick together, however, in the freezer bag....

inhousehydro had a dryracm for 30.99. I can't recall what I felt about that one, but sometimes size is too large, although, the price is more than the one at urbanclotheslines.

Part of the problem is finding a rack that whose feet will fit into a tub. That ain't goin' to happen anytime soon.

As stated earlier, prices were out-of-date. Upon purchasing from urbanclothesline I found the best price was $34 something. However, shipping costs were very minimal, at $3.99 for two 32 inch dryers, total. That ain't bad.

Nov 22, 2015:  Walmart had two or three short racks that I could use, so far, and they are very inexpensive. $10 for one, $15 for another. For under a table where the hot, dry air blasts our living room I put down a boot rack, a tray on the bottom shelf, and a wet towel that made it through the night still damp. The shoe rack expands tremendously, but was "repurposed" as a show rack over a cold air return where it would at least dry out any shoes that make it onto it....


For a 20 cm metal platform diameter -- which is the measurement on the bunt cake tin centers that I purchased (one in Teflon, the other in aluminum -- for experimental purposes) -- I could create a circle of perpendicularly radiating coils. 36 coils -- because 3-phase likes numbers divisible by 3 -- each coil approximately 3/8 inch thick.

The thickness is less than the 1/2 inch of the magnet flux pushers that will hang (or cling, rather) to the metal platform and rotate above the coils because I want to maximize peak electrical production. Any part of a single coil that extends beyond the 1/2 inch at any instant will receive flux that is going in the opposite direction from the flux produced by the center of the magnetic pole.

So, approximately, we can have 36 3/8 inch wide coils with 1/4 inch between each pair, all around and under the circumference of the platform from which cling either 6 or 12 magnets.

I have yet to figure out how to create a stable form that has no edges to scrape insulation off the magnet wire, but I am working on that. Perhaps aluminum sheets....

Let's see now. Some sort of rigid but porous bottom for a round column. The bottom would have to be able to carry the weight of the 36 coils plus aluminum spacers, yet allow access for all the connections among the coils and to power output, regulation, and storage devices.

The outer, circular column housing needs to be wide enough to contain the coils set perpendicular and centered  onto the outer rim of a 20 cm circle.

The exact configuration will have to wait for my investigation of the shape of the magnetic fields in situ. I still want to compare a 6-magnet to a 12 magnet set-up.

Wire Size for First Generator

I had hoped to use the thicker, fully insulated size of wire, but my magnets are only 1/2 inch wide. Since the flux is thickest, closest to the edges of the poles, the return of the flux to the opposite pole would cut the wire in the opposite direction, thus negating the direction desired, thus negating part of the electricity flow. If I go beyond the 1/2 inch in size I will negate the maximum electricity flow.

The larger, fully insulated wire will not suffice, therefore. Also, since I am using only 6 magnets for the first generator, I cannot get up to the 12 volts in any case. I was avoiding using more than 6 because I felt that the closer proximity on a circle of a larger number of magnets would mean losing more of a percentage of flux among the closest magnetic poles.

At 6 magnets, with slightly less than 1/2 inch thick coils, I could pack 48 coils around the 20 cm diameter circle. Only 6 coils would reach their peak of electricity production at each instant, given connections among them congruent with the correct pattern of winding six coils to be simultaneously cut by the magnetic flux of the 6 magnets.

I considered getting another 6 magnets, but without the higher safety of the thicker wire, I've decided to experiment with only the 6 to start. I would like to experiment with finessing coil shapes to see if I can detect differences in their electricity production.

Also, if I let the center pole of the whirligig be free then two benefits occur: 1. High winds will take the rotation off center, thus reducing power output, away from dangerous levels; and 2. I can keep the coils fully separate from the elements as they can be contained underneath the magnetic rotor and unattached to the rotor.

BTW, I believe the gage 14 for the smaller will give enough turns for experimental purposes, although, coil shapes are very dependent on gage in useful sizes. 9 is the recommended wire gage using opposing magnets cutting through the wire coils. However, the drag caused by fixing the rotation slows down and breaks my apparatus eventually, so far, 'though I am working on that, too.

Dear Diary

Still studying Calculus, but from a different book now: The Everything Guide to Calculus I: A step-by step guide to the basics of calculus -- in plain English! Still checking out the prerequisites. Finally, I found some of the info that I learned long ago, but could not remember for the life of me.

I was invited to the annual meeting of a local energy co-op, which I attended. I got 5 LED lights. A presenter at the meeting said her group has 50,000 of these lights to hand out, 5 at a time, to Athens County households. Perhaps I will contact them to see if I can help with that.

I have been going around our house to see how I can conserve energy even more than before. I replaced 4 60 watt bulbs in a chandelier with one 4.5 watt LED bulb, and unplugged a VCR that we hardly ever use, plus an electric clock. Tomorrow I plan on shopping for one of those outside drying racks on a pole that turns. Driers use mucho energy. I could at least dry towels, sheets, blue jeans, sweat shirts, and flannel night wear, plus sheets. That could make a difference too. I already hang underwear in the basement because it has rubber that is destroyed by heat over time, and light polyester and nylon garments to avoid getting zapped by static, but the heavier stuff would make too much humidity in the basement and cause our dehumidifiers to work overtime.

Oh yes. I forgot to report that I acquired a nice disk of Styrofoam from JoAnn Fabrics. It is approximately two and a half times thicker than I need for the generator. I will have to get out the miter box in order to cut it straight. But first I need to reorganize the workshop which has accumulated too much stuff on its work surfaces.

In the meantime I've been drawing plans for arranging coils, getting down to a life-sized drawing. I kept going back and forth between the magnet wire and a heavier, fully insulated wire with my plans, but now I am leaning toward the heavier wire. Fewer windings can fit in the allotted space, meaning I'll get less electricity, but at least it'll be safe. And I can start making actual measurements comparing different configurations. I can only get about 60 turns per coil times 6. I hope that is enough to get a reading. But my oscilloscope should be able to pick it up. And that is actually times three -- for three phases, making 18 coils, but not all 18 would be generating maximum electricity every second of rotation -- only 6 would.

The finer wire could make much more electricity, but I am afraid of burning it out, you see. At any rate, it's a start for experimentation purposes. I have yet to make more than 2 or 3 volts, which a person can pick up out of the air, anyway.

Time for beddy-bye, mes amies.

Dear Diary

Fall Cleaning is underway this morning. Bleaching kitchen and utensil surfaces is proceeding apace, as they used to say. (Later Note 10/6/15: today I must reseal a crapper. Oh Joy.)

On breaks from breathing bleach fumes I work on a new experimental design for generating electricity using wind power and some new magnets that have arrived from K&J Magnetics. (Please see my "Magnetics Geometries" page if you want to try a similar experiment, for the place to buy the magnets. Just click on the links I provide there, and I get 5% discount on my magnets, if you'd like to help with this project.)

I got six two-inch long cylindrical magnets for the main generator, plus six small block magnets that have pre-formed holes parallel to the N-S axis. The length of the two-inch magnets should provide more push to the magnetic flux so that the gap between the coils and the magnets -- which is necessary given the play needed due to turbulence of the wind -- the magnetic flux will reach farther.

The long magnets are for the top, main layer of coils that will lie underneath the circling magnets. The blocks with holes I hope to use in a second, lower level of coils for some extra electricity caused by the spinning of the blocks as the longer magnets pass at some distance overhead.

I have no idea whether this second layer will be at all possible since they will create drag on the longer magnetic rotor. I will have to experiment with distances to see whether or not some happy medium can be achieved between spinning lower magnets and the circling upper magnets.

The idea also occurred a few days ago that I might use the spinning magnets as breaks around the outside of the main circle -- at some good distance -- to counter turbulence swinging, although, they could end up creating more turbulence.

It is all very iffy, as they say.
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