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WindTapper's Blog

Electrical Matters

2 Degrees Last Night

An earlier entry described oscillations of an electrical wire strung between our porch and some parking lot lights maybe 1/4 mile away. That time the oscillations occurred at 10 degrees. This time it was at 2 degrees when I happened to go out and see the oscillations at roughly 3 to 4 beats per second, causing the light across the way to blink on and off at that rate.

This time the line was not aligned with two lights, causing them to blink oppositely. This time only one light blinked for each wave. The temperature causes the line as a whole to raise or lower -- lower for higher temps. So, the line does not cross the lights from our perspective above 10 degrees or so.....

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.

5-10 Degrees Phenomenon

Now at 5-10 degrees for the second night in a row (maybe zero degrees two nights ago), I observe a new phenomenon approximately 1/8th mile from our house.

The parking lot street lamps across the highway started blinking. It turns out that the blinking is caused by where I sit on our front porch to vape, compared to where a heavy electrical line travels across the middles (by line-of-sight) of the two streetlamps. The line is apparently vibrating tonight, in what I roughly count as a 3.5 to 4 per second cycle. Which roughly equals 220-240 Hz, or the value of the 220 lines that deliver electricity to all of our homes, offices, stores, and such.

I have never seen this phenomenon before, although I have seen power lines caught in special swinging modes when the winds are at the right velocity and direction. But I don't believe that is what is happening now, since the cycles per second number observed is so close to the actual cycles per second of the electricity being delivered across the line.

On the other hand, I don't know if the line does this dance all the time, but that because of the temperature, the line happens to run exactly between the lights and my eyes, due to contraction of materials generally at lower temperatures, or whether the temperature is affecting the physical manifestation of the power flowing through the line.

Perhaps I'll find someone someday to answer this question.

Later Note: In the light of day I see the thick bundle of wire is on our street, while the lights are approx. 1/8 mile away. This is exactly the same wire that I saw doing a pendulum swing in the wind during the summer, btw. I believe it either brings the main power to our neighborhood, or helps distribute one of the three phases of 220 power to a third of our neighborhood. Our neighborhood, btw, includes two or three hills -- perhaps four, depending on how you count breaks in ridges -- and a bottom along a creek, with several houses. Not particularly relevant, however, lol.


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.

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.

Glorious Spring!

Ah! 50 degrees! I love it!

Shopping for veggie plants today I saw some birdhouse hangers that have inspired me to look again at planter hangers that I have collected over the years. Lots of possibilities came to mind for my wind powered generator -- to be assisted, perhaps, by actually separating and collecting electrons and positive ions from simple materials such as fine, dry sand, and the air and moisture in the air.

Bicycle tethers are natural materials since they are insulated on their outside, metal on their inside. And the hoops that I make from black plastic, bendable water pipe to mount my turbine blades on -- these are hollow, in which I could place the fine DRY sand, perhaps some "diamon" nail files, plus a wire to collect the electrons. A simple hole in the bottom of the plastic connector (to keep water from flowing in) would allow an uninsulated aluminum wire to sneak inside the pipe, where it could be pushed all the way around the hoop to collect and carry electrons to the insulated hanger -- and then to where I have yet to determine.

[By the way, it seems strange to me to think of the above as the positive terminal and the source of the electrons. However, The Weather Channel says the ground is actually positive, which makes sense since the air is possibly the most positive natural substance. The negative terminal is where electrons go to, from the device that is being fed electrons by the positive terminal of a battery. At least I THINK that's how it goes. But what do I know? I figured out today that I planted some grapes without even thinking about how they were seedless grapes, a few days ago. Boy do I ever need some more HDL. More avocados, anyone?]

Then there are the plant hangers. Those might be sufficient to hang screen around the ceramic pipe for collecting positive ions from the atmosphere, once the screen is impregnated with polyurethane. I am still considering how to coat the combination of screen and polyurethane. The coating needs to be tough and naturally negative. Oh yeah. I have a sheet of thin, flexible PVC! A tension strap or two should secure that....

Adventures in Batteries

Spoiler alert: I surf the web, so many of my adventures are virtual and voyeuristic, lol.

Today I sought out the "smart battery charger" graphic that I had printed off poorly previously. Putting that phrase into quotes in the Google search engine found WAY more than I had envisioned this narrower search would produce.

Backtracking now, I had been studying what I had earlier printed out and saw that the first element of the schematic was labeled "15-24 Volt, 5 Amp DC Input" and this had me thinking about our commercial charger's 2 amp/10 amp toggle. The 2 amp side took a long time to charge our riding lawn mower's battery, while the 10 amp side exhibited some wild, disturbing fluctuations on its monitoring meter.

I finally let the 10 amp side work til it started jumping around on the meter, then backed off to 2 amps. And so forth and so on. Using the 10 amper toward the end of the charge cycle sped up the charge time enough -- even though it was a pain to keep monitoring it -- that I was finally able to use the battery for our first mowing of the year.

Anyway, back to "15-24 Volt 5 Amp DC Input," I think I will be lucky to generate 15 Volts at 2 Amps, but the wind blows so long each day, as does the sun shine, that the long charge times will be most inconvenient at night, on cloudy, or windless 24-hour periods. In other words, I finally have a quote and parameter for the supposedly most desirable input to a battery for charging it.

Adventure 2: at we find some marvelously practical information about a system of batteries on a sailboat that apparently has a cabin. Both sun and wind charge batteries on this boat, plus the batteries need to power the "house" and the starter on the motor. Excess charge is shunted to the hot water heater! How wonderful! What a very great idea!

Weather, Etc.

I love 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with no rain. I think I would very much enjoy Van Couver. My husband, on the other hand, prefers 95 degrees on the Gulf Coast. Ah well. No accounting for taste.

This morning I finally succeeded in splitting our furnace exhaust into two streams so I might perform some Lord Kelvin experiments with some relatively passive voltage production. I already had the parts -- just had to saw one pipe in half and switch a few joints. Probably, however, I start with a disadvantage. It finally occurred to me this morning that all the pipe is PVC, which is inherently negative. The positive ions are probably sloughed off during cooling when the condensation runs off the inside and flows down the pipe to the ground. I will just have to try to keep my negative and positive metal inside sleeves out of the run off at the bottoms of the pipes, I guess.

One thing that I am sure of. Regardless of my success or failure in carbon reduction for the air, I definitely enjoy sending the CO and CO2 away from our kitchen window, our back door, and our back porch. This makes our immediate environment safer for ourselves and our cats -- possibly adding to our collective longevity.

Also, this morning I realized that I already have a supply of carbon. I have been saving all the water purifier filters, which contain activated charcoal. I have a couple quarts of this stuff. It is already containing chlorine, calcium, and perhaps a few traces of metals, but I should do my carbon experiments using this stuff, too, as well as the carbon fibers.

This morning I will run the ignition and conductivity tests on the fiber and activated charcoal. I am still wondering how to mount the test cells, both in wind and in the best sunlight I can find around here. Those are two MORE variables to track.

Tomorrow's Experiments

Tomorrow looks like it will be a good day to start experimenting with collecting electrons and positive ions. I hope to mix up my most potent sounding insulator so that I can pair up the negative and positive sacks to help each other attract more of each item.

When I listed possible ingredients, terminals, and insulators, the matrix of possible combinations grew and grew. Right now I have only plastic bags or acrylic packing tape in which to hold a variety of compounds.

I had been trying to figure out how to attach these to my whirligig, but preliminary experiments don't need to be mobile. I could just hang them in a windy place and insulate their terminals with tape for now.

Wish me luck!

Carbon Fiber

Volvo's car body panels made of carbon fiber and fiberglass supposedly store electricity. These are in development as far as I know now. Anyway, I decided to order some carbon fiber to experiment with and it arrived today from Soller Composites which can be found at

What I ordered is not exactly what I had imagined. Each waft and weave is far broader which requires subsequently seriously broad seam binding on its edges. I had ordered a 1 ft X 50 inch sample with which to experiment, so I spent some time applying clear plastic packing tape three times to each edge -- once for each side, then once to seal the edges of the two layers I had applied.

[Later Note: investigating the clear plastic packing tape at the Staples website, I think it is made of Acrylic. I am not sure what electrical properties this has compared to fiberglass resin. Another poly-something tape is available at Staples. I had wanted to mix up a titanium oxide calcium copper paint to try to use as insulation among cells of a battery. I might paint that onto the carbon fibers after impregnating a central layer of the fabric with other, positive and/or negative versions to set beside each other.]

Now I have edges encapsulated and will apply more tape before cutting off any more chunks -- other than a little clipping that I did on an edge that was frayed and longer. I now have some small fibrous chunks to play with.

I had imagined the material would be hardy, which it is, but not in its present state could I allow it to be subjected to triboelectric friction. It would warp and fray too much if I subjected it to my whirligig's bumps and grinds.

I guess I really should have ordered carbon felt, but I can see how this stuff would be hardy after fiberglass resin is applied. I can see why one might be interested in Kevlar-impregnated carbon fiber, now. I will think on this.

The interior edges of the packing tape binding on the carbon fiber would provide capillary action for sucking up liquids impregnated with various substances, plus electrodes, before further encapsulation once a chunk was cut off the sample, so I see much potential here for experimenting with the stuff as solar and triboelectric battery material.


A couple days ago I purchased a carbon fiber piece of cloth because of Volvo's "car's body panels serve as a battery" graphic. I wanted to experiment with carbon fiber to use in my electricity generation and storage experiments. Volvo is using carbon fiber to hold and transfer both negative and positive sides of the electricity equation.

1. By coincidence I saw on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and with Neil Degrasse Tyson that Jon Stewart majored in Chemistry. He had told Mr. Tyson that Carbon was his favorite element because it would bond with anything.

Yesterday I made an entry here about triboelectricity -- generating electricity using friction.

2. Today, "Bones" had an episode where electricity was out due to a snow storm in D.C. The forensic scientists needed to generate an X-Ray of some bones and used triboelectricity to generate sparks.

By the way, my use of triboelectricity generation is specifically aimed at draining the charges constantly and a little bit at a time in order to avoid sparks, so hopefully I won't be generating X-Rays.


Triboelectric generation uses friction to knock and drag electrons off surfaces. I am considering adding a layer to the bottom of my large whirligig that will act as a brake during turbulent winds as well as providing friction for my triboelectricity experiments.

Keeping the tethers that hold the bottom layer on from getting worn off due to friction; plus anchoring the ceramic pipe so the wind and friction don't knock it over are two problems I must work on before I bother to actually add the bottom layer.

Also, I was rummaging around in my electronics pix collections and ran across "The car's body panels serve as a battery." Googling this I found it came from Volvo, btw. Two layers of carbon fiber sandwiching a layer of fiberglass act as collectors for "holes" and electrons to run an electric car. The brakes act as an electron production facility. That's what gave me the idea for the brake on my gig being a triboelectric source for "holes" because the brake would be on the outside of the ceramic pipe.

Inside the pipe I could try to scrape some electrons off some sand, btw, as well as having a conventional magnetic and coil electricity generation facility on the central pole.

I guess I've become attached to the large gig, even though I already decided that narrower gigs are the way to go.
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