WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog


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.

Vacation Is Done

After a rather extended vacation from trying to design wind powered electricity generators I was back at it today. My latest rough outline includes hanging a doubled set of hoops -- one inside and one outside -- from the same hoop above it. Within the two circles would be a circle of circles. That is, a set of coils around the central circle.

I was thinking today of how a fellow squared the circle as I was cutting watermelon rind away to get to the fruit. I was thinking that housewives square the circle often while peeling fruit....

So anyway, the trick to this design will be to provide stable yet lightweight platforms on the two moving hoops in order to mount magnets that can be somehow waterproofed -- also in a lightweight fashion.

The central circle also needs to be protected from the elements while simultaneously not allowing much distance between the central circle and the circles on either side of it.

Ho hum. So much to do....

Oh yes. Another trick: keeping the two magnet circles from grabbing each other, even though the magnets should be pointed in exactly that direction. How to keep them apart enough to send their flux through the coils, without letting them touch the coils or each other? Have I chosen an impossible task this time?

Later Note (6 a.m. 9/24/15): Yes. This is impossible, given the horizontal wobbles inherent in the whirligig's spin. Even if I were to insist on rounded corners on the edges of my magnetic circles, and/or sides high enough to prevent the circles from cutting the central circle; indeed, even if wrapped in antistatic cloth, friction would fray the cloth and/or cause too much drag on the device. The cloth would also collect debris over time and be cut eventually.

So, I revisit old design ideas every so often with the effect that I recheck those designs in light of any new information I might have obtained during the interim. This is much the same process I have observed myself performing as I remember family events out of our past experiences. Dreams do this, too, I think.

I should make a separate entry for the following, but I already provided the segue. I am reading Developing a Social Psychology of Monkeys and Apes by John Chadwick-Jones. It provides -- so far -- a very organized review of research on this topic. I love how the topic shows the overlapping of Psychology and Anthropology in what we call in the states Physical Anthropology and Comparative Psychology. The somewhat new overlap here is between Social Psychology and Physical Anthropology.

This book should be sent back to the library from which it came, and I intend to do that after I have either read it or found a non-library copy. Bolton University of the UK seems to have lost it to an Amazon book-seller in the U.K.

(Later Note, 10/6/15: After being attacked by unseen but biting and roaming critters while first reading the second Appendix to the book over a week ago; and again experiencing the same event last evening after reading Appendix one -- after finishing the book -- I have decided to do my best to get this book incinerated by Waste Management. Sorry, Bolton University, but you do not want this book to return to you. I will send a note to them to this effect.)

Magnetic Flux Geometry

Because magnetic flux geometry (as shown by K&J Magnetics company fact sheets on their website) keeps the main numbers of flux lines so close to the magnets, I am seriously considering devising a multiple magnet arrangement inside the drive of my electricity generator. Originally I was going to use only one magnet, but if I place two, I can bring the magnetic flux closer to the coil.

The coil is an original winding of 10 lbs of magnet wire, into which I will place a PVC pipe to hold the rotating drive magnets. The drive magnets will be driven in turn by outside magnets hanging from a hoop hanging beneath wind turbine blades made from cut up plastic, one gallon water bottles.

The two drive magnets will be held apart by what I will call a drive shaft that is set into the sides of the PVC pipe and acts as a pivot for the magnets to turn on. Obviously I will need a strong case to keep the magnets from crashing into each other. Their magnetism will necessarily cause opposite ends of the duo to be oppositely charged.

What to make the case from? It cannot be metal with iron in it -- at least not in the preliminary design. Aluminum or bronze? And how far apart can I get the magnets? This depends partly on how much space I will have within the core of the coil. I need to go measure that.

Magnet Inside Spool Design

Preliminary thoughts on designing the housing for a strong magnet placed inside a spool of magnet wire:

1. Outside of the housing would probably be a PVC pipe that would fit snugly inside the spool of 10 lbs of magnet wire.

2. A rod to fit inside the cylindrical magnet that comes with a hole in its center could then be threaded into a hole at the middle of the pipe to take on the magnet and finally rest inside a second hole in the opposite side of the pipe. The rod needs to be sturdy and not affected by magnetism. Bronze or aluminum are candidates. There needs to be space for some dryer sheet between the rod and the magnet.

3. Spacers on the rod to keep the magnet centralized also need padding -- perhaps felt and dryer sheet to protect the magnet from wearing down or being zapped by static due to friction.

This all sounds pretty simple, no?

The rotor for spinning the central magnet needs to be redesigned, also. Fewer magnets would be needed because the central magnet is so strong. We actually only want the central magnet to spin rather than creating drag on the rotor assembly. I believe there is plenty of distance between the center of the spool and the magnets on the rotor. Distance is also easy to increase, from the outside by adjusting the height of the hoop that carries the rotor magnets.

Static Discharges and Magnets

I had been thinking about combining magnetic rotor versus coil electricity generation, plus I had wondered if I could get more voltage if I were to place naturally static generating materials between the rotor and whatever the rotor might come into contact with if there were lateral swinging of the rotor. While I might be able to slow the rotation down, and/or draw off static discharges, I finally realized today that perhaps static discharges would cause the magnets to become disoriented. In other words, since magnets -- even Neodymium magnets, which do not become weaker by putting opposite poles together -- could become damaged by static discharges because a single large pulse of electricity is how their magnetic fields are created in the first place

I should be protecting the magnets from nearby static, rather than generating static discharges near them. Unless, of course, it is possible to do both, lol.

Magnetic Flux Geometries

Consulting the K&J Magnetics flux geometry graphics for my set of 16 X 3 = 48 cylindrical magnets, plus the pounds of lift for Case 1, Case 2, and Case 3, I find that my ideas for generating electricity are wanting -- in other words, inadequate. I keep not wanting to believe K&J Magnetics' graphics, but I cannot afford to throw away the one 10 lb roll of magnetic wire on a project that their testimony says won't work as well as I had hoped that it would work.

So, now I have Plasti-Goop and string attached to 16 groups of three cylindrical magnets. I wonder if I could salvage those somehow? Clearly, the best configuration is to wrap coils as tightly as possible around spinning magnets placed on a central pole, if the amount of magnetic flux versus turns of wire is to be maximized, given limited resources.

Even the idea of multiplying flux by stacking magnets is wrong. One does not increase flux lines, but rather, possibly merely increases the distance that the existing number of flux lines can project from the ends of the poles of a stack of magnets. 

Please keep in mind that I report the above observations because I studied K&J Magnetics reports on their website, rather than actually building the whole idea from real materials. This is because I cannot afford to purchase materials such as magnets -- especially at current prices -- and have them fail.

Dear Diary

1.  Household projects have kept me hopping lately -- most notably my decision to fix a leaky faucet that has been dripping constantly for months. Our plumbing and house is perhaps 40 to 55 years old so sometimes plumbers come out to fix it without the proper parts being available and STILL charge $90 per visit. I had enough of that, and so, I decided to stick with it until I could understand and fix it myself. Either that or replace it....

2.  A day or so ago we had blustery winds that got our largest whirligig twirling briefly up to 30 RPM. So, I have been working toward calculating the best coil turn ratio, given that I will have 16 sets of magnets versus 48 coils, per RPM.

3.   Also I started looking into the number of flux lines per set of magnets. I was astonished to find that K&J Magnetics spec sheets do not increase the number of magnetic flux lines when the number of magnets in a stack is increased. K&J also depicts the geometry of the flux lines to not include a completely 90 degree, perpendicular flux coming from the pole ends of diametrically magnetized cylindrical magnets. I do not understand this because my magnetism detectors slam into the perpendicular when brought opposite to the middle of each pole.

4. Also trying to work out the logistical geometry of winding a set of 16 alternating and connected coils off a single supply spool of insulated wire. This task is surprisingly complicated. But, hey. It keeps me off the streets, as they say....

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.

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....

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.

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....

Twirligig Sizes and Alternate Magnet Geometry

A couple of storms later still sees the larger gig spinning faster in 2-3 mph wind than the smaller gig, yet the larger does not spin out of control -- electricity generator wise -- in the faster winds.

Since the narrower gig is more convenient for hanging in less space, I will have to build a second level for it to give it another chance. Even a third level would be OK, making it 3/4 the size of the larger, two-level gig.

As for magnet geometry in generating electricity, I find the two-tiered, angel food cake pan centers make for some very complicated, difficult fabrication protocols. I have not yet figured out how to get the center, fixed, coil level placed at the proper elevation. This problem is so vexing that I still wish to create a different magnet geometry in order to bypass the problem.

To this end, I am working on placing the magnet stacks on their sides so that the longer stacks will push their flux further outside the diameter of the angle food cake pan center, and coils could be placed vertically around the perimeter. This circular and vertical placing of coils could be raised and lowered much more easily than a fixed central platter lying between two levels of magnets.

I find a stack of six magnets will push flux some 3.5 centimeters, which is a goodly amount of space for cutting many turns of coils....

Also, I imagine it would be possible to warp the coils to accommodate the swinging of the magnet rotor due to natural wind forces -- forces which are ameliorated at least partly by attaching the central pole to a central set of hanging chains, and letting the turbine blades swing almost separately.

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....

Little White "Lanterns"

I go shopping in hardware stores and most recently in our new JoAnn Fabrics -- which is a bit like a carnival or bazaar, rather, for all its many and wondrous sights and gadgets. I pay particular attention to items on sale.

Yesterday, the form of a set of objects intrigued me, AND it was on sale! A boxed set or string of palm-sized, round, electric, white lanterns was still a bit too pricey, but it fell within my budget. I should get you a picture. Of course it was made in China.

The form was correct for housing my little screen cages that I have been building. These cages will hopefully help me to generate electricity. The lanterns turned out to NOT have ferrous metal in them! Yay! With magnets rotating inside them, if the wire frames had been ferrous, they would have been not so useful.

They are a bit big, but I could use them on the outside....

So anyway, now I am pondering the interface between the rotating centers and the cages. The rotating centers need to be able to move an inch or more from true center while gently nudging the cages along with the center so everything will stay in relative alignment without tearing the cages apart.

This is a tricky wicket.

A Taste for Smelt

This was written 2/21/14 but got lost in the website, temporarily.

Fixing Mackerel for the cats this morning, I got a taste for smelt. I remembered the tales my mother told me of her time as a foster kid up in Traverse City Michigan. That's a place I saw on the weather map today, too, for the snow blowing across that region of our continent.

Googling "smelt harvesting" I found some pictures to show my husband from the tale my mother told of harvesting smelt by going down to the shore with buckets. Those were some of the first pix to show up on Google images. One black-and-white photo of what looks to be either a lifeboat -- but it seems to be more the size of a tugboat -- with smelt jumping and filling the entire deck!

It turns out that smelt live by Alaska, Maine, and in the Great Lakes. One story tells of how stocking the Lakes with trout cuts down on the population of smelt. One chart shows peaks of smelt harvest in the 100s of thousands of lbs for 1939, 1959, and 1992. Perhaps my mother lived in Traverse City in 1939. I suppose she would have been around 7 years old then.

So, I ate some Mackerel. Now my breath smells like Mackerel and the cats won't accuse me of having something better to eat when I breathe on them, lol.

On the Kindle reading front I got up to the 96% mark, in the middle of the Glossary section at the end of Electrical Engineering 101, SimpleNeasy Edition.  Some of the generator section allowed how "stator" means stationary section and "rotor" means rotating section of the generator, plus some coils don't rotate, while the magnet rotates inside an electric motor, spun by AC electromagnetism.
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