WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog


Gig Teardown

The old gig is torn apart now. Inventory of parts for "Strength of Materials" category: All 10 "S" hooks are fine. Ten chains fine, except for a bit of rust. 20 foam spacers (gotten from water pipe insulation) all fine and reusable. The two hoops are not fine. Each was made from five parts. The two green sections (one for each hoop) survived. The two dark blue sections survived. Only one yellow section survived the teardown. Neither red, nor purple sections could withstand the process of dismantling them.

So, the red and yellow, also the purple sections suffered the same fate as the cloudy plastic bottles: They became brittle and split apart when pressure was applied to them. The Sampo swivel seems fine, too, as is the hanger.

I'm sorry but I cannot not recall how many years this rig has been twisting in the wind and generally suffering whatever the weather threw at it 24/7. I'll have to look it up eventually. I know it went through at least one winter, though.

Information is clear enough from this experiment that I need to put stronger plastic into these gigs in order to satisfy other builder/users of these gigs.

Deteriorating Turbine Blades

Admittedly, the blades I chose are known to be fragile, especially when exposed to the sun. The plastic just doesn't hold up beyond a year. Even placed in a relatively shady spot, they still fall apart after time has elapsed. The heavy snow last year was the largest killer in this location (see previous photos).

Here's where it's at now:

All but one of the upper level blades is missing.
Let me show you a contrast from last year:
I would guess this was taken after the snow melted and had pushed the upper level blades down.

Anyway, the population of blades has decreased over time.

Halloween Aftermath

Our town has a 2-block party on Halloween. The newspaper says arrests are up this year -- or was it citations? Sorry that I haven't paid that much attention to the stats. A college town with a Halloween bash on its main street is quite a site to see! Halloween is Athens Ohio's festival.

We had some sort of storm, too, that evening. I've been cleaning up the yard a bit. Somehow we got a fresh bunch of little black spiders -- possibly newly hatched -- on the front door of our mailbox, and now the mailbox is falling apart on its surface. I treated it with straight neem oil which apparently did not agree with the surface treatment, which is now falling off.

Plus, the whirligig is much worse for wear. Can I assume that some goblins took a whack at it? I don't recall that much wind, but now there are several of the upper blades missing, strewn across the lawn, and a plastic dish was overturned off the top of the ceramic pipe -- lying on the ground.

Perhaps the local ghouls didn't like that we did not hand out candy. But we have no kids -- never had kids.... Oh well. It might have been the wind after all....

Some pix:

I'll spare you the yardwork pix. I did another layer of cement for the laundry post, but I am still waiting for more leaves to fall before I clear all that away. Xmas shopping is well along, though. And we have two more days over 70 degrees with no rain, yet to come, so I'll be busy.

Whirligig Lifespan

Two blades (out of 46) have deteriorated beyond repair -- not that we ever expected to be able to repair the blades. The sun destroys the cheap plastic that one gallon water jugs are made from -- at least the white plastic jugs -- in about a year, depending on how much sun they actually get per day.

Our whirligig lives in a place that gets approximately half a day's sun each day, although I suppose it gets more duration after the leaves are gone. Although, it lives very near and partially under a Norweigan pine tree.

Here's a photo from today, proving that it still is spinning. At the upper center you will notice a missing blade -- one of two on the upper hoop.

             This site is acting up. At least its photo editing and input are different today. I cannot post more than one, or enlarge as much as I used to be able to do.

Coming back to edit, I see I might be able to post a second photo, though out of the same order that I had originally intended.

This gig will be retired and replaced now that it is deteriorating, although, it still spins fine in 5 mph winds such as we are having and which the weather man predicts for the next four days to occur.

Dear Diary

1. Yardwork is intense this time of the year. Details are too boring to mention.

2. Have gotten back into Calculus Made Easy and was enjoying the first couple chapters better than the first three Preliminary chapters, but then it got way too easy, so I slacked off again.

3. Moved on to exploring added and alternative added coils for the generator. The purpose is to possibly grab some more power in a transformer-induction sort of way. The problem with that is "blow-back" on the original coils. Imagining the sequences of induction among the coils is intriguing to say the least. But then I started wondering about removing the blow-back by putting, say, aluminum screen among the coils.

Then, of course, I started wondering about the possibility of grabbing small amounts of power (potential differences or voltage differences) among the ends of the screens, to be stored in capacitors. That is a whole 'nother ball o' wax, lol, but interesting to ponder.

So anyway, I didn't want you guys to think I forgot you or about working on the generator.

4. I still work on the overall structure of the hanger-anchor-central pole-torque driver configuration possibilities -- practically every day at some time or other during spare moments.

5. Organizing my workspace is another large project, in addition to sewing, cooking, putting up a shed, cleaning, paint scraping, more cleaning, etc. etc.

6. Oh yes. Movie going. Mad Max turned out to be pro feminist; San Andreas was a gripping disaster movie, but another anti-rich guy scenario and unfair to a guy who'd been hit in the head by a chunk of cement and therefore in a dazed state when he ran off and left a woman behind during an earthquake. Aloha was a bit of fun, as chick flicks go, but the droning music near its end put me to sleep. That is a constant problem with me and movies. Even action films with droning music put me to sleep, especially in the afternoon. I guess I lived in Colorado too long and got used to 4 a.m. awakenings with siestas and shift work.

7. My van developed a noise in one of its wheels that has eluded repair, but I am working on it.... It is not the brakes -- got those checked. It is not the wheel alignment -- got those done. Next I am trying tire air pressure because the weather is warmer and the warmer weather coincides with the noise in the wheel. I think our mechanic explained this a couple years ago and it has something to do with the design of the various parts of the truck that come together at the wheel, but I can't remember exactly how we fixed it then....

8. I gotta go clear out my email. Toot-a-loo for now, mes amies.

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.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Unlike in the Philipines these days, I chose to work on our hot water tank and pipes yesterday and ended up with water spraying all over myself and our hot water heater's corner of the basement, plus several "hot shots" from various faucets.
We are supposed to drain and flush our hot water tank twice a year, but after that process netted nearly nothing in the way of sediment after the first six months, I waited too long for the third flush of the system.
We have a calcium build-up problem because our water comes from karst country -- limestone, which is mostly calcium. One faucet does not flow much, coming from the water heater. And now, I have been getting lots of calcium out of the heater, I decided to have the low flow hot water faucet suck up bleach, which bled back down into the heater. I am letting it sit for a few hours now because, not only do I need calcium to disolve out of the pipe, but I also must treat the heater because of a water main break a while back that caused mud to enter our system.
It's just another day of housework, therefore, but a ritual that I had put off too long this year. I should have flushed the system sooner after the water turned brown that one day....
Getting a water softener system is one option, but I have heard mixed reviews of that idea. Even the idea of replacing the jammed pipe was nixed by a plumber because the calcium problem will always be there. The previous owners of this house had a mixture of rainwater collection and our area's regular water supply, but that is actually illegal because the two could mix outside the house and "contaminate" other people's water, so I had those two systems disconnected. The rainwater collection pump had died, anyway.
Perhaps one day in the future, we will have enough rain regularly to switch over entirely, lol. Rainwater makes one's hair feel so nice because it is soft water compared to the area system. The problem with rainwater, however, is contamination from birds, other critters, and the Black Walnut, Sycamore, Maple, Cherry, Bartlett Pear, and Oak trees that we have around our house. Black Walnut has a natural herbicide effluent that it spreads by air and by rainwater from all its pores.
So anyway, I had some time to write today while I am waiting to get the water supply back....

Cement Board

Cutting cement board is not as easy as was implied to me. I was told to score it, then snap it off. In the first place cement board dulls cutters rather quickly. Secondly, the dust is toxic, creating burning eyes and very dry nose, etc.
I finally figured out that I should at least put down a wet towel under the cutting area, wipe the dust off surfaces, have a bowl or bucket of water handy with dish rags, and wipe often. Dusting constantly was my first priority to protect our cat from such dust, and now I must remind myself to dust my face, arms, clothes, too, frequently.
Scoring is not enough. I had to go halfway through the board to get it to crack open, and then the rest of the board's separation was somewhat ragged. So, now I started out with scoring to establish the path first, then moved over to a handheld miter saw, and finally, a saw with no upper reinforcement to stop its traveling along a long line.
Then I use a file to get rid of too large spots, or ragged edges where they get in the way of things. Taking the cut piece to see if it will fit highlights imperfections in the original consturction's angles. I am not going to actually attach the pieces to the walls of the shower until I see how all the pieces will fit together.
On the other hand, since the newest board is mold resistant, relatively inexpensive, and tolerates water, I am seriously considering testing it as an art medium, as well as using it to surface a strategically angled levee in our back yard.

Just a Note or Two

Finally, we made progress on the shower rebuild project when my husband was able to provide backup while I went into the crawlspace to sweat the copper drain and set  more
wooden braces for the shower floor onto the mudsill. Most of the floor bracing was already installed by a professional carpenter and his helper, but that was before I removed the cement shower floor and had a clear view from above the subfloor of all the water damage to the entire shower floor.
Surprise! The drain connects through the custom hole in the floor that I refashioned a while back! I still need to tack a couple parts of the floorboards down to the bracing to keep them from rocking as the new cement will be drying.
The other, long term project is an experiment with our furnace exhaust to see what happens to pelletized lime in tubs that either collect or let water drain from them. A lot of black surface area -- which appears even thicker now -- covers the pelletized limevats, even as the total amount of lime decreases due to the drains. Pictures at six. That's a joke. Pictures will come when the weather gets sunnier. We are having heavy wet snow right now, which is not the right environment for trapsing around in the yard with a Nikon digital camera.
I am also still working in my mind on insulating electric fence aluminum wire, reliably and economically for making generators coils for the wind powered electric generators I am still designing. Sorry it is taking so long but I have a limited budget and life happens!
Keep the faith, dudettes and dudes!

Drawing Board Tales

My drawing board most often is in my mind, lately. The last several days I have been working on designing the armature section of the alternator for my wind powered whirligigs. Many factors complicate coming up with a final version -- too many considerations to list here, now. Please accept my apologies on why I am not posting many entries right now, even though I make small bits of progress every now and then with some aspect of this endeavor.

You have much to read if you start at the beginning with my Archive pages, by the way.... Links to my Archives are listed on the left. As you follow the links on the left down you will also find subcategories for this blog.

As I work on designs I often find house and yard work compatible activities. I find myself starting Spring Cleaning early this year. This also helps organize the work spaces so I will have room to build things, and reduced worries about the environment in future so I can concentrate better then.

Think of this as my sabbatical. I don't expect to be back for a while, in other words. Perhaps I should take this blog off the first page for a while. What do you think? Email me: .

Spraying and Skimming

Finally, we will hopefully have a few days of sunshine in a row. I sprayed our fruit trees today with a mixture of Mite Rid, water, topical avocado oil, Tea Tree Oil, Spearmint Oil, with a few drips of Palmolive dish-washing liquid -- the green, original formula of Palmolive. The Palmolive original is biodegradable, btw.

Since fewer leaves exist on our brand new fruit trees -- the peach had lost all but two, and the blueberry bush is practically denuded -- I had spray left over, so I went around the house spraying spider webs and little spider egg sacks. But then I still had some spray left so I sprayed those glued-on branding layers on my whirligig's fins. Spiders sometimes like to sit on the gig, too, although this time my purpose was to experiment with oil on the remnants of the labels to see if the oil in the spray would bind to the glue.

Also, I started skimming through Homebrew Wind Power last evening, which I find is a book printed in Canada. My first impression was mixed. I was heartily disappointed that the electromagnetism of generator geometry and basic electricity information was dumbed down so much that I can hardly recognize it as being factual -- at least in one chapter.

The graphic insets dealing with electromagnetism geometries of circuits was what made me buy the book, although, or perhaps because I didn't have enough time to examine those graphics before purchasing the book. Those graphics are interesting but not exactly what I am looking for. No matter, though. The imagined promise of those graphics and subsequent disappointment leaves "more for me" to write about, lol, in my future book.

I am struck by the wide differences between my wind turbine design and the average windmill configuration. Practically everything is different, so I do have an original idea or set of ideas. I have no tower, no long blades, and connecting wires will not be as long. Also, my generator sits out on the circumference, rather than around the center of the rotor-to-coil coupling. However, I am still working with electromagnetics which have definite geometries and constraints. I will have to dig deeper into Homebrew Wind Power in order to try to derive information implied by its pictures in order to get at the underlying logic of its magnet to coil coupling geometries.

I was grateful, on the other hand, for the step-by-step nature of photos regarding the casting of fiberglass encasings of coils and magnets. I have never yet worked with fiberglass. The book reports that the coil wires do move! As I wrote in a previous entry, documenting such movements might prove to be fun!

I forgot to mention that the book does, indeed, have coil data for number of turns and wire gauges that produce three different voltages. I was searching for that data a while back. So far, though, the data is not for my outer perimeter coil style, but at least we now have proportionalities to apply to rough predictions of voltage outputs.

Bottle Labels

The edges of the store brand labels on the plastic one gallon jugs -- mostly water jugs -- that I use to make the blades/fins on our whirligig wind turbines have all curled up after a few weeks of soggy weather here. I was able to pull off the labels easily today. The part that came off was the upper layer of plastic that told where I had bought and what had been in the bottles.

A second layer, underneath the plastic label layer, is paper with glue still sticking to the bottle pieces. I suppose that if I wanted to insist on removing this layer right now I would get a can of Pam spray oil to soak the paper and its underlying glue in order to soften the whole mess before wiping it all off -- after letting the oil sit on it for some hours. However, I will simply watch what happens to the under layer, for now.

If I had had spray painted the fins with Krylar I might be upset to lose those rectangles of paint with the removal of the labels. Then again, I might rejoice that there would now be new and regular rectangles that I could either leave white or continue to experiment artistically on, if I had tried to decorate the fins.

A picture will be posted of the new state of the fins, but not today. The sky is still dreary -- too dark to have enough light to show the gig off yet.... Oh yes. I must go back though my entries to find out how long this gig has been in existence. I finally made new categories, too, for "Strength of Materials," "Art and Advertising," and "Investing in Windpower Development." Some day perhaps I will go back through previous entries with a view toward putting those newest category labels where they belong. However, since most entries will be taken down eventually or used as rough first drafts for parts of my book, proper indexing will benefit myself most -- not you all.

Whirligig Maintenance

Related to "Strength of Materials" research on my experimental whirligigs is my desire to record whenever something breaks down or needs maintenance. I hope to have real life experience to report regarding the materials that I recommend using in the instructions I am planning to create for sale to people wanting to build their own wind-powered generators of electricity. (I think that sentence needs revision, lol.)
Anyway, the whirligig on our front porch developed a periodic, faint, dull thud sound that I finally decided to try to fix last evening. The periodic thud sound is generated by the fisherman's swivel after some months of operating without the addition of librication. Some day I hope to develop a recommended schedule for oiling these swivels, but for now I must rely on my hearing -- mostly.
If you are sufficiently sensitive to vibration you might detect the thud if you are paying attention to the possibility of thudding being present. I sit on our front porch in order to smoke cigarettes, so I have plenty of chances to observe the whirligig's performance, since I hung it on our front porch.
Mind you, this whirligig is not decked out with the full weight of an electricity generator. It is just a preliminary experiment -- mostly for determining which blade shape and blade configuration works best of those most readily available to me during this past year.
I think I'll have to come up with a separate subject category in this blog so that it will be easier to use these entries to determine how often oil must be added to the swivels. This category is added today as "Maintenance."
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