WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog


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:

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.

Still Spinning

My battered and beat-up old whirligig spins steadily and silently in the night with 2-3 inches of snow on it. Picture to follow, after the sun comes out.

Later Note: Nine hours later no sun shines. It is still snowing and the old gig still spins silently and steadily:

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....

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.

Making Lists, & Etc.

Making lists of possible collectors, transmitters, and storage devices for electrons and protons garnered from the sun and wind has become a very large task. Some value to this task can be seen as I work through the problem. Concentrating on a single attractant at first is helping me to discern the large number of permutations, at least, of treatments of the single attractant as it relates to the idea of collecting electric charges.

Then there are another set of possible mounting devices, on which I also made some progress today in our yard, but only some. I sawed the 20 foot reinforcement rod in half. Whoopee Do!

I also purchased some new foam that might insulate the rod. The foam is also cut weird. Instead of being purely round it has four notches down its considerable length -- four feet. It can be fit together lengthwise, too. So some other possibilities arise, not only for mounting electron and positive ion attractants, but also for winding coils.

So today I had some fun imagining various sets of variables to experiment on, besides planning how to straighten out our backyard weed and erosion problems.

Not a bad day, all in all....

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!

CO or CO2 Detector Alert!

The pipes in which I put lime, attached to our furnace exhaust, I just broke apart because our CO or CO2 detector went off and it did not seem to be a simple low battery signal. The weather has been below zero for more than one day now, and will be so again, later this week.

I guess the pipes got clogged with frozen moisture from the exhaust, although, there was still exhaust coming out the far end. I don't feel like messing with it outside in this weather, so I just finally decided to break the joints apart all the way back to the house so there is no possibility of screwing up our air.

At first I thought the wind was simply blowing in exactly the wrong direction, bringing the exhaust to our back door, but later I went out to examine the far end. It was frozen to the surface on which it sat, so it could not be moved. I didn't like the lack of full pressure on the far end. Some exhaust came out there, but I could only really feel the exhaust coming from one outlet -- not both.

I did not see an obstruction beyond a few moderate blocks of ice which were easy to remove, on the far end of the pipe, but there might be a blockage inside the middle pipe. The first pipe had only the normal layer of lime near the beginning of the pipe. The layer of carbon attached to the lime is not great enough to justify taking risks of CO or CO2 poisoning.

Aw. I should go out and look at the middle pipe.

I'll be back in a few minutes.

Later Note: Perhaps my wet hair in curlers got freeze dried, lol. Anyway, I have pictures of all the pipes being clear. Also, I have pix of big piles of ice underneath where each joint of the pipes laid. So, if you are trying this and the weather is very cold, I recommend that you disconnect your pipes. When ice builds up at the end, it might put too much back pressure on the exhaust fan. I did not seal each joint, by the way, which allowed moisture to drip out at each joint. If you sealed yours, you are already dead from the exhaust backing up into your house if your pipes got clogged anywhere and you did not take the precaution of having a COCO2 detector.

After I disconnected the extra piping, I watched the vapor coming from the furnace, right by the egress at the outside wall of the house. The vapor was not continuous. There might be a pool of water somewhere, I guess, inside the furnace. This experiment seems to create extra stress on the exhaust fan, so don't try this CO2 reduction experiment!

Above shows a pile of ice that formed under the first large pipe junction. Successively smaller ice piles formed at each later junction.

All the pipes were clear inside except for some ice at the far end of the last pipe.

Snow accumulation. Temps indicate 16 - 21 degrees Fahrenheit -- with two thermometers at 5 p.m. For some reason our weather channel no longer tells our temp. Go figger. Temps are dropping, however, an hour later. I think it is supposed to rain tomorrow. Very sorry for Boston roofs.


As I have no electricians or electronics engineers to help me I face the fear of electricity when I finally decide to make a real world, electrical experiment. As wonderful as the Internet can be for gathering information, it also suffers from the multiplicity of sources which results in a lack of coordination among nomenclatures and reference points. The most glaring source of ambiguity for me is the negative-positive labeling of batteries and current flows.

One graphic shows the positive side of a battery (it is unknown what actual type of battery it is) having a positive interior electrode, with electrons flowing out the top, toward the negative terminal, during discharge of the battery through a load (the load being a useful device or appliance, such as, for example, a light bulb). The battery charger, I assume, would then put electrons into the positive side of the battery.

The only correlation, then, between the symbol "+" and the positive side of the battery in the case of charging it -- in my mind -- is that the interior of the electrode with its positive terminal must be made of a positive material that can receive, and indeed, naturally bonds with electrons when they are provided in sufficient quantity and pressure (or voltages).

But don't quote me on that. I don't know for sure if this is the case. I need to do some real world measurements comparing the charge and discharge flow directions of electrons. The complication -- other than the experiment being potentially lethal to me -- are the opposing nomenclatures or indicators of current flow in terms of positive and negative. Current is labeled exactly opposite to electron flow.

Then you have diodes which also are labeled "backwards" from what I think I read on voltage meters. Diode "negative" lines are on the direction of current rather than on the direction of electrons. So, I need to do an experiment to corroborate my half-assed assumptions, or to deny them.

I am thinking of using our lawn tractor's battery, along with a power resistor that I purchased back around 1992, when I was studying and then graduating from an adult education electronics servicing, 2-year night school course. The course was 6 hours a day, four days per week at the electronics lab, with my studying all day, every day, to prepare for the lab hours.

I still miss those lab hours for the people and the equipment our class found there. I suppose there were around ten of us in the course.... Now I have only three or so hand-held volt/ohm/amp meters and a one-channel O-scope, with no regulated power supplies other than batteries....

Wish me luck, folks!

Trying To Free Electrons From Molecules

Some compounds with their molecules have intrinsically negative or intrinsically positive charges, meaning that they "desire" to bond with oppositely charged compounds. Teflon, being negative, and air, being positive, is one set of opposites. Anhydrous silicone is negative and so has an intrinsic nature to bond to anything with an intrinsically positive charge.

1. Lately I have been having great trepidations about my concepts of negative and positive as applied to my trying to free electrons from molecules, and pass "holes" along to a battery or circuit. My misunderstandings -- in other words -- have been "biting" me lately, in my mind. I definitely must get out into the real world to test even the rudiments of my theories.

2. I think that the newish "diamon" nail files can be made to work admirably on fine sand to separate silica powder out for becoming airborne in a closed container. My thoughts now rest on enclosing a container inside one of the Chinese made, conical squirrel baffles -- hung under the center of a whirligig. The perturbations of the wind and twirling could disturb such a nail file enough, as it rests atop a layer of fine sand, to scrape a fine layer of silica off the sand. The outermost perimeter of the container must contact the inside of the baffle yet be electrically insulated so there is no loss of charge, in order to attract positive ions to the outside of the baffle. Collecting the positive ions is a subsequent challenge, but the ions could be put to use to attract electrons, don'tcha know?

A New Alchemy of Air?

The book The Alchemy of Air is waiting for me to read it, but I looked up the names of the two guys featured in it on Wikipedia. They took nitrogen from the air, then ramped up production in order to industrially produce fertilizer for agricultural purposes.

What I am looking at now is the reported fact that air is the most positively charged compound that is readily available. In my research for using static electricity to produce charges that I might harness for the production of electricity consistently, I am seriously considering experimental devices to gather positive charges from the air.

Perhaps polyester fabric hung out in the yard -- insulated from ground but not far from a grounded surface and parallel to that surface. As it has been raining for two or three days, I am reminded that I must try to detect charges under both wet and dry conditions. With rain, I should try to collect the runoff and isolate it ASAP, into a Leyden jar, if at all possible.

So, after experimenting with both positive and negative fabric collectors, I just might be able to write "A New Alchemy of Air."

Courtesy of I present a picture of a Leyden jar that came up on a Google search of images:
This picture reminds me that negative and positive are relative. Notice that the positive side in this picture is grounded.

Most batteries, on the other hand, have their negative sides grounded.

I am fairly certain that this is an old drawing, which is beyond copyright.

I should visit to see what else they have.

Leyden jars do not have to use lead, btw. Aluminum foil is another common metal liner, but any metal that can hold a charge or transmit it will do. Fabric laced with metal is what my collector will use, at first, at least.

Making Do

Such great ideas I had! But now I must make do with what I have. 

I acquired a squirrel baffle made in China that cost almost $22. Its being made of metal has made me change my plans. It is also 18 inches in diameter. The ceramic pipe is 14 inches in diameter at its top -- possibly 16 inches at its bottom.

The reason I must "make do" is that my money supplies have run out -- even with a credit card. Now I must see how much potential difference I can generate, given the materials that I acquired today. I got three different types of silicone to try out, btw, and now I have another idea that perhaps KY jelly could produce some airborne silicone after evaporation, with just a tiny bit of bumping....

Vinyl is the next most negative material, after Teflon, on my list of intrinsically positive and negatively charged substances. So, the Chinese squirrel baffle, covered with vinyl, should provide not only a barrier to precipitation, but also, should collect positive ions from the wind.

I could increase the collection rate by 1. Ramping up the vinyl's draw, from below it, by somehow getting powdered silica airborne underneath it, and 2. Bumping its upper surface with flying negative materials that have collected positive ions; 3. Spinning the negative collectors to reduce friction when they bump as they 4. Rotate around the baffle, getting movement, thereby, of ions on the surfaces. This is the negative side of the generator, although it collects positive ions. The positive side of the generator stays inside the pipe, where the positively charged collectors will reside, near to its silicone sources.

All the above are only taking into consideration movements of ions in dry weather. Collectors of water-borne ions should provide a second set of charges, either directly, or during evapo-transpiration to separate and/or concentrate charges.

Clear as mud, huh?

In any case, I feel it is time to take some actual measurements of voltage differences, after I finally build a test rig.

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