WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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"Manhattan" the TV Series on WGN
"Will" on TNT is "Spot On"
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Piliated Pear Tree


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Dear Diary
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WindTapper's Blog


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Later Notes (11-21-15 5 a.m.): [Prices quoted here are OLD, out-of date!]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....

Electro Vent

Watching "How It's Made" the other day, we caught the segment showing how small windmills are made up in Quebec Province, Canada, by Electro Vent. I was very impressed by all the features on this company's product, including a braking system for high winds, as well as a compact set of components for voltage regulation and generation by alternator.

The prices for their products are quite affordable. The website is in French, with a more-or-less translation following in English. Several other features impressed me but I can't recall them presently. (Please see

I had been considering buying a bunch of these to make a generating bank, but I am sorry to say the company advocates placing these windmills up off the near ground where I am finding winds for powering our own whirligigs. So, our niche seems secure for now....

Decoupling Turbulence 2

I am discovering now why 99% of windmills have horizontal shafts when generating electricity:  turbulence is not as much of a problem for horizontal shafts as it is for the vertical  -- unprotected -- shafts. Not only the wind blows the vertical shafts sideways directly, but also the blades are blown sideways, and these are attached to the shaft so that their sideways motions also affect the shaft sideways.

I have decided to build the narrower turbine blade levels to reduce sideways motion, besides hanging the pole from a longer tether, broken up by a series of hoops at the top, plus anchoring the center pole at the bottom. I am still toying with other methods for transferring torque or turning force from the blades to the center pole -- other than hanging the pole from the top cross chains.

Also, I keep working on ideas for using aluminum screen in the coils around the central, rotating magnets that are stacked with like poles facing each other within the center pole. Specifically, I am trying to imagine the best manufacturing protocols for making these, wiring them together, and protecting them from the weather and from friction.

Decoupling Turbulence

The wind turbine blades and levels of blades turn around, but they also swing side to side with their directions of swinging dependent upon the wind direction. A central pole hangs down and in this I was going to put magnets, surrounded by stationary coils, but the side-to-side action of the turbine would create friction and other stresses between the coils and the pole which are undesirable. I have been trying to decouple the side-to-side action during higher wind velocities by providing a decoupling mechanism where the central pole attaches to the turbine.

So far I believe I have made some progress, thinking things through, but at some point I will have to test my best guesses, in the flesh so to speak.

1. Simply hanging the pole from a tether at the center allows the pole to hang more in line with gravity, but puts a twisting stress on the tether and it will break eventually. The length of time until the tether breaks depends on the material used for the tether plus wind conditions.

2. Stringing a horizontal tether or two criss-crossed tethers across the bottom level of the turbine, from which the pole hangs suffers the same twisting plus weight stresses, and might even get tangled.

3. A chain hanging from the center would deform, too, over time. My desire for dependability and durability precludes creating a design that I know will deform.

4. Setting the central pole down onto a circular pivot/swivel/bushing would take the weight of the magnets off the turbine and create at least some stability of where the magnetic lines of flux will cross the stationary coils, as well as removing friction between the pole and the coils. With the top of the central pole having a metal gizmo at its top, perhaps I could then attach the turbine somehow to the central pole to maximize the turning force of the turbine onto the central pole without lifting the central pole during high wind turbulence events. I will have to think about this more before building it.

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....

Wind Speed Today

So far I have counted 2 RPM's twice, and only once has my whirligig spun at a 10 RPM rate. The wind is so slow as to be negligible. I think maybe that is because the air is so thick with moisture, lol. I say laugh out loud because the air is so thick with moisture because there is no wind and it rained yesterday evening.

I have done some preliminary toying with the idea of using a relay, potentiometer switch to somehow deal with the 1 to 60 RPM range of generator rotation. Do I have to start with a 2 volt battery?

I saw a picture of many batteries linked up in series, starting with the 2 volt battery. There were so many batteries that I wonder if the battery of batteries might not have gotten up to 220 volts at its output end?

So far, the books I have on batteries are not very informative. They treat the reader as a complete novice, and I daresay, as a dunce. But you gotta start somewhere.

The Day After Tomorrow is playing again tonight on AMC TV, and I plan on going to see another sci fi flick that supposedly deals with a failed anti-global warming scenario: Snowpiercer. We all need to at least start thinking about alternative energy sources -- sooner rather than later, I believe.

Later Notes (7/28/14): Snowpiercer was great, btw. Lots of social value there, even though it was very heavy handed.

The wind speed kicked up several notches just after I posted the above readings. Today is actually more variable. Within a very few minutes the RPM's went from 2 to 12 to 7.5, then repeated those variables several times during the next few minutes and even for an hour or so.
We had a tornado watch last evening by the way but it was a very brief scare. Nothing materialized. 40% chance of showers today....

This morning I made an Excel spreadsheet so I can look up RPM's based on how many seconds a revolution takes. I am also starting to expand the spreadsheet for the number of magnets in the rotor times the number of turns of coil wire for each space corresponding to a magnet times the number of lines of flux per magnet that would actually cut the wires. Those calculations will give a voltage estimate for each RPM  reading, although, I suspect the actual voltage would be 2/3 or less the projected voltage due to the 3-D geometry of magnetism compared to guestimations based cross-sectional schematics.

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....

Taking It Easy

After moving some 6 or so tons of dirt, I need a break from strenuous physical labor. These old joints take a bit longer to heal now that I am over 60 years of age. So, I am concentrating on activities which require more thought than action for a few days, at least.

Yesterday I finally threaded a connector through the swivel of my whirligig and the top of a center post for hanging a magnetic rotor. The connector is faintly discernable below:

The connector is a shower curtain hanger resting on the top snap or clasp which is black. The shower curtain hanger is silver or chrome and wider than the clump of chains hanging from the black center snap. The form of the shower curtain hanger is rounded at top and bottom, and slipped inside the hole the manufacturer made for the black end of the handle of the painter's extension rod (yellow at the bottom) that I have co-opted as a center post for my generator.

Please keep in mind that I abused Mr. Long-Arm in multiple ways, not realizing the yellow part was made of fiberglass. The other 5-foot span is made of aluminum. I could use the aluminum span with its handle as a sort of ready-made center post, although I would have to drill two holes to make the top connection. The handle would readily support the magnetic rotor, though.

This rig is hanging freely, with no anchor, above the grass. The yellow center pole does not swing as widely as the turbine blades in high wind speeds. I cut the yellow pole in half, using a fine-toothed hack saw.

Now I must figure out how to secure the magnetic rotor to the post, at a non-inclined angle, both firmly, yet in such a way that stress is not concentrated along a thin line during normal operations.

Once I have the rotor mounted and a coil layer constructed, I should hang the larger gig over this ceramic pipe so that the whole generator will be protected inside the pipe.

Another thought is that I could hang a solid hoop down from the turbine levels which could stop the gig from swaying too far in 60 mph winds, possibly slowing down the spinning in such winds, too. Calculating how much wind would be required to knock over this pipe is another interesting problem....

Beautiful Days

Spring can be glorious even though getting back in shape after a long winter can be a bit painful. I have tons of yardwork and gardening to do, not to mention paint scraping, general cleanup, and cat grooming....

Then there is adjusting to Microsoft's declaration that they will no longer support the XP operating system. Another "learning curve" is growing on that front. But I recently got my pictures and camera set up again, and that is why I sat down to write this entry: to post a few pix.

This whirligig has been spinning a couple months in this spot. It is too large to hang from our eaves, comfortably, so it is just as well hanging from the swing set.

The saw horses might support some apparatus in future for generating electricity. They are tied down so that they won't blow away in a storm, but you cannot see the rope, nor the anchor for the whirligig in this picture.

I recently cleared away the lowest branches from the Norwegian Pine next to the swing set. I will sweep away the pine needles, add regular soil, and perhaps some grass seed.

The cats are in the lower right of this picture. Also, the top of the tree was cut off by the Electric company and I had them leave the wood, etc. Some friend use wood to heat their homes, and I used the tree's branches to prevent some erosion along our creek.

Also, I got a picture of the new "roof" on our back porch, if anybody cares....

I am slowly also working on cleaning out our gutters, which is why the ladder is still up.

A bien tot, mes amies.

LED technologies

With our electric rate doubling recently LED lighting looks better and better. Plus, flashlights of all shapes and sizes are becoming available from China relatively cheaply. Some of these work on 2 or 3 AA or AAA batteries each.

At these low voltages, I am reconsidering my goal of charging 12-volt batteries with wind powered static electricity generators. I just have to find a way to convert high voltages that static can produce into a bit of an increase of static's extremely low amperage production, lol.

Anyway, the smaller, 3 to 6 volt batteries make the idea of having them charging around houses seem like a safer bet than charging batteries of 12-volt batteries does....

Harvesting Static?

By the way, I am approaching having read Electronics 101 by WAGmob, SimpleNeasy Kindle E-books, which is, perhaps, nothing to brag about, lol. But I have to believe that even Math teachers somehow benefit from teaching the basics, year after year, in my Pollyannaish heart of hearts.

My reading is mostly before bed, while cogitating on how to harvest static electricity to make a battery charger is something I do during the day, during breaktimes, or while doing some mindless housework. Doing it while driving a car is not recommended, so I try to discipline myself on that score, lol.

After half imagining oodles of combinations of materials and geometries, my current line of reasoning brings me to hanging handmade, large capacitors from the lowest ring of a rotating, wind powered, set of stacked turbine rings. The capacitors would rub and rotate against the inside of a cement housing lined with appropriate material(s).

Lately I've been considering a used car tire, instead of cement, but with the lower side removed to keep mosquitoes at bay, having no idea how feasible removing the sides of a car tire is, mind you. Steel belted radial tires present another possibility that I could riff off of, in that a magnet placed inside the spinning and rotating condensers would increase the friction, slightly, between condensers and inner lining of the housing, thus creating more static, but perhaps too much heat or drag. A tad more electric charge would be produced, too.

How to get the opposite charge to grow INSIDE the capacitor is my newest challenge. Either start with intrinsically oppositely charged material inside, or try to split the materials of condensers and lining vertically, so that both positive and negative charges are picked up simultaneously. But that seems too tricky since wind speed varies, giving the possibility of raising and lowering altitudes of the points of contact between the rotating and spinning condensers and the inner lining of the housing.

The geometry of raising and lowering due to centrifugal forces versus the inner lining of the housing and the shape of the condensers is another tricky wicket....

I find myself also tempted to design non-rotating brushes, where the condenser rotates but the pick-up of the static charge occurs at stationary locations built into the housing lining.

Another problem is that air is most positive, while the housing precludes having free air flow, so, it would seem to call for two separate charge generators within the same wind turbine set-up. The one that uses mostly air would have to deal with precipitation somehow.

I will need to find out how the charges of salt, calcium, distilled, and rain water, not to mention hydrogen peroxide water, all compare to each other, etc.

And, by the way, my former ideas about dielectric constant and holding a charge were erroneous. I was imagining that the high dielectric constant materials themselves were storing charges as in batteries. Rather, they provide insulation between charged materials so that capacitance is increased. Which, admittedly, is a way of storing charges, just not in the same way as I had imagined.

More Brainstorming

While it is true that I have no idea if any of these ideas will work in reality, that does not stop me from brainstorming my way through the hours. I have been reading Electrical Engineering 101 by SimpleNEasy, but it says nothing about one of my ideas. That is, to collect positive ions from the air (unknown feasibility) onto a steel screen that is anchored in a perovskite-type of crystalline base.

The air drives intrinsically negative material against the screen via wind turbine blades, powered by wind at least 2-3 mph, rotating and hanging from fishing swivels made in New Jersey. The swivels are rated at 35 lbs, but could be heavier if I so chose. I am not sure if the 35 lbs is actual, or the weight of a fish floating in water, which would be considerably less than an actual 35 lbs since my use is not the same as presented by the geometries of fishing.

One of the factors I have no knowledge of in my brainstorming sessions is how voltages would be transmitted along a steel screen. Would they not be dissipated? And, of course, no information about positive ions adhering to steel. Usually, ions are utilized within liquids, not air. But, technically, air acts as a fluid.... It is just that a proton probably should not move through metal the same as electrons. Although, it is the potential energy -- the point charge differences -- that produce the voltages or pressures of the charges....

At least I now have some interesting experiments to conduct...

"Snow Algae" Google Searching

Nowadays, but not a couple weeks ago, when I google "snow algae" the first page is dominated by "Watermelon" red algae that supposedly has an odor resembling watermelon. But I am more interested in green snow algae because the initial photo of it that I saw has a very robust green culture in snow -- more than a foot deep, for example -- whereas all the photos of Watermelon snow algae seem more ephemeral.

However, I found today an article from Colorado about "Optimal PH Levels" for "Green Snow Algae" and the link (above in white) to the abstract has another link on its right-hand column to the actual article.

I have not yet read the article, but as I am now attempting to culture green algae for winter growth, I am very interested in it. I assume that CO2 would make water more acidic because carbonated water is more acidic than plain water, and I am trying to counteract the CO2 from our furnace's exhaust by growing algae with the aid of the effluent from our furnace. Distilled water is exactly neutral, while "normal rainwater" is slightly acidic, according to some graphics of pH values that show up from a Google search.

From the abstract part that I just read, perhaps my idea of collecting rainwater from our gutter to send to the algae vat will produce the best pH. The contamination of black walnut leaves and stems complicates things, though. I think I have some pH papers around here....

I am just beginning. Pix are delayed by inclement, blustery, and wet weather today.

So, I am stuck indoors searching for better pix on Google of green snow algae. The main picture that I am using for our desktop is actually unfocused.

The blustery nature of our wind today points out how we have changed seasons from the normally and relatively unproductive summertime, to a much better season for wind power wind speeds, which is Fall.

Algae Project

I have a bit of time on my hands, and so, I think I will start designing an algae system today. I need to 1. build in a safeguard to keep the CO2 away from us; 2. let light into the system; 3. let water into the system; 4. assure no blockage of the emissions from our furnace occurs (This is a big safety issue); 5 combining #3 (water) with #4 (no blockage) means I should have an S curve and hill to keep water flow away from the exhaust pipe and make sure the contraption is solidly attached so that no accidental blockages can occur when there is a storm or other unforseen forces at work.

Co-Generation is another thing to consider. Waste heat that is emitted from our furnace might be used to at least take a few degrees of cold off our little greenhouse. Reading about co-generation in the Sing compilation of Wikipedia articles about algae reminds me that I might also get some wind power from the emissions, for generating electricity. The heat exchanger creates tons of moving air, too, but that air is sent upwards -- a direction I have not yet "conquered" as far as wind power goes.

However, if I were to concentrate solely on algae as CO2 absorbent, things would be much simpler. Throw clear plastic sheeting over the pipe and a tub of water in the sun on the ground, and voila. Just add water. Maybe some paint chips because the algae loves to sit on acryllic paints. Also rusty metal seems to please the algae. It does not even need a whole lot of sun. Water is the main ingredient. The CO2 is food for it.

Day Dreams

So there I was after watching this week's Stargate Universe on This, cogitating on my electricity generator design, when a picture came to mind of three magnet rotors with two coil disks among them, plus two disks -- one each on top and bottom of the stack.

What I was daydreaming about was a wish list of how to control output so that storms won't burn out the system due to high winds. My daydream included a electronic switch allowing low voltage current to flow in series, while high voltage would switch to parallel output of current.

Perhaps having only the two disks among the three magnet rotors would be the most cost effective, forgoing the squeezing out of every last little bit of electricity by setting up the top and bottom disks that would have much less magnetic flux passing through them than the disks among the three rotors.

Another means of reducing output while preserving the high output of storm velocities would be to have an extra battery available to bleed off half the output, but that seems to me to be an expensive option.

I must study batteries more. I have seen a lot of possible set-ups, but perhaps I have not yet absorbed and fully understood the different capabilities of parallel versus series configurations of batteries.
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