Sustainability Hacks: Wind turbine generator

With a little bit of thought put into the build, a wind turbine generator can be one of the greenest ways to generate electricity. Wind power doesn’t require a semiconductor fab lab (unlike solar panels) and doesn’t have very many environmental consequences (unlike hydro power). The Tech Junkies put up a build log of a wind turbine that ended up being a very easy build.

In the interests of sustainability, The Tech Junkies found an old 1.5 HP DC treadmill motor. After measuring the voltage output when the motor was connected to a lathe, they discovered the power output was very linear. With a little bit of calculations, they realized they needed about 1000 RPM to get 20 Volts out of the motor. The team connected an inverter (it’s always cool seeing a power meter run backwards) and started fabricating the blades.

The team found a wealth of info on blade design on this site and following a few guidelines made six blades out of 8″ diameter PVC pipe. An aluminum hub was fabricated and the whole shebang was put on top of a found steel frame.

The Tech Junkies’ build produces 10 Watts of power but they’re looking to increase that to 500 W with the appropriate gearing. A great build that harkens back to this awesome webpage about turbine building and living off the grid.

The “AlarmTock”, a Chumby Hacker Board Alarm Clock

[Thomas] wrote in to tell us about his latest project, the “AlarmTock”. Like many hacks, this was inspired by some outdated hardware, a radio alarm clock from 1992.

After finally getting fed up with his old alarm clock, [Thomas'] wife purchased him a new one for around $10 from a local retail store. Although most likely an improvement, [Thomas] wondered why after so many years he still had to listen to either an annoying “beep” sound or whatever song the DJ on the radio decided to play.

In true hacker form, he decided to do something about it. [Thomas] crammed a [Chumby Hacker Board], which has much of the same hardware as the [Chumby One] device, into his clock radio. RSS-driven text-to-speech was used to tell him exactly what he wanted to know every morning. A sample .wav file is provided as well as the python script used to execute his morning wakeup routine. For another fun hack from [Thomas] check out his Google treadmill hack here!

Keeping tabs on your pets’ busy lives

mouse_wheel_tracking

[Stephen’s] daughter has a pair of mice she keeps as pets, who happen to be quite active at night. After they kept her awake for an entire evening by running like mad in their treadmill, they were moved from her bedroom. Since they were so active in the treadmill, [Stephen] thought it would be cool to try measuring how much the mice actually ran each night.

To keep track of their activity, he built a simple circuit that records how many rotations the treadmill makes. He fitted it with a rare earth magnet, installing a reed switch on the outside of case that ticks off each spin of the wheel. Any time the wheel starts moving, his PIC begins counting the rotations, displaying them on a 7-segment LED display. To mitigate data loss in the event of a power outage, the PIC stores the current number of rotations in its EEPROM every 10 seconds or so.

The counter keeps track of the total number of rounds the mice have completed, which his daughter uses to manually calculate their running sessions. Since they started tracking the mice, they have run over 700,000 rounds, sometimes completing as many as 20,000 in an evening.

We think it’s a pretty cool project, especially since it makes it fun for his daughter to stay involved in her pets’ lives.

Tanks treads for your next robot

If you ever wanted to incorporate tank treads into one of your build you should check out this guide. The method shown above is our favorite, which uses rubber fuel line hose and #10 machine bolts to hold together two lengths of hollow-pin roller chain. You can see the drive sprocket is keyed into the outer length of chain but the wheels that distribute the vehicle’s weight rest on the rubber tubing. You’ll also find details on building hinged track, molded track, plastic conveyor track, treadmill track, and bicycle chain construction. This should cut down on development time when you finally get around to making that paintball tank.

[Thanks BoKu]

LEGO automatic transmissions

[AviatorBJP] is building some impressive automatic transmissions using LEGO parts. Your best bet is to check out his YouTube channel as he’s got a slew of videos related to topic. We’ve embedded test footage of first and second generation vehicles as well as the most recent flywheel design after the break. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s look at how the system works.

Each transmission centers on a mechanism that includes hinged arms attached to a central axle. The arms are held together with a rubber band but as the axle spins faster, they overcome the elastic force of the band and begin to pivot outward. This pulls the shaft in one direction, moving its gear up to the next position in the transmission box. To test the system [AviatorBJP] uses a treadmill. A string is attached to the front of the vehicle to keep it in place and the treadmill is switched on to simulate engine power.

This design is quite brilliant, and he’s not keeping it to himself. If you’ve grown tired of the manual LEGO transmission you built, you can follow his multi-video build process to make one of these for yourself.

[Read more...]

Chainsaw/flashlight overkill

[Robbtoberfest] has earned our admiration with this crazy chainsaw powered spot light. It looks horribly dangerous, extremely inefficient, and woefully under engineered. We absolutely love it. This could be plucked from a video game or a movie and seems to be one UV bulb away from being the ultimate post apocalyptic zombie vampire Armageddon weapon. He has taken apart a chainsaw and attached it to a DC treadmill motor using a couple of bike sprockets and a chain. That DC motor then feeds a car headlight directly. As you can see in the video, when he cranks the gas, it shines pretty brightly. The unfinished nature of this is due to a deadline for a contest on instructables, so he plans on adding a protective cowl, some fancy paint work, and a voltage regulator down the road.

While this may be inefficient, it is certainly a step up from a steam powered spud gun.

I’m one step closer to Azeroth

While looking for a way to injure his neck and live in the World of Warcraft all at once, [Gavan Woolery] came up with the idea for this virtual reality setup. That monitor, residing just inches from his eyes, is putting out 1080p at 120Hz. His plan is to pair up the motion sensing seen in the video after the break with an NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit for something close to total immersion.

To be fair, [Gavan] never mentions WoW, but we all know where this is going right?

[Read more...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 92,020 other followers