Living off the Grid, on Water Power

When you think of living off the grid, you often think of solar power. But if you’ve got a good head, and enough flow, water power can provide a much more consistent flow of electrons. All it requires is a little bit of engineering, epic amounts of manual labor, and some tricks of the trade, and you’ll have your own miniature hydroelectric power plant.

[Homo Ludens], the playful ape, has what looks like a fantastic self-sufficient home/cabin in a beautiful part of Chile. His webpages are a tremendous diary of DIY, but the microhydro plant stands out.

You might expect that building a hydro plant involves a lot of piping, and trenching to lie that pipe in, but the exact extent, documented in many photos, is sobering. At places, the pipe needed to be bent, and [Homo Ludens] built a wire-mesh pipe heater to facilitate the work — with the help of a few friends to weigh the pipe down at either end and create the bend. The self-wound power transformer is also a beauty.

There’s a lot more detail here than we can possibly get into, so go check it out. And if you’re in the mood for more hydro, we’ve recently run a writeup of a less ambitious, but still tidy, project that you should see. Or you could just rip apart an old washing machine.

Thanks [Patrick] for the great tip!

Tinijet — Affordable Waterjet Cutting At Home

While laser cutting remains the dominant force for rapid prototyping anything made of plastic, MDF or wood, the real holy grail is the ability to cut metal — something most laser cutters are just not capable of.

In the industry, this is done using extremely high-powered laser cutters, plasma cutters, or water jet cutters. All of which are very pricey equipment for a hacker. Until now anyway. Introducing the Tinijet, the missing tool for affordable water jet cutting.

We first covered this project a few years ago when it was just a university research project called Hydro — it’s since evolved immensely, and will be available for sale very soon.

Continue reading “Tinijet — Affordable Waterjet Cutting At Home”

Hydroelectric power in your shoes

All comments on style aside, these are pretty cool. They are power generating shoes, that use water and a small turbine. As you step down, the water is forced through the turbine and recirculated back to the reservoir when you lift your foot. It may not change the world, but is definitely interesting. This reminds us of those shoes that we used to pump up til they burst.