Low-voltage wind turbine lighting


Instructables user [Dustyn] recently constructed a wind-based lantern to provide a bit of free, renewable light in urban settings. The project is based around a vertical-axis wind turbine, which she says are better suited to these environments since wind often comes from all different directions. Despite their lower efficiency compared their horizontal-axis brethren, this style of turbine seems to fit her needs quite well.

She provided a complete bill of materials, down to the last screw and washer you would need to replicate her work. The wind sails were constructed from thin aluminum flashing, and inserted between two acrylic sheets. These were then mounted to the central aluminum shaft of the turbine, which drives the stepper motor built into the base.

The current from the stepper motor is rectified and run through a pair of capacitors before being used to light the attached LED. This allows the bipolar motor to provide current regardless of the direction the turbine is turning, and the caps smooth things out so that the LEDs don’t flicker wildly under varying wind conditions. The turbine is not going to light up a full city block, but it is definitely a nice alternative to sun jars.

Stick around to see a video of the turbine mechanism in action.

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Build your own vertical axis wind turbine

You can build a copy of this vertical wind turbine in a weekend and it won’t cost you all that much. Applied Sciences developed the hardware and they’re sharing all for the build details. You will be taken through every part of the build starting with the fin assembly which is made from stove-pipe material. This is a perfect raw material because it is already curved and suited for aerodynamic use in much the same way that PVC pipe is for making fins and we would expect it to be a bit lighter in weight. You will also need to turn your own coils when assembling the stator. This particular build process uses nine coils embedded in fiberglass. They remain stationary while two different discs, each containing a dozen rare earth magnets, rotate in close proximity to induce a current. It outputs three-phase AC current which can be turned to DC using a bridge rectifier and then further regulated for storage in batteries.

[Thanks Miguel]

Gas turbine jetpack – test pilots wanted

Feeling brave and ready to strap on this jet pack? Well, that’s not all of it. What you see above is just the manifold with two nozzles that can be aimed for control. The gas turbine engine that is being designed for the project will attach to the large circular coupling on top. The finished suit, called a Monocopter, should weigh in at about 265 pounds. That kind of weight makes us think they should include a robotic exoskeleton to help support it during takeoff, landing, and just when standing around. This thing already looks like it belongs to a villain from the Megaman series. Here’s hoping it’s used for good and not to help produce an army of mean robots.

[Thanks Rob]

Hydropower generator

[Paul] wanted to have access to renewable energy at his cabin. It’s a relaxing place, nestled in a tall forest that shelters him from the sun and wind. This also means that solar and wind energy aren’t an option. But there is a stream running through the property so he decided to build his own version of a small water-powered generator.

He tapped into a reservoir about 200 feet upstream, split the flow into four smaller hoses, and channeled that into a five-gallon bucket. Inside the bucket you’ll find a Pelton wheel he built which turns a low-RPM generator. He manages to generate 56 VDC at 10 A with this setup, more than enough to charge a bank of batteries.

He does a great job of explaining his setup in the video after the break. If you’re looking for other ideas of how to cut down on your environmental impact check out this compost-powered water heater.

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Wifi hotspot powered by wind turbine and solar panel

Students at the Rochester Institute of technology have put together this WiFi hotspot that is powered by a wind turbine and a solar panel. It gets its signal through a parabolic antenna pointed at a near by building and repeats it for use in the vicinity. They are using a 30W solar panel, along with a 1/4 horse power 90V DC motor to charge two 6V batteries in series. On a windy day, the turbine has yielded 120W. Something interesting to note is a comment they made about blades. Though the ultimately decided to mimic a commercial design for wind turbines, they found the most efficient to be a single wood prop. Unfortunately, that prop was destroyed.

[via HackedGadgets]

BAMF2010: CMT 380X Blackbird

Okay, we lied, we totally want one of these too. The CMT 380X Blackbird is one wicked hybrid car!

Looking like it just rolled off the set of the next Batman film, the Blackbird is the brainchild of Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director [Richard Hilleman]. Starting from a kit car base — the Factory Five Racing GTM chassis — [Hilleman] created a unique 230 horsepower drive train combining a 30 kilowatt diesel turbine and 24 KWh lithium polymer battery pack.

As a purely plug-in electric car, the Blackbird has a range of 85 miles. In hybrid mode, range is extended to 500 miles. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in about 7 seconds. Come decelerating, the car makes use of regenerative braking.

It’s strictly a one-off for the time being, but several companies have approached [Hilleman] about possibly commercializing the design. A couple more choice pics follow the break…

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Tesla turbines for fun and profit

[Rick] has been building Tesla turbines in various ways and posting his projects to youtube. For those who are unfamiliar, a tesla turbine is a fanless turbine that uses a smooth central disk spun by friction from a gas or fluid. Since the turbine itself has no protrusions, it is extremely stable. There are lots of other benefits, which can be explored on the Wikipedia page. [Rick], as you can see from the video above has found several uses for them, from Halloween props, to generators for lights, to an automated shake flashlight shaker, you can even watch him rev one up to destruction. Though most of these are at relatively low speeds, he has shown that he can make one from CD spindles that is stable enough to reach 10,000 RPM. [Rick] admits that all they really do is spin fast and make cool noises, but they do that pretty well.

Update: Moments after this was published, we found an instructable by [Rick] on how to build a blender using a tesla turbine.