Free Energy Is For Fools?

In her new element-14 video [Jeri Ellsworth] explains some  concepts about “free to you” energy and features the LTC3109EUF, an Auto-polarity, Ultra low Voltage Step-Up Converter and Power Manager, along with the LTC3588EMSE a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Power Supply.

Using the LTC3109EUF she is able to power a modified Nintendo Entertainment System, and LCD using a small generator and an exercise bike. The LTC3588EMSE is wired up to piezo’s in different applications including being squashed, vibrated, and temperature difference to power low current devices.

All this and a totally 80’s theme, so poof up your hair, get your spiked dog collar, and find those neon green shades because this is a fun and informative video available on element-14.

27 thoughts on “Free Energy Is For Fools?

  1. I hope this video gets people really thinking about harvesting energy from the many sources out there. Good hacker inspiration here. I’ve got a project in mind…
    Also a cool flash back to the 80s. You maniac Jeri! :)

  2. Last year I characterized one of these LTC energy harvesters designed for a TEC (thermoelectric cooler) run backwards as a generator. The heat from my hand to ambient air was enough power up a 100m wireless transmitter, microcontroller, and temperature sensor to send packets to a host computer. The LTC chips are pretty incredible, and the datasheets are well-written.

  3. What’s this i hear about a car that runs 700 miles using only 4 ounces of water? so far all i found was the 100miles/4oz but still, i don’t care if you only get 1 mile on 4oz of water, that’s farther than i can get 4oz of water to move anything.

  4. I wouldnt really consider building an inefficient bicycle generator scavenged energy…..your body is doing work…your harnessing it.

    Jeri rocks….but her lunch powered the bike that powered the LED.

    scavenged energy…..

    I think of all the 900mhz transmitters pumping energy into the air around us already….sap some of that power and your scavenging.

    Powercast has been distributing through Future electronics for nearly a year…

    and mouser for a few months now…

  5. Totally this. I’m really, really sick and tired of people going on and on about “free energy” (“to you” or otherwise) when what they really mean “we’ll make you work harder, and we’ll try to collect some of that energy”. The exercise-bike powered Nintendo is an excellent example of how much harder you have to work to get anything useful. I still remember regretting turning on the dynamo for the headlight on my bicycle as a kid – that was definitely not free.

    And yes, I am aware that in some cases one can indeed “scavenge” from the environment, what people don’t realize is how little. If all you need to power is an LCD wristwatch, or something small that needs to power up exceedingly rarely, then yes you might make it on scavenged power.

    I’m not having a problem with Jeri’s video here – she does a great job as always, there’s nothing untrue or exaggerated in there.

    But you’ll find doing anything actually useful surprisingly hard – the “free energy is for fools” crowd does have a point; unless you’re actually sitting on top of some wasted energy, like heat is in a combustion engine, you won’t do much with it. Able to flash an LED every now and then with harvested RF energy? Good for you; now let’s see someone power, say, a PIR sensor in a similar manner – something that actually requires some non-trivial amount of energy, all the time…

  6. What I would like to see is a kindle powered by something like this. Either heat from your hand, solar or radio waves i am sure enough power could be trickled to it so it never need be plugged in.

  7. Wow, thats really cool, this is the real free energy. But the electrical generator is somewhat inefficient, i think this low efficiency generator is used to show principles of energy harvesting. When spinning on such a bike one should get 50-200Watt per person, so let us equip all those exercise bikes in fitness centers with a high eff. generator.
    For the german readers: In the magazine Elektor jan. 2011 you can read more about energy harvesting they use dickson chargepump with old germanium transistors, or casaded MAX1044 chips, and other, for hobbyists easy to get parts.

  8. The thing that gets me is the amount of wasted energy when people exercise. Sure people have to work hard to generate electricity, but they are exercising to burn energy…

  9. At one gym I used to frequent, you had to pedal a minimum amount to power up the device that allowed you to choose which tv station to listen to and output the audio to your headphones. Good incentive! Wanna listen to the Simpsons? Get pedalling!

    I often go out riding my bike for no other reason than exercise. I’ve been wondering if it would be possible to create some kind of stand for it, in order to turn it into an indoors exercise bike. The problem would be that the wheels would turn far too freely.

    If a solution to the above problem could be solved and I could charge some batteries or power my laptop/TV while I’m exercising, that would be great!

  10. Update to my previous post:

    It seems like a DIY bike roller/trainer would do the job. I wonder how much work it would be to modify a commercial bike headlight that’s powered by your cycling to power something more useful (e.g charging a laptop). Can anyone take a guess at how much work would be involved?

  11. @stevie cyclops and a number of other bike manufacturers make home trainers that serve as a mount for the back wheel of a bike that can be ridden. A powertap hub can be purchased and used to measure the wattage output at the chain/wheel interface. There isn’t much as far as power output on a bike that hasn’t been explored. Most professional cycling athletes know how much power they can consistently produce. I recall reading that Lance Armstrong could put out 700W consistently over 6 hours. But I could only find where he averaged 495 W in a race. Most of us would be pressed to do 200W, barely enough to power the CPU box of a 486. The old dynamo lights that rubbed on the wheel have been around for years, but they really really slow you down. With new torch flashlights being mounted on bike handlebars putting out 900 lumens, the power requirements per lumen have gotten much more efficient over time.

    To answer your question about retrofitting lights for charging, I think the devilish details would be in keeping your power signal conditioned/consistent. You would have to store charge with a super capacitor and then regulate the voltage down for the device. I could not tell you what sort of efficiency to expect.

  12. Free energy is easy to obtain if you dont mind doing it parasitically.

    A nice huge coil of wire set up on a frame under high voltage power lines gives you free energy quite easily.

    Plugging a extension cord into the neighbors also gives you free energy easily.

  13. @fartface, nice idea, i know people which powered their fluorescent lamps, in their altoment gardens, nearby a radio transmitting station via a short wire antenna, maybe a tuned (tesla) resonator as power receiver wold do a better job. But it is against the law here in germany, called electrical power theft, so it is not really free energy.

  14. To all those who tries to find free energy, there is so much energy wasted. trying not to waste it is my way of free energy. Last year I saved nearly 20% electrical energy by finding and eliminating wasted energy. ie. writing this on an old laptop, instead turning on my power machine wwich sucks around 400W.
    not using my tumble dryer. Using an old 400W vacuum instead of my new 2200W cylone vac. But also the tiny thing matters, like plugging of TV and others instead of letting them consume standby current.

  15. to all you pussies who keep bringing up the legality of HACKS, let me remind you; the site is called HACK a day for HACKERS (and general retarded public) to read up on HACKS. the logo is based on a pirates skull n’ crossbones. if the content offends you, please spend your time visiting and take up a scrap-booking hobby or something.

    by the way, schwing @ 4:22

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