How Simple Can A Wind Generator Get?

As the world has moved towards sustainable energy sources over the last few years, it’s increasingly common to be close to a wind turbine. The huge turbines visible on the horizon from where this is being written are the upper end of the scale though, and along comes [Robert Murray Smith] with the opposite, probably the simplest and smallest wind turbine we’ve seen.

His use of a 3-phase motor from a CD-ROM drive as the generator isn’t particularly unexpected, these motors are ubiquitous and readily generate power when spun up. A simple 3-phase rectifier and a capacitor delivers a DC voltage that while the ready availability of switching converter modules should be relatively easy to turn into something more useful.

The clever part of this hack lies then in the rotor, it’s not the propeller-style bladed affair you might expect. Instead he takes a CD, as it’s the obvious thing to fit on a CD motor, and glues a piece of Tyvek on top of it. This is cut to form four flaps which make a rudimentary but effective turbine when the wind comes from the side. It’s beautifully simple, and we wish we’d thought of it ourselves. The whole thing is in the video below the break, so take a look.

Maybe this won’t solve the green energy requirement on its own, but we’ve shown you far larger fabric turbines in the past.

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Robotic Hand Uses Old CD-ROM Parts

Robotic arms and actuators are compelling things to watch, and as popular among the maker set as they are crucial to modern industry. [kthod2000] built a design of their own, which relies on parts salvaged from old CD-ROM drives. 

The arm itself is constructed of many components which appear to be 3D printed, with three main motors visible along its length. These look to be the eject motors harvested from several optical drives, which usefully come with a threaded screw on the output shaft that makes them perfect for a linear-drive application. Run by a TMC2208 driver via a microcontroller, the eject motors control the motion of several stages of the robot arm as it moves up and down.

The intention seems to be that one of these three-tiered assemblies could act as a single finger. Ganged up multiple times, this could allow the creation of something akin to a full five-digit robot hand. [kthod2000] has also done plenty of work on the software side of things that handles controlling the arm. The kinematics can all be simulated on screen in concert with the real motion of the arm.

We’ve seen similar builds before, too, like this plotter built out of scrap DVD drives. They’re a great source of quality electromechanical components for small projects, so it’s no surprise to see them put to work here. Video after the break.

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Circuit Bender Artist Bends Fresnel Lens For Art

Give some mundane, old gear to an artist with a liking for technology, and he can turn it into a mesmerizing piece of art. [dmitry] created “red, an optic-sound electronic object” which uses simple light sources and optical elements to create an audio-visual performance installation. The project was the result of his collaboration with the Prometheus Special Design Bureau in Kazan, Russia. The inspiration for this project was Crystall, a reconstruction of an earlier project dating back to 1966. The idea behind “red” was to recreate the ideas and concepts from the 60’s ~ 80’s using modern solutions and materials.

The main part of the art installation consists of a ruby red crystal glass and a large piece of flexible Fresnel lens, positioned in front of a bright LED light source. The light source, the crystal and the Fresnel lens all move linearly, constantly changing the optical properties of the system. A pair of servos flexes and distorts the Fresnel lens while another one flips the crystal glass. A lot of recycled materials were used for the actuators – CD-ROM drive, an old scanner mechanism and old electric motors. Its got a Raspberry-Pi running Pure Data and Python scripts, with an Arduino connected to the sensors and actuators. The sensors define the position of various mechanical elements in relation to the range of their movement. There’s a couple of big speakers, which means there’s a beefy amplifier thrown in too. The sounds are correlated to the movement of the various elements, the intensity of the light and probably the color. There’s two mechanical paddle levers hanging in there, if you folks want to hazard some guesses on what they do.

Check out some of [dmitry]’s earlier works which we featured. Here’s him Spinning a Pyrite Record for Art, and making Art from Brainwaves, Antifreeze, and Ferrofluid.

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