The experience of being a teenager leaves a host of memories, of social awkwardness in the difficult process of not quite being a child any more, of tedious school days, and of team sports seemingly enjoyed only by the few. Wherever in the world you grew up will have lent a particular flavour to your recollections of that period of your life, whether your memories are good or bad.
One surprising common theme in British teenage memories, at least those of a few decades ago, are power stations. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Central Electricity Generating Board had a PR effort that involved bringing parties of teenage school geography students in for a tour of their local electricity plant, so if you talk to a British person of a certain age you’ll probably find they’ve been up close and personal with a coal-fired power station.
The true power station marvel of the age would have been too far away to tour for most kids at the time, though our geography teachers expounded on it at length. Dinorwig pumped-storage power station in Wales was opened in the early 1980s, and is a hydroelectric plant that uses excess grid generating capacity in the middle of the night to pump water into a lake at the top of a mountain, from which it can later be released at very short notice to respond to demand surges in a matter of seconds. The oft-quoted example is that when an episode of Coronation Street draws to a close there are several million British kettles turned on simultaneously, at which point Dinorwig comes online to rapidly make up the resulting shortfall.
Continue reading “Places to visit: Electric Mountain”
The STEAMLabs community makerspace teamed up with a grade 6 class from Vocal Music Academy, a public elementary school in downtown Toronto, to create a working model of the Ontario Power System. It pulls XML files and displays the live power generation mix from renewable and other sources on a 3D printed display on RGB LED strips. Arduino coding on a Spark Core provides the brains.
STEAMLabs is currently crowd-funding a new makerspace in Toronto. They’re almost there, a few hundred dollars short of their target, with a couple of days to go. Help them help kids and adults make amazing things! When Hackaday visited Toronto recently, [Andy Forest] dropped in to show off this project. Projects like these which let kids become creators of technology, rather than mere consumers, is one of the best ways to get them hooked to hacking from an early age.
Continue reading “School Kids Build Ontario Power Generation System Model”
Although there are several vertical axis wind turbines listed on greenterrafirma’s page, the one built with 55 gallon drums was especially interesting to us. Although the spouse approval factor of any of these designs is debatable, at $100, the 55 gallon drum design could provide a very good return on investment. The tools required to make one of these are relatively simple, so this could make this experiment accessible to those without a vast arsenal of equipment.
If large blue barrels aren’t your thing, the post also features several other turbine designs, including one made with wood and aluminium foil, and one constructed out of PVC pipe. The video after the break does a good job of explaining the “blue barrel” construction process, but if you’d rather just see this [VAWT] in action, fast forward to 5:25.
Continue reading “Make a Wind Turbine from 55 Gallon Drums”