Mushroom Canoe Is Rooted In Nature

Mushrooms might be the most contested pizza topping after pineapple, but can you build a boat from pineapples? Probably not, but you can from mushrooms. Mushrooms, or rather their mycelium root systems, can be used for things like packaging, insulation, and furniture, and it could be the next thing in floatation, too. Just ask [Katy Ayers], a Nebraska college student who built an eight-foot canoe molded almost entirely of mycelium.

[Katy] got into mushrooms when she was tasked with researching solutions to climate change. She loves to fish and has always wanted a boat, so when she found out that mycelium are naturally buoyant and waterproof, she decided to try using it as a building material.

[Katy] floated the idea by the owner of a local mushroom company and they got to work, building a frame suspended in the air by a hammock-like structure. Then they covered the boat’s skeleton with spores and let it proliferate in a hot, humid growing room. Two weeks later, they had a boat made of live mycelium, which means that every time it goes out on the water, it spawns mushrooms. The total cost including tools was around $500. The boat experiment spawned even more mycelium projects. [Katy] has since experimented with making lawn chairs and landscaping bricks from mycelium.

Don’t want to wait to grow your own mycelium boat? You can build one out of stretch wrap, packing tape, and tree branches.

Thanks for the tip, [ykr300]!

Main image by Katy Ayers via NBC News

7-Foot DIY Wind Turbine Proves Size Matters


When [brokengun] decided to build a 7 ft diameter wind turbine, he had no idea how to even start, so he did as most of us would do and read some books on the topic. His design criteria was that it would be simple to construct and use as many recycled parts as possible. This wind turbine charges a 12 volt battery which can then be used to power a variety of gadgets.

Although made from recycled components, this isn’t a thrown together wind turbine. A lot of thought went into the design and build. [brokengun] discusses matching the blade size to that of the generator in order to maximize power and efficiency.  The design also incorporates a feature that will turn the turbine perpendicular to the wind if the wind-speed gets to high. Doing this prevents the turbine from being damaged by strong gusts.

For the main support/hub assembly, a Volvo 340 strut was used because they are widely available, cheap and known for being long-lasting. The tail boom is made from electrical conduit and it’s length is determined by the size of the main fan rotor. The tail vane is made from steel sheet metal and its surface area is also dependent on the fan rotor size to ensure that the turbine functions properly. The blades are made from wood but instead of making them himself, [brokengun] felt these were worth ponying up some cash. [brokengun] also scored a 30 ft high lattice tower an airport was getting rid of. This worked out great as it’s just the right height for a turbine of this size.

Continue reading “7-Foot DIY Wind Turbine Proves Size Matters”

Sustainability Hacks: The Final Word

This theme has been tricky to write for. On one hand, here at Hackaday, we are excited about doing anything that will allow us to not consume as many resources but on the other hand, when you really look closely at things, pretty much everything that we do in our modern lives isn’t sustainable. We can certainly find ways to get by with less but doing without really isn’t an option. The exciting thing about the current state of technology is that things are becoming a lot more efficient so the things that we do every day, such as using a computer require less and less energy. Even our cars, which for nearly 100 years drove around at 25 miles per gallon are starting to slowly require less fuel to get from point A to point B. We have a long way to go but there are signs that we (or our children) might not have to give up a modern life to continue on when coal and oil start to become scarce.

Shown above is an oil lamp made to look like a light bulb created by Opossum Design. It is an interesting use of modern technology to create light in a much more sustainable way.

Tomorrow we will be starting a new unofficial theme that will continue for the rest of October. For the past several years, we have been a bit behind the curve about Halloween stuff but we intend to make up for that in a big way. Halloween is one of those holidays that brings out the tinkerer in a lot of us. We would like to show off those projects. Hit us up on our tip line. If we like what we see, we will post about your project. We’re expecting a bunch of projects so unlike our prior themes, if we happen to get more than one that we like on a given day, we’ll post more.

Sustainability Hacks: Wind Turbine Generator

With a little bit of thought put into the build, a wind turbine generator can be one of the greenest ways to generate electricity. Wind power doesn’t require a semiconductor fab lab (unlike solar panels) and doesn’t have very many environmental consequences (unlike hydro power). The Tech Junkies put up a build log of a wind turbine that ended up being a very easy build.

In the interests of sustainability, The Tech Junkies found an old 1.5 HP DC treadmill motor. After measuring the voltage output when the motor was connected to a lathe, they discovered the power output was very linear. With a little bit of calculations, they realized they needed about 1000 RPM to get 20 Volts out of the motor. The team connected an inverter (it’s always cool seeing a power meter run backwards) and started fabricating the blades.

The team found a wealth of info on blade design on this site and following a few guidelines made six blades out of 8″ diameter PVC pipe. An aluminum hub was fabricated and the whole shebang was put on top of a found steel frame.

The Tech Junkies’ build produces 10 Watts of power but they’re looking to increase that to 500 W with the appropriate gearing. A great build that harkens back to this awesome webpage about turbine building and living off the grid.

Sustainability Hacks: Solar Panels Built From Old Windows And Factory Rejects


The crew over at The Tech Junkies recently took another look at solar power and thought that the pricing had come down enough for them to consider powering their entire shop via the sun. Cheaper or not, they still didn’t want to pay retail for solar panels, so they decided to build their own instead.

They scoured eBay for a bit and scored a nice batch of “production error” solar cells for about $0.25/watt, which is a great deal. After unpacking and sorting the cells, they began fitting them into a set of old window panels they had sitting around their shop. The cells were wired together using tabbing wire, and after a quick test to ensure everything was working correctly, the panel was permanently set using epoxy.

In its current state, they estimate that their panel can generate 35 watts of power, though they have a few design changes in mind to raise that number a bit. The total cost was roughly $375 for enough materials to build 9 panels, which is pretty reasonable.

Be sure to check out their blog for a quick overview of what it takes to build a solar panel if you’re thinking of putting together one of your own.

Sustainability Hacks: Poop Power

Yes. That’s a motorized tricycle with a toilet. Let that sink in for a minute. Oh, that isn’t a concept sketch of something that will never be built. The Toilet Bike Neo is most assuredly a real thing.

Biogas, or methane produced from decaying plant or animal wastes, is a legitimate form of energy. Waste gasses from landfills make up about half a percent of U.S. natural gas consumption. The state of Vermont even has a Cow Power program of renewable energy. That being said, this is a toilet on a trike.

The bike was built for Japanese bathroom fixture manufacturer TOTO’s green initiative. Biogas is produced onboard the trike, so instead of going to the local gas station to fill up, you could just get a newspaper, coffee and bran muffin. There are tanks on the back of the trike containing “fuel”. This arrangement probably makes a rear end collision in the Toilet Bike Neo more terrifying than getting rear-ended in a Ford Pinto.

The Toilet Bike Neo is setting off on a trip across Japan on October 6th (today) to promote biogas. You can follow the updates on the Toilet Bike Neo’s Twitter.

A tip ‘o the hat to [jon] for sending this one in. You may now commence the jokes.

Sustainability Hacks: Thin Client Server

It’s not environmentally friendly, but most of us run a small home server 24 hours a day. A small server is a useful tool to have that unfortunately wastes a lot of energy. [kekszumquadrat]’s thin client home server is actually a passable LAMP box that doesn’t draw a ton of power.

[kekszumquadrat] started looking at the SheevaPlug when beginning his quest but was a little concerned about the power supply failing. Looking for alternatives, he ran across a lot of cheap thin clients on eBay. The price was right and everything runs Linux, so a few days later he had an HP t5710 thin client on his doorstep.

This little computer came a copy of an embedded version of XP on a flash drive connected to the IDE port. Ditching that “operating system”, [kekszumquadrat] connected a USB hard drive and installed Arch Linux. After a few updates and package installations, he had a useful machine connected to the Internet.

Compared to the 7 Watts the SheevaPlug draws, the 15 W thin client is an energy hog. Compared to our improvised servers, [kekszumquadrat] is doing a remarkable job. Recycling old hardware never hurt anyone, either.