Bringing Modern Technology To A Sled

Street sledding, a popular pastime in Norway, is an activity that is slowly dwindling in popularity, at least as far as [Justin] aka [Garage Avenger] has noticed. It used to be a fun way of getting around frozen lakes and roads during winter, and while some still have their sleds [Justin] wanted to see if there was a way to revitalize one of these sleds for the modern era. He’s equipped this one with powerful electric turbines than can quickly push the sled and a few passengers around the ice.

Since this particular sled is sized for child-sized passengers, fuel-burning jet engines have been omitted and replaced with electric motors that can spin their turbine blades at an impressive 80,000 rpm. The antique sled first needed to be refurbished, including removing the rust from the runners and reconditioning the wood. With a sturdy base ready to go, the sled gets a set of 3D printed cowlings for the turbines, a thumb throttle on the upgraded handlebars, and a big battery with an Arduino to bring it all together.

With everything assembled and a sheet of ice to try it out on, the powerful sled easily gets its passengers up to the 20-30 kph range depending on passenger weight and size. There’s a brake built on an old ice skate for emergency stops, and the sled was a huge hit for everyone at the skating pond. There are plenty of other ways to spruce up old sleds, too, like this one which adds a suspension for rocketing down unplowed roads.

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Kites Fill Electricity Generation Gaps

Looking at a wind turbine from first principles, it’s essentially a set of wings that generate lift in much the same way an airplane wing does. Putting the wings on a rotor and calling them “blades” is not a huge step away from that. But there’s no reason the wing has to rotate, or for that matter be attached to a fixed platform, in order to generate electricity. Anything that generates lift can be used, and this company is demonstrating that with their kite-powered wind generators.

Like other wind energy producers that have used kites to generate electricity, this one is similar in that the kite is flown in a figure-8 pattern downwind where it can harness energy the most efficiently, pulling out a tether which is tied to a generator. When fully extended, it is flown to a position where the wind doesn’t strike the kite as strongly and the tether is reeled in. Unlike other kite generators we’ve seen, though, this one is offered as a turnkey system complete with battery backup and housed in a self-contained shipping unit, allowing it to be deployed quickly to be used in situations where something like a diesel generator would be impossible to get or where the fuel can’t be obtained.

The company, called Kitepower, does note that these aren’t replacements for traditional wind turbines and would be used more for supporting microgrids. There are still some advantages to using kites over fixed turbine blades though: kites can reach higher altitude where the wind is stronger, and they require less materials for a given amount of energy production, often making them even more environmentally friendly and possibly more economical as well. Surprisingly enough, kites can also be used to generate energy even in places where there’s no wind at all.

Supercon 2022: Irak Mayer Builds Self-Sustainable Outdoor IoT Devices

[Irak Mayer] has been exploring IoT applications for use with remote monitoring of irrigation control systems. As you would expect, the biggest challenges for moving data from the middle of a field to the home or office are with connectivity and power. Obviously, the further away from urbanization you get, the sparser both these aspects become, and the greater the challenge.

[Irak] solves his connectivity problem by assuming there is some WiFi network within range, building a system around the Blues Wireless WiFi note card. Substituting their cellular card would be an option for applications out of WiFi range, but presumably without changing too much on the system and software side of things. Leveraging the Adafruit FeatherWing INA219, which is a bidirectional current sensor with an I2C interface, for both the power generation and system consumption measurements. For control, [Irak] is using an Adafruit ESP32 board, but says little more about the hardware. On the software side, [Irak] is using the Blues Wireless NoteHub for the initial connection, which then routes the collected data onto the Adafruit IoT platform for collation purposes. The final part of the hardware is a LiPo battery which is on standby to soak up any excess power available from the energy harvesting. This is monitored by an LC709203f battery fuel gauge.

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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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Go Fly A Kite

Harvesting energy from the wind has been a commercially viable way of generating clean energy for around three decades now. Wind turbines are a reliable, proven technology but they do have some downsides, one of which is that since there’s more wind higher above the ground this usually means tall, expensive towers. There is a way around this problem, though, which is using kites to generate energy instead of a fixed turbine.

While kite generators aren’t a new idea, [Benjamin] has been working on this kite generator which has a number of improvements over existing kite generators. Like other kite generators, this one uses a tether to spin a generator which is located on the ground. But while this is similar to other kite systems, this prototype has a much simpler design and sweeps a much larger area while in flight. It also has an autopilot with multiple independent steering systems, which [Benjamin] says will allow it to stay in flight for months at a time provided there is enough wind. If there isn’t, it can land reliably, and launching it is relatively fast and simple as well.

While kites do have some obvious downsides compared to fixed turbines including a single point of failure at the tether and a large amount of cleared area to operate, they have plenty of advantages as well. They’re smaller, simpler, require no complicated yaw system, and can be easily maintained on the ground. In fact, it’s possible to build very simple kite generators out of nothing more than a hobby kite and some readily-available electrical components.

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Adding Voluminous Joy To A DIY Turbojet With A DIY Afterburner

You don’t happen to own and operate your own turbojet engine, do you? If you do, have you ever had the urge to “kick the tires and light the fires”? Kicking tires simply requires adding tires to your engine cart, but what about lighting the fires? In the video below the break, [Tech Ingredients] explains that we will require some specialized hardware called a re-heater — also known as an afterburner.

[Tech Ingredients] does a deep dive into the engineering behind turbojets, and explains how the very thing that keeps the turbines from melting also allows an afterburner to work. Also explained is why it can also be called a re-heater, and why there are limitations on the efficiency.

Moving on to the demonstration, two different homebrewed afterburners are put to use. The second iteration does exactly what you’d think it should do, and is a mighty impressive sight. We can only imagine what his neighbors think of all the noise! The first iteration was less successful, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, and we’ll let you view the video below to see what else an afterburner can do. We’ll give you a hint: Worlds Biggest Fog Machine.

Does the thought of thrust turn your turbines? You might enjoy this motor-jet contraption that looks almost as fun as the real thing, but 3D printable!

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3D Printed Turbo Pump Hopes To Propel Rockets To The Sky

There are plenty of rocket experimenters toying with various liquid-fueled contraptions at the moment, and [Sciencish] is one of them. He grew tired of using air-pressurized fuel delivery systems in his experiments due to safety reasons, and decided to create something approximating more grown up rocket designs. The result was a 3D-printed turbopump for fuel delivery.

The design is not dissimilar from a turbocharger in a car. On one side, a turbine wheel is turned by compressed air supplied from a tank or compressor. This turbine wheel is affixed to the same axle as an impeller which draws up fuel and pumps it out, ideally into a rocket’s combustion chamber. It’s all made out of resin-printed parts, which made creating the fine geometry of the turbine and impeller a cinch.

Running on compressed air at 80 psi, the turbopump is able to deliver 1.36L of water or rubbing alcohol fuel a minute. However, unfortunately, this first pass design can only deliver 20 psi of fuel pressure, which [Sciencish] suspects will not be enough to counteract combustion chamber pressures in his rocket design. More work is required to up this figure. Paired with a nozzle and ignition source, though, and it does make for some great flames.

Overall though, the safety benefit of this turbopump comes from the fact that the fuel is kept separate from the oxidizer until it reaches the combustion chamber. This comes with far less chance of fire or explosion versus a system that stores fuel pressurized by air.

While the design isn’t yet up to scratch for rocket use, it nonetheless works, and we suspect with some improvement to tolerances and fin design that the project should move along at a quick pace.

If solid rockets are more your thing though, we’ve featured plenty of those too. Video after the break.

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