Hackaday Podcast 074: Stuttering Swashplate, Bending Mirrors, Chasing Curves, And Farewell To Segway

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys recap a week of hacks. A telescope mirror that can change shape and a helicopter without a swashplate lead the charge for fascinating engineering. These are closely followed by a vibratory wind generator that has no blades to spin. The Open Source Hardware Association announced a new spec this week to remove “Master” and “Slave” terminology from SPI pin names. The Segway is no more. And a bit of bravery and rock solid soldering skills can resurrect that Macbook that has one dead GPU.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

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Experimenting With Vibratory Wind Generators

We’ve all got a pretty good mental image of the traditional wind-powered generator: essentially a big propeller on a stick. Some might also be familiar with vertical wind turbines, which can operate no matter which way the wind is blowing. In either case, they use some form of rotating structure to harness the wind’s energy.

But as demonstrated by [Robert Murray-Smith], it’s possible to generate electrical power from wind without any moving parts. With simple components, he shows how you can build a device capable of harnessing the wind with nothing more than vibrations. Alright, so we suppose that means the parts are technically moving, but you get the idea.

In the video after the break, [Robert] shows two different devices that operate under the same basic principle. For the first, he cuts the cone out of a standard speaker and glues a flat stick to the voice coil. As the stick moves back and forth in the wind, the coil inside of the magnet’s field and produces a measurable voltage. This proves the idea has merit and can be thrown together easily, but isn’t terribly elegant.

For the revised version, he glues a coil to a small piece of neoprene rubber, which in turn is glued to a slat taken from a Venetian blind. On the opposite side of the coil, he glues a magnet. When the blind slat starts vibrating in the wind, the oscillation of the magnet relative to the coil is enough to produce a current. It’s tiny, of course. But if you had hundreds or even thousands of these electric “blades of grass”, you could potentially build up quite a bit of energy.

If this all sounds a bit too theoretical for your tastes, you can always 3D print yourself a more traditional wind turbine. We’ve even seen them in vertical form, if you want to get fancy.

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Hacker Rewarded For Creating Electricity

diy_windmill

[garhol] tipped us off about a self-taught hacker who brought a little light to his tiny home. [William Kamkwamba] dropped out of school because his family lacked the $80 per year for tuition. At the age of 14 he read books from the library and gained the knowledge he needed to built a 12 watt wind generator from junk parts. Wow!

We’re pretty used to hearing about creative people who end up getting punished for their hacks. Fortunately he has been rewarded for his brilliance. He’s now studying at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg with a well-deserved scholarship.

His story comes to the surface now because a book about his experiences has just been released. We need more people like this, and they should be rewarded for their efforts like he has been. We’ve put the book on our hold list at our Public Library and can’t wait to gain some knowledge from [William’s] experiences.

Check out his short talk at the TED conference, embedded after the break. Continue reading “Hacker Rewarded For Creating Electricity”

DIY Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

This vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) uses five 3” PVC pipes cut in half for blades rotating on three kids bicycle wheels to spin an Ametek 38 volt motor or a wind blue alternator. The whole thing spins in a frame that is a 12 feet high and 2 foot square box that is able to sit on his deck. In total it cost him about $125 plus time, a bit more if you use the wind blue alternator.

Video of the vertical turbine in action after the break.
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