Sometimes when we look at a hack, its to see how someone chose those parts for the project. In this case, it would have been hard to see it coming. [Janne Jansson] decided to combine a set of measuring cups, a hacked Linksys NSLU2 NAS, and a PS/2 Mouse together to make a self-contained Wind Speed Sensor for his roof. The measuring cups act as wind catchers, which in turns drives the rotation of one of the mouse ball sensors. This data is then logged and transmitted by the NSLU2. The NSLU2 is running a custom Linux based firmware, similar to how OpenWRT works for wireless routers.
To calibrate the device, he also made the best logical choice: to duct tape it to the hood of his car along with a much more expensive wind sensor and use that data to make his own device as accurate as possible. When placed atop his house with a 1500VA 220V UPS, the device managed 250 days of uptime before meeting its demise. Those 250 days also included 5 days of being frozen solid, yet still transmitting (somewhat meaningless) data. All of the relevant code and build instructions are available, for those of you with similar parts to spare.
Students at the Rochester Institute of technology have put together this WiFi hotspot that is powered by a wind turbine and a solar panel. It gets its signal through a parabolic antenna pointed at a near by building and repeats it for use in the vicinity. They are using a 30W solar panel, along with a 1/4 horse power 90V DC motor to charge two 6V batteries in series. On a windy day, the turbine has yielded 120W. Something interesting to note is a comment they made about blades. Though the ultimately decided to mimic a commercial design for wind turbines, they found the most efficient to be a single wood prop. Unfortunately, that prop was destroyed.
[Scott] over at curiousinventor.com has posted an instructable detailing how to use an Arduino and a power drill to spool solder. The Arduino senses the speed that the drill is going via an opto interrupter and a laser and adjusts with a servo hooked to the trigger. While we don’t think many people will be dying to spool some solder, this system might be useful for all kinds of things, like winding yarn or making coils.
[Theo Jansen] is building lifeforms that will live and thrive on the beach. He calls them StrandBeest and uses PVC electrical conduit, plastic tubing, and lemonade bottles as building material. The many-legged creations are amazingly advanced, able to count steps, sense and flee from the water’s edge, and protect themselves from high wind. He gave a TED talk back in 2007 that we’ve embedded after the break; it’s uncanny. See examples of his creations using fans and sails to store wind energy as compressed air in the lemonade bottles, then use that pressure for locomotion. He also demonstrates a binary step counter and water sensor. Continue reading “Theo Jansen: Like The Professor From Gilligan”
[Faroun] sent in his updated vertical wind turbine. After running his previous one for a while, he felt that the motor he was using was inadequate, it required too high of RPM to produce what he wanted. He didn’t want to gear it up, fearing that the light construction couldn’t sustain rotation.
He built a new version that has the same surface area of fins, but much higher RPM. The new one, dubbed V8 is made mainly from PVC and an Amatek DC motor. His goal was to produce 100 watts at 35km/h. He doesn’t really state whether or not he achieved it though.
[The Tech Guy] shows us how he added cells to an MSI Wind’s battery. This hack is extremely simple but it may be difficult to get the battery back into your laptop. Also, we’re not too sure how stable it is, and you can definitely forget about taking this thing through an airport. It would be really nice to start seeing people fabricate custom enclosures. Until then, this hack is best reserved for people completely desperate for extended battery life.