Thoughts from the porch,
Ah, early summer weather in the Appalachia’s. Not too humid, temps hovering in the high 70’s low 80’s, the occasional shower without drenching the ground to sponginess. The only downside for me, too much cloud cover for effective electric generation with solar panels alone.
Gotta work around that somehow. (more panels, or alternate generation, either works)
And that leads into what I will post about.
I am working on several aspects of my current existence: yes, I am still working towards building that shop, with a high priority level attached to it. But I always have that energy monkey on my back as well. Its not like I use an exorbitant amount of electricity or anything. My biggest drains are the laptop and the water pump. Neither is a real pig, but together, over time, they do take chunks of power that drain the battery. Those chunks add up when you are only getting trickles of juice from the sky. Granted, I only have to run the Alternator set-up once a week or so, depending on how much sun we get, but gasoline at $3+ a gallon, that adds up. When you are bringing in less than $100/wk, that takes a cut that could be useful for something else. SO, now that I have laid down the groundwork to my thought processes, onward with the post.
I got to thinking of that dog wheel thing that Wildflower mentioned in comments on one of the previous posts. No, I am not going to put Voodoo to work, no more than he already does. (he does quite enough keeping the deer out of the garden at night, that earns him the kibble he gets, along with bacon drippings and the occasional egg or two.)(damn dog eats better than me somedays LOL) But I thought long and hard about certain designs and some cross reference to finances (next to non-existent) and skills (abundant). And then I was sitting on the porch with my dad during an evening storm watching that daggum wind-vent on his out building and did even more thinking. You likely know the ones I am talking about; looks like a ball or strange turbine and no matter what way the wind blows, it spins, drawing air out of the building. No new revelations here, this is all ol’ skool stuff, but it got me to thinking of what I can do with my resources and skills to get me in the ballpark of another power generation method. The reason for this thought is the lack of cash of course. The blade design I have had my eye on would run over $300 after shipping. The PMA is going to run about $250 and that is for only the PMA not even shipping or brackets or anything else. Granted, I plan on making my brackets and the like but that PMA would put me in the red for a time.
But I still have a DC motor that puts out some pretty decent amperage on hand. I have a bunch of pipe on the hillside, left over from when they changed out the NG pipes a few years back. Nylon stuff, not PVC. I still have a few sheets of 20ga steel from a project a couple years back, and I have some bearings from a mower repair that the client never showed up for. (and that is why doctors like to charge you for missing appointments, They have to front the money for the people to be there, damn straight you are going to pay for jumping ship on them!)
What I have in mind is a vertical axis turbine, with 24 blades about 3′ in diameter and roughly 2′ tall (mounted 40′ above the ground, silly) I will mount that motor off axis and driven by a 3:1 gear ratio(left over parts from my human powered generator failure) to get my motor speed up to functional without being a torque hog about it. I did some figuring and that 3′ diameter should give the torque for turning that motor and still have decent start up speed.
So, not a dog cage, but a squirrel cage. The advantage of doing it this way is being able to put a lightning rod through the center of the rotor and straight into the tower. I also wont have to worry about furling issues either. The squirrel cage setup is self regulating on that note as it can only move as fast as the air it is pulling through itself†: granted that can be quite high, but nylon parts should be able to hold up even under those stresses (I worry more about the bolts and rivets I will be using, than the blades that they hold)
The question arises of “Is there enough wind to do anything with?” and from what I have been seeing, at certain times of the day, absolutely. Key point being that the capture method needs be large enough to deliver the torque to spin the genny. Not all day mind you, at least not most days, though we do have some where, yes, it would be spinning like mad, all day. But every little bit helps. I don’t expect it to provide me with all of my power needs, just supplement what I do get so I have less need for that IC generation method.
There are days where I wish I lived on the hill side near one of my uncles. There is a creek there that flows 24/7/365 and if I could tap into something like that; Solar panels wha? Yeah, that would be the shit, but alas, I don’t and have no means of acquiring property like that.
Then again, maybe I need to build that dog cage just to give Voo something to do during the day when he is moping around here lookin’ so bored.
Another project for the junk-y minded people like me. A little known secret in the IT world is that Back Up Power Supplies (BUPS or UPS systems) go bad from time to time and need replaced. What actually goes bad is the battery in the daggum things, but it is actually cheaper to replace the entire unit (when you are doing them in bulk that is) than replacing the battery. Those power supplies are kind of cool in one aspect, they are TRUE SINE Wave (TSW) inverters. For those of us off grid, that still want to use desktop computers (there are those of us out here, for the simple fact of being able to replace components easily, unlike in a laptop.) true sine wave inverters are a MUST. Granted, UPS systems are not high wattage devices, typically under 1000w, but they do that range very well. There are other items that may need a TSW inverter, like flatscreen TV’s and such. I wouldn’t try to run a microwave on one, but if you have one that can put out the wattage, have fun. Another neat thing about UPS systems: they usually have a low battery warning system that is top-notch. They won’t allow you to burn your battery out by discharging it completely, AND it usually attaches to a computer in some way to send you a message on-screen to let you know how much time you have remaining and when to shut down if you are really feeling froggy.
(One aspect of going off grid is balancing your power draws, and figuring out what can be DC, and what has to be AC. Its a juggling act with needs, available parts, and finances all in the air at the same time. What lands when you are done could be gold or junk, it just depends on how far you are willing to push the envelope of each idea.)
Now where can one find these things? That depends. Some places (like the hospital I used to work at) ship them out to surplus houses to be broken up into components. Others may lot sell them. Chances are, you will find that they are not all that hard to find, but will need repaired, OR like I would do, gut them and do away with the internal battery, and tap them into my battery bank. Off grid battery storage systems are just large format batteries to a UPS system, and I am sure it doesn’t care one iota if its attached to a small 100A/hr ni-cad, or Deep cell Golfcart battery so long as it is getting the right voltage at its terminals. Another place to look would be at some yardsales or if you happen to be in a ‘geeky neighborhood’ you will sometimes see radio/electronics swap-meets. Happy hunting.
† Check out that ‘self-regulating’ aspect. One could set up a governor that would pull a plate closer to the bottom (intake) of the squirrel cage, restricting the flow into the cage, slowing it down. I can see several different evolutions of that restriction, each dependent on complexity. But I leave that for now, the whole idea is to get “something” in the air spinning to get some juice out of the sky.
PS: There was a question a while back about copying these pages on solar for later study/use. Feel free. Keep in mind, what I publish is in the public eye, and has a date on it.(IE Poormans copyright) I won’t rip on you if’n you copy it elsewhere, just give credit where credit is due. None of these ideas are spectacular feats of engineering, and likely have been done by others in some form or fashion in time out of mind, I make no claim to be an acclaimed inventor, I just tinker and make stuff.