Tag: International Cooperation

The Wind Turbine Part 3: Building the Generator

Once all the parts were built, sickness assembling the generator was a simple task since it was designed to require only a Flat Screw driver (although a Robertson could also help) and some talent. The most difficult part was to prop up the mast so the wind turbine could catch some actual wind.

The Location

We decided to install the turbine on the side of a decommissioned chimney. This place seemed ideal since it was higher than the rest of the house, medical and was sturdy enough to hold the turbine without any trouble whatsoever. No traces of the chimney remain inside the house since it was completely shut off by a wall.

This location was chosen at night and seemed ideal at the time but it hid a dark and terrible secret, as we found out the next morning: it was the home for an immense bee colony (that went all the way down the chimney).

The infamous chimney
The infamous chimney

The Battle for the Chimney

When we first announced to the Ecuadorians that we thought the bees had to be eliminated, they did not agree with us and suggested they would block the chimney hole during the night (when the bees are asleep) so that they would be temporarily trapped there until the work is completed. Until its execution, the plan seemed reasonable, humane, and rather smart. Unfortunately, the Ecuadorians decided to block the hole with some old rags that were not effective at all. The only result achieved by this was to upset the bees by making it very difficult (and frustrating) for them to get in and out of their colony. In the most courageous way, we (Tiberiu and I) removed the bee infested cloth blocking the chimney as illustrated in the video below.

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The solution to this problem was simple enough and it involved fire and ninjas. First, the ninja part (since the fire part is sort of obvious) : I decided that having a ninja mask and glasses would be an impenetrable protection for the face against the bees. I remembered that someone in Youtube showed how to do a ninja mask from a t-shirt and I used that Youtube-earned skill to make my own. Besides the mask, using long pants, a jacket and gloves was enough to cover the rest of my body.

Ninja Wannabe vs. Bees
Ninja Wannabe vs. Bees

Once protected, we could set fire to the chimney (from the top obviously since the bottom was shut off as stated earlier) and get rid of the bees. It is important to note that the bees did not like the fire and came out slightly angry. Luckily, the smoke disoriented and even stun them quite effectively. It was a long combat and I got stung (only) once, but, in the end, we vanquished the vicious vermin.

Victorious Ninjas
Victorious Ninja Wanabees

This method and our outfit was much more effective and comfortable than the Ecuadorian alternative depicted below. This is by no means mockery and is intended to prevent people from putting garbage bags over their heads.

Ecuadorian Protection
Ecuadorian Bee Protection

With the way cleared, it was straight forward to install the mast by bolting it to the chimney with custom made metal brackets.

Mounting the Mast

The brackets cost around 5$ and were custom made from a piece of steel by a local Blacksmith in around 2 hours.

Blacksmith Boy and Carlitos
Blacksmith Boy and Carlitos

Five brackets with two bolts each hold the mast to the wall of the chimney. This otherwise simple task took several hours since the quality of the bolts, the wall, and the tools was less (much less) than optimal. Thank you Nicolas for diligently bolting the brackets!

Assembling the wind Turbine

As stated before, all the parts for the IBee Turbine were made previous to the trip Canada, partly at Mr. Plante (Geneviève’s father)workshop and partly in my workshop.

Below, you can see the parts in their final stage being weighted and prepared for packaging. This happened the night before I left and I kept working on the parts until pretty much the very last minute.

IBee Turbine Parts
IBee Turbine Parts

Once in Ecuador, I put together some (quite instructive) instruction so the students could assemble the turbine on their own since the first morning of construction I had to go finish buying the required materials for the projects to a nearby town. It turned out that I was back on time in order to assist with the construction, which was actually very good since my single sheet of scribbled instructions was not all that instructive.

Turbine Instructions
Turbine Instructions

The turbine (generator and body) is mainly held together by stainless steel 8″ and 10″ pipe clamps. The tail is held with heavy duty cable ties, and the blades are bolted to a beautiful custom-machined flywheel held to the rotor shaft by two setscrews. The turbine is held to the mast by a pipe-flange, a wooden support, and wood-screws.

IBee Turbine Assembled
IBee Turbine Assembled

The generator is connected to a charger and a car battery through a two conductor exterior cable that is fed trough the mast and goes through the flange, the wooden support, and the body. It is also important to note that the blades must be balanced so the turbine does not oscillate (or wobble) when hit by the wind. Finally, making sure that the pivoting point is at the turbine’s centre of mass is crucial since it allows the turbine to be easily oriented by the wind direction. As depicted below, this can be done by suspending the turbine from a thread and shift it until it is balanced.

Center of Mass
Centre of Mass

Mounting the wind Turbine

Adam brought then the turbine to the chimney, and Angelo and I installed it in its final location. It was a great relief to find out that the brackets were holding the mast tightly to the wall and that the turbine could stay securely there for many years to come (hopefully).

Mounting the Turbine
Mounting the Turbine

Minor adjustments were done when installing the blades in order to achieve perfect balance for the turbine. Since the rotor shaft is particularly long and that the centre of gravity was calculated with the blades at the middle of the shaft, this was particularly easy since we had lots of room to reposition the blades along the shaft.

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It was a great satisfaction and relief for all of us to see the turbine finally in place and running smoothly.

The IB Group 2010, Carlitos, and the IBee Turbine
The IB Group 2010, Carlitos, and the IBee Turbine

And some decoration later…

The decorated IBee Turbine
The decorated IBee Turbine

Pay close attention to the quite ingenious IB logo done by the quite imaginative Roxane (the shower part will be explained soon).

The Wind Turbine Part 2: Design and Materials

Now that the general idea has been introduced, stomach discount let us have a look at the materials and parts that make up the IBee Turbine design.

The Materials

  • ~ 2 ft. of 8″ Schedule 80 PVC pipe – For the blades
  • ~ 2 ft. of 6″ 1/4 ” thick PVC pipe – For the body
  • A desktop computer side panel – For the tail
  • An old AC motor – For the generator
  • A 1.5″ x 3.5″ x 8″ block of wood – For holding the body to the mast
  • Several 6″ and 8″ stainless pipe clamps – For holding the motor and the block of wood to the body
  • A beautiful custom machined flywheel – For holding the blades
  • A 1″ pipe flange – For holding the body to the mast
  • A 6″ x 1″ galvanized steel nipple – For the pivoting assembly
  • A 24″ x 1″ galvanized steel pipe – For the pivoting assembly
  • A 1″ galvanized steel union – For the pivoting assembly
  • A 1″ to 1.25″ galvanized steel reduction – For the pivoting assembly
  • A 5 m 1.25″ galvanized steel pipe – For the mast
  • Five steel brackets and appropriate wall screws – For holding the mast to the wall
  • A car battery – For the energy storage
  • A high power resistor – For the charge controller
  • A DPST switch – For the charge controller
  • A fuse – For the charge controller
  • A battery charge controller (for solar panels in our case) – For the battery charge control
  • A 75W (in our case) power inverter – For producing 110 VAC
  • A nice bedside table – For creating a nice “Energy” station.
  • ~ 10 m of two-conductor electrical cable – For connecting the Generator to the battery
  • An old computer power supply case – For holding all the electronics components together
  • Stainless steel screws, order clinic nuts, therapist washers and lock washers, and a nail
  • A nylon cutting board (or at least a piece of it)
  • Cable ties
  • Lots of bees – No seriously, lots of them
Main Wind Turbine Components
Main IBee Turbine Components
The main componets from another angle
The main components from another angle

Making the parts

We started building the turbine before the trip. This way, we were able to make all the complex components (especially the blades) in a known environment with all the required tools and comfort. This was a rather good move since this spared a lot of work in Ecuador and allowed us to use tools that were not available down there (mainly power tools such as jig saws, belt sander, and of course the Dremel).

Initial Gathering

In order to start the construction, we gathered at Pièces d’Auto Jarry. Mr. Plante (the owner) was kind enough to allow us to use his tools and warehouse to build the blades and the turbine’s body. On that construction day, the students worked very hard:

  • They made the blades following the MAKE instructions using the 8″ PVC pipe.
  • After realizing a smaller 6″ pipe could fit almost perfectly the generator motor, they made the turbine body out of it. The pipe was brought in case we could not find the appropriate 8″ pipe for the blades.
  • They made and tested the electrical connections for the generating motor. This meant spinning the motor shaft very fast by hand and hoping for an LED to turn ON.
  • What did I do meanwhile? Mainly look cool and be idle since they were working very well.
Construction Day
Construction Day

The Finishing Touches

After the initial building session was done, my work started. I had to finish all the started parts as well as creating some new ones that were missing. It is important to note that all PVC pieces were coated with exterior paint. This not only made them look very pretty but also protected them against UV radiation which is very damaging for such materials.

The Body

The turbine body is made form a 6″ PVC pipe. The idea behind this for the body to be in one single piece that will hold the motor (generator) and the tale while being weatherproof.

The tube is slightly larger than the motor it carries and thus required three cuts on one end. These cuts and the natural flexibility of the tube allowed the motor to be held in place firmly when tying it with stainless steel pipe clamps.

Closeup of the motor clamped to the body
Closeup of the motor clamped to the body

Also, two cuts were made on the other end. This created a slit where the tale can slide in place. The tale was then held by using cable ties. Another slit was made in order to accommodate the various wires coming out form the motor.

Furthermore, two triangular cuts were made on each side of the body. This resulted in a (hopefully) more aerodynamic shape, and in a significant weight reduction. his is important since the torque exerted on the mast by a (roughly) 20 kg turbine can be quite considerable depending on its length.

It is important to note that all cuts in the body end in a circle. This is to prevent the cut from producing a crack because of the resulting weakening of the structure. I am not sure on how necessary (or effective) this is, but at least it gives me peace on mind.

The Finished Turbine Body
The Finished Turbine Body

The Blades

The blades were cut by the students from an 8″ schedule 80 PVC pipe by following the instructions in the Make Video. I simply added the finishing touches that included: smoothing them further, making sure they all weighted the same and had the same dimensions, drilling the mounting holes so they could be attached to the flywheel, and painting them.

Quick Tip: The back of a box cutter is ideal for smoothing PVC (and other plastics I assume). Simply run it trough the surface back and forth until you get the desired result. I found this to be more effective than any other tool.

Making the blades
Making the blades

Also, the mounting holes were drilled taking into account the fact that the blade tips need to be equidistant from one another once mounted on the wheel.

The Blades
The Blades

The Beautiful Flywheel

The CIMME machined a beautiful flywheel based on a Sketchup drawing I provided. To my great surprise the flywheel turned out to be perfect and to fit flawlessly in the design. We had this piece professionally machined since it is crucial for the blades to be held firmly to the motor spindle. Also, its dimensions have to be very precise in order to achieve optimal balance and prevent any vibration or wobbling of the blades.

Flywheel Isometric View
Flywheel Isometric View

The flywheel was machined in aluminum using a CNC mill and sandblasted afterwards in order to increase its coolness factor.

The Flywheel
The Flywheel

The Pivot

One of the biggest challenges to me was to imagine a good way of coupling the turbine to the mast that holds it up. The idea came to me that using a block of wood, some pipe clamps and a pipe flange would be a rather simple and sturdy solution.

First, it was necessary to carve out a cylinder from the block of wood in order to be able to properly fasten if to the turbines body. This was done manually using mainly a wood knife.

First wood coupling pprototype
First wood attachment prototype

The preliminary version of the wood coupling evolved into a more sophisticated one as shown below. The latter is larger (increasing the assembly robustness), and features a hole and some cuts in order to allow the motor cables to go trough.

The wooden attachment
The wooden attachment

The actual pivoting part was done by using a 1″ galvanized steel pipe union. It was modified in such a way that it could turn (almost) freely. This was achieved by not screwing the union completely and adding a hole and a nail that acts similarly to a clevis pin and prevents the union to get unscrewed. Also, a nylon washer was added in between the the rotating metal parts in order to reduce friction and prevent premature wear. The washer was cut form an old cutting board. Finally, in order to attach this rotating part to the wooden attachment, a pipe flange and a nipple were used.

The pivoting part
The pivoting part

The Tail

The wind turbine requires a tail so it can follow the direction of the wind. For this purpose we used an old computer side panel that we cut, drilled, and painted. The tail fits into a slit cut in the body as mentioned before and was fastened with four cable ties.

The finished tail
The finished tail

Coming up: Part 3: Building the Generator

We are (surprisingly) popular

The IB + Engineer in Ecuador
The IB + Engineer in Ecuador

Awesome news! The Montreal Gazette recently published a nice article about the international cooperation project I participated some time ago: The Ecuadorian Makecation.

You can find the article here:  Students’ trip to Ecuador is no vacation.

Montreal's Gazette Article
Montreal's Gazette Article

And anther picture just for fun:

Live the thrill of international cooperation.
Ecuador Trip - The TV Series

BTW, pill lately, I have been overusing the word “awesome”.