On the first day of this studio we learned about hackers and lighting a light bulb. Before our first class I only knew hackers to be people who hacked into websites, but Sean showed us that another thing hackers do is use old objects and tools to create energy efficient products. We watched a video on a guy who made an emergency cell phone charger out of a few simple products in his home. Another activity we did was lighting different types of light bulbs. We learned how the watts and voltage of a battery affects the brightness of a bulb.
The first day was just the starting point for Julia and I's project. We started off by deciding to make a cell phone crank that would attach to a phone case. We soon realized the cell phone crank wouldn't be as useful and it would be more complicated to make because in order to charge the phone the generator and the gear box would need to be very big. We decided to switch our project to a small movable wind turbine because it can produce more voltage. It is also much more versatile. For example you can use it while riding your bike and clip it onto your backpack straps. This will generate energy that you can use to charge a cell phone.
Over the two weeks we made numerous prototypes to test which size and material would work best. We used sketch-up to create the blades and all the other components to create the wind turbine and then downloaded it onto the laser cutter software to print it out. We finally made a small wind turbine out of a clear plastic material. The prototype looked great and functioned well, but it did not create enough energy to power a phone, or even a lightbulb. We realized the wind turbine needed to be much bigger in order for it to light even an LED. The most challenging part of our project was figuring out the perfect size to make the blades. We made countless number of blades and center parts for the blades to lye on. The most surprising part of this project was realizing how difficult it actually is to create a wind turbine. We needed to measure out every little detail, from the length of the blades to the circumference of the screw holes. Although we did not end up having the wind turbine charge a cell phone, I am still very proud of our work and dedication we put into our project.
Once we decided we needed to make bigger blades we went ahead onto sketch up and started by resizing them. In the end we did not only rescale them to a larger size but made them thinner! we did this because if one looks at commercial wind turbines you will notice that they are thin and long. After taking a very long time on figuring out how to fit the three blades onto a sheet of poly carbonate we ended up with 3 nice long blades. We next used a heat blower, which is pretty much a hair dryer except it can go up to 100 degrees F. So we went ahead and used the heat blower to soften the plastic so we could bend it over somewhat. This made the blades more aerodynamic, and they picked up the wind much better than the initial flat blades.
Another enhancement we made from our prototype was adding small holes to each blades where we could weave in and out the aluminum wire to eliminate the amount of hot glue we used on our prototype. We found out that the amount of hot glue we used to paste the aluminum wiring onto each blade really ended up weighting down the whole machine, and also made it look messy. With the new holes, the blades looked much sleeker! In terms of motors we ended up using a servo motor instead of a stepper motor, the servo motor had its own gear box and generated more voltage which we needed.
In the beginning Sydney and I planned on making our own motor, but ran out of time sadly. Also when we started using the stepper motor we had to use diodes to convert the DC current to AC so we could light a light bulb, but with this new servo motor we didn't need any diodes at all! After weaving through all the aluminum wire, which took surprisingly quite a lot of effort we managed to put the top half of our wind turbine together! We tested our just the top half of or wind turbine and we were quite surprised to find out it was able to light up a LED, However we noticed that the turbine wasn't spinning as fast as we wanted it to, so we tried putting on an older smaller prototype that has worked fine in the middle of the big turbine, to give it an extra boost and surprisingly it worked perfectly! Just the morning we were able to resize the original base we had for our smaller prototype to be 3ft tall so it could hold our huge new face! We also had to make a new hole for the motor because we ended up switching the motors! After a good amount of annoyance and time we were able to get sketch up to do what we wanted and we resized the new base perfectly and printed it out onto a nice big piece of plywood just in time for presentations! I'd say that Sydney and I were both quite happy with the outcome we had even though we weren't able to charge and iPhone the fact that we were able to make a functioning wind turbine was pretty impressive I thought at least!