Instructables

Adjustable Ribbon Generator

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The printed parts for this project can be found here.

What did I make?

I made a Adjustable Ribbon Generator that takes advantage of low wind speeds to produce electricity. This Ribbon Generator allows for the adjustment of the tension of the ribbon which will allow it to work better in a larger range of wind speeds.

How Did I make?

Using materials bought from the local hardware store I constructed this ribbon generator using a limited amount of tools, and a limited amount of  knowledge on the art of making things. The construction of this ribbon generator is simple enough that almost anyone could build it and start producing energy from the wind!

Where did I make it?

I constructed the whole ribbon generator at my house. the construction took a little over a week and the testing took about a weekend.

What Did I Learn?

There are many things to learn in this project, I for one, finally learned how to properly use an oscilloscope. I learned some new building techniques in the project. And I learned how much fun it was to build things!


For a while I have been researching ribbon generators as a new form of using the wind to generate electricity. The beauty of ribbon generators is that they do not require a lot of wind to work (about 2mph), and they are a really cheap and easy way to generate electricity. Almost anyone can build one. The problem with current ribbon generators, such as the Windbelt is that the ribbon cannot be adjusted for different wind speeds. My idea for this project was to build a ribbon generator that would allow the ribbon to be tightened or loosened for different wind speeds, therefore allowing it to generate more electricity in a larger range of wind speeds.

Right now this ribbon generator requires a person to manually adjust the ribbon. But it should be easy to integrate a servo motor and an arduino to automatically tighten the ribbon generator.

For anybody who doesn't know what a ribbon generator is or how it works, a ribbon generator takes advantage of the aeroelastic flutter effect to generate electricity. I am not going to go into great detail about what aeroelastic flutter is, but it is what causes the ribbon to vibrate when wind passes over it.

To generate electricity, this ribbon generator uses copper coils. For instructions on how to make the coils used in this project, you can refer to my previous project, the coil winding jig.
 
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I have been wanting to built one of these for testing. The first thing i want to try was putting coils and magnets on the other end also. In theory if it works on one end why wouldn't it work on the other, doubling your output.

Have you tried running your out put through a rectifier to see what you get in DC?
Have you put enough of these together to get 14VDC under load for charging?
aprzy15 (author)  kalefranklin1 year ago
Putting more coils on it would most likely work as you described. The reason I did not use more coils in the ribbon generator is because I planned to use it for testing, not to produce as much electricity as possible.

I wanted to hook up a rectifier to the generator but I could not find a bridge rectifier with a low enough voltage drop.

I have not tried building one to charge anything yet, but I have a project in the works that should be able to charge a cellphone.
How many volts or power is generated with a slow wind or the wind in the video? Is that enough to trickle charge a cellphone or any better than a big solar cell array?
aprzy15 (author)  caitlinsdad1 year ago
The amount of volts to wind speed is as follows:

2.4 mph - 5.5 volts
4.3 mph - 14.4 volts
5.6 mph - 10.5 volts
7.1 mph - 13.4 volts
8.2 mph - 20.5 volts
9.6 mph - 17.7 volts
10.7 mph - 17.9 volts
18.1 mph - 42 volts

I'm sure you would be able to charge your phone with this in almost any wind speed. Unfortunately I forgot to record the current output, so I do not know for sure what it will charge. It should be more efficient than a solar array because it costs a lot less.
ianmi aprzy151 year ago
Do you know the resistance of the coils? should be constant, work the current from the voltage and resistance.
joeledmund1 year ago
what is the voltage at
waldosan1 year ago
what's the frequency that you are getting with the coils? i'm assuming it's something between 30 and 100 hertz?
aprzy15 (author)  waldosan1 year ago
the freq. ranges from 20 hertz in 2.4 mph wind to 30 hertz in 10 mph wind, and 58 hertz in 18 mph.