Introduction: Interactive Windmill

Purpose

This instructable was created in fulfillment of the project requirement
of the Makecourse at the University of South Florida (www.makecourse.com)

Background

This project is the result of my passion for energy. I sought to design and create something that could harness the true power of nature; I chose wind. Wind occurs naturally almost everywhere, more in some places then others, and with the future of energy leaning towards sustainability I felt the concept was perfect. Here, below, you will find out how to make your own Interactive Windmill so that you too can venture into the world of alternative energy. The Concept The concept/purpose of this project is to incorporate an LCD and 3 LEDs to visually display the voltage formed by spinning a DC motor attached to a blade (windmill turbine). SOME SKILLS NECESSARY include soldering, understanding C++ code incorporated with the Arduino Uno microcontroller, 3D design software knowledge (Autodesk Inventor) and 3D printing access are a MUST (we used ABS plastic with a MakerBot Z18), furthermore a laser cutter is needed for the facade and making the gears.

Step 1: Design Overview and Materials

The Concept

The concept/purpose of this project is to incorporate an LCD and 3 LEDs to visually display the voltage formed by spinning a DC motor attached to a blade (windmill turbine).

SOME SKILLS NECESSARY include soldering, understanding C++ code incorporated with the Arduino Uno microcontroller, 3D design software knowledge (Autodesk Inventor) and 3D printing access are a MUST (we used ABS plastic with a MakerBot Z18), furthermore a laser cutter is needed for the facade and making the gears.

The Parts

The Interactive Windmill consists of

  • 2 acrylic laser cut gears
  • 4 major 3D printed parts
  • 1 IIC 1602 LCD
  • 1 SG90 9G servo
  • 1 DC-47P DC Series Heavy Duty Electronics Enclosure
  • 1 Small Wind Turbine Generator from Pacific Sky Power
  • 1 piece of 10mm diameter all-thread
  • 3 10mm lock nuts
  • 2 10mm large washers
  • 1 Arduino microcontroller
  • 1 breadboard with jumper wires and various components (discussed later)

The parts can be found below in .stl format. This is the format needed to 3D print using MakerBot software.

The drawing for the gears are also below in PDF format (appropriate for laser cutting), as well as the PDF files for the LCD frame and front cover.

Step 2: The Circuit

The Breadboard

The Circuit Includes:

  • 6 1000-Ohm resistors, 1 470-Ohm resistor
  • 2 Schottky diodes
  • 1 Zener diode with breakdown voltage 5.1V
  • 1 1-microfarad capacitor
  • 1 N4001 silicon diode
  • 3 LEDs (Red, Yellow, Green)
  • 1 IR receiver
  • SG90 9G servo

  • IIC 1602 LCD

  • Lots of wiring
  • The Wind Turbine (DC Motor with blade)

The Idea is to protect the circuit from negative voltages and voltages exceeding 5 Volts. We are using the A_0 input on the Arduino which can only handle up to 5 volts. The voltage divider assures the voltage is stepped down, and the schottky and zener diodes serve as extra protection. One of the schottky diodes leads to groud to prevent negative voltage from reaching the Arduino pin. The picture with the wind turbine is to demonstrate how the leads from the turbine are integrated with the circuit, it is not the full circuit. The picture without the turbine is the full circuit. Also attached, is a Fritzing diagram with accurate parts for a better understanding of the circuit.

Step 3: The Main Windmill Body

The Windmill

The windmill consists of 4 parts. The main tower, the servo housing, the bottom of the wind turbine housing, and the top of the wind turbine housing. To keep it simple, the top two sections are fastened together using epoxy. As you can see in the photo, the servo housing is epoxied to the main tower while the turbine housing is its own compartment.

The Housing

The Turbine Housing has 3 holes drilled in a line that contain the LEDs. To cut down on wiring, I soldered the LED ground pins together so I could run one ground wire down for the LEDs, then the green and red wires are for the turbine. The LEDs were moved into position and then fastened into place with epoxy. The turbine is held down to the bottom of the housing with a heavy duty zip-tie, and then siliconed into its final resting position. You can see how the gears are oriented in the housing in the picture above; they have been epoxied into place as has the servo (be generous when epoxying your servo it will experience a lot of torque). Once you've installed everything, neatly zip-tie the wires into a tight uniform strand. Run this strand of wire through the second hole in the servo housing, then pull the strand so that it hangs loose at the bottom of the tower section

The Electronics Box

This box serves as the main foundation for the windmill. A 1" thick by 2.5" wide piece of wood cut to the proper length of the box serves as the foundation for the arduino board and the breadboard. The wood is held into place with silicone. Line up the Arduino so that the charging and usb ports are facing towards the front of the box. Mark the locations and drill these holes. Then, after you've laser cut the lcd panel, you need to make an opening in the box lid in order to fit the lcd in. Trace your centered lcd frame on the lid, cut the opening to the appropriate size (this can get a little tricky, a fine blade jigsaw works best). After the lcd hole is prepared, line up the lcd and screw it into place from the bottom(make sure you have very short screws so that they do not protrude from the top of the lid) Once these holes have been made, line up the wood panels and epoxy them into place. Another 10 mm hole will have to be drilled at 2/3 distance from whichever side you choose to be the front of the box. This hole will serve as the backbone support structure. Cut your allthread to a workable length (about 24") and, using 2 large washers and 2 lock nuts, fasten the allthread to the lid of the box. Then another hole needs to be drilled as close as possible to the washers (this is what we will run our wires through).

Putting It Together

Run your strand of wire at the bottom through the hole you've drilled in the box. Carefully slide the allthread through the tower into the center hole of the servo housing. Then, place a small 10mm washer and lock but on the allthread. Tighten until the tower is tightly secured to the box lid (this mechanism uses tension to hold the tower in place, no glue is needed). This is done for easier maintenance and repairs. Once you have everything completed, place the allthread sticking up out of the servo housing into the turbine housing. This is what the center hole in the housing is for; it will rotate about the axis. Make sure the gears align properly, do not force the housing down. You've done it! The construction phase is complete.

Step 4: The Arduino Code

Now for the final pahse: the code that needs to be uploaded to the Arduino. It can be found below. Arduino software is needed and can be downloaded at http://www.arduino.cc/

The sketch is fully commented with every significant line described.

The Remote

Any remote can be used. Just observe the serial monitor in the Arduino software, click the remote buttons you wish to designate for clockwise and counterclockwise movement. Place these remote codes in the sketch and your remote should move the servo by 5 degrees clockwise/counterclockwise depending on the button pushed.

You've done it!

Comments

author
MsSweetSatisfaction made it!(author)2014-12-08

Woah that's an awesome gadget! Welcome to instructables, thanks for sharing with us!

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