Introduction: Wind Powered Yard Light
I live in a pretty windy area and decided this might be a fun little project to throw together. It's pretty simple to do, and could easily be improved to make it more permanent and efficient. It would also make a good school project if you have appropriately aged school children.
Step 1: Prepare the Old Fixture to Start
In my yard I have an old gas lamp that had long been disconnected and which I thought could easily be updated to modern lighting. I removed the top, and dismantled the guts of the old lighting system to make way for the new stuff. Obviously, if you're doing anything with a gas line make sure it is disconnected before you start.
I removed the glass first and placed it inside to prevent it from getting broke. It was also the last thing I put back in place. I also saved the eagle off the top to replace later after I took down the lamp. Then it was simply taking stuff apart, which is far easier than putting it back together.
Step 2: Add the New Lighting Elements
I'm not going into extreme detail, the ideas are fairly simple and most already have their own instructables. The electric motor was salvaged from a VCR or disk drive or something (don't even really remember) and I left the gearing intact as well. It's attached directly to a savonius turbine (already well-documented here) which was made out of CDs, sides and caps of 2-liter pop bottles, reinforced with cocktail straws. And I used a super-bright blue LED as the light (I prefer the blue to white) which was $3 at Radio Shack and the only thing I spent to make this project. I put it on an old DVD which was a concept borrowed from the fantastic USB powered CD LED Light which is also entered into the Let it Glow contest.
Step 3: Beat the Storm
Oh Noes! A thunderstorm was rolling in, which is the perfect chance to test it. Unfortunetely, after the leading edge passes, the winds may calm considerably making me wait a couple of days to test further. I also included this information, because it played into the steps later on.
Step 4: The Finishing Touches
I finished up soldering the line from the motor to the light and dressed all the parts a little bit. I then ran outside and put the light back in place, seconds before the storm was going to hit!
Step 5: Some Revisions...
So in my rush to complete the light, I soldered it incorrectly. I ran out into the rain and collected the top part of the light. Reversing the power feed to it, I then took it back out to try again and it worked like a charm in the high winds... until it suddenly didn't.
I learned that it would be good to also put a resistor on it, as it blew hard enough to destroy my single LED that was attached. Another run to Radio Shack, another $3 for a LED (part 276-0006 by the way) and try it again, but a couple of days later when the wind returned but wasn't as high. It was hard to document this though, in the daylight or with flash, the blue light doesn't show, and without flash or daylight, you can't really see anything except a small blue glow. Add on top of that, as wind speeds shift, it glows brighter and darker, and sometimes not at all.
Anyway, I think this would work really well if someone living in a similar area took the time to attach a light sensing diode, 9V rechargable battery, and resistor to keep it from burning out. You would also have to mount it better than I did, it only lasted about 4-5 days before toppling over.
One other note- my first turbine was from a Chunky soup can, and it was too heavy to turn consistently for what I was trying to do. The reinforced plastic turbine held up very well, even in the high winds of the storm. It was just the mount itself for the electric motor and stuff that needed a better design. Hope you enjoyed instructable number two.