Introduction: Ski Lift Powered by Renewable Energy (Solar)

About: Renewable energy education is our mission! REcharge Labs provides curriculum, workshops, and hands-on experiment kits for educators and their students.

Solar power can be used to power numerous things! This instructable will describe how we used it to power a Ski lift! A ski lift is designed to transport people from a lower elevation to a higher elevation (so they can fling themselves back down the hill at high speeds of course).

Step 1: Step 1: Create the Ski-Hill

The first step to this project was creating the environment for the lift. We used two cardboard boxes and a few props to create a ski hill and balance it. (Sorry! We forgot to take a picture at this stage!!)

Step 2: Step 2: Create Towers to Hold the Ski-lift Lines.

We needed a way to elevate the lift lines, create balance and support movement. Using two wooden dowels, we super glued the dowels together to provide the structure. Using a hack-saw, three corks were cut in half and placed on the ends of the dowels. Motor attachments were screwed into the ends of the corks to provide a channel for the ski-lift string. To hold the pole up, we places them in foam tubes that had been cut in half. We placed them in a line up the hill.

Step 3: Step 3: String It Up

With the poles in place, we needed to get the ski-lift line strung around the poles. At first we thought it needed to be very taut. After a few trials, we determined that the line needed to be well connected but not as tight.

Step 4: Step 4: Add the Motor

Using a geared motor with an extension attachment, we elevated it to the same level and angle as the ski-lift poles. Even with the elevation and angle, the line slipped off of the motor attachment. Rubber bands were stretched along the extension to create the static friction needed to move the line along. Once there was enough friction, the line was strung and we were in business.

Step 5: Step 5: Add Chairs

This is actually the most complicated step. We started with pipe cleaners twisted around the string, but the tip of the pipe cleaners got caught on the cork. We tried shielding the pipe cleaner with a straw, but the straw was too big for the lead space. Next we intertwined thin wire, but the wire was too flexible and go caught on all of the towers.

Given our timeline. we were unable to create a solution for this problem and just attached the chairs to the towers.

Step 6: Step 6: Get Some Energy

For this project, we decided to use a solar array for electricity generation. We connected three panels in a series directly to the motor.

Now you can ski to your heart's content without worrying about the fossil fuels powering the lift!

Step 7: Step 7: Finish/Clean It Up

We used our snow machine to clean up the landscape and cover bare ground to finish the project (AKA we covered the duct tape that is holding it all together). Adding a few trees and a final test with our fake sun proved excellent results.

This project brought to you by Mike Laird and Greer Saechao!

Renewable Energy Contest

Participated in the
Renewable Energy Contest