Introduction: Adjustable Ribbon Generator
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.
Step 1: Materials
- 3/4in x 3 1/2in wood plank. This will be used to construct the wooden frame of the ribbon generator.
- 1/4in steel rod that will be cut into 4 pieces that will be used for the metal slides.
- 1/4in hex bolt about 5 1/2 in long.
- 2 - 1/4in hex nuts
- 2 - 1/4in ID washers
- 1 - ribbon about 30in long (Dakron Polyester) the guy at the kite store said this material should work :)
- 2 - neodymium magnets 3/8in diameter, 1/4in tall
- assorted screws and washers for assembling the ribbon generator
- 2 - 1 1/4in OD washers, to be used to affix the scale.
- 1/8in U bolt, or eyebolt.
Step 2: Step 1 - the Frame
The first photo shows the dimensions of the frame. the frame is built using the 3/4in x 3 1/2in wooden plank. The frame was assembled using wood screws.
The second photo shows the dimensions of the inside wooden planks that the ribbon passes through.
Step 3: Step 3 - the Scale Side
A digital luggage scale is utilized in this project to determine how much force is being exerted on the ribbon, or how tight it is. the scale is mounted to a printed mounting block by a U bolt. The scale has a strap that was fed through the back of a frame through a small hole. the strap was then fixed to the back of the frame using the 2 -1 1/4in washers.
The steel rods were each cut to 7in each. The were attached to the frame by drilling 2 - 1/4in holes a 1/4in deep into each side of the frame. Then the steel rods were inserted.
Step 4: Step 4 - the Tightening System
This is where the tightening of the ribbon happens. The ribbon is fixed to the mounting block on the metal slides. the Hex bolt is fit through the mounting block so that the head of the bolt fits flush with the mounting block. the bolt then passes through the frame and a nut and washer are used to fix the bolt, as shown in the second picture. Tightening the nut will pull the mounting block back tightening the ribbon. The opposite happens if you loosen the nut.
Step 5: Step 5 - the Coils
To learn how to make the coils that will be used to generate electricity please refer to my previous Instructable. The coils will be placed in the printed coil stands. The magnets will then be placed on the ribbon, so that they will pass in and out of the coils.
Step 6: Testing!
First fix the ribbon between the two mounting blocks on the frame. Then using a fan start the testing of your ribbon generator. I made a wind tunnel out of cardboard to aid with the testing, along with an oscilloscope. Using a set wind speed, tighten or loosen the ribbon until you reach a peak voltage. Make note of the amount of tension on the ribbon using the scale. This is the perfect tension for this wind speed. Hook up the windbelt to an LED and watch it flash with each AC wave.
Any Questions? just ask!