Introduction: The Green Twist Machine
It has a green twist, because It is a Green Twist!
This Instructable shows you how to build your very own Green Twist Machine, Power Generator!
Maybe we could all build giant flywheels under our homes, that are powered-up-to-speed by green-power (probably solar or wind) during the day, that provide power throughout the night! That's what I'm talkin' about!
Three major principles at work, here.
A.) Almost any old motor can be reclaimed and used as a power-generator.
B.) Heavy flywheels can store and give-back energy.
C.) The world would be a better place if I won an Epilog Zing Laser Etcher from intructables.com!
Vote for Hope, with The Green Twist Machine!
Because flywheel-energy-storage, and energy-generation, can play a big part in our energy-efficient futures, I believe this is an important instructable to help demonstrate these techniques to future-builders and tinkerers; and well worth every effort put into it. This is not a quick instructable! (Weeks of my spare time have gone into this.) And, it's not a simple instructable, either; but also not very complex. I have tried to err on the side of providing too much information, rather than not enough. So, forgive me if there are redundant notes, photos or descriptions.
Standing at 6-feet, 3-inches tall, this giant hand-cranked flywheel power-generator and battery-charger can also be used to power other devices with similar requirements; such as small radios, lights, certain cell-phones and mp3 players, hand-warmers; the list goes on. It can be used to create amazing spin-art and surprisingly 3-Dimensional-looking photographic effects, too; simultaneously! How green is that!? Or, use it as a giant rotation-table for painting or working on your projects. There are many other uses for a giant thirty-six-inch spinning table. Maybe a giant record player; or spinning lights; as a grinding wheel; disk sander... ideas are welcome!
Best of all, it is very green-friendly, and generates electricity up to 5-volts DC, 190mA. And, because of the heavy flywheel approach, it spins for up to 5-minutes after a just few seconds of cranking! That might not seem like much time. But, a lot of electricity can be generated in a short time, while creating spin-art. And, it's pretty easy to get spinning; about five quick turns and you're off and running.
Get ready to have some fun while generating electricity and creating art, at the same time!
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Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed
(Measurements are standard-inches, unless otherwise noted.)
PVC Plastic Pipe: for a crank-handle; aprox. six-inches. (I repurposed a Dewalt toolbox handle.)
printable transparencies (1)
White 10mm LED's (9)
Paint (Gold and Green)
large paper clip (1)
old telephone wire (1)
twenty-inches of 12-gauge house-wire
a cheap 5x7-inch photo frame
Copper Sheeting, 12 by 40-inches
One Foam-Rubber squeeze-ball (for the hand-brake)
three-quarter-inch copper Pipe (6-feet)
three-quarter-inch copper elbows (two 45-degree and two 90-degree, )
three-quarter-inch copper T-joint (1)
three-quarter-inch copper cap (1)
Shipping-Tape or Duct-Tape
Two large round flat things (I used two 36-inch wood table tops I found for FREE on Craigslist).
A few small pieces of wood (to mount the small DC motor and build light boxes and "Green Twist" frame).
Some sort of strong base (I used the base of an old kitchenette table from my garage).
An old motor, or set of bearings, like from an old office chair. I got this motor from an old air-conditioner destined for the land-fill (Green Friendly).
a 3-double-A Battery-holder with switch (1)
Resistor (quarter-watt, 100ohm) (1)
small magnets (quarter-inch, cylindrical) (3)
L-Bracket (1) to mount the hand-brake
Small washers for the hand-brake L-Bracket (6)
Some woodscrews (24)
Stapler and staples
Hand-drill with drill-bits, circle-drill bits, and a center-drill-bit
Miter-box and saw
Multi-Meter (volt-ohm meter)
Step 2: Secure Your Base
Find an old table, preferably one that is being thrown away, to use as a base. The base does not have to be round.
Flip the base upside down onto a large flat piece of wood. Secure it: screw eight 1-1/4"-woodscrews through the table-base.
Flip this over. You now have a base-top.
Step 3: Mount the Motor
FIND THE CENTER of the base-top (one way to do this is by measuring from side to side a few times
at different places around the base-top, and marking the middle points of these distances).
Place the motor, with the motor's shaft facing up, onto the base-top.. Place the motor's
shaft at that center position. Drill a few small pilot holes through the plastic motor mount with a small 1/8"-drill bit. Secure the motor to the base-top with 1-1/4" wood-screws through these holes in the plastic motor mount.
Step 4: Mount the Spinning-Top
FIND THE CENTER of the bottom on the other flat round item (which we'll call the spinner top or spinning wheel).
Drill out an area, on the bottom of the spinner, just large enough to fit over the shaft (But,
not all the way through the spinning top). Flip this over and place the hole over the shaft. Make sure it is somewhat level (my spinner top is slightly warped, so, it has a wobble, which I didn't mind because it makes for more interesting spin-art). My motor / bearings had a fan attached to it. So, I set the spinner top over the shaft and it rests on the fan blades. Then, I secured it with a few nuts and bolts.
Step 5: Get a Detachable Handle on It
Very important: this spinner-handle is designed to be lifted freely out of the spinning-table-top for safety reasons.
Cut a piece of plastic pipe to about six inches long. This is your spinner-handle. Hold the spinner-handle out about four to six inches from the center of the spinner top; trace this spot.
Use the circle-drill bit to drill about a quarter-inch depth out of this traced area so that the handle can fit into it. This is the keyhole. I used an electric hand-tool (Dremel Rotary Tool) to router out some of the interior of this round hole to make it fit properly.
Once the handle fits loosely into the keyhole, test it by giving your wheel a small spin; start slowly to make sure nothing is going to fly apart on you. This table does not require a lot of velocity to be an effective power-generator for a few minutes; then just give it several cranks every few minutes.
(Put another keyhole further out, so you can still spin the table with a poster-board on it. Lay a piece of posterboard on the spin-table and mark your second keyhole spot just outside the long edge of the posterboard.)
I cut off one end of the handle that i repurposed from a Dewalt power-tool-box that had been reclaimed from the trash (Green-Friendly). I used this piece of pipe as my spinner-handle.
Step 6: Paint the Handle
Paint the handle gold.
The Golden Handle is ceremoniously created by painting the plastic spinner-handle with florentine gold liquid leaf paint; then sprayed with clear lacquer to seal-in the gold.
The gold paint would probably rub off with continued use of the handle. So, spray it with a few coats of clear lacquer to protect its gold-ness.
Step 7: Glue Magnets Into the Spinner Handle and Spinner Top
Use three little magnets, here. One in the handle, and one in each of the keyholes on the spinner-top. Sometimes, when the spinner top is slowing down, you want to crank it back up to speed, without having to first bring it to a complete stop. That's where this magnet-in-the-handle comes in handy. You can actually just get the spinner handle kind of close to the spinner-keyhole, and the magnets help guide you to a proper docking with the spinner-top.
Place one small magnet in the middle of one of the keyholes; set a matching magnet on top of that magnet; this forms the hole in the putty, which is where you will later glue one of the magnets into place.
You can use Amazing Mold Putty, which is awesome, because you mix two parts together and squish it over the top of the magnets in one of the keyhohles. Then, insert the spinner-handle into the keyhole, thus squishing the putty up into the handle. This also cuts off any extra putty around the sides of the keyhole. Let this set and harden for about ten minutes. After that, it basically turns into a silicone rubber consitancy. Glue this piece into the handle, and glue the magnets into place. Make sure the magnets are positioned to attract each other before you glue them into place. Otherwise, the handle will be repelled, making it even more difficult to dock with the keyholes.
Step 8: Discover the Art of It All
Once you get the top spinning, grab some markers and a paint brush with glitter-paint and have some fun spin-painting the top surface; unexpectedly cathartic and very cool. Now, it gets exciting! One quick stroke of a black marker, while the Green Twist is spinning, and you're hooked. It's hard to stop! Use a small, flat paint-brush to apply the glitter. Too much comes out in globs if you apply it directly to the wheel from the Glitter Glue tube.
Use big, fat, waterproof poster markers for decorating your spinner-top; and for creating spin-art onto poster boards, canvas, wood, etc... Also, use Glitter Glue; usually found at the local pharmacy; art-supplies isle.
Use a little dab of Quake Hold under the corners to keep artwork from sliding off the table while it's spinning. Quake Hold is a great not-too-sticky temporary adhesive; kind of like that sticky-gooey stuff they use in magazine-inserts. You can try thumbtacks, but they become speed-bumps to your markers when the spinner-top is in motion.
Step 9: Make It or Brake It
Mount a hand-brake to slow down, and stop, the spinner-top.
Use an old foam-rubber squeeze ball; this one was blue; paint it black; black looks better.
Cut a piece out of the side of the ball, so it kind of form-fits the side of the spinner. Then, cut, or rip, a small hole so it fits over the mounting rod.
For the mounting rod, find, or form, something that has a right angle (I used an old shelf rack), cut off one side, drill a hole through it, and mount it with a screw and some washers.
Paint the mounting rod gold with some gold leaf.
Step 10: Build the Box Frame and Mount the DC Generator
The box frame, on the back of the Green Twist Machine, will hold the copper lighting pole in place, and provide a compartment for the rechargeable batteries.
Mount a 3-inch-wide, 22-inch-long board on top of the table-base, positioned behind the old fan-motor with 3 wood-screws. Mount another same-size or bigger piece of wood under the same location on the bottom of the base-top, with 3 more wood-screws from underneath.
Screw some wooden sides onto the box. Just a few wood-screws will hold the sides to the box-bottom. Put a top onto the sides of the box, and screw it down securely.
At first, I was going to use the wires from the old air-conditioner motor to generate the power. But, the top would need to be spinning at a dangerously high velocity to get a decent amount of electricity. I probably could not spin it that fast, by hand, anyway.
The outer edge of the spinner-top travels at the highest velocity, compared to the inner part, so the small motor should be placed just under this outer edge. So, mount a small DC motor, from Radio Shack, with a three-quarter-inch copper pipe mount, and two wood screws. Make sure the DC motor is just far enough away so the spinner-top does not hit the body of the motor. Also, use some small pieces of wood to shim-up the motor, at an angle, so the spinner-top only touches the motor-wheel, but not the body of the motor.
When the high velocity larger spinning wheel turns the tiny wheel on the DC motor, you will get a very usable amount of power; up to 5-volts DC, 190mA; and very green-friendly. The DC motor from Radio Shack, is a nine-to-eighteen-VDC motor; rated at 18,000 RPM; 1.98A max.
Put a tiny rubber wheel on the motor spindle. I'm not sure where to get these; maybe somebody can suggest a good place. I had an old rubber-lined wheel in my materials bin. I believe it came from on old VCR.
Spin the motor / generator a few turns, by hand, while the two connection terminals are attached to a volt meter; this will show you which direction generates a positive flow of electricity. Then mark the positive and negative terminals of the motor, and place an arrow on the motor in the direction of positive flow.
Get a 7/8-inch spade-bit, which is the correct size for proper 3/4-inch-pipe clearance, and drill a hole into the box, right behind the DC motor. This will be for the copper pipe tubing. Using a 90-degree-angle, make sure the copper pipe is square, then trace the around the bottom of it before drilling through the bottom of the box. Drill through the top and the bottom of the box, but not through the piece of wood that is mounted under the base-top. Only drill into the very bottom board about a quarter-inch. This is where the copper pipe will rest. On to the next step.
Step 11: Cut the Copper Pipe
Next, you need a conduit for the wires to run up over the spinning top to light up your workspace. You could use another type of pipe; like plastic, or steel. But, copper is such a cool material to work with. It's soft a pliable. And, it looks great.
You need 5 pieces at these lengths: 28-inches, 12-inches, 11-inches, 5-inches, and 5-inches.
This is where you need to use the copper elbow and t-joints to join the different sections of copper pipe. The tallest 28-inch piece goes in first, then and 45-degree elbow, then the 12-inch piece, another 45-degree elbow, then the 11-inch piece, then a t-joint, the 5-inch piece points upwards out of the t-joint (this is for the logo-sign). Then two 90-degree elbows go straight out the front of the T-joint; and finally the last 5-inch piece of pipe goes onto that last 90-degree elbow; this for the LED light box. (This might sound confusing, but once you start to put the pieces together, it's pretty clear.)
Step 12: Check Your Voltage and Amps With a Multi-Meter
Maybe hook up some LED's to get a taste of the free electricity coming from your hand-spun flywheel. Sweet!
Here's a short video clip to show hew the spinner-top hits the generator and generates electricity instantly to the LED lights. (Spinner top is warped, but it was free!):
In this quick video, there is a diode and rechargeable batteries in line before the LED's. The batteries hold the charge and keep the LED lights from going out:
Step 13: Reclaim Electronics From a Broken Battery-Charger
A diode, which allows current to flow in only one direction, keeps electrical current from flowing backwards, is needed to keep your rechargeable batteries from wasting energy by turning your generator into a motor. Without a diode, any energy that is stored in your batteries will try to flow backwards to your generator, rather moving forward to power your LED lights.
Battery chargers contain diodes. I had an old battery-charger that stopped working back in 2006. But, rather than throw it away, I put it in my raw materials bin, because I knew it contained components that could be salvaged. (My Raw-Materials-Bin?: Basically, a plastic storage-bin, that I keep in the garage, full of useful items that would otherwise be destined for the trash-heap / landfill.)
I reclaimed quite a few parts from this old battery charger: some diodes, resistors, capacitors, an LED. Free parts!
Step 14: Drill Some Holes, Run the Wires
I needed some light-gauge wire, and because it had good copper wires, inside, I had saved an old phone-wire that had a bad plug on it. Dumpster-dive, reclaim, repurpose! Yep! Green-friendly!
For this step you too can use an old phone wire that has gone bad; usually it's just one of the connector-ends that have stopped working; use the wires within for other projects, like The Green Twist Machine!
Use a utility knife to strip the outside of the phone-wire off about 3 or 4-inches down to expose the four smaller wires inside. The single wires, alone, are almost too light-gauge, so double up on these; put the green and black together, and put the yellow and red together; and use each pair as one wire.
Also, if you need jumper-wires for soldering or taping some of the other circuitry together, Strip the outer casing completely off of a 3-feet, or a meter, and use the wires inside as jumper-wires.
Use a drill-bit that is larger than the width of the phone-wire; about a quarter-inch.
Use a center-drill-bit to start the holes. Drill holes through one wall of the copper pipe about an inch above the box, behind the generator-motor; and dirll another hole lower on the pipe, so you can pull wires from the motor to the box. Use a metal-file and a needle-file to clean off any sharp edges from the holes. Sharpe edges can cut your wires.
Run about twelve-inches of phone-wire from the DC-motor location to the battery-holder area in the box. Then, run a seperate phone-wire from the box-area, all the way up to the top of the pipe, where the LED-light-bar will be; allow at least 12-inches extra wire on both ends; probably about six-feet of length on this wire.
Step 15: Modify the Switchable Battery Holder
Remove the batteries from the battery-holder before doing any of the following modifications.
Add input-wires to the three double-A-battery-holder which also has an on-off switch. (Battery-holders are available online for $1.29 at batteryspace.) For the wires, remember you can use the old telephone wire.
Locate the switch on the battery-holder; then drill an eighth-inch hole into the opposite corner. Insert two new wires into this hole. Now, solder the red, or hot wire, to the furthest positive terminal from the switch; make sure you solder it so the batteries will still fit into the holder. Then, solder the negative wire to the closest negative terminal to the switch (probably right next to the switch).
This battery-holder will be inserted into your circuit between the diode and the 100-ohm resistor. So, solder the diode to this new hot wire. The stripe on the end of the diode indicates the direction of flow that the diode allows. So, that is the end to solder to this new hot wire of the battery-holder. The other end of the diode is going to be receiving current from the generator, of DC motor. The diode will keep the current from flowing back to the DC motor from your batteries. The switch allows power to be cut-off completely from all of the lights.
Solder a quarter-watt 100-ohm resistor to the hot wire of the battery-holder that's after the switch; this is the positive wire that was included and pre-connected to the battery-holder, not the wire you just added. This resistor will help limit current to the LED lights.
Step 16: Build the LED Light Box
This is where a laser etcher would really come in handy for precisely cutting, shaping, and forming light-box prototypes and other really cool items.
There are many ways to build a box. I used eighth-inch-thick wood pieces, some wooden corner-trim, screws, and some copper sheeting to build this LED light-box that resides above the spinner-top. You can use a jigsaw, or a craft-knife, to cut your pieces of wood; I used a craft-knife because I didn't want to wake my neighbors at 1am. Hey, use what you've got, right?
Drill seven small holes into two different eighth-inch-thick pieces of wood, that are just large enough to fit the LED's into. Place the LED holes about one-sixteenth-inch apart. Place seven LED's into these seven holes. Use a large paperclip to secure the seven LED's between the two boards. The LED's fit through the holes in the bottom board; but the top board holds them in place.
Use some bare copper wire and solder to connect all of the longer (positive) LED-leads together; and another piece bare copper wire and solder to connect all of the short (negative) LED-leads together.Use a small piece of clear plastic to seperate the poitive leads from the negative. I got mine from the little window on a box of screws. Peal the clear plastic from the screw-box. It should come out easily, then cut a strip out of it that is big enough to keep the positive LED-leads from touching the negative LED-leads.Place the clear piece of plastic between the positive and negative contact-leads. This will insulate them from touching each other.
Cut a slot out of the bottom of the light-box to allow the LED's to shine through.
Wrap it in some cool copper sheeting. Place each of the individual box-pieces over copper sheeting; Then, use tin-snips to cut a piece of copper sheet that is about an inch larger on all sides than the piece to cover. This provides enough material to warp around each piece. Assemble the light-box to determine where screw-holes and the light-slot will be placed; then disassemble to add the copper sheeting.Use a three-quarter-inch pipe-clamp to secure the 4-inch piece of copper pipe to the top of the LED-light box. Use a 90-degree copper elbow-joint on one end of the 4-inch copper pipe; this will connect to the copper pipe above the spinner-top. Use a 3/4-inch copper cap on the other end which contains the toggle-switch.
Drill a hole into the 3/4-inch copper cap, and install the toggle switch into the copper pipe-cap that goes above the LED-light box. Connect the small toggle switch so you can turn the LED lights on and off; see schematic. (The LED's are from Marlon P. Jones, toggle switch is from Radio Shack). Drill a quarter-inch hole into 4-inch piece of copper pipe, and the top of the light-box, for the connecting wires.
Repurpose some old telephone wire as circuit wiring. Solder your wires in place (see the circuit diagram), and insulate them properly with electrical tape.
Step 17: Make the Logo Sign and Build a Frame for It
The logo sign of The Green Twist Machine tops off your project with a finishing touch. Icing on the cake. We like cake.
Take apart a cheap 5x7-inch photo frame, and save the glass and the cardboard. Hollow out the photo frame with a cutting tool. (I had paid 99-cents for this frame, a few years years back. I'm glad it could be put to further use.)
Use a computer graphics program to design a logo for your Green Twist Machine. Then, print it, twice, on printable transparencies. (When you use two copies, then double them up, colors are more vivid, and the blacks are blacker.) Cut them to fit the photo frame. Double them up. Then, tape them to the piece of glass that came out of the photo frame.
Mark an area of the cardboard backing, which came with the frame, with a slightly larger area than the size of the logo. Using a craft-knife, cut the marked area out of the cardboard backing.Hold the backing over the front of the logo to make sure you're happy with it. Put the backing and transparency-glass into the photo-frame.
Measure the outside of the photo frame, and cut some small pieces of wood to start building the wooden frame that goes around the photo frame. Use a miter-box and saw to get clean 90-degree angled cuts. Use a carpentry staple-gun to secure the wood pieces together; only on the back side. I put at least three staples at each joint.
Use a center-drill to start some screw holes, to secure the wood frame to the photo-frame; 3 or 4 on the bottom of the wood frame, and 3 or 4 on the top; and 2 or 3 on each side. (This will also provide a countersink-hole, so the screw-heads will sit beneath the surface of the wood.) Line these holes up by eye; they don't have to be perfectly placed. Drill small pilot-holes; just deep enough to penetrate the outer surface of the photo-frame. Put the screws in to secure the wood frame to the photo-frame.
Use tin-snips to cut some copper-sheeting and begin to cover the logo-sign-frame by folding pieces of the copper-sheeting around the edges of the frame. Take care not to cover the actual logo. ; - ) Use a small piece of a plastic coat-hanger to smooth-out the edges of the copper sheeting. Use a drafting ruler to fold-under a tiny bit of each sharp edge (quarter of an inch, maybe), and flatten that out. This eliminates the sharp edges; and it helps create straighter lines. Use the staple gun to pop some staples through the copper into the back of the frame. Finally, place some clear shipping-tape over all of the edges of copper on the back of the logo-sign.
Drill two small holes through the bottom front of the logo-sign, and use a copper pipe-clamp with a couple of nuts-and-bolts to secure the logo-sign to the copper-pipe, above the spinner-top.
Keep your eyes on the prize! : - )
An Epilog Laser Etcher! Are you kidding me? No way! Wow! Oh, sweet!
Step 18: Make the Backlights for the Logo Sign
Use about ten-inches of 12-gauge house-wire for each of the two flexible arms on these two backlights for the Green Twist logo sign.
Solder the connector wires to the LED terminals. Tape them with electrical tape to keep them from touching. Then, using the electrical tape, tape the 12-gauge house wire to those two taped up terminals.
Wrap the connecting wires around the heavy wire. And, bend the heavy wire into a U-shape.
The heavy wire allows you to bend and point the LED in a particular direction, and at a specific target.
Tuck about an inch of the heavy wire into the gap of the pipe bracket on the back of the logo-sign.
Curl about a quarter-inch of the heavy wire under the pipe bracket; tighten it with pliers so that it fits snugly around the pipe bracket.
Point the LED at the reflector so the light shines through the transparency.
Repeat these steps on the other side of the pipe bracket for the other backlight LED.
Tape a piece of aluminum foil to the back of the logo sign as a reflector for the LED's. (White paper is shown, here. Do not use paper. Use aluminum foil; it is safer.)
Step 19: Connect the Wires to the Circuitry and the LED Lights
Repurpose some old phone-wires and connect the wires to the circuitry and the LED Lights.
Step 20: Make It Look Cool
I installed copper-sheeting around the old air-conditioner motor, LED-light-box, and logo-sign, painted the circular platforms green, and did some crazy spin-art on top of the spinner-wheel. Also, you can paint the hand-brake mounting rod with some gold leaf.
Participated in the
Earthjustice United States of Efficiency Contest
Participated in the