December 20th 2007
It is windier up here than I expected. The chronograph on this laptop reads 5.08AM and this normally warm AFrame is a little chilly this morning because outside it sounds like a beast is howling. Yesterday we set up a wind turbine on a small 45 foot tower at Rich’s cabin. Rich is one of four instructors we had here. And yes that is a hellofa student instructor ratio 3/4. We did make unbelievable time on our projects. We were finished with our wind turbine on the second day. We had time to tour this tight knit community and their quaint and modest deep mountain homes. First, every home has musical instruments, evidently before the New Mexico gang showed up on their mountain providing a form of entertainment in itself the whole community meets at one of the cabins for a pot luck and jam session. Some of the more advanced off grid electrical homes are outfitted quite normally. Electric hot water heaters showers, flush toilets, modest sized televisions, florescent lighting, water wells, dish washer, just about everything a modern house hold needs. For Internet access most use or share Hughes Satellite.
How do they accomplish all this without utility companies? It is the wind baby, sure all of these installations are also solar powered, with a couple of photo voltaic panels either sitting on the ground or mounted up out of the snow depending on the degree of sophistication the household needs. Also most of the fancier cabins like he one we are in have propane. On our tour we saw many styles of living quarters, some large, but most very small single room cabins. Obviously surviving a Winter up here is quite the accomplishment in itself. You get your duckies in a row, or you pack them up and move down the mountain and Winter in town. Now we have heard a few different time frames for how long it takes to get to town, somewhere between 30 and 40 miles, of which 11.5 miles is frozen dirt, and extremely curvy with sheer mountain walls straight up on either side of the road. Not the kind of road one should want to rush up and down to go to work. However a couple of the www.otherpower.com guys do switch off working at their office in town. I’d have to say what ever they are doing business-wise, they seem quite successful with it.
This morning I remembered to haul my laptop down the considerable mountain to our little cabin so I can work on the newsletter. Good one huh? There is a lot to remember and like I said this winter wonderland is not forgiving. For instance I sat my gloves down at Dan Fink’s lovely home last night where a bunch of us congregated around the kitchen table and shared stories and downed a couple Guinness beers. Stupid, leaving my gloves behind, and the other pair of gloves are in the school van parked in the other direction even further down the hill. Now when I say hill, of course I don’t really mean a hill in the sense that we think of a hill. This hill is more like a ski hill. When someone goes for a tool or whatever, down in the truck, they don’t appear to get further away as the walk, just smaller or maybe shorter would be a better description. I have tried my mountain sprinting up here at 8500 feet above sea level, I can do it but a short distance leaves me wanting for air. Still, the shop and two homes on this side of the mountain are not all that far apart, just 100 feet up or down which ever way we are heading.
So, back to the wind and wind turbines. We spent our free time working with towers yesterday. This extra time was made possible by our quick grasping of concepts and work skills. First we took down Dan Bartmann’s gigantic wind turbine tower which with the help of a totally awesome steam engine and Listeroid diesel engine power the shop and house. The shop wind turbine is 17 feet in diameter, cube that number to get the wind sweep area. The axial flux alternator sitting atop the 65 foot tower puts out over 1.5 kilowatts in a steady breeze. Figure our generators at the Tusas Campo are in the range 1.5 to 2.5 kilowatts, the solar panels which you all probably didn’t see because the eight 3 foot by 32 inch panels were on the roof of the stage, put out around 400 to 600 watts in full sun. Those photovoltaic panels were antiques, modern panels of that size put out anywhere from 75 up to 150 watts. Nevertheless, it takes quite a few solar panels to equal the power output of a wind turbine properly placed.
In years past, I recall that our sunny New Mexico weather included a considerable amount of wind. For some reason I have trouble recalling some events, and I don’t know if this is a result of lifestyle or aging, or whatever. It seems to me that before Nell and I moved up the hill the wind blew constantly at the other house. Maybe, it is my imagination, possibly climate change, maybe geographically the location of our new home just isn’t windy like I remember. No matter, Brian and Kevin are possessed. We will be building axial flux wind turbines. We don’t know where we will take this, or even how exactly we’ll accomplish our great vision. But one thing is certain, we can build our new workshop cabin back in the woods far from any power lines. We just need a good steady breeze and a little luck and we think we have found ourselves a sustainable cottage industry that fits very well with the coming energy crunch.
That’s it then from the alternative energy guy high in the mountains of windy Colorado.
Provided we have a safe a pleasent trip like the one we had coming here, then I’ll be back home late tonight snuggled with my honey. Friday’s newsletter shall be just like old times, or what I remember of them anyway.
|Sugar Pine blades getting first coat of linseed oil by Kevin.||The grain is straight and the wood is easy to work|
|We choose these blades over the Douglas Fir||The Douglas Fir blades weren’t shaped as well|
|Above the iron work is positioned together more or less||Above image shows the offset of the spindle housing|
|Spindle housing is tilted improperly. It should be out at the bottom more to keep the blades away from the tower.||Before we can weld this together we need to solve a related problem first. The arc welder power cord needs an extension built. We were going to weld this up outside in our old open air shop, but is was just too cold out there. We really need to get everything aligned properly. We try not to rush projects, even when they are this exciting. Kevin and I are working for a neighbor tomorrow, where hopefully we’ll earn enough to buy the cable which will be used afterward for connecting the alternator on top of the tower to the rectifier and batteries.|
|The gray disk in the center of the dough-nut is the spindle shaft.||The piece of iron with three points is the stator mounting bracket.|
|It doesn’t look like much, but the pipe connecting the yaw bearing pipe (the pipe you are looking in the end of here) to the larger diameter shorter pipe was the key to making this mechanism work together.||Obviously we’ll need to keep on chronicling the assembly of this turbine before it make sense. At the bottom of the stator bracket is the hub assembly which will rotate with the blades and magnet rotors.|