Renewable Energy for Everyone

Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair, Fort Collins, Colorado, 2007

This is the 4th year we've put on a 'homebrew wind turbine workshop' at the Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair.  It's a 2 day event - this year was pretty impressive with lots of fun workshops (bio diesel, veggie oil conversions, strawbale and timber frame building etc...) and over 175 vendors. Lots of good music, interesting speakers... great food and beer etc.  This year we arranged to have the highest/clearest ground at the workshop and we decided to bring a short tower so we could let one of our 10' wind turbines run at the fair.  We started fabricating the tower last Wed.  Pictured above is the base.  It's a pivot (pipe over pipe) welded to angle iron, with two short (3" long) pieces of 4" sched 40 pipe to hold the tower and the gin pole.  The tower itself is to be built with 12 gage 4" tubing.  I was worried about the strength of this material at first, but it's very rigid - much more rigid and stronger than 2.5" sched 40 pipe and slightly less expensive.

There's the tower base with the tower clamped into it.  The tubing fits tightly into the pipe, and there's a hole in the tubing so we can tighten the 5/16" bolt into it so the tower cannot come out of the base.

All the parts of the tower are made from 10' sections of 4" tubing - each section (two for the tower because it's only 20' tall and one for the gin pole.  Pictured above is the coupler.  We made it by /splitting & spreading a 12" long piece of the same tubing.  It's very tight - it holds the pieces together perfectly straight.

We finished the tower and assembled it in my own yard before the fair so we'd be sure it would work.

George made nice stakes out of angle iron to anchor the guy wires.  We assembled and raised it in the yard on Thursday afternoon.

Then we lowered it, and put a 10' diameter 12V machine on it, with rectifiers and a battery and made certain everything worked and seemed solid.

Friday morning we loaded up all the tables/workbenches  - and what seemed like about every tool in the shop - along with magnets, wire - wood for blades - the tower etc etc into two trucks and took it down to the fair grounds to setup.  The fair is in a great spot along the Poudre River next to New Belgium brewing company.  Pictured above Rich and George are assembling the tower.

Rich pounds the guy wire anchors into the ground....

We made an aluminum pulley for the end of the gin pole.  With this, two people could easily pull the tower up with the machine on it.

At the end of the day Friday we had most of our stuff setup - the wind turbine functional on the tower hooked up to rectifiers with a stop switch, a deep cycle marine trolling battery and a 2500 Watt 12V inverter.  We planned to run all our power tools off this system - I figured we'd at least squeak by since we started with a fully charged battery.  (we were the only folks at the fair who were 'off grid' - the rest of them were running off silent diesel generators that were gobbling up bio diesel made from corn that I expect some cows and people would've liked to eat....)

We had 7 people in the workshop through out the weekend  5 of them were with us from start to finish.  We also had a couple other freinds who showed up to help  us for the weekend.  Saturday we went briefly over what had to be done - explained some basic theory and got down to carving blades - winding coils - and building magnet rotors.

It was very popular, lots of curios folks - lots of freinds and family came by to visit.  Pictured above George and Lou (my Father) are hanging out...

We brought Shawns 17' wind turbine down to display.  We used the tail to hang the white board...

At the end of the day Saturday we did all the resin work - it was ready to go the next morning.

All the castings came out very nicely.  Pictured above they're sanding the sharp edges off the stator.

Sunday Larry and AJ cut the tail out.  They were with us from start to finish.

Dalton and Chuck worked hard on the blades Sunday morning.

We finished one stator on saturday, but not everybody got to be involved with that so Rich helped folks make a second one on Sunday.

We had some breeze most of the weekend.  We generated a lot more power than we could use actually - at times the wind turbine was just starting to furl and producing upwards of 600 Watts.  On average-  it probably produced around 100 Watts all weekend.  It was incredibly quiet and people were amazed - you could just barely hear the blades standing right under it.  The tower didn't rattle at all - it was almost completely silent.

Larry and AJ just finishing up the blades at about 1:00 PM on Sunday.  In the background 'Whiskers' looks on - he's come to this workshop for the last two years and just helps out these days.  He's a good wood worker and always makes sure things go right with the blades.

Assembling the blades.

Dalton cuts a large hole in the back of the blades so they'll fit over the grease cap on the alternator.

Great weekend!  Thanks to AJ, Larry, Steve, Chuck, Xander, Dalton, Tim, Steve, Whiskers and a few other folks for making a fine machine and making it all a fun weekend.  Several folks stayed till the very end and saw us through lowering the tower/loading the trucks etc (thats hard... were so tired at the end and theres so much work to do).  We always donate the finished product to the silent auction.... it sold for a good price and will be installed nearby so I look forward to that as well.  At this point it's nice to be home - we just got unloaded/cleaned the shop and put everything back together here again.  Life is back to normal!