On a family vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico, my spouse suggested we do some volunteer work to help out others that are less fortunate. On the third day, we hooked up with a group from the La Vina Vineyard Church. It was a well organized group of people who get together, prepared lunches for over 300 people and then distributed them to those living in 3 local communities (first world residents might call them slums) as well as those working at the dump. What an educational experience!
But before we set out on this adventure, we brought down 16 bags of dry, hydrated vegetable soup in our luggage. One for each of the community centers /churches that the ministries operates in the surrounding colonias. Each bag will feed 100 servings, which they said will be served on Saturdays, when many of the local families come to the community center for church service, games and community meal.
It was an eye-opening experience and felt great making a difference less.
For more information or finding a La Vina Minstries in a community near you, go to: http://www.vineyardmcm.org/locations/mazatlan/
The video and blog post was Part 3 of the Experimental Wind Turbine Tower Project.
As seen in a previous video, the support tower was raised up into place. The 23-foot support tower would make the process of erecting the towers easier and safer. The plan was to come back, lower the tower for maintenance and remove some of the blades. But, as life goes, we had some commitments on the home front, lack of funds for gas, we didn’t get away for weeks.
But the delay did have a perk, the snow and ice finally melted on the logging road short cut that runs over the mountain. (shaves 45 minutes off the 4-1/2 hour drive.)
We finally arrive for the weekend and I notice right away that the wind turbine was missing a blade and the end of the support pole is really hacked up. Odd, the blades should have not have spun. The auto brake was applied to the controller before we left. I was really miffed, was the controller broken? The electrical cable looked OK. Read on to see what happened.
1. Search for the Missing Blade
I was curious to see what it looked like. Did a walk around and couldn’t find it. Decided I needed help, so I put a $10.00 bounty on the missing blade and my children suddenly got interested. A few minutes later, my son found it about 50 yards from the wind turbine. It had wedged itself into the ground by a bush. It hadn’t hit anything (or anyone) and my worse fears melted away.
2. Lower the Tower
The next step was to lower the old metal tower and figure out what went wrong. Used the existing tall, wooden, black pole already attached to the building. Attached a pulley at the top and a few feet below. Did a nice slow lower of the tower with the aid of the car.
During the time we were away from the cabin, we were told there was a big wind storm. A neighbour claimed he saw the wind turbines just spinning like crazy. The result was all the ends of the blades were all chipped and broken. The longest blade was 22-inches and the shortest was 17-inches. Thought it would be best to have all the blades the same length. It would prevent excessive vibration and wobble. Grabbed my hacksaw with a fine tooth blade and cut each blade the saw length.
4. Tree for a tower
As seen in previous videos, the thought was to use an existing dead/diseased tree for the tower. It didn’t cost anything and it was easy to find. If it didn’t work out, I could just cut it up and use for firewood. Most of the trees in my area are called Lodgepole Pine and stand about 50-feet in height.
During the winter, I found a fairly straight tree with hardly any branches. It was dragged out of the bush and laid up to dry. I measured the tree tower and figured it was about 53-feet long. I cut it down to 42′ feet and should work great.
5. Base for the tower
Didn’t have much time to rig up a proper base for the tower. Decided to use what was handy and utilise the existing 6 inch by 6-inch cedar base of the support tower.
Used a chainsaw to cut two notches for the 3/4″ threaded support bar. Drill a hole through the end of the tree tower and inserted the rod through. The rod would then sit in the groove.
6. The Black Knight
In honor of my younger days of watching Monty Python movies, I named the injured wind turbine, the Black Knight. The Black Knight would endure many fatal injuries, but would declare them “flesh wounds” and continue on. Thought it was a good fit for this project. Here’s a link to a clip about the Black Knight: https://youtu.be/zn82OJKrzzs
I also felt the wind turbine needed a spruce up and gave it a coat of black, rust proof paint.
7. The No Power Puzzlement
The tree tower would be 20 feet taller than the previous water pipe tower. The 10/3 SOW wire cable had to be removed and reconfigured to work with another cable. As I was unwrapping a piece of duct table from a joint, I saw that the male and female connect had come lose. Not sure how it happened, maybe when the ice pulled the tower over a bit and the vibrations just worked everything loose. It also explained why the blades were “free spinning”, there was no load from the battery bank and the turbine could do whatever. The best way to fix the problem, purchase a new 60-feet of heavy-duty cable. But, reality kicks in and I don’t have spare cash to spend on cable. (The cost is around $2.39 per lineal foot.) The piece I have now is 25-feet long and I’ll search Craigslist and garage sales for more. I would have to figure a new way to connect the cables and add a strain relief.
8. Raise the tree tower
The next step was to raise the new, taller tree tower. Attached ropes to all the pulley points. The other end of the ropes were then attached to tow hooks on the cars. Took the necessary safety steps and planned my route and add support in case the tower fell. I then proceed to test the tower out for sag. Tried twice and the tree tower bent like an archer bow. Hmm, a lot of weight there. I got this feeling that it wasn’t a good idea. I needed to add more support, change the place of the ropes on the tree tower. An extra pulley wouldn’t hurt either. As I was standing there working out the extras, it started blow a cold rain and I decided it’s going to have to wait for another weekend. I’d rather do it right the first time and prevent a disaster. I dismantled the tower, bunched up the wires and put the tools away. There will always be another weekend for projects.
Thanks for your patience and following our adventures.
Since the budget was drained from the Epic DIY deck project, there wasn’t much wiggle room for new equipment. Had to make do with what I had, and do some clever reconfiguring of the solar and wind power equipment for 2015 summer.
Moved the factory made, 100-watt panel to the new main cabin battery bank. For some reason, the voltage was really spiking (21 volts, with load). I thought it might be the charge controller or a loss connection to the batteries. Happened during July, but not during August.
The DIY 80 watt solar panel is working just fine. Putting out about 6 amps on a good sunny day. The only downside was the backing was starting to peel off. Some red tuck tape helped seal it off. Hopefully, I can get 2 more years out of it.
New addition. Bid 99 cents on a small 5.5 watt panel and won. Using it as a trickle charger for the generator and water pump battery.
Earlier in the year, the Morningstar TS-60 was taken out of service until I can determine why it was showing a fault. Did some basic tests and couldn’t find the problem. It sat in my tool box for 9 months and in July, I hooked it up to the DIY solar panel. Seems to be working OK.
Picked up a 99 cents eBay special (plus $29.00 for shipping) for a programmable charge controller with load control and temperature gizmo. It will be used in the main cabin battery bank. I like to test the system out for a full season before upgrading equipment.
It’s a good plan to have some spare, inexpensive charge controllers. I use eBay as my buying source and try to find a good, previously used, charge controller. If not, an off-shore made controller can be found for around $30.
Last fall, I purchased (4) 6 volt, US Battery off craigslist for $40 each. They were lightly used and 3 years old. Came from a backup power system for a data security company. The plan was to use them for the battery bank in the main cabin. The box would be located directly underneath the charging/entertainment center. Then I could avoid long cables and it was easier for access. Built a large box that featured space for more batteries or equipment.
I found out my homemade booster battery cables were not up to the job. They were making the voltage jump around erratically. I think one of the reason was the wire was not soldered to the eyelids or lugs. (Have to work on that for next time). Fixed the issue by spending $45.00 for a pair of factory made 4 ga. battery cables.
The small, 100-watt wind turbine is working fine after 5 years. The PVC blades are in good shape and every year, I lower the tower and pump grease into the gear system. The roof top mount help up pretty good, but I’m concerned how the rooftop ice moved the base around.
Solar Panel Mount- Figured out a nifty mount for the solar panel. Used a satellite dish mount. Fun project and it works really well. The only downside was the mount can hold lightweight solar panels.
Battery Box- spent some time planning the second battery box, building and figuring out an effective passive venting system. Some say venting isn’t required, especially the low amps I’m producing, but it’s a piece of mind knowing there will no hydrogen build up.
Have a few more items to add, but I’m waiting on some pictured. Thanks for visiting the Cedar Workshop website!
This is part 2 of the Removing the Cooler Gizmo from an Electric Coleman Cooler series. The hot and cold fans are upgraded to a more efficient model and some changes were made to the wiring.
The original plan was to put it into the old 1920’s ice box, but, after a second look (and persuading from my spouse), I decided against the idea. With the summer starting to set in, I decided it would be more beneficial for cold drinks.
This video took some time, had to scavenge through the bone pile of computer parts for fans.
Music credit: Omission by Huma-Huma, YouTube Audio Library
Did some research on the web and these panels are said to produce power in any sunlight light or cloudy days. Thought that would make an ideal trickle charger for smaller batteries that start the gas generator or future 12 volt LED lights for the cabin
When it finally arrived in the mail, I did some tests and it pushed out 24 volts at .25 amps (open, no load). The numbers are low, but the panel was lying almost flat on the ground.
Since it was small and square, thought it would be ideal to mount it to the Satellite TV Dish. There was a just enough space under 100-watt panel.
I got to work creating some “Z” clamps from a left over piece of angle metal. I measured how thick the solar panel was and marked it as the bend point of the metal. Unlike the first time make these Z clamps, I measured out spaces for the widths of the clamps. Using a permanent marker, I was able to show where to bend and cut the holes for the bolts.
Note: Might not seem like a big deal to measure, but most of the time, I’m under some imaginary deadline and I thinking about the next step even before I’m finished the step I’m working on. It’s like flying-on-the-seat-of-your-pants working. Sometimes great ideas come out of it, but, the result is sloppy workmanship.
Using a cordless drill with a 1/8th bit, made a hole in each Z-clamp so it cloud be fit to the IKEA slide rail. Grabbed the 4 amp trusty angle grinder, plugged it into the 1500 watt inverter and fired it up. With the thin cutting blade, it sliced through the metal angle iron no problem. I took my time rounding the edges of the metal, so it didn’t have nasty burrs, to slice my figures.
Once the four Z-clamps were bent and ready, I went up on the roof for sizing the panel the rails. That is when I noticed my oversight. The space left over on the satellite TV dish mount was not enough. About 3-1/2″ too short.. odd, didn’t look like that from the ground. Anyway, it was a minor set back, but I had an idea on how to add an extension arm to the bottom of the IKEA rails. Went and rummaged through my pile of old solar panel mounts from a few years back.
Found two,1″ x 9″ pieces of stainless steel metal with pre-drilled holes. The first thought was to put the two Z-Clamps on the ends and bolt it onto the rail. When I went up on to the roof to do some rough measuring, I noticed the 9″ strips slid nicely inside the rails, sweet!
That worked so much better than the previous idea. To help secure the 9″ strip in the rail, I used a small 1″ carriage bolt with a lock washer and a washer. The lock washer added just enough tension to keep the bolt from sliding out. I went back to the solar panel and measured its width, 13-3/4″. Then I slid the extension arm up into the rail and adjusted it so the panel would sit neatly. Slid in the solar panel side ways and tightened it up. Nice!
It worked out better than I thought, the panel was very secure, but not too much weight for the mount.
Spent the Christmas holidays and New Years at the cabin. It was a real treat when we completed the 4 hour drive and go right up to the front door. My neighbour was so kind to plow out the driveway with his heavy duty, Bobcat skid steer. Made unloading all the cargo so much easier. The weather was good, but a couple of days later, we got another 7 inches of snow. Thought it would be a good idea to take my snow blower out and clean out the 800 meter lane way. It’s a lot easier to remove the snow when it freshly fallen (light and fluffy). If it sits over night or gets flattened by a vehicles, its much harder to clear. It took about 3 hours, but, I took breaks. Occasionally, I would shut off the motor and look around at the pristine, untouched by man. I forget sometimes that we don’t smell the roses. Afterwards, I let my neighbours know it was clear and ready for them to get to their cabins. Everyone appreciate and I was happy I could help out the community.