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Other,Power generation,Solar Power Projects

Do-It-Yourself Solar Panels

27 Mar , 2013  

IMG_1579 This an updated video about a series of DIY solar panels made 3 years ago. It consists of a material list, still images and a few short videos. It’s more of a rough guide.

In total, I have completed four DIY solar panels for an off grid system. The main reason was I couldn’t afford a new solar panels and I wanted to see if I could do it. Three years ago, the cost of solar panels in Canada was around $580 for a 120 watt brand name solar panel. Since I had to purchase a charger controller, four deep cycle batteries, wires, fuses and an inverter, it wasn’t in the scope. Most of the work was completed after hours or late at night, out in the cold workshop. The overall plan was to purchase the solar cells off ebay, join them into strings, stick to the back side of a single pane window, cover and erect on a rooftop mount.

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Power generation,Wind Turbine Projects

Build a Wind Turbine from a Cordless Drill/Driver

15 Mar , 2013  

The goal was to build a wind powered generator from a cordless drill. It could be used to charge up a battery. The battery could then be hooked up to a light bulb from a car or a string of LED lights. Handy for a shed, outbuilding, pump house, boat, small room or workshop. The video just covers the basics and like many of the Cedar Workshop videos, it’s for learning and having fun.

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A neighbour gave me one of their 12 volt cordless drills. Eventually, the batteries lost their charge and had to purchase a new battery from the hardware store. But, as usual, a newer model was on the shelves, this model of drill and battery was discontinued. After watching another video done by Doug Daniels, I decided to take the drill apart and see if I could make a mini wind power generator.

Started out removing the leads to the trigger, made a hub from a 4-1/2″ v-belt pulley, attached blades, and ran some drill press tests. The factory gearing on the small DC motor presented some interesting results. To simulate a high-speed wind turbine, the cordless drill was attached to a drill press running at 792 rpm. The results were interesting. The low (driver setting) produced 4+ amps and just over 18 volts, but was hard to turn. The high-speed setting (for drilling) produced a low 6 volts and a dismal .8 amps.

 The next step is add a rudder, mount it to a pole and get some real world feed back.




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Power generation,Wind Turbine Projects

VAWT Made From Wood Siding

6 Mar , 2013   Video


This video and blog post is about a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) made from mostly a wood called  Western Red Cedar. It has contains images from the first attempt 2 years ago and video update of of the second attempt with modified blades/airfoils. It’s a fun project to work on, especially when it’s in your living room/workshop and the parts can be obtained as cheaply as possible. Sometimes you can come up with clever ideas to achieve the impossible!The parts where various materials for around the shop:- Blades (and struts) from 1 x 8 Bevel cedar siding lumber

– Hub- the top and bottom wood circle from a cable spool

– 1 inch outside diameter aluminium shaft

– Hub- 1 inch Floor flange

– Hub- 1 inch x 1-1/2 inch Reducing Bushing

– Two rare earth ring magnets (ebay), thin vinyl sheet for the blade scoops and assorted screws.

One of the blade scoops was on the VAWT was damaged slightly when it “moved” by a family member.

Future plans: Brace the struts, upgrade the shaft, create a better mount and somehow add a generator. Hopefully with the second tower in the making, I get the chance to test it out.

Shaping the blades
Adding struts to the hub
Right angle bracket for the blade

Close up of cedar strut. Cut from the thicker section of a 1 x 8 cedar siding plank

Shows how it was joined
High tech level system for blades. Sits on a spine of a VHS  tape case.
Birds eye view of the blades shape and mounted
Sandwiched the struts between the plywood cable spool
Shelf bracket for more support
Top of dismantled cable spool
Another shot of the shelf bracket. Wanted to allow space for blade angle, etc.

Shaft, locking collar and magnets inserted on the shaft. Ah, yes, I did add an extra bearing just underneath the reducing bear. Maybe a bit of my over engineering!

The reducing bushing fits nicely into the floor flange. Tighten and you have the plywood, struts all wedged together. Plus the shaft and slide inside.

Erected on tilt up wind turbine tower.

Not too high, but I wish it was! My noisy neighbour would report me for some height violation bylaw.

At least it looks scary…
Can’t really see it from the road. The trees really kill the wind.
Adding the airfoils to create a Lenz style of airfoil

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Power generation,Wind Turbine Projects

Garage Door Motor Converted to Produce Electricity

22 Feb , 2013  

IMG_4375 IMG_4355 Due to chilly weather, there’s been a gap since the last video. So, I decided to answer a viewers question and do a step-by-step about converting a regular AC motor to a generator. The motor in this video was from a 1/3 HP garage door opener. Someone left it next to a municipal garbage can, expecting the city to dispose of it. It peaked my curiosity, so I took it home and see what’s inside. Thought maybe I could use some parts for wind turbine project. Inside was a treasure trove of parts, gears, light bulb mount, wires, relays, lugs and a worn out plastic worm drive, which was totally shredded.

For the conversion, the motor was opened up via three bolts and removed the existing stator from the half-inch shaft. Made a new two-inch stator out of wood. Four half-inch holes were drilled into the shaft and the N42 rare earth magnets where inserted. Used over the shelf epoxy to seal the magnets. Must be placed North, South, North, South, etc.
In Part 2- the stator will be Install, reassemble and tested on a drill press at the lowest setting (752 rpm).




Music credit:
Aces High Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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Power generation,Solar Power Projects

EVA or or Sylgard 184 for DIY Solar Panels Encapsulation

19 Feb , 2013  

The following article was based on my experience and may not have the same results on your location.
Two Coats of Sylgard 184
Sylgard 184 used for a 80-watt panel. See how transparent it is. Only a few air bubbles.
I’ve used EVA film and Sylgard 184 encapsulate for DIY Solar Panels
EVA– $20/yard
For a 24″ x 48″ 60 watt panel- $30.00
Cheaper and a tad more work, but easier to position. Best to have some kind of kiln or oven to place the solar panel in. But, for a larger 24″ x 48″ panel, have to use a plug-in-the-wall hot air gun. If the EVA is not heated up hot enough it can unstick and peel off. I was told to put the milky color down (but it’s difficult to see the difference) Can’t remember the temperature setting it was at, but it was around 120 degrees (med-high). Make sure to ask the EVA seller what the temperature range is… don’t want to have a fire.
Best to try it out on a small panel to get the feel of it. If you like, I can send you a sample to play with.
Sylgard 184– Expensive $50 for a less than a quart.
For a 24″ x 48″ 60 watt panel- $100.00 – 200.00
The Sylgard 184 is the cats meow. It’s main purpose is for exterior electrical encapsulation, keeps moisture out and is not vinger-based acidic (like clear caulking). Remains flexible in all types of weather and when poured in layers, it work really, really well. It’s a 2 part solution which is mixed together and then poured over the back side of the cells. Has the constancy like corn syrup. Very hard to clean up. Through trial and error, pour a container on the glass, lay the strings face down and pour another container over the backside. One coat on the back in minimal for a large panel. In my West Coast climate, it took the panels 3 days to set.  Made by Dow Corning
Note: I built my DIY solar panels about 3 years ago. It was a cheaper way to go at that time ($600/120watt panel in Canada). Sylgard is the best, but expensive for multiple large panels. But, all the DIY panels I have built, encapsulated in Slygard 184 are still working.
2015 Update: The sylgard panel is still working fine.

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Other,Relaxing,Solar Power Projects

Roof top solar panels and Wind Turbine Farms in Kihei, Maui

19 Feb , 2013  

home-solar-panels Just got back from a fantastic family vacation in Kihei, Maui. As soon as we left the airport in our rental car, we noticed many the homes had plenty of solar panels on the roofs. Like at least 15 panels. Must be grid-tie systems. Even the churches were getting in on it. One fairly big church had over 60 PV panels. Did a quick search and noticed that there was a 4 year return on savings and an up to 35% rebate. Compared to a past visit to the island of Kauai, two years ago, the Maui citizens are jumping on board. Since I was looking at the roofs more closely, I did see a the newer pipe style of solar hot water heater.


Kihei Wind turbine Farm I also saw my first wind turbine farm. Owned by Kaheawa Wind Farm and it was on the road to ‪Lahaina‬ right across the bay to Kihei. 14 Wind turbines ran right up the ridge of the mountain. It was cool to see how the clouds were passing through the the turbine blades. It was like in “real time”. Just had my iPhone, so, the video came out fuzzy.

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