Monday, May 25, 2015

2015-05-24 (Su) Wind Generator Test Base

Since a suitable replacement for the controller could not be found the program was altered to send serial data instead of keyboard data. This was done simply by finding all the Keyboard commands and replacing them with Serial commands. Both used print commands so a find/replace worked for everything at once.

Program debugging was started. The second problem was the data registers for the voltage was meant to be float values, which are values which aren't limited to whole numbers. 1, 4, 6, 9 are all integers while 4.7, 9.25, 100.96 are all float values. When integers are rounded or truncated they lose precisions so no readings were visible.


Replacing Keyboard commands with Serial commands

Poorly formatted readout 

Properly formatted readout

There are still problems with the program. Only station five reported a voltage readout, but that readout corresponded with previously measured voltages. Unfortunately the station generating voltage was station one. A continuity test was performed and all wires showed correct connections but signals seemed weak. Since most wires are similar in distance relative readings can still be taken.

Testing continuity with a meter

Files for Wind Generator Test Base:
The OpenSCAD file below is not necessary unless you want to change something
 To do:
  • Connect electrical to stations 
  • Buy Arduino or Teensy
  • Test each station 
  • Debug program
  • Go to next phase and test turbine designs

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2


This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

2015-05-24 (Su)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015-05-23 (Sa) Minne-Faire

This weekend is Minne-Faire at Twin Cities Maker. Minne-Faire is a chance for local geeks to come out and see what other local geeks spend their time on. Robot geeks were there, STEM education geeks were there, ballistics geeks were there, artist geeks were there and some Arduino geeks sat next to the Transhumanist table I was helping at.

For the event I got to show off my Haptic Distance Sensor and Cyborg Distance Sensor. These assistive devices could someday help vision-impaired people regain mobility. In the meantime they're a way to give enthusiasts SONAR vision.

Also on display was a copy of the e-Nable Raptor Reloaded. This mechanical hand is a 3D printed hand meant to give functionality back to people who do not have fingers but have a working wrist.

The event was a good way to talk to people and tell them about what Twin Cities Plus will be doing in the future. TC+ is a 501(c)3 charity.

 Sorry, I don't have model releases for anyone in these shots





This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

2015-05-22 (F) Weekly Summary

Construction of the Wind Generator Test Base took the whole week. Stations were built last week so this week focused on the overall structure, programming, and electrical.

A program was written for the project which was meant to control an Arduino with keyboard emulation capabilities. Unfortunately the Arduino purchased did not have that capability. A usable Arduino will have to be purchased or a workaround will be necessary. One workaround option is to use a program which can accept serial data and place it into a spreadsheet. Another option is to store all the data in a terminal program like HyperTerminal or puTTY then save the output as a comma delimited file.

Arduino program

Electronics for the project included the monitoring hardware like a reed switch which interacted with a magnet attached to the axle to get a speed reading. The reed switch will go high once per revolution so by timing how long it takes to go high twice the time per revolution can be calculated and from there the RPMs can be calculated. Also monitored was the voltage from a generator. These two signals were run to screw terminals located on the stations themselves.

Reed switch for reading revolutions

Stations wired up

The stations had to be arranged by angling them to avoid collisions with the next stations. Originally each station was going too be shorter but 24" threaded rods were an easy purchase so the stations were twisted and the base will be angled appropriately. Each station will sit vertically but the base will be angled. The option to use only three stations was abandoned. The base was mounted to my porch railing and held up during a night of high winds with no issues.

Angled stations

Base mounted to porch

Electronics for the controller side of the project were started with a clean looking arrangement of wires run to a long terminals strip from a small breadboard. The clean looking wires were quickly rearranged and a messy tangle of cheap ethernet wires were installed to run to each station. The physical construction of the Wind Generator Test Base was completed but the programming must still be done.

Controller wiring

Wiring to the stations

Fully constructed test base

The rest of the weekly summaries have been arranged by date.





This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

Friday, May 22, 2015

2015-05-21 (Th) Wind Generator Test Base

A program could not be loaded into the controller since an oversight on my part lead me to purchase a controller which wouldn't work for this project. The Arduino Nano uses a USB↔TTL converter like many Arduinos I've used in this blog. This was a mistake since the project requires keyboard emulation which is not convenient or possible with many Arduinos. One board capable of this function was the Leonardo and its breadboard friendly counterpart the Micro. Anecdotally, searching for "Arduino Micro" was difficult since the term "micro" appears very often when searching for microcontrollers.

Importing serial data to a spreadsheet has been done in the past but requires a third party program. One program which may be tested is GoBetwino. If a suitable replacement board cannot be found locally options for converting serial port data will be researched. Another option is to use a second Arduino which can emulate a keyboard and use it to convert serial port data from the programmed Nano.

Files for Wind Generator Test Base:
The OpenSCAD file below is not necessary unless you want to change something
 To do:
  • Connect electrical to stations
  • Buy Arduino or Teensy
  • Test each station
  • Debug program
  • Go to next phase and test turbine designs

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2



This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

2015-05-21 (Th)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015-05-20 (W) Wind Generator Test Base


Wiring on the terminal strip was rearranged by separating the DuPont wires and reconnecting on the terminal block side. This fast rearrangement due to the breadboard was a huge time saver.

Tangle of wires from controller

Stations were numbered from the bottom to the top so station one is at the bottom of the test base and station five is at the top. A large grounding wire (22AWG) was run to station three then branched out to each subsequent station. Each station was attached and appropriate wires were run to each terminal. Zip ties were used periodically to secure wires.

Each station

Test base with completed wiring

Files for Wind Generator Test Base:
The OpenSCAD file below is not necessary unless you want to change something
 To do:
  • Connect electrical to stations
  • Debug program
  • Go to next phase and test turbine designs

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2



This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

2015-05-20 (W)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015-05-19 (Tu) Wind Generator Test Base

Electrical wiring on the controller side was done. Controller-side wiring goes from the controller to a twelve position terminal strip. The controller, an Arduino Micro, was mounted on a breadboard and DuPont wires were run to the terminal strip. Color codes on the DuPont wires were ignored. Screw terminals were chosen for this project to use up cheap wire which solder wouldn't bond with.

Controller-side wiring

Wires to the test stations were salvaged from cheap ethernet wiring. Insulation from this cord was inferior since it would tear from any abrasion. Wires were not arranged in twisted pairs nor did they use a standard color code. Ethernet wire is typically 26AWG but this wire was so thin that the screw terminals had trouble binding the conductors. Two lengths were cut long enough to go from the test stations on the porch to a computer inside. Wires were terminated on the terminal strip for each half of the test base and ground wires were twisted together. Heavier grounding wires may be run in parallel to the Ethernet cord.

Station-side wiring

Files for Wind Generator Test Base:
The OpenSCAD file below is not necessary unless you want to change something
 To do:
  • Connect electrical to stations
  • Debug program
  • Go to next phase and test turbine designs

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2



This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

2015-05-19 (Tu)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

2015-05-18 (M) Wind Generator Test Base

24" (610mm) threaded rods were too long for the 26" (660mm) spacing due to the clearance of the generating equipment. Additional clearance was also desirable to avoid wind turbulence from nearby turbines. Turbulence was also one reason stations were not all arranged horizontally. To help with clearances the base was angled a approximately five degrees. This small change in angle allows all the stations to sit levelly while each axle will clear the next station. Another option would have been to cut down each threaded rod. Yet another option would have been to remove two of the stations. The test base was angled by twisting the small stabilizing post.

Short clearance between stations

Stabilizing post parallel to the vertical test station structures

Stabilizing post twisted and resecured with a screw

Angled test stations

The structure was mounted on a balcony railing using U-bolts on the horizontal rail and bungee cord on the stabilizing post. Natural flexibility in the PVC and bungee cords allowed the structure to withstand strong gusts with no breaking or shifting. Proximity to a nearby tree may cause turbulence but all stations should experience similar turbulence. Testing under less-than-ideal conditions may also reveal a design most suited for implementation.

U-Bolts hold the structure horizontally

Bungee holding the stabilizing post vertically

Third floor view during the day

Files for Wind Generator Test Base:
The OpenSCAD file below is not necessary unless you want to change something
 To do:
  • Design electrical
  • Build electrical for controller
  • Debug program
  • Make program public
  • Test for usability
  • Go to next phase and test turbine designs

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2



This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

2015-05-17 (Su)