Building my first wind-powered generator

I am building a teeny-tiny version of the Chispito Wind Generator. Rather then having blades 4 feet long, my blades are only about 20cm long.

Rather than generating 1000W in good wind, my little generator should produce somewhere between 0.2 Watts and 100 Watts, at wind speeds of 2m/s (4.5mph / 7.2kmph) and 15m/s (34mph / 54 kmph) respectively. Wattage calculated using Warlocks Wind Turbine Blade Calculator.

My little generator is being used for a test run of a bigger version I’d like to build someday. I used a cardboard tube I found in the garage to forge the blades (so definitely not rain-proof), but should be quite suitable as a proof-of-concept.

I am not expecting it to put my electricity provider out of business, but rather server the purpose of demonstrating the procedure of building a successful wind-powered generator. I’ll post some pics of my dodgy mini-Chispito when it’s finished.

Mike has some very good details regarding the construction of his own wind-powered generator.

Installed new operating system

At 11pm last night I decided to install the latest version of Ubuntu – version 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. I grabbed the 32-bit alternate installer disc iso yesterday. It took about 1.5 hours – that is including the time it took me to change the server the OS gets it updates from. I have changed the update mechanism to check my local Internode mirrors so it doesn’t cost me bandwidth when a big release comes out.

It went quite well – the only hiccup was when I tried to get it to install over my existing linux partition – I had to manually re-format the partition before it would over-write…

Timeline:
1100 rebooted pc
1101 reset boot order in bios to set dvd as first boot device
1104 setting hostname
1105 setting clock and city
1110 erasing data on existing linux partition
1115 reformat linux partition due to “can’t delete base system files” error
1116 installing base system…
1118 default user account name = <MyUserAccountName>>
1119 user = <<MyUserName>>
1120 pass = <<MyPassword>>
1121 private passphrase = <<MyPassphrase>>
1123 scanning apt mirror
1125 select and install software…
1128   … 6%
1132   …25%
1135   …43%
1138   …60%
1145   …80%
1148   …84%
1150   …93%
1151 installation complete – first reboot
1152 test grub install worked ok – booting into windows…
1157   …everything AOK – rebooting back into Ubuntu 8.10
1159 password entry screen – login
1200 “Software update available” popup … [ignored]
1201 changing apt to use internode’s mirrors…
1211   …done – sudo apt-get update…updating
1213   …updates complete
1214 “Software update available” popup…
1217   …verified updates downloading from internode
1218   …7 minutes remaining
1225   …applying changes
1228   …system restart required
1229 TADA!

After this I had to make some small changes – the first being to allow users to have blank passwords – I needed my five year daughter to be able to login simply be selecting her login icon (barbie princess) from the gdm login screen.

Relax password rules so some users can login without password

Google helped me find this page which detailed a few shell commands that needed to be done to relax the default passwords complexity rules:

Remove the password for the user with username ‘myUser
open a terminal
– sudo passwd -d myUser

Authorize login with no passwords in gdm
– sudo sed -i ‘s/#PasswordRequired=false/PasswordRequired=false/’ /etc/gdm/gdm.conf

Authorize login with no passwords in pam
– sudo sed -i ‘s/nullok_secure/nullok/’ /etc/pam.d/common-auth

Set pictures on login screen for users

This was easy, for each user I logged on and selected System > Preferences > About Me. From here I only had to click on the default picture in the top-left of the screenand select a picture.