Build Your Own Wind Turbine

Off the gird living just got a little easier thanks to inventor Daniel Connell who has put instructions on how to build a wind turbine for $30 online. It’s not the most efficient and powerful generator out there but anybody with basic knowledge of drills can build it.

Creating something that can deliver a few hundred watts–enough to pump water, say–might not be that difficult. Daniel Connell, who’s drawn up a blueprint to show you how, swears that anyone who “can cut paper and hold a drill” can manage it.

“I’m hoping the animation is such that nothing needs to be left to the imagination of the person following the tutorial,” he says via email.

See Connell’s 52-step tutorial here and his animation below. It basically involves creating a template from paper, cutting aluminum into shapes, then bending and riveting the vanes to a bike wheel. The rest, as they say, is details.

Read more here.

Charge Your Phone with the Sun

We’ve seen DIY iPod solar chargers before and now an Ottawa-based company has produced a consumer one. The PowerTrip is a small battery with a USB jack and a solar panel on it.

Enter the PowerTrip, from Ottawa-based Ecosol. In a package about the size of a deck of cards, the PowerTrip houses a battery that you can top up via the usual USB port or wall socket (the plug swivels out from the side), or using the solar panel that fills most of one side. Just sit it on a sunny windowsill.

Like its USB-powered sibling, the PowerStick, it comes with several connectors that will feed devices with micro- or mini-USB ports, and it will connect to Apple devices. A fully charged PowerTrip can deliver five full charges to your smartphone; a microprocessor prevents phone damage from overcharging. I tested it with a BlackBerry, followed by a Kobo e-reader, both of which the PowerTrip handled with aplomb, with plenty of power left over for other devices. A power meter on the side of the battery shows the state of the charge.

Read more about it and other solar charging solutions at the Globe and Mail.

Thanks Shea!

Roll-Out Garden

Starting a vegetable garden can be intimidating for some due to the tons of questions that one inevitable has to address. When should plants be planted? What if it’s a seed? How do I know when to pick them? These questions and more have been answered by a neat roll-out garden designed by Chris Chapman.

english designer chris chapman wanted to make planting vegetables and herbs at home less work with his roll-out vegetable mats. the design aims to make home food production as simple as possible and easy to maintain for busy individuals and families. the design features a mat pre-treated with fertilizer on its underside and a series of seed pouches which slowly biodegrade over time. this arrangements allows the plants to develop before coming in contact with nutrients, increasing the chances of germination. the mat is made from corrugated cardboard and come sin a variety of options each suited for different planting seasons. small signs designate which plant is where, making harvesting a breeze.

From Deisgnboom.

Thanks Shea!

Solar Power for the Masses

A chain of department stores in the USA has begun selling solar panels off the shelf. This is a great sign that the market for solar panels is growing and this increased production will only make the panels cheaper in the long run.

Lowe’s has begun stocking solar panels at its California stores and plans to roll them out across the country next year.
This shows how far the highest of the high-tech alternative energy technologies has come. Solar power is now accessible to anyone with a ladder, a power drill, and the gumption to climb up on a roof and install the panels themselves.
For Lowe’s, it’s an opening into a new and potentially lucrative DIY business.
“There’s definitely a growing market for this with the number of people moving toward energy efficient homes,” spokesman Steven Salazar said.

Keep reading the article.

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