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Thread: What will I need to make a wind turbine phone charger?

  1. #1 What will I need to make a wind turbine phone charger? 
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    I have a science fair project coming up for my school (I'm in 10th grade) and I had the idea to make a wind turbine that I can use to charge a phone/ipod/other device. What I'm wondering is, what will I need to do this? Not exact materials, but what components?

    I know I'll need the turbine itself. I've looked online and found many plans and example of how to make these.

    I was looking around a other DIY wind turbines (larger scale) and they all had something called a charge controller. I have no clue what this is exactly, but I assume it regulates the power output or something along those lines. Most of the ones were 12v controllers, but I would think that would be way too much for a phone. So what is a charge controller, and what size/outage will I need to charge a phone?

    Also, would I be able to use a system like this to charge an ipod? I assume I could just cut one of the USB chargers and hook up the raw wires to the system. Would this work?

    While looking around online, I found a wind turbine phone charger for sale called Oragne (link below). This is pretty much exactly what I'm looking to make, but just a DIY one. And not nearly as professional.
    Orange:
    http://www.gizmag.com/go/7576/


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  3. #2  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    You might want to look into what this kid did out in Africa... He built a wind turbine to generate power completely out of trash.

    http://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/williamkamkwamba/


    Even if you don't get any ideas or answers from it, maybe you'll get some inspiration. Good luck with the project. Sorry I wasn't personally able to tackle your questions head-on. Perhaps another member here will have more to offer.


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    That's really cool. Thanks for posting that.

    But with the project, I think I've found out what a charge controller is. If i'm correct, it basically limits the amount of power that comes form the source (in this case the turbine) so it doesn't overload and fry the battery, right? Well I looked on the wall charger for my iphone and it says the power output (to the phone) is 5V, 1A. Most charge controllers i've seen are made for much higher loads than this. Does anyone know where I can find a controller that is made for levels this low? Also, does the amp amount matter for a charge controller? is it only the voltage that needs to be controlled?
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    When you are dealing with electronics, you should be mindful of both the voltage and the current. If your current goes too high, you will fry your device. If your voltage goes too high, you may fry your device, but it isn't a guarantee.

    If the device says 5 V, 1 A, then you shouldn't go above 1 A. Going as high as 7.5 volts may not cause an issue, but that is device dependent, so I really can't answer for certain. Going below 1 A may mean that the device doesn't even start to charge.

    I know it would be really impressive to build a wind turbine to charge the IPOD, but why don't you build it to light an LED or a light bulb first. That way, if you screw up, you're not breaking a 300 dollar toy. Also, after you understand how to make it work with the LED, you'll be better able to adjust it to work with something that requires more power. Then, if you can't get it to work with the IPOD, you have a fallback and can explain how you would modify it to work with various other products.

    Remember, science fairs aren't about who can make the coolest stuff, they're about who can explain the coolest stuff with simple examples and demonstrations.

    Good luck.
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    Thanks for the info, it's alot of help. And I had that same idea about not using an iPod to start myself last night. That's a good plan to start with and LED or something first. Then I hope to step up to an old, unused cellphone if I can find one.
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    I would say get an off the shelf cigarette lighter jack car phone charger as your regulating circuit, then use a 15 to 20 volt permanent magnetic DC motor (for the generator), full wave rectifier, capacitor, and 12 volt regulator IC for the wind turbine power parts.

    The full wave rectifier isn't necessarily needed, but then the blades can rotate either direction.
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    Awesome, but unfortunately i don't know what most of those things are. What is a full wave rectifier, capacitor, and 12 vold regulator IC? and what as for the permanent magnetic DC motor, if that's what i think it is, i was going to make it myself out of magnets and wire. I saw how to do that on a couple of the instructions for the turbine.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by OppositeInfinity
    Awesome, but unfortunately i don't know what most of those things are. What is a full wave rectifier, capacitor, and 12 vold regulator IC? and what as for the permanent magnetic DC motor, if that's what i think it is, i was going to make it myself out of magnets and wire. I saw how to do that on a couple of the instructions for the turbine.
    A full wave rectifier would be four diodes arranged to convert a positive or negative polarity to a single polarity. It is most often used in DC (direct current) power supplies to convert the AC (alternating current) after it goes through a transformer to DC.

    I was thinking of the output like this to attach the cell phone charger to:



    I was thinking of using the full wave rectifier (IPM1), just the four diodes of this one:



    However, this 2nd diagram would work better since a typical voltage from a car is 12.8 to 14.8 volts. Change the zener diode (PL13Z) to a 12.5 volt zener. The 12.5 volts and 0.6 volts across the transistor would make the emitter follower circuit producer a 13.1 volt output.

    I snagged the diagrams from here:

    12vdc power supply circuits

    Now a permanent magnet DC motor can be used to generate your power and put it to the input of the power supply circuitry. It just need to be large enough to produce enough voltage and current to your cell phone charger off what ever propeller you use. You might actually be able to use two large 12 volt computer fans in series to generate enough power, if you can get enough wind, but I don't think it's enough.

    From your questions, I'll bet this is a bit overwhelming. Quite a bit to learn. Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra
    A full wave rectifier would be four diodes arranged to convert a positive or negative polarity to a single polarity. It is most often used in DC (direct current) power supplies to convert the AC (alternating current) after it goes through a transformer to DC.

    I was thinking of the output like this to attach the cell phone charger to:



    I was thinking of using the full wave rectifier (IPM1), just the four diodes of this one:



    However, this 2nd diagram would work better since a typical voltage from a car is 12.8 to 14.8 volts. Change the zener diode (PL13Z) to a 12.5 volt zener. The 12.5 volts and 0.6 volts across the transistor would make the emitter follower circuit producer a 13.1 volt output.

    I snagged the diagrams from here:

    12vdc power supply circuits

    Now a permanent magnet DC motor can be used to generate your power and put it to the input of the power supply circuitry. It just need to be large enough to produce enough voltage and current to your cell phone charger off what ever propeller you use. You might actually be able to use two large 12 volt computer fans in series to generate enough power, if you can get enough wind, but I don't think it's enough.

    From your questions, I'll bet this is a bit overwhelming. Quite a bit to learn. Good luck.
    hah yeah a bit overwhelming

    I was planning on making something like this:
    http://www.all-science-fair-projects...b8108f640.html

    Would it work if i just hook up the positive and negative output wires to the ones on a phone charger with the cord cut, or will I need the other stuff to make it work? I guess i'm asking if I could just plug the wind turbine straight away and it would work, or is that what you are saying in the last paragraph? Is a permanent magnet DC motor what the wind turbine is in that link? Thanks so much for your help so far.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by OppositeInfinity
    hah yeah a bit overwhelming

    I was planning on making something like this:
    http://www.all-science-fair-projects...b8108f640.html

    Would it work if i just hook up the positive and negative output wires to the ones on a phone charger with the cord cut, or will I need the other stuff to make it work? I guess i'm asking if I could just plug the wind turbine straight away and it would work, or is that what you are saying in the last paragraph? Is a permanent magnet DC motor what the wind turbine is in that link? Thanks so much for your help so far.
    Well, I have a feeling that it isn't large enough to provide the voltage and/or current to charge a phone, but I could be wrong.

    Looks like a great simple design to produce some power, and yes, that's a form of a permanent magnet motor, but it will be AC.

    If you could scale it up, in might suit the purposes for charging a phone. In reading the instructions, it says it should produce be between 1 to 2 volts AC.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra
    Well, I have a feeling that it isn't large enough to provide the voltage and/or current to charge a phone, but I could be wrong.

    Looks like a great simple design to produce some power, and yes, that's a form of a permanent magnet motor, but it will be AC.

    If you could scale it up, in might suit the purposes for charging a phone. In reading the instructions, it says it should produce be between 1 to 2 volts AC.
    Yeah I saw that too. To make it produce more, would I just need to make it rotate faster, or would it require make the whole thing simply larger, or both?

    And to turn it from AC to DC, I would need a rectifier, right?
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by OppositeInfinity
    Yeah I saw that too. To make it produce more, would I just need to make it rotate faster, or would it require make the whole thing simply larger, or both?
    I don't know. My motor/generator theory is relatively weak compared to others who know electronics. If you use stronger magnets and triple or quadriple the the number of turns on a scaled up version, you m ight get what you're looking for.
    Quote Originally Posted by OppositeInfinity
    And to turn it from AC to DC, I would need a rectifier, right?
    Correct

    You can get a dirt cheap volt meter at places like Harbor Freight.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by OppositeInfinity
    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Cobra
    Well, I have a feeling that it isn't large enough to provide the voltage and/or current to charge a phone, but I could be wrong.

    Looks like a great simple design to produce some power, and yes, that's a form of a permanent magnet motor, but it will be AC.

    If you could scale it up, in might suit the purposes for charging a phone. In reading the instructions, it says it should produce be between 1 to 2 volts AC.
    Yeah I saw that too. To make it produce more, would I just need to make it rotate faster, or would it require make the whole thing simply larger, or both?

    And to turn it from AC to DC, I would need a rectifier, right?
    To produce higher voltage you would need to increase the number of coils in each winding or the strength of the magnets or both. Faster speeds would change the voltage frequency and increase available current. Adding additional coils in parallel will increase current at the same speed. You might want to research why this is the case.

    You do need a rectifier.
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