Although some have explored solar power for hiking, it’s rare that I see a project on wind harvesting. In fact, the last one that was appropriate was a built-in micro turbine for a jacket. Wouldn’t you know a slick wind turbine for backpackers popped up on Hackaday. Designed by Nils Ferber, there’s a lot to like about this project as it is compact, light-weight and easy-to-set-up. Its construction is much like an umbrella, using tension and compression.
[Nils] used carbon fiber tube, ripstop nylon, and techniques more often found in kite building to create his device. The turbine starts as a small cylindrical pack. Deploying it takes only a few minutes of opening panels and rigging guy wires. Once deployed, the turbine is ready to go.
There’s a certain elegance about this design, as it reminds me of those inflatable origami shapes folded out of paper. So far the only limitation is that it can only power small devices as it outputs 5 Watts per wind speed of 18 km/h. However, Nils mentions this prototype is scalable. The important features are portability and reliability—wind is usually more frequent than sunlight at a base camp or site.
Although this may not seem like an obvious citizen science project, remote environmental monitoring stations frequently need power, which is often provided with solar energy. However, solar isn’t always appropriate for areas that are heavily forested, so it would be great if these stations could be equipped with wind turbines. Wind energy may also be handy for people uploading information from data-loggers, or for people like me who just want to test one on a camping trip. If you are curious about wind energy, you should check out our Thames & Kosmos Kit that will allow you to build a small turbine. Don’t expect to power your cell phone, but do expect to share the excitement of lighting up an LED surrounded by family members. The kit also has a book detailing the history of wind power, as well as instructions for other models. Start with some basic knowledge and then invent your mega turbine!