Double-Mounted Windbelts™ made by The Buzzards.

The Humboldt Bay Center for Sustainable Living, in cooperation with Danco Builders, have commissioned several projects to inform hostellers staying above the Samoa cookhouse (the future home of the Hostel at Samoa) about sustainability. One such project is The Buzzards' Windbelt™ system. The Team known as The Buzzards consists of Bob Xuesi, Ryan Dunne, Dustin Wiesner, and Dustin Revel. The Buzzards were given the task to charge USB devices using a Windbelt™ or an array of Windbelts™. The Windbelt™ was invented by Shawn Frayne to provide emergency lighting in third world countries.[1] Shawn was intrigued by the principle of aero-elastic flutter and designed the Windbelt™ to convert the power generated by this principle to usable electricity. This project will inform hostellers about this technology, and demonstrate that it has real world application. The Windbelt™ is not the solution for all of our future energy challenges but it is one of the many technologies that together will someday allow us to live sustainable lives.

Background[edit | edit source]

Samoa Hostel

Danco Builders, in cooperation with the Humboldt Bay Center for Sustainable Living, is building a Hostel above the Samoa Cookhouse. The hostel will educate residents about topics related to sustainable living and will utilize several projects built by Engineering 215 students; one of these projects is a Windbelt™.

In 2004, Windbelts™ were invented by Shawn Frayne who founded Humdinger LLC and patented the invention. A Windbelt™ converts wind into electrical energy, like a wind turbine but uses a fluttering belt rather than spinning propellers to create electricity. The Buzzard's double-mounted Windbelt™ design is based on Humdinger's "Medium" Windbelt™ and is capable of charging USB devices brought by hostellers.

Problem statement[edit | edit source]

The objective of this project is to create an array of wind belts that will charge a cell phone as well as educate and inspire occupants of the Eco-Hostel about alternative wind energy systems.

Criteria[edit | edit source]

A list of criteria and constraints were developed to recognize what characteristics and abilities the Windbelt™ must possess or not possess.

Criteria Description Weight
Safety The Windbelt™ should be as safe as possible. 10
Power The more power the Windbelt™ produces, the better. 10
Effectiveness The Windbelt™ should be able to produce power as often as possible. 8
Build-ability The Windbelt™ should be as easy to build as possible. 7
Cost The Windbelt™ should be as inexpensive as possible. 6
Durability The Windbelt™ should last as long as possible. 6
Noise The Windbelt™ should make as little noise as possible. 2

Description of final project[edit | edit source]

The final solution is two, four foot long Windbelts™. Each Windbelt™ utilizes four 200 ohm coils and eight N52 Neodymium magnets. Two coils are mounted in each corner of the frame and each coil has two corresponding magnets mounted on a Mylar coated taffeta belt. The belt is attached on each end with a custom clamp mounted to a U-bolt, allowing the belt to be tensioned on either end. The frame is built out of Purpleheart, a very hard and weather resistant wood, because there is a large amount of tension exerted on the frame. With average wind, the system is expected to provide between one half to one watt of power to for charging USB devices.

This design will be used at the Hostel located on the second floor of the Samoa cookhouse to charge USB devices, such as cell phones, that hostellers bring. The Windbelts™ will be mounted, using satellite dish mounts, on the roof of the cookhouse facing north. A wire carries the current generated by the Windbelt™ from the roof to a female USB port mounted in the building. An ammeter is mounted above the port that displays the amount of current being delivered to the USB device.

Assembly[edit | edit source]

  • The major components of one of our Windbelts™ from our MultiBelt Windbelt™ are shown. This includes the frame, tensioners, coils, magnets, and the belt.
  • Part of our tensioning system is shown. It allows the belt to be tightened and loosened. These pictures show the first version of the system. The first version tensioned our belt based on how far we tightened the nuts along the U-bolt. However, the belt had to be attached to the U-bolt via sewing and glue. The design was modified so that the U-bolt was put into the frame from the outside, and two washers were added to each U-Bolt (as can be seen in the video below) so the belt could be clamped between two washers - keeping it from sliding and also simplifying temporary adjustments.
  • One of the Windbelts™ being drilled for assembly.
  • The wiring diagram above shows the systems electronics from the coils (~), through the rectifiers (diamonds) to the voltage regulator.

Cost[edit | edit source]

Item Description Quantity Retail Price($) Our Price($) Retail Total($) Our Total($)
Magnets 42-Assorted, w/shipping 1 42.20 42.20 42.20 42.20
Wood Per Board ft. 8 5.94 5.94 47.54 47.54
U Bolt 5/16"x2"x4.75" 1 4.13 4.13 4.13 4.13
U Bolt 5/16"x2"x4.75" 3 4.13 3.72 12.39 11.15
Gorilla Tape 2"x12yd 1 5.47 5.47 5.47 5.47
Washers 5/16" 4 0.17 0.17 0.68 0.68
Nuts 5/16" 4 0.16 0.16 0.64 0.64
Taffeta 3"x9yd 1 9 9 9 9
Coils Wrapped w/35ga 2 16 12.5 32 25
Coil Housings Assortment, w/shipping 6 0.2 0 1.2 0
Screws Wood Screws 16 0.05 0 0.8 0
Wood Glue Titebond III 16oz 1 11 0 11 0
Magnets 2 Square 2 1 1 2 2
9V Battery For multimeter 1 5.49 3.26 5.49 3.26
Plexiglass For mounting coils 8 0.2 0 1.6 0
Diodes Schottky, unspecified 4 1.94 1.94 7.74 7.74
Magnets 8xDA4-52, 8xD82-N52 1 31.08 31.08 31.08 31.08
Diodes P/N#:1N5817 Schottky 1A 20V 32 0.32 0.32 10.18 10.18
Voltage Regulator 7805 5v voltage regulator 2 1.74 1.74 3.47 3.47
Ammeter 0 to 200 mA, Part #7309Z 1 46.03 46.03 46.03 46.03
Mount satellite dish mount 1 70 5 70 5
Coil wrapped w/34 gauge 8 16 10.83 128 86.60
TOTAL 472.64 341.17
Savings: 131.47
Time spent

Testing Results[edit | edit source]

Using a 24" circular fan, the system of two Windbelts™ system produces.64W before the electricity is converted to DC and is regulated to 5V. After losses incurred in these steps the output to USB devices is.4 watts. We expect similar results at the Samoa Hostel on windy days.


Discussion and next steps[edit | edit source]

Based on our research and testing we have designed the most appropriate Windbelt™ for the Samoa Hostel climate; however, there are a few components that could be improved.

  • The Windbelt™ produces better results when precisely tuned for the wind speed it operates in. Our tensioning system does an adequate job of tuning the Windbelt™ to the climate of the Samoa Cookhouse, but a more precise tensioning system could be used to achieve better results.
  • The placement of the coils also affects the results produced by the Windbelt™ ; the more precise the coils are mounted, the better results achieved. Although our method for mounting the coils is adequate, a more precise mounting system could be used to achieve better results.
  • The Windbelts™ could be mounted on a swiveling base with a rudder to make sure they are facing directly into the wind.
  • The Windbelt™ will likely be easier to tune if it were shorter. The Windbelts™ that are going to be mounted on the roof of the Samoa Cookhouse are approximately four feet long, and we would not recommend constructing a Windbelt™ that is any longer than four feet. In fact, we would recommend making them shorter (closer to three feet).
  • The amount and size of magnets used on the Windbelt™ affects the results produced by the Windbelt™. Our magnet stack produces adequate results with our Windbelt™, but with more experimentation of the relationship between magnet size, strength, and quantity: a more appropriate magnet stack could produce better results.

The Buzzards[edit | edit source]

Team Logo
Dustin Wiesner, Dustin Revel, Ryan Dunne, Bob Feng
Cal Poly Humboldt
Engineering 215, Fall 2010
Project Manager: Lonny Grafman

Credits[edit | edit source]

The Buzzards would like to give a special thank you to the following people, and organizations for their invaluable help in planning, designing, and building our Windbelt™.

References[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Great job on your windbelts!

And it is nice that it seems easy (and cheaper) to build one, than to purchase a model/kit from Humdinger. I am wondering why the magnets and coils are placed on the edges? Wouldnt it be able to produce larger amount of "work" if placed on the exact centre of the belt?

And what would you guess to be the shortest/smallest prototype possible to build? (since you remarked on that your version was a bit too big) I want to do calculations to compare with regular wind-turbines total swept surface area. To see if a large number of windbelts mounted as a rack/array covering the same squarefeet would produce larger amount of energy.

Keep being creative! --Yeahvle 14:46, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for visit our website and pay attention to our windbelt ! First, this is our first time attempt to make a windbelt, so we purchased a lot of material for testing, such like different standards magnets and coils, once we have more experience and knowing what to buy exactly, the price will be much lower.
The reason we put magnets and coils at the edge is because the middle of the belt is where the belt takes wind power into vibration strength, any object at the middle would influence and break the vibration process, not only at the middle, any places toward to middle would hurt the vibration performances, in order to vibrate better the magnets and coils need to be at the edges.
Bob Feng


Thank you for showing interest in the Buzzards' Windbelt!

First, the middle of the windbelt definitely moves a lot more then the ends of the belt. However, we found it really hard to put magnets on the center of the belt, as the slightest amount of mass would make the belt move erratically. We discovered that placing the magnets toward the end of the belt (not on the very end), gave a good balance between frequency and depth of the magnet's movement around the coils. This allowed greater, and more consistent energy production and also allowed us to use bigger magnets.

Second, I'm not sure what the exact smallest prototype size would be, but after our project I'm confident a smaller windbelt could have been built. Honestly, I feel that a Windbelt array with 1-2 foot Windbelts would be the easiest to contruct and test based on how we constructed our MultiBelt Windbelt. We found that our long belt could take advantage of more available wind, but we thought it was harder to tune because of its size. A smaller Windbelt size would probably be a lot easier to tune, and to test (i.e. you could use a regular sized circular fan to test the array.)

Thanks for showing interest in your project and If you have any more questions feel free to ask them!

P.S. Cool project, it sounds really cool! I'm also really curious about the efficiency of Windbelts (especially at a large scale.) versus the efficiency of Wind Turbines.

   John "Dustin" Wiesner

Hey Team Buzzards, some feedback on your Appropedia page.

  • Nice sortable criteria table
  • Make sure you credit all photos to someone
  • CAD drawings should be legible from the page view so I made a couple of your pictures bigger
  • Include links to your own pages

Great page guys, you can tell a lot of work went into to this page and project. Make sure you put links to your own pages too.

-Annie Bartholomew

I have made some research and comparisons now. Humdinger windbelts can produce 85-100 kWh/year in an array of one square meter (@wind speeds of 6m/s). Large conventional wind turbines can produce 700-1400kWh/year per swept square meter(@ average wind speeds of 8-12m/s. Most larger turbines need 8m/s to move!)
So there is no comparison in remote locations, but however for urban rooftops (where it is impossible to get permission for large conventional wind turbines, and wind speeds are always below 8m/s) the windbelts are a reasonable solution. --Yeahvle 12:40, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but what about the ROI, EROI and ability to produce and fix locally? --Lonny 22:39, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm also not sure about urban use - I think they're quite noisy, so the neighbors will complain. --Chriswaterguy 04:59, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

After all the time I spent on this project it seems that windbelts are rarely a more appropriate design than a wind turbine. It is dificult to find the right materials, and they are very finnicky. However, they are cool and a great project if you want to overcome outrageous frustrations and learn a bit about electronics.

Dustin Revel Buzzards Member

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