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 Non-sailing: Playing with water and things

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
zeil Posted - 02/16/2023 : 13:10:55
We would not be offended whatsoever if anyone of you feel that this topic is off limit... please let us know

But... running out of projects on our 1996 C250WB, I've been toying with the idea of utilizing our back backyard creek to generate some electricity

For this I've obtained a couple of old bikes and modified the back frame and wheel by adding PVC scoops as an initial stage.

Next would be the gearing arrangement of the bike to turn 50-60 RPM into about 2400 RPM and have enough torque to drive an alternator using the bikes sprockets including a back wheel with sprocket in the front fork.

The generating waterwheel would need to be placed in the creek-bed with adjustments for water-levels.

It is a winter fun project so... your ideas, input, help, concepts, suggestions or anything at all is very welcome.


Bike with 20 4"x8" wide PVC pipe cut in half, mounted to the back wheel of the bike. The back frame is enlarged to provide room the "scoops" t pass by.


11   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
zeil Posted - 03/20/2023 : 12:22:17

First water test...

Wow... love it and looks fantastic... spinning of the wheel is mesmerizing and watched it for hours...

The wheel is equipped with a set of adjustable legs to position and stabilize for optimum depth and creek location.

The rpm of the front wheel, using the largest sprocket is about 50 rpm which I hope to increase to approx. 70 rpm with enough torque to drive the alternator at 5 to 600 rpm.

As an alternative, I may consider using bicycle dynamos instead or look at Amazon or elsewhere for some kind of small low rpm generator

The next "fun", steps will be tweaking the supply of water, the depth of the wheel in the water, some rock relocations and perhaps an extension of the 4ft supply pipe to gain a bit more head as some options.

As always your comments, suggestions, ideas, are welcome



Voyager Posted - 02/26/2023 : 10:02:56
Funny this old YouTube came up in my feed. A German sounding guy who claims to be driving a car alternator using his old bicycle! Alternator + Bike. Very cool attempt!
zeil Posted - 02/25/2023 : 15:21:35

Bruce: During the last while it has been too cold and miserable to experiment much with things outside. As soon as it warms up we'll try the present arrangement and gearing first.

If... the stream generates enough momentum to drive the paddles and maintains revolutions, we will re-gear the mid and front wheel sprockets first to increase to 50 rpm x 1.5 x 2 x 7.2 = 1080 rpm and see what happens. (We could but rather not alter the stream)

If it does not, we would need to increase and re-weld the bent of the frame's tie-rods to make room for adding some bolt-on inches to the PVC scoops or cup the ends. Adding more scoops is out due to the rhythm of the wheel's-spokes.

Next will be to provide the wheel with a solid, height adjustable set of legs.


Voyager Posted - 02/24/2023 : 18:01:00
Henk, my numbers are approximate and you never know how itíll work until you try it. For added torque you might use wider paddles or a few more of them. Now an auto alternator will charge the battery just fine at idle speed, between 1000 and 2000 RPM.
zeil Posted - 02/24/2023 : 11:42:13
Bruce: Thanks for your help. I'm counting on the wheel, given the speed of the water, to spin at about 50 RPM.

From the paddle wheel to the center peddle sprocket the gain would be about 1.25 and from the center peddle to the front wheel another 1.25 (I've chosen the smaller peddle sprocket and larger front wheel sprocket to increase torgue not shown in the photo)

From the 58 c/m diameter front wheel V belt to the 8 c/m diameter alternator pulley the gain is 7.25 for a total of approx. 50 rpm x 1.25 x 1.25 x 7.25= 566 revolutions which is according your information insufficient.

Gearing it further up will reduce the torque to drive the alternator including the friction of sprockets and chain plus V belt. It maybe insufficient for the 20 c/m 8" wide paddles.

So... we may have to rethink the gearing or the use of the alternator and look for alternatives

Voyager Posted - 02/24/2023 : 08:05:23
Hi Henk,
Thatís what I was thinking about. Having been a cyclist for decades, I know that the pedals drive a large sprocket, 42-52 teeth, while the chain drives a rear sprocket on 18-30 teeth. The back wheel spins at 2-5 times the RPMs of the pedals.
If youíre driving the thing in reverse and you get say 10 RPMs on your paddle wheel, the pedals will move around 2-3 RPM. The car engine drives the alternator around 1000-3000 RPMs, so youíve got a speed problem. Youíd need a ~200:1 gear ratio to get the needed RPMs at the alternator. That would take a mighty large sprocket on the paddle wheel, and a much smaller sprocket on the alternator. Or you could do it in 2 steps of say 14:1
zeil Posted - 02/22/2023 : 13:22:52

Here's an update of the progress made on the water-wheel

The chain from the center sprocket to the front-wheel is now in place with a choice of sprockets between the centre peddle axle and the front wheel. It all depends on what speed and torque is available. An 82" V belt drives the alternator from the front wheel.

I'm hoping for enough RPM's to drive the alternator and generate sufficient to load a car battery and some LED lights in the backyard

Next will be the location of the wheel in the creek before making a sturdy set of adjustable mounting legs in the creek's bed.





Steve Milby Posted - 02/17/2023 : 14:00:23
Here are two articles that might provide food for thought.

https://www.backwoodshome.com/a-small-creek-provides-plenty-of-power-for-this-off-grid-home/

https://www.thesmartsurvivalist.com/off-grid-hydropower-how-to-use-water-to-produce-electricity/

Amazon sells turbine generators that are designed for use in creeks.
zeil Posted - 02/17/2023 : 13:08:04


Scott, Dave we will chuckle out loud along when the entire town lights up but...
we'll be happy to just have a couple of LED's illuminating the backyard from our own power

What would be wonderful if there is sufficient to generate enough to charge a 12V battery
The electrical requirements for that is going to be my next lesson since I'm not even 101 with electrics.

First things first though. The creek has a steady year-round flow. It is about 5 ft wide and has an about 2" deep flow rate over a log providing a 9" surface to surface drop. The creek narrows immediately below the fall speeding up the flow and deepening the water.(Adjustments can be made)

The plan is to benefit from the drop and accelerated speed of the water below the fall. The PVC scoops on the back bicycle wheel are presently 8" wide and shaped half round but not capped.

We'll anticipate having 2-3 scoops filling with falling water while about 2 to 3 scoops are in the current. Hopefully this provides enough drive to torque the alternator at sufficient speed.

Once the gear arrangement with the help of bicycle shop is completed, a mounting platform for the alternator and V belt arrangement driven over the rim of the front wheel needs to be made.

During rainy periods the water level fluctuates. Therefore an adjustable, sturdy "leg to creek-bed", needs to anchor the wheel in place. Due to rocks in the bottom of the creek-bed the legs may need to be installed at angles with toggling platform brackets and wingnut adjustments for quick up and down adjustments

All help, ideas, suggestions are super welcome especially electrical ideas. We'll keep you posted



Stinkpotter Posted - 02/16/2023 : 20:39:08
Cool! How fast is the creek (normally)? My tidal river might get to 3/4 knot at mid-tide, first one way and then the other--not much power there. But I've long wondered what kind of power could be generated in The Race, through which Long Island sound fills from and then empties back to the Atlantic. It would be sort of a giant sine wave of power, reversing twice a day. Just put it on the grid or into batteries, like solar power. Then there's the Gulf Stream... one direction, but we don't want to drag it down any more than nature already is, or is predicted to due to the fresh water from melting in Greenland.

Back to your hydro-bike... Keep us posted!
islander Posted - 02/16/2023 : 14:46:02
LOL..I love it!

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