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Kidwind Project 2093 Sargent Ave Saint Paul, MN 55105 http://www.kidwind.org
KidWind Battery Charging Kit
Using the materials and instructions in this kit, you will be able to charge AA and AAA batteries using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. The WindCharge Turbine and solar panels included in the advanced kit are perfect renewable energy sources for charging batteries. Parts Included:
• • •
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KidWind Charger Box Mobile Device adapters for Charger Box Rechargeable Batteries • 4 AAA (2600 mAh) • 2 AA (1000 mAh) Battery Holders • Single AA • Double AA Electrical Wire (Two 5’ lengths) 4 Alligator Clip Wires 4 Resistors • Two 4.7 ohm • Two 12 ohm 2 Diodes 2 LM317T Current Limiters 3 LED light bulbs 2 Incandescent light bulbs DC Motor with mini prop
Advanced Kit Only:
• • •
WindCharge Turbine 5 V Solar Panel 2 V Solar Panel
Other Useful Materials (Not Included) • • • • Wire Strippers Tape (electrical, Duct) Soldering Iron (for permanent connections) Multimeter
Electricity Basics—Current and Voltage
There are three fundamental properties that make up electrical flow: voltage, current, and resistance. Voltage (V), also called potential difference, is the amount of potential energy the electrons have in a circuit. The more energy the electrons have, the higher the voltage. If we compare electrical power to a waterfall, voltage would represent the height of the waterfall—the higher the waterfall, the more potential energy the water has, and the more energy it will have when it hits the bottom. Current (I) is measured in amperes or amps (A). Current refers to how many electrons moving through a circuit in a unit of time (how much electricity is flowing). In the waterfall example, the current would represent how much water was going over the edge of the falls each second (how wide/deep is the river). For the purpose of battery charging, it is more useful to talk about current in terms of milliamps (mA), or 1/1000 of an Ampere. Resistance, measured in ohms (Ω), refers to how much the material that is conducting electricity (wires, light-bulb, etc…) opposes the flow of electrons. The higher the resistance, the harder it is for the electrons to push through. In a waterfall, large rocks or a dam above the falls would oppose the flow of water, just like resistance opposes the flow of electrons. It will be very important to understand these properties when charging batteries. Most AA and AAA rechargeable batteries have a voltage of 1.2 Volts. They will put out different amounts of current depending on how much is needed to run the device they are powering. The Energizer batteries shown in the picture below have a stored capacity of 2,450 milliamp-hours. That means that when fully charged, these batteries could output a current of 2,450 mA (2.45 A) for a period of one hour, or 245 mA for 10 hours, or 24.5 mA for 100 hours!
NOTE! ONLY CHARGE RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES! Do not use conventional batteries. To avoid damaging your batteries or harming yourself, read these instructions thoroughly before you begin charging. These instructions will show you how to use a KidWind Turbine or small solar panel to charge size AA rechargeable batteries. It is possible to charge batteries with any KidWind turbines, but it may take a VERY long time for some of the less powerful turbines. The same instructions will also apply for size AAA batteries. KidWind does not recommend trying to charge batteries larger than AA with our turbines or panels (it won’t work!). There are different types of rechargeable batteries, but most AA and AAA rechargeables on the market today are NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride). The Energizer NiMH rechargeable batteries shown above picture have a stored current of 2,450 mAh (milliamp-hours). Most AA rechargeable batteries are in the range of 2,000—2,700 mAh.
Charging Batteries with KidWind Turbines & Solar Panels
Pretend that you were using 1 AA Energizer battery to power a phone that uses 200 mA on average. How long would the phone stay on before the batteries were dead? One full AA battery can hold 2,450 mAh of electricity.
2,450 mAh 200 mA
= 12.25 Hours
Once they were out drained, how long would it take to charge them? If you were using a solar panel that has an output of 200 mA, you might think it would take 12.25 hours, but unfortunately things are not this simple! The charging efficiency of NiMH batteries is typically 66-70% of the total input. In other words, you have to put 150 amp hours into the battery for every 100 amp hours you get out. So, to solve the problem from above:
200 mA x 0.66 = 132 mA
2,450 mAh 132 mA
= 18.56 Hours
The more current you push into the rechargeable battery, the faster it will charge. But you must be careful not to overcharge the batteries. NiMH batteries are sensitive to damage when charging with too much current. Modern cells have an oxygen recycling catalyst which prevents damage to the battery on overcharge, but this recycling cannot keep up if the charge rate is greater than 10% of the battery capacity. The safest way to charge NiMH batteries is with 10% of the amperage of the total battery capacity per hour. A 100 mAH battery should be charged at 10 mA for 15 hours. This method does not require an end-of-charge sensor and ensures a full charge. The Energizer batteries above have a capacity of 2,450 mAh. The current used for charging these batteries should not exceed 245 mA. Overcharging can damage the battery beyond repair and create heat in the cell. Even though it is safe to charge batteries at this 10% rate, it can still warm the battery slightly. For this reason, you should not charge a battery for more than 15 hours at a time. The minimum voltage you need to get a full charge varies with temperature. You will need at least 1.41 Volts per battery being charged at room temperature (20 degrees C). When fully charged, these NiMH batteries output 1.2 volts. You can measure the voltage as you charge them. If the batteries are putting out more than 1.5 volts, stop charging immediately.
WARNING — Battery Charging Safety Tips:
• • • • • • • Charge time should not exceed 15 hours straight. Input voltage should not exceed 2.5 volts per battery. Input current should be limited to 10% of battery capacity Battery voltage—Stop charging if batteries reach 1.5 volts. Only charge rechargeable batteries. Do not overcharge batteries. Do not charge batteries that appear worn or damaged.
How to Set Up the Basic Circuit:
The power should flow from your solar panel/wind turbine into the batteries. If you are not careful, when a cloud blocks the sun or the wind stops blowing, the electricity from the batteries will flow back out to the panel or turbine. To prevent this, insert a diode in series between the electricity source (panel/turbine) and the batteries. A diode allows electricity to flow one way through the circuit, but blocks it from going the other way. The diode will cause a voltage drop of 0.3—0.8 V, so it may not work to charge on AA battery with a 2 V solar panel and a diode. The charging voltage may drop below 1.2 volts. Put your battery in a battery holder like the one shown. It is helpful if the battery holder has wires (leads) coming from the terminals. This image shows a simple battery charging circuit. This is a 5 volt solar panel, enough to charge 3 batteries. With a 2 volt solar panel, you will only be able to charge one battery but the circuit will be the same. Connect the (+) lead of the panel/turbine to one side of the diode. Connect the (+) terminal of the battery to the other side of the diode. Then connect the (-) terminal of the battery to the (-) lead of the panel/turbine. The voltage measured across B and C in the picture is the voltage coming in from the solar panel. The voltage measured across A and B is the voltage of the batteries. Remember that input voltage (B-C) should not exceed 2.5 Volts per battery (i.e. 5 volts for 2 batteries, in this case). Pay close attention to this if you plan on using more than one energy source at one time for battery charging.
Energy Source B
C Close-up of diode. Ringed end goes to batteries A
Current-limited battery charging circuit
Resistor Direction does not matter Diode Ringed end toward batteries Batteries
You can use a “Voltage/Current Regulator” to make sure that the current going into the batteries does not exceed the 10% rule. This is especially useful when charging with wind turbines, which can be more erratic. The LM317T Regulator puts out a steady 1.25 volts (+) and will limit the current depending on the size of resistor used. Look at the chart of available resistor sizes below to see which size should be used to regulate (-) current at the desired rate. For the Energizer batteries discussed on page 1, a 5.6 Ohm resistor would work well, giving us a current of 223 mA.
R (Ohms) I (mA)
Resistor Batteries Generator (solar/wind)
The KidWind battery charging kit includes two 4.7 ohm resistors and two 12 ohm resistors. The 4.7 ohm resistor should be used when charging the included AA batteries (2600 mAh) and the 12 ohm resistor should be used when charging the included AAA batteries (1000 mAh). Resistors have no polarity, so direction of the resistor will not matter. The direction of the diode is important. Typical current output for KidWind Turbines: Turbine: Current Range: Wind Lab Jr. < 50 mA Basic PVC 20—40 mA Geared PVC 100—200 mA ALTurbine 100—200 mA
This area may get hot when charging cell phones or other devices drawing a lot of current
In from battery pack
Solar panel input
Wires out to loads
Wind Turbine Input See page 6 for typical wind turbine current
To USB Phone Adapters*
*Warning—phone adaptors have not been tested by KidWind. We do not take any responsibility for damaged phones.
3.6—6 V Adapter (i.e. Nokia phone charger)
Letters correspond to schematic diagram on the following page.
The KidWind Charger Box
If the circuit descriptions and diagrams from the previous page are making your head hurt, KidWind has a simple solution! This box has been designed to enable you to charge AAA batteries with renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines. It also has an input for conventional electricity from a 3.6 V—6 V DC Adaptor. The circuitry inside this box was designed to make battery charging as simple as possible. Be sure to install 4 rechargeable AAA batteries into the bottom of the Charger Box BEFORE connecting any sources of electricity. The AAA batteries help to regulate the voltage so that it does not exceed 5V. Voltage over 5 volts can damage the circuitry in the Charger Box. Once you have installed the rechargeable batteries into the bottom, you can begin charging them. If you are charging the batteries using a solar panel, simply run the leads from the solar panel into the SOLAR input. The polarity (+,-) of the leads should be marked on the solar panel. Usually, red wires are positive and black wires are negative. If you are using a wind turbine, you will have to establish polarity of the turbine before you insert the leads into the Charger Box. The KidWind WindLab Jr. and WindCharge Turbines identify the polarity on the bottom of the nacelle. On other turbines like the ALTurbine or the Geared PVC turbine, you will have to test the polarity using a multimeter or the KidWind Visual Voltmeter. Polarity is marked on the Charger Box, so make sure you are inserting the correct lead into each port. Incorrect polarity can damage the circuitry since not all terminals are protected by diodes (a diode would draw voltage and thus reduce energy going into charging). Note that the “CHARGING” LED light will only light when the OUTPUT is delivering power to another device, or when an external adapter is being used to charge batteries. This light helps to regulate output voltage at an even 5V. The bulb will not light up when charging from solar or wind so that all power will go into charging, rather than lighting a bulb. Also notice the arrangement of the 4 internal batteries. There are 2 sets of 2 batteries in parallel. Therefore, if you only want to charge 2 batteries, make sure you put the two batteries next to each other on either side (not in the middle). It will take some time to fully charge 4 rechargeable batteries. The included AAA NiMH batteries have a capacity of 1000 mAh. Therefore, with a 200 mA solar panel, it will take about 30 hours (in full sunlight!) to fully charge 4 batteries.
(A) (B) (C) (D) (E) (F)
Output of the Charger Box
Can I Use the KidWind Charger Box to Charge a Cell Phone?
The circuitry in the KidWind Charger Box does allow you to charge mobile devices like cell phones, but there are significant limitations on this application. Once your rechargeable batteries are fully charged, they will have enough juice to charge most cell phones. The charger box comes with adaptors to fit a range of phones*. Connect the appropriate adaptor to the USB cord included with the charger box. Then connect the USB cord to the USB output of the charger box. Once the phone is connected, the red LED “CHARGING” light will illuminate on the charger box. Your phone should start charging. IMPORTANT: If your phone is less than 1/2 charged, charging will draw a lot of current from the batteries. The charger box will start to get VERY HOT because of all this current. Because of this, KidWind does not recommend charging your phone with this system if it is less than 1/2 charged. This heat is not likely to damage anything, but extended periods of high heat will reduce the life of the charger box. Be careful handling the charger box while it is charging a phone or other mobile device. Remember that to charge a phone the rechargeable batteries should be 100% full. Depending on your energy source, it could take over 25-30 hours to fully charge the batteries with renewable energy. Don’t expect to charge your phone with a slight breeze or a few hours of sunlight! What does that tell you about the overall efficiency of this system?
*NOTE* The KidWind Charger Box does come with adapters for 6 different types of phones, but these have not been tested by KidWind. We cannot be held responsible for any damage done to your phone or the charger box when you are trying to charge a cell phone with this device.
What Other Devices Can This Power?
OUTPUT 1 of the Charger Box allows you to run wires from the box to a variety of electronic devices. Motors, light-bulbs, water-pumps, etc. Strip your wires and push down on the orange buttons to insert them into the OUTPUT 1 terminal. When the wires are connected to a device to form a circuit, the batteries will start powering your electronic device.
You can set up an experiment using the KidWind Charger Box to determine which sources of energy (wind, solar, etc…) are better or worse for charging batteries. Assuming the batteries start at the same level (drained) for each trial, charging them for the same amount of time using different sources of energy will give you a different amount of energy stored. It is possible to quantify how much energy was stored in the batteries after charging by measuring the amount of time an electric device (with known current draw) can operate. To make things easier, we have calculated the average current draw (in milliamps, mA) of various load devices used by KidWind. You can see these values in the table on the next page. You can also use other electronic devices like a portable CD player or a flashlight, but in order to quantify the energy stored in the batteries you will have to know the current draw of these devices. This value may be stated in the user manual of some devices. Be sure to start with the rechargeable batteries totally drained. Discharge them by letting them run your device until it stops operating. Make sure to always start each charging trial with the batteries at this same drained level to ensure accuracy. Place the drained batteries in the charger box and begin charging them for a predetermined amount of time (e.g. 4 hours). If you are using a solar panel, make sure it is in a sunny location that will not become shaded during the charging period. Stop charging at the time cutoff, and connect the batteries to your load device. Start a timer to measure how long the load device operates. Make sure to keep an eye on the device so you catch when it stops operating. Remember that stored capacity of batteries is measured in Milliamp-Hours (mAh). Since we know the current (mA) of the device, all we need to determine is the time (h) the device operates to calculate stored capacity. Refer to the calculations from page 1 for more information on how to calculate Milliamp-Hours.
Other Cool Ideas for Experiments:
• Charge batteries using more than one power source at once: You can compare the results you found from the basic experiment above to how much power you can store during the same amount of time with a wind turbine and a solar panel plugged into the charger box at the same time. If you are not using the charger box, try wiring the two devices in parallel or series. Be careful when doing this and remember not to exceed the voltage and current limitations. You can also connect two turbines or solar panels together in parallel or series. For more information on how to wire the two sources in parallel or series, see the KidWind Wind Farm document. Quantify the effect of wind speed on battery charging: Use an anemometer (wind speed meter) to measure the speed of a fan from 2 feet away at three different settings (Hi, med, low). Place your wind turbine 2 feet from the fan, conduct the charging experiment for each fan speed. Do the calculations to quantify the effect of the wind speed on your battery charging speed. You can also do this experiment using a wind speed data logger, which will record wind speed data to a PC. Find an average wind speed for the duration of the charging time, and use that as your wind speed.
CURRENT DRAW OF LOAD
TIME OF DEVICE OPERATION
The table below shows typical current (amperage) draw for various load devices used by KidWind. Voltage of 2.63 is approximately equal to two “AA” batteries. COMPONENT LED Bulb Incandescent Bulb Wind Turbine Generator Water Pump Water Pump with Load (12” Water) Power Output Board Music Power Output Board LED CURRENT (mA) 0.2 153.7 9.1 30 48.3 0.07 0.96 VOLTAGE 2.63 2.63 2.63 2.63 2.63 2.63 2.63 POWER (mW) 0.526 404.23 23.93 78.9 127.03 0.1841 2.52
Example Calculation: Using a geared wind turbine, I charged 2 AAA batteries for 4 hours. I used this energy to light an incandescent bulb, which stayed illuminated for 219 minutes, or about 3.65 hours. How much energy was stored in the batteries? 3.65 x 153.7 = 561 mAh Knowing that the turbine produced 561 mAh over the course of 4 hours, we can calculate the amperage output of the turbine. Simply divide 561 by 4 to cancel out the hours and you will get 140.25 milliamps (mA).
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