Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Wind & Solar Power, Weather Datalogger

P1040314We are rolling out our newest Wind & Solar Power & Weather Datalogger.

A shunt between the battery and the power sources (wind turbines, solar panels, microhydro, your cousin on the exercycle), tell us the current being generated, and a voltage divider reads the voltage of the battery pack. If another shunt is placed between the battery and loads, power consumption also be tracked. From that we can calculate the watts being produced.

With our SD Card and RTC Module, we can calculate amp hours and watt hours, and save them to a sd card.

We also can record weather data, like temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed & direction, UV index, and much more.

We give you the ability to upload your sd card files for charting and graphing your data. Real time reporting options with ethernet and wifi are available to the internet or optional local Raspberry Pi web & database server.

Read more at:

More pictures and a list of available sensors at




More residents getting “sick” from wind turbines?

The residents of the town of West Lincoln, Ont.  are reporting a variety of stress related illnesses they attribute to a wind farm nearby.

“‘It’s too late, two years too late,’ said Helen Kzan … ‘I’ve been to the doctor. They told me to move. My stress level has skyrocketed. My physician told me my stress will kill me before the wind turbines.”

Many people attribute these illnesses to the reported sounds, vibrations, and light patterns made by the moving blades. What’s wrong with this picture?

The wind farm hasn’t been built yet.

These people are reacting to the anti-wind advocacy groups reports on what they think will happen. It’s not wind turbines that make you sick, it’s listening to the lies and made up statistics of the anti-wind groups.  It’s their own fears that are making them sick, and the anti’s are creating self fulfilling prophecy.





reviewed by Larry D. Barr

I read a book last weekend. Now, this is certainly not out of the ordinary. I read a lot of books. Some of them, like Stephen King’s The Stand, I read about once a year. And I’ve probably read almost everything Martin Caidin ever wrote four or five times. Or more. However, the book I read last weekend is certainly out of the ordinary.

It’s called Homebrew Wind Power – A HANDS-ON GUIDE TO HARNESSING THE WIND. The book is written by Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink, a couple of guys who live (and create wind turbines) in a small off-grid community somewhere up in the north-west part of Colorado. A few years ago, when I was the editor of an online publication called Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter, Dan Fink was one of our regular columnists, writing under the handle of “The Wind Bag”. DanF, as he’s also known, proved himself very adept at sharing his vast knowledge and his insights into the vagaries of the wind, and the various ways it can be captured and cajoled into sharing some of its energy (but never more than 59.26%) in the form of usable electricity.

The Two Dans have been working on this book for several years, and about two weeks ago I got an email from DanF asking me if I’d like an ‘advance review copy’ to look over and possibly share my reactions with y’all, the readers of Rebel Wolf Online. Of course I said “Yes” and the book arrived in a few days. As I removed the book from the bubblepack envelope, it was immediately apparent that this was a quality tome. It’s 8” X 10”, with a soft 12 point C1S cover (C1S is printer talk for Coated with plastic on 1 Side), and contains 320 pages of 100% post consumer waste recycled paper, a spectacular cover shot of a wind turbine
flying in a Rocky Mountain sunset and more appendices than the Dionne quintuplets.

I don’t necessarily consider myself a wind energy expert, even though I lived off-grid for about 19 months back in the ’70s with a Wincharger 1222H as my main source of power. However, I’m pretty well versed in the overall discipline and so I wasn’t sure just how much I’d learn from this volume. I learned a hell of a lot.

Mick Sagrillo’s foreword, written in Mick’s usual “if you didn’t want the answer, why’d you ask the question?” style, will be a real eye-opener for the renewable energy newbie who thinks that wind power is a simple “plug and play” experience. Mick Sagrillo is one of the ‘gods’ of renewable energy and getting Mick to write the forward for your book is a lot like Enzo Ferrari looking at your home-built car and saying, “You done good, Kid.”

The first four chapters, which cover wind energy theory, basic electricity and elementary magnetics are intended to bring the wind energy neophyte ‘up to speed’, and basically served only as a review for me. I’ve always been comfortable with the theories and math of renewable energy. And ten years as a working electrician gave me a very solid grounding (sorry) in the electrical department.

When I got into Chapter 5, “Furling and Regulation” my wind turbine education truly began. You see, my little Wincharger didn’t furl – it just had a couple of centrifugally activated flaps that came out when the wind speed got too high and slowed the rig down to a hopefully safe speed. Anything faster than that and I was supposed to be home and physically set the brake and secure it. Primitive yes, but it was a 1930s era design and it worked fine in the area I was living in at the time.

However, that’s not the way it’s done anymore and The Two Dans have designed and implemented a virtually fail-safe mechanism for the self-protection of their wind turbine design. In the interest of historical accuracy, I should mention here (as The Two Dans acknowledge repeatedly in the book) that the original axial-flux design didn’t originate in the wilds of Colorado with DanB and DanF.

The credit for the original concept goes to Hugh Piggott, another of the gods of renewable energy. Hugh lives in Scoraig, Scotland, many kilometres beyond the reach of the grid and pioneered a radial-flux wind turbine design built from old truck brake drums., which was the first homebrew design to have a furling tail. Then, as the price of neodymium magnets came down, Hugh invented the axial-flux design. Remember that Hugh’s initial challenge was twofold.

First, to electrify the little settlement of Scoraig. His second challenge was to devise a turbine that wouldn’t self-destruct in the vicious winds coming off the North Sea at N 57° 55′. Now, I’ve never been to Scoraig, Scotland. But my friend Ash lives at N 55° on the northern coast of Ireland, and we’ve clocked winds of better than 80 mph at his house. I don’t imagine that things calm down any almost three degrees of latitude further north. So Hugh had his work cut out for him. And he met the challenge brilliantly. Before long, Hugh was traveling the world, giving hands-on workshops for building turbines and bringing electricity to places where it had never been before.

The Dans attended one of Hugh’s workshops in the US and liked it so well they went back for more. After a couple more sessions under Hugh’s tutelage, they got back to their shop in the wilds of the Rockies and started thinking and tinkering and making a few changes here and there. DanB came up with the idea of using Volvo disc brake rotors one cold, dark night and as the process continued, one change led to a couple more — ad infinitum — and the turbine that’s detailed in the book is something like “iteration n+1” and generations removed from Hugh’s original, primitive radial-flux wind generator.

Chapter 6 of the book, “Shop Safety” is an absolute must-read chapter. I don’t care how long you’ve had a shop, worked in a shop or if you’re a rank newbie at building anything. Read this chapter. Then go back and read it again. It will keep you, and those who help you, from getting hurt. As you build your wind turbine, you’ll be working with all kinds of things that can hurt you badly. The magnets used in the turbine are among the strongest, most powerful magnets this side of the Large Hadron Collider and and if you let your hand get in between the two magnet rotors, the resulting collision will turn your fingers to Alpo. So pay attention. The chapter is broken down into sections regarding the safety procedures for each step of the build and each fabrication process you’ll be using. One of the good points that’s made in the
metalworking section is to treat every piece of metal that’s been cut, welded or ground, as if it’s hot. Mighty fine advice. However, I’d recommend that you also do what we always do in my shop. Once you’re done grinding, welding or cutting on a piece, just take your soapstone marker and write “HOT” on the piece in big letters. It might have cooled off by the time your co-worker goes to pick it up, but it’s much better to treat a cold piece of metal like it’s hot than the other way around.

Chapters 7 through 18 take you step by step and piece by piece through the entire process of building your own axial-flux wind generator. Each chapter, each step, each process is illustrated with photos of the components. As you learn what to do and how to do it, you also learn what not to do. The Two Dans also do a wonderful job of of explaining why you’re doing it that way.

Knowing why you’re doing something is vital in a process of this nature, because it gives you a solid foundation in the subject and prepares you for the sometimes not-so-simple task of living with and maintaining the wind monster you’ve created. Even if you’re consumed with an almost overwhelming haste to get the rig in the air, don’t skip over the ‘why’ parts of the book. You’ll need them later.

Chapter 19 is titled “Failures and Prevention”. It’s a machine. It can fail. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with any complex mechanism. This chapter details what to watch for – those little signals a machine gives to let you know that all is not well. The proper maintenance methods are described and, again, illustrated with myriad photos. There’s a very informative section with pictures of machines that have failed, along with a bit of failure analysis so you know why it happened and how to avoid that failure mode with your machine. The chapter concludes with a section on Troubleshooting. You built it, so nobody knows that machine better than you do. You’re also the one that’s going to be repairing it if something goes wrong. Nobody’s better qualified.

If you’re not satisfied with the 10 foot turbine described in the building process in the book, Chapter 20 “Scaling it Up and Down” may be for you. It describes a 17′ unit and also a downsized 7′ turbine. These two units are not as far along in the development process as the 10 footer that we build in this book. The guys have built and flown a few of them, but they don’t have near the hours in the air that the 10 footer does. I’d recommend building the 10 foot turbine first and getting some first-hand experience before setting off into less-charted waters. However, there is some advanced theory in that chapter that will certainly improve your technical understanding of the subject whether you build a larger or smaller unit or not.

Of the remaining two chapters of the book, one is devoted to sources of information, supplies, components, kits, towers, web resources and just about anything else that’s wind energy related.

Chapter 22 is the Glossary wherein you can find definitions for most every wind related term from “AC” to “Zymurgy”. The latter being one of my favorites.

Six appendices round out the book and contain information on tap drill sizes, wire gage, those sometimes pesky metric to English conversions, tools, wind data and other just generally useful brain fodder. I was gratified to see in the production credits that the book was almost entirely produced using free, open-source software. I believe that open-source software will be the force of the future and the fact that a book of this quality can be produced using OSS is proof that the free software movement is coming of age.

Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink have done a magnificent job in the writing and production of Homebrew Wind Power. They’ve created a book, written with a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the subject, loaded it with photographs that clearly show the processes involved and enabled any wind energy amateur to successfully build his or her first wind turbine and enjoy the rewards of living off-grid. The writing style vividly demonstrates that The Two Dans enjoy what they do and while they take the subject of wind energy very seriously, they never take themselves too seriously. They have fun building wind turbines and it shows in the book.

Do I have any grumbles about the book? Just one. I live on a 70′ X 100′ lot in the city and I don’t have room to fly one of these turbines even if I built one. I’d need a tower bigger than the lot to get above the trees. So, here’s a book that’s got me all fired up to build a wind turbine and I’ve got no place to fly it. What a book! I heartily recommend it.

By the way, you’ll love the “Dog Haiku”.


Where did ESSN go?

ESSN was a free monthly Ezine that covered DIY topics like wind turbines, biodiesel, bio-methane, solar, and energy conservation. This site is dedicated to keeping those back issues freely available, providing new information, and enhanced discussion of these topics.

Important features:

Audio / Video / Photo Albums for your projects
Email notifications of new discussions
Share discussions with your friends and social sites
and much more is planned.

Please provide comments on technical issues, feature suggestions, and site questions, and feel free to link to us (we will return the favor) and tell your friends.


Bogus Wind Turbine Marketing Claims

Once again we are hearing from folks some pretty wild claims about marketers trying to sell wind turbines with some fantastic outputs, outputs that are in the realm of science fiction (Honeywell Windtronics especially). If you know the blade length, it’s pretty easy to determine how much power you can realistically produce. Check out out calculator here and do some what if scenarios with wind speed and blade length –

Also See Paul Gipe’s review and explanation at


Taming the hype: Beating Betz?

Travis and his girls are off getting a horse in Arkansas this week, and we are going back home to see the kids and our new granddaughter for Christmas. Paul Gipe brings you the following :

By Paul Gipe

Poor Albert Betz, the German physicist must be turning over in his grave. He’s been beaten yet again.

Seems like it is becoming almost a weekly occurrence now that some inventor or another announces they’ve beaten the Betz limit for the aerodynamic performance of wind turbines. The latest is the so-called Windtamer from Livonia, New York.

Betz, following in the footsteps of his British colleague Frederick Lanchester, calculated that the theoretical maximum energy a wind turbine rotor can extract from the wind is 59% of the energy in the windstream.

Windtamer says they not only beat Betz but they will produce twice as much as a conventional wind turbine. However, a quick scan of the “report” justifying Windtamer’s claim reveals that the turbine’s performance is not any better than all those wind turbines that have gone before.

But first, the famous press release.


Free Wind Turbine Tutorial

Our Methane Digester Document give away was so popular (over 400 requests so far), we have decided to do the same with our ESSN Wind Tutorial. Learn the basics of wind turbines and energy production. Go to to download your free tutorial.

And please, forward this link to all your friends. Give them the gift of knowledge. They too can get free of the electric power company like we have. Let’s see how many people we can get this message to. It’s better than a good luck chain letter. If this is as popular as the Methane Tutorial, then we may do the same with our Solar Tutorial.

When you are ready to build your own wind turbine, make sure you order our Axial Flux DIY Guide, and Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink’s Homebrew Wind Power.

Check out our Axial Flux Wind Alternator discussion group at


Wind Turbines, Composting Toilets & More

We were already to raise the wind turbine on Friday when the temps started dropping, the wind kicked up, and it started snowing again. So we are on hold for a few days till the weather improves. Larry from Nature’s Head called and said our Composting Toilet was shipping on Monday, so we will be posting a video on how to set it up and use it. We will keep it PG 😉

We had a great chat with Mike Richter (yes, the hockey player) from Riverkeeper. They are doing some fantastic work tracking down and prosecuting polluters of the Hudson River, and raising awareness of water, soil, and air quality in the region.

The rain fed cistern project is back on track, and waiting for ground thaw. A hand pump and low voltage dc pressure pump will provide the water from the tanks to the house. We are considering hooking a bicycle up to our belt drive well pump like Rob Roy did with his pump. He cycles for 5 minutes twice daily to charge his 80 gallon pressure tank. This method is also shown in the book “The Human Powered Home“.


400 watt Air-X Wind Turbine Arriving

Our old 12v battery and inverter system found a new home at the Martins, and we got a AIR-X wind turbine out of the deal. It will arrive near the end of the week, and we hope to have pictures and installation info for you on the weekend. We may also have a Whisper 500 watt turbine going up as well. Will keep you posted.

These wind turbines will help charge the 840 ah 24v battery bank that runs this house. We also hope to get our DIY 1000 watt unit rewound for 24v and raised sometime this spring. On sunny days, the 1700 watt solar array is bringing in between 4 and 6 kWh’s daily.

I’m looking forward to seeing the production numbers on the wind turbines. Initially we may only get them 30′ or so up in the air, but plan on 100′ in spring when the ground thaws.

Share and on Discovery’s Science Channel

Our air-date has been moved up to tomorrow night, December 17th, at 10pm Eastern time. The Science Channel is found on both cable and satellite TV. Check out You will see show hosts Chris, Nobu, and Micah learning to build a 1000 watt wind turbine from scratch, which helps power our off-grid home. More information on our wind turbines can be found at, and

Get the Wind Power Workshop, by Hugh Piggott, to learn how to build your own wind turbine as seen on our Science Channel episode.

Back Home Magazine is giving away a free set of wind turbine plans when you subscribe for a year. This is a great deal, and I highly recommend it!